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Women’s Olympic Football Tournament









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  • Brazil and USA faced off in the women’s Olympic final on 21 August 2008
  • Abby Wambach’s absence heightened A Seleção’s favouritism
  • Christie Rampone and Carli Lloyd reflect on the USWNT triumph

The news ravaged USWNT’s hopes of Women’s Olympic Football Tournament China 2008 ecstasy. Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm – key figures in their Athens 2004 conquest – had all retired after that tournament. Now Abby Wambach had snapped her tibia and fibula in their final warm-up match and required a rod inserting into her left leg.

And any faint chance of on-field reconstructive surgery disappeared when they lost 2-0 to Norway in their tournament opener.

“Losing such an impactful player just before the Games when Abby broke her leg, that was totally devastating,” Christie Rampone told FIFA.com recently. “Everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong in that game against Norway. The media counted us out. That was the first time we felt that we were not looked at like we were going to win this. That hit us hard.”




Rampone reflects on her Olympic experiences


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Rampone reflects on her Olympic experiences




If the US had been written off, another name had been all but written on the trophy. Brazil, a meliorated model of the side which handed USA a devastating 4-0 defeat in the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007™ semi-finals, had Marta and Cristiane at the peak of their ferocious powers and battered reigning global queens Germany 4-1 to reach the final.

Surprisingly, the Americans were pencilled in to act as bridesmaids at the Brazilians’ grandiose coronation. More surprisingly, Angela Hucles, only playing because of Wambach’s injury, a midfielder “stunned” to learn she’d be the US spearhead, got them there.

The Virginia Beach native hit five goals in five games, including one in the 2-1 win over Canada in the quarter-finals and two in the 4-2 reserve of Japan in the semis, to make it an all-Americas final.

Brazil certainly lived up to their favouritism but despite their domination, they couldn’t find a way past Hope Solo over 90 minutes. Then, in extra time, Carli Lloyd produced a goal worthy of winning any tournament.




Lloyd: The bigger the pressure, the better I play


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Lloyd: The bigger the pressure, the better I play




“It was definitely one of my most amazing moments,” Carli Lloyd told the Olympic Channel. “Up on the podium, receiving the medal around my neck, it was emotional.

“It was the first time I had been to an Olympics, first medal I had ever won. Our team did something spectacular because most people didn’t think we were going to win it.

“It was amazing. I remember coming home and just feeling on cloud nine. I scored in the final game to win it. Receiving the medal, it was just an unbelievable moment for me, for my team-mates, and it is something I will cherish forever.”

Rampone said: “I respect that team because it really didn’t have a household name,” said Rampone. “We slowly got better and better each and every game. We wrote our own script.

“The four forwards that took Abby’s place stepped up. Carli Lloyd was amazing in that tournament, Angela Hucles, Amy Rodriguez and Natasha Kai really stepped up and helped lead the team to that victory. We were so fortunate to have Pia [Sundhage] as a new coach with her energy which made us appreciate the game even more.

“Also being a mother of two at that point and being able to make it back after having two children and leading the team as captain, it was the icing on the cake for everything I put into the sport. It’s surreal. You almost forget what you did at that moment when the final whistle blew.”



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No. 4 Badgers pound Green Bay 82-42

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MADISON, Wis. — Micah Potter scored 14 points, Tyler Wahl had 11 points and 15 rebounds, and No. 4 Wisconsin breezed to an 82-42 victory over Green Bay on Tuesday in Phoenix coach Will Ryan’s return to Madison.

Ryan is the son of former Badgers head coach Bo Ryan. Will Ryan and current Badgers coach Greg Gard worked together on Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin staff from 2002-07.

Bo Ryan coached Wisconsin from 2001-15 and posted a 364-130 record, making him the program’s career wins leader. There were no spectators Tuesday due to COVID-19 safety protocols, and Bo Ryan was expected to watch the game from his home in La Quinta, California.

Aleem Ford and Nate Reuvers each scored 13 points for the Badgers (3-0), and Brad Davison added 10 points. Josh Jefferson led Green Bay (0-2) with 12 points.

Wisconsin won its 11th straight, including its final eight games of the 2019-20 season to earn a share of the Big Ten title. The Badgers opened this season by defeating Eastern Illinois and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Green Bay took a 4-2 lead but didn’t score again for over eight minutes. The Phoenix missed 13 straight shots as Wisconsin went on an 11-0 run to pull ahead for good.

Wisconsin’s own struggles on offense kept the game close for a while. The Badgers led 13-8 nearly 13 minutes into the game.

Once the Badgers finally started to heat up, they wasted no time putting the game out of reach.

After making just five of its first 16 field-goal attempts, Wisconsin shot 64.4% (29 of 45) the rest of the way. The Badgers also outrebounded Green Bay 45-25 and outscored the Phoenix 42-22 in the paint.

Wisconsin closed the first half on a 21-4 spurt to take a 34-12 lead into the locker room. That stretch underscored the work Will Ryan has ahead of him in his first season as a Division I head coach.

Green Bay hired Ryan after he went 14-13 in one season as head coach at Division II Wheeling (West Virginia). He previously worked as an assistant coach at Ohio and North Dakota State after serving as a video coordinator and director of basketball operations during his years at Wisconsin.

BIG PICTURE

Green Bay: The Phoenix got blown out by another Big Ten team after opening the season with a 99-69 loss at Minnesota. That one-two punch should at least make Green Bay ready for whatever it might encounter the rest of the season. Green Bay will have to improve its outside shooting after going a combined 6 of 33 from 3-point range over its first two games.

Wisconsin: The Badgers have three straight double-digit victories over overmatched opponents to start the season. They’ll have a much better idea of where they stand over the next week as they visit Marquette and host Louisville in their next two games.

BADGERS’ McGRORY OUT INDEFINITELY

Wisconsin announced before the game that senior Walt McGrory had undergone hip surgery and will be out indefinitely. The reserve guard hadn’t appeared in either of the Badgers’ first two games. He has played in 36 career games, including 14 last season.

UP NEXT

Green Bay hosts Eastern Illinois in its home opener Saturday.

Wisconsin visits Marquette on Friday.



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Claressa Shields signs with PFL as women’s boxing champion makes transition to MMA, per report

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After winning world championships in three weight divisions in just 10 fights as a professional boxer, Claressa Shields has signed on to take her talents to the MMA cage as the two-time Olympic gold medalist signed a contract to compete in the Professional Fighters League, according to a report by MMA Junkie.

Shields won gold medals in 2012 and 2016 before turning professional in November 2016. In just her fourth professional bout, Shields won the WBC and IBF super middleweight titles. She then added the WBA and IBF middleweight titles in her sixth fight. Four fights later, she dropped to light middleweight and won the WBC and WBO world championships.

Her name had been previously tied to both two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes and former UFC and current Bellator champion Cris Cyborg for dream fights, either in the cage or the boxing ring.

While those promotions didn’t land Shields, there are some appealing fights in PFL. The promotion employs a “season” structure, featuring tournaments across multiple weight classes. In 2019, Kayla Harrison, who won Olympic gold medals in judo at the same two Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016, won the women’s lightweight title.

Similar to Harrison’s path, though, Shields will begin her PFL career by taking one-off fights as opposed to competing in the 2021 season, according to the report. Harrison took the same route in 2018 before claiming the PFL gold in 2019. 

Shields teased the move in February, posting a social media video of her throwing kicks in training and stating she was “serious about transitioning.”



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Australia vs India – Aaron Finch assesses Mitchell Starc options after rough treatment

Though India are the team with a host of bowling problems right now, Australia are not without their own concerns. Chief among these is Mitchell Starc, who has taken 1 for 147 from 18 overs across the opening two ODI games as India’s batsmen found him somewhat easier to line up than his pace counterparts Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

With Cummins being rested from the remainder of the white-ball games, Starc’s role may need to change according to the tactical requirements of the captain Aaron Finch, but for the most part the captain is understanding of a fast bowler who has been among the world’s pre-eminent white ball merchants for most of the past decade.

This is not to say Starc has not fallen away in ODI performance in a similar manner to India’s new ball ace Jasprit Bumrah in the 18 months since last year’s World Cup, because he has. In that period since the Cup, Starc has claimed just 12 wickets at 54.25 in 11 matches, while costing 6.28 runs an over across series against India, South Africa, New Zealand and England.

“I think he’s going okay. He hasn’t been at his very best,” Finch said. “You have to understand his standards are a lot higher than what you expect from most other people because of how dominant he’s been over the last 8-9 years, especially in the white-ball formats. He’s been super.

“So he’d love to be swinging the ball and getting it right early on but the reality is when you’re defending big totals and you’re playing against good players, they are coming hard at you. So, there’ll be conversations had today about what we can do slightly different. Whether it’s a tactical thing or when we’re using him through the innings. We’ll chat about that today. Definitely no panic stations here from my point of view.”

The flipside, however, is Starc’s evolution as a Test bowler, for he has over a similar timeframe enjoyed the most fruitful passage of his long-form career. In eight Tests since late January 2019, he has scooped no fewer than 45 wickets at 18.42, with a stunning strike rate of 34.8 balls per wicket. Finch acknowledged that it was easier for Cummins and Hazlewood to flip from the IPL to white-ball duty at home, whereas Starc prepared by loading up on overs in the Sheffield Shield for New South Wales ahead of the Test schedule.

“I thought our energy and our intent was great. Moises and Smudge took a couple of absolute hangers that turned the game really. I think the way that we’ve bowled through the middle overs has been very impressive.”

Aaron Finch

“At times it can be easier to go from T20 back to 50-over cricket just because you’ve almost got the intent and then you can just rein it in a little bit more. He’s still bowled really well in the Shield in the first couple of rounds,” Finch said.

“From my point of view, and chatting to other guys about his technique, and little things that his fellow bowlers and the fast bowling cartel really monitor, they seem to think he’s going really well. So it’s just a matter of time. There’s nowhere to hide in ODI cricket when you’re playing on some really flat wickets with quality opposition.”

More broadly, Finch reckoned Australia’s bowling and fielding had improved from game one to game two, noting the outstanding catches from Steven Smith ad Moises Henriques. He was equally happy with Henriques’ canny overs of medium pace through the middle of the Indian innings on Sunday night.

“Our fielding definitely wasn’t up to scratch in the first game,” he said. “A few chances went down. In the second game, I thought it was a lot better. I thought our energy and our intent was great. Moises and Smudge took a couple of absolute hangers that turned the game really. Virat [Kohli] goes on and gets 130-140-150 or Shreyas [Iyer] goes on and gets a big score and they’re probably cantering towards 390. So, I think the way that we’ve bowled through the middle overs has been very impressive.

“India have come ultra-hard at the start. Obviously, like you’d expect chasing big totals and probably we’ve gone a little bit defensive really early. That happens. The way that [Adam] Zampa has bowled has been outstanding. Moises bowled seven overs the other night. They were brilliant overs to get out of him through that middle period. It was a really simple game plan and we adapted really well to that wicket as well. So, yeah all in all they’ve been pretty good performances.”

As for the replacement of David Warner, Finch said he would weigh up the balance between promoting a current member of the side like Marnus Labuschagne and also leaving the middle order untouched, after it functioned so well given a strong platform in each of the opening two games.

ALSO READ: Labuschagne puts hand up to open in Warner’s absence

“The middle order’s been functioning really well the last little while, I think it played well in England. And it’s done a really good job in this series as well,” Finch said. “There’s a kind of not wanting to do that. Marnus is a class player. If we go that way great. Alex Carey the role of him and Maxy [Glenn Maxwell] at six and seven has been really crucial and provides a bit more freedom for that middle order to go about their business and be ultra-aggressive as well. They’re a few reasons why I wouldn’t like to do it but there’s still a lot of good players there we can choose to do that role.”

Left-hand, right-hand combinations are among the issues that Finch is pondering. “It definitely has its advantages at times,” he said. “With Davey and I in particular we’re so different styles of play. Whether LH-RH it doesn’t make too much of a difference. As an example, if you use [Justin] Langer and [Matthew] Hayden as an opening combination.

“They played so differently that you had to bowl totally different to each of them anyway, regardless of whether they’re both left-handed, both right or left-right. I think that’s what complements opening partnerships than just that left-right combo.”

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