streaks. ... Braves CF Ender Inciarte went 1 for 3 and

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Kristin Armstrong could win her third straight Olympic gold medal in Rio. The womens pursuit team is favored to capture gold. Several Americans could land on the BMX podium.Will anybody in the U.S. notice? Or even care?That is perhaps the biggest challenge facing USA Cycling as the Rio Games arrive. One of the nations most popular participatory sports is dealing with aging athletes, declining membership and a vast disconnect between amateur riders and their elite counterparts.It has left USA Cycling officials to wonder just where they stand in the sports structure.There is no doubt we need to adapt as an organization, agreed Derek Bouchard-Hall, who took over as the governing bodys CEO last year after a successful career in private business.To usher the organization into the future, Bouchard-Hall spent several months examining USA Cyclings shortcomings, then came up with a three-prong approach to shake things up.First, he is championing a renewed emphasis on amateur cycling, rather than funneling so much of USA Cyclings resources to elite athletes. The idea is that by fostering growth at the grassroots level, the sport in the U.S. will become more robust in the long-term.Second, he wants to broaden the coverage of USA Cycling to encompass not just racers but the everyday cyclist, those who ride in mass events such as RAGBRAI -- the bike ride across Iowa taking place this week -- and Gran Fondos, the pseudo-races that have become all the rage.Finally, he wants an organization that is more open, transparent and willing to adjust to feedback, a customer-focused approach that stems from his previous job with bike retailer Wiggle.Thats not to say USA Cycling is abandoning elite athletes. Instead, Bouchard-Hall believes the amateur cyclist and elite cyclist go hand-in-hand, the growth of one helping the other.People say, `Where do you put your efforts, the amateurs or the elite? The answer is both, he explained. This is a balance that all national governing bodies in America face.The Rio Olympics may offer an opportunity to kick-start his plan.Sure, broadcaster NBC will focus on more glamorous sports such as gymnastics and swimming, the traditional Olympic sports that push the public needle. But whether they are mere highlights of Armstrong in the time trial or Connor Fields on the BMX track, or online streams of cycling events throughout the Olympic program, the visibility of the Summer Games is priceless.That is crucial for USA Cycling, which has always struggled to raise money.Part of its support comes from the U.S. Olympic Committee, and is based on success at world championships and other major competitions. But according to recent USOC tax returns, sports such as shooting, rowing and sailing often receive more money than cycling.Where we suffer is our federation doesnt have the funds, said Sarah Hammer, who anchors the womens pursuit team. Something like swimming, they can generate their own through sponsors.USA Cycling has rarely had that ability, even when Lance Armstrong was in the spotlight.Some worry things could get even tighter for elite athletes if Bouchard-Hall redirects some of their scant funding to support the growth of grassroots cycling. But he quickly dispels that notion, pointing toward fundraising and sponsorship plans to help fill those coffers.More importantly, Bouchard-Hall said, people should understand that his plan to revitalize USA Cycling is a long-term approach that will eventually benefit elite athletes, too.By growing the sport at the local level, Bouchard-Hall hopes USA Cyclings slow membership decline will turn around. More young people will pick up cycling, reversing a trend toward an aging demographic. And some day, the best of those athletes will advance far enough in the sport that they will compete at world championships and the Olympics.Were not even participating in track cycling in some of disciplines, which is unfortunate, Bouchard-Hall said. We believe were a really important part of the racing ecosystem, but we also believe its the right thing to do to foster participation at all levels.USA Cycling received a small bump four years ago from the London Games, where it won four cycling medals -- fifth-most of any nation. But Bouchard-Hall hopes for a bigger return from the Rio Games, where the time zone will make tuning in easier for American fans.The difficulty lies in trying to build on the visibility.Were not a sport that generates a lot of attention without big megastars and big money, Bouchard-Hall said. When we had Lance, we got a lot of attention, cycling got a lot of publicity. But our Olympians, as great as those stories are within the sport -- and people who follow the sport do love them -- they dont translate well outside of them. What we need to do is get out the stories and thats a difficult challenge.But its also a unique opportunity. The Olympics are a once-every-four-years chance to help Bouchard-Hall jumpstart his vision for the future of USA Cycling.You have to be able to change as an organization when everything around you is changing, said Mark Gullickson, the long-tenured director of USA Cyclings mountain bike program.I think Derek was faced with some really tough challenges, Gullickson said, and were still in the early phases of where youre headed. But I think were making changes that we need to make if you really want to change the direction of the program to meet the needs of the members. 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ATLANTA -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker liked what he saw in three innings from starter Joe Ross.We were contemplating taking him another inning but said, `Thats enough this first time out, Baker said. Its a welcomed sight to see him back.Ross returned from a 66-game absence with right shoulder inflammation to give Washingtons rotation a boost in a rain-shorted 6-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.The game was official with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Two delays totaled 2 hours, 57 minutes.Washington has dropped two straight and needs any combination of six Nationals wins and six New York Mets losses to earn its third NL East title in five years.Adonis Garcia drove in three runs and Matt Wisler pitched five-plus innings for the Braves.Ross (7-5) was on a pitch count as he allowed one run and six hits and struck out five. Baker said the day before that he didnt expect Ross to go longer than three innings.After a 1-hour, 7-minute delay in the top of the sixth, the Braves scored three runs in the bottom of the inning to make it 6-2 on Garcias two-run single and Freddie Freemans RBI double.Wisler (7-12) allowed two runs, five hits and struck out two in 5 2/3 innings. He faced a limited lineup as Baker gave sluggers Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon the day off and used Ryan Zimmerman as a pinch-hitter.In his first start since July 2, Ross trailed 1-0 in the second on Jace Petersons RBI single. He gave up three singles to begin the third, but retired the next three batters to escape the jam.Pitched myself into a jam and was able to work out of it in the third, Ross said. Felt good, and thats the main thing I was concerned with today. I could have kept pitching, but probably best to keep it to three innings.Reynaldo LLopez took over in the fourth and trailed 3-0 on Dansby Swansons RBI double and Garcias RBI single.ddddddddddddWashington made it 3-2 in the sixth. Trea Turner tripled and Jayson Werth doubled off Wisler. After the first delay ended, Bryce Harpers single off Ian Krol scored Werth.Wisler is 3-3 with a 4.83 in five career starts and one relief appearance against Washington.The Nationals went 15-4 against Atlanta this season and 36-13 in the series since June 21, 2014. They played their last game at Turner Field with the NL-worst Braves moving to a new ballpark next year.Weve struggled against these guys for a couple of years now, Wisler said. To win a series is good for us. If we take that into New York, maybe we can take a series again there.STILL STREAKINGIn 13 games against Atlanta, Turner hit .475 with five doubles, two triples, six homers, 16 RBI, seven stolen bases and 20 runs scored. ... Freeman went 2 for 3 and has a 22-game hitting streak and has reached safely in 38 straight games. Both are career highs and rank first in the majors among active streaks. ... Braves CF Ender Inciarte went 1 for 3 and leads the majors with 88 hits since the All-Star break.SWOON STOPSHarper ended a stretch of 26 plate appearances without a hit, though he did have nine walks over the span. He had two hits in 29 at-bats over his previous 10 games.UP NEXTWashington RHP A.J. Cole (1-2) is scheduled to make his sixth start and first in his career against Miami. Braves RHP Aaron Blair (0-6) is set to start at New York. The rookie has an 8.23 ERA in 12 starts and is 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in three starts against the Mets. Wholesale NFL Womens Jerseys China Womens NFL Jerseys Nike NFL Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys Outlet Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Wholesale NFL White Jerseys Discount Jerseys ' ' '

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