Kicking things off
Tom Sermanni will begin his tenure as US women’s soccer coach with a couple of friendlies against his native land. The Americans will take on Scotland in Jacksonville Feb. 9 and again in Nashville four days later. Their big test comes in March at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, where Japan handed the Olympic champions their only loss last year . . . This year’s Boston Marathon will feature 14 runners who competed in last summer’s Olympics, including five Americans. Besides Meb Keflezighi (who was fourth), Ryan Hall, Abdi Abdirahman, Shalane Flanagan, and Kara Goucher, there will be Ukraine’s Tetyana Gamera-Shmyrko, Ethiopia’s Aselefech Medessa Mergia, Portugal’s Ana Dulce Felix, Poland’s Karolina Jarzynska, Colombia’s Yolanda Caballero, Burundi’s Duane Nukuri-Johnson, Australia’s Jeffrey Hunt, Canada’s Eric Gillis, and South Sudan’s Guor Marial . . . Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, the three-time Olympic champion who won gold and bronze in the 10,000 and 5,000 meters in London, will take on Mary Cain, the Bronxville, N.Y., teenager who’s the most promising US female distance runner in decades, in the women’s 2-mile run at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix Feb. 2 at Roxbury’s Reggie Lewis Center.
The Olympic gymnastics cycle will begin anew in Worcester with the American Cup March 2 at the DCU Center. Olympic all-around medalist Danell Leyva and team champion Kyla Ross headline the US team, which includes Jake Dalton and alternate Elizabeth Price from the London squad. The international field includes three of the Olympic top 10 women’s all-arounders in Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari, Japan’s Asuka Teramoto, and Romania’s Larissa Iordache, as well as four of the top 12 men in German silver medalist Marcel Nguyen, Great Britain’s Kristian Thomas, Brazil’s Sergio Sasaki, and Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev . . . Omaha, which staged the last two Olympic swimming trials, will have to compete with five-time host Indianapolis for the 2016 version, as well as with St. Louis, San Antonio, Jacksonville, and Greensboro, N.C. The federation will announce its choice in April.
John Powers can be reached at email@example.com; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, personal interviews, and wire services was used in this report.