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Men’s Olympic Football Tournament

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  • Dani Olmo among new faces in Luis Enrique’s rejuvenated Spain
  • Midfielder impressing for La Roja and RB Leipzig
  • Main goals for 2021: playing at the EURO and Tokyo Olympics

Every time I think of it, I get goosebumps. It was amazing.”

Every successful career has a watershed moment after which there is no going back. Dani Olmo is very clear about his. The mere mention of the UEFA European U-21 Championship that Spain won in July last year provokes a beaming smile on his Zoom screen.

He headed into that tournament on the back of a great season with Dinamo Zagreb. However, it was La Rojita’s brilliant triumph, with a star turn from Olmo in an attacking midfield role – he racked up three goals in four games and a man-of-the-match award in the final – that triggered subsequent events.

In November 2019, he got his first call-up to the senior national team, which he marked with a goal on his debut against Malta. Then in January, he signed for RB Leipzig, with whom he would end up playing in the semi-finals of the this year’s UEFA Champions League.

“2019 was an amazing year, the best of my career in terms of personal and collective achievements. 2020 has been a strange year but still beautiful all the same. Reaching a Champions League semi-final is a big thing. It was the first time Leipzig got that far, so it’s something to cherish.”

Dani Olmo of Spain, Alvaro Morata of Spain 

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Dani Olmo, in brief

  • Born: 7 May 1998, Terrassa, Barcelona.
  • Position: attacking midfielder, although he can operate on either flank or as a deep-lying centre forward.
  • International: he has represented Spain since U-16 level and played three times and scored one goal for the senior side.
  • Titles: Four leagues championships, three Cups and one Super Cup (all in Croatia) and one EURO U-21 title.

Did you know…?

  • Football in the blood: Dani’s father, Miquel Olmo, was a professional player and coach, while his brother Carlos is also a footballer. “I listen to them a lot and really take their advice into account, as they tell me what they think is best for me.”
  • From La Masia to Croatia: At the age of 16, Dani left Barça to play for Dinamo Zagreb, where, from the start, he alternated between training and playing with the first team. “It was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but it was an opportunity to really grow. I think I can say that it went well, so I’ll be eternally grateful to them.”
  • Dual nationality: Dani also holds Croatian nationality but has never played for the Vatreni.

A red-tinted summer

Although he has had very little time to assimilate all that has happened to him in recent months, Olmo already has new goals in sight. Among other things, he is hoping to have a packed summer in 2021, with Spain playing at the EURO in June and then the Olympic Football Tournament in August, when the European U-21 champions aim to be in the mix for gold.

“Hopefully it’ll be a busy summer for me, and I can take part in both competitions,” he says with a laugh. “I feel immense pride every time I pull on the jersey. The motivation couldn’t be greater, as being part of the EURO – a tournament we’re capable of winning, as we’ve shown in qualifying – would be a dream.”

And while the chance to take part in the EURO comes along every four years, Olmo knows that a ticket to the Olympic Games is a rare privilege.

“For a footballer, the Games are something that happen once in a lifetime, so one of my goals is to secure a place on the team. It’s not going to be easy, as the standard in the squad is very high and there’s a lot of competition.”

If La Rojita, with the likes of Olmo, Fabian Ruiz, Mikel Oyarzabal, Dani Ceballos and company, can replicate the level shown in becoming European U-21 champions, then an Olympic gold could be within reach.

Spain v Germany - 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Final - Dani Olmo of Spain with trophy 

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“I know some people who’ve had the chance to compete at the Olympics and they’ve said it was the greatest experience of their lives. Here at Leipzig I have a German team-mate, Lukas Klostermann, who played in the Rio final against Brazil. We were talking about it and he told me that, although they lost on penalties, it was truly amazing. To be able to experience that next year would be fantastic.”

These days, the attacking midfielder is in camp with the senior squad under coach Luis Enrique. After starting Wednesday’s goalless draw with Portugal, he is awaiting Spain’s upcoming UEFA Nations League double header against Switzerland on 10 Oct and Ukraine three days later. The coach, who is the throes of rebuilding the side, considers the 22-year-old as integral to his plans.

“I know that if I’m well and perform well for my club, I’ll have a better chance of getting called up, so that’s what I have to focus on. And then, if the boss gives me an opportunity in the team, I have to show him that I can be here for the long haul.”

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WBC creates ‘frontline’ championship belt for Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr., will also handle fight scoring

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Despite being an exhibition bout, there will be a championship belt on the line when Mike Tyson returns to the ring to battle fellow former champion Roy Jones Jr. The WBC has created a “Frontline championship” that will be awarded to the winner of the fight, which has been titled the “Frontline Battle.”

Tyson, 54, and Jones, 51, are set to meet on Nov. 28 on pay-per-view. While the fight will be overseen by the California State Athletic Commission, the bout will be scored by a panel of three champions using the WBC’s remote scoring program, according to a press release.

CSAC executive director Andy Foster has insisted that the fight will be stopped if either man suffers a cut and that both Tyson and Jones should not be looking to score a knockout.

“I wanted to have their assurances that they understand, ‘I don’t care if they spar. I don’t care if they work.’ They are world-class athletes, even still,” Foster told in July. “They have a right to earn, and all these types of things. They’re about the same age. We can’t mislead the public as to this is some kind of real fight. They can get into it a little bit, but I don’t want people to get hurt. They know the deal.

“It’s an exhibition. They can exhibit their boxing skills, but I don’t want them using their best efforts to hurt each other. They’re going to spar hard, but they shouldn’t be going for a knockout. This isn’t a record-book type of fight. This is not world-championship boxing right now. It’s not what this is. People shouldn’t be getting knocked out. The public can see what kind of shape Roy and Mike are still in.”

YouTube star Jake Paul will fight former NBA player Nate Robinson in the night’s other featured bout, with former world champion Badou Jack also taking on Blake McKernan on the pay-per-view main card. 

A press conference will be held for the event at 1 p.m. ET on Oct. 29.

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Rishabh Pant omitted from India’s white-ball squads, Varun Chakravarthy in T20I squad

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has been omitted from India’s ODI and T20I squads for the upcoming Australia tour. Rohit Sharma, India’s white-ball vice-captain, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury in the IPL in the UAE, isn’t part of both the squads as well.

Tamil Nadu and Kolkata Knight Riders mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy earned his maiden national call-up on the back of his stellar performances in the ongoing IPL. Varun is the only player with a five-wicket haul so far this season, and in all he is the highest wicket-taker for the Knight Riders with 12 strikes at an excellent economy rate of 7.05.

India’s premier allrounder Hardik Pandya is set to play his first limited-overs international since September 2019. Pandya has undergone a back surgery surge and he returned to action in the IPL though he hasn’t bowled yet this season. According to Zaheer Khan, Mumbai Indians’ director of cricket operations, Pandya was “very keen” to bowl, but the team management has adopted a cautious approach, using him as a specialist batsman.

In the absence of Sharma, KL Rahul, who is captaining Kings XI Punjab, has been named Virat Kohli’s deputy in both the white-ball squads. Rahul is the only wicketkeeper in the ODI squad while India have another wicketkeeping option in Sanju Samson for the T20Is.

Varun, who had turned 29 just before IPL 2020 just August, played only 11 T20s before Monday. However, he has seven variations in his repertoire, and his victims in the IPL include David Warner, MS Dhoni, Pant, and Shreyas Iyer. Varun had also been the second-highest wicket-taker in the 2018-19 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, with 22 scalps in nine matches at an economy rate of 4.23. However, a finger injury, sustained during his maiden IPL stint with the Kings XI Punjab in 2019, forced him out of action for more than a year.

Despite not playing any competitive cricket for a year, Dinesh Karthik, the former Knight Riders captain and the current Tamil Nadu white-ball captain, punted on him, with the Knight Riders shelling out INR 4 crore (USD 563,000 approx.) to get him on board. Varun has rewarded their faith, stepping up when Sunil Narine was placed on the IPL warning list, before his action was subsequently cleared. Varun’s Knight Riders team-mate Kuldeep Yadav was left out of the T20I squad, but was part of the ODI squad.

Ravindra Jadeja, who was the Chennai Super Kings’ finisher with the bat but struggled with the ball, was picked in both the white-ball squads over Axar Patel. Axar’s economy rate of 5.78 is the third best among bowlers who have bowled at least 25 overs this IPL. Under this condition, only Rashid Khan and Washington Sundar, who features in the T20I squad, have better economy rates.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami will lead the seam attacks in both ODIs and T20Is. Fast bowler Navdeep Saini, who had suffered a split webbing in his bowling hand in the fixture against the Super Kings on Sunday, has been named in both squads well. Deepak Chahar is the fourth seamer in the T20I squad, with his Super Kings team-mate taking that spot in the ODI squad.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is currently nursing a thigh injury, will have to wait further for his international comeback. Kumar, who hasn’t played international cricket since December 2019, was set to make that comeback in the home ODI series against South Africa earlier this year before the coronavirus pandemic struck and forced that series to be called off.

Karnataka and Kings XI’s Mayank Agarwal, who found a place in both sides, could be the back-up opener behind Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan. Punjab and Knight Riders’ Shubman Gill wasn’t selected in the T20I squad, but could be another opening option for the ODIs.

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Frank Thomas breaks down how Clayton Kershaw worked out of a fourth inning jam during World Series Game 5 using Samsung Galaxy 5G View app

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