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US women's rugby sevens pick Doyle and Kelter for their third Olympics

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (AP) — Lauren Doyle and Alev Kelter will appear at their third Olympics with a shot at helping the United States win its first rugby sevens medal in Paris.

Doyle and Kelter were in the women's squads which finished fifth in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 — rugby sevens' Olympic debut — and sixth in Tokyo in 2021.

Doyle and Naya Tapper were named co-captains of the 12-women roster selected on Monday, more than half of whom have had the Olympic experience.

They are medal contenders again.

“We are very excited about this team,” coach Emilie Bydwell said in a statement. “The players complement each other extremely well, enabling individuals to express their strengths and simultaneously bring out the superpowers of those around them and the team.”

The women finished the recent world series fifth overall.

In eight tournaments, they reached three semifinals and the final in Hong Kong, the series' biggest tournament.

In the series finale in Madrid this month, they beat Canada and Britain but lost to New Zealand and missed out on reaching the semifinals on points difference.

New Zealand, the reigning Olympic champion, also beat the Eagles in the Hong Kong final.

The first Olympic champion, Australia, stopped the Eagles in the semifinals in Cape Town, Perth and Los Angeles.

The U.S. men won Olympic rugby gold medals in the 15s version in 1920 and 1924, but rugby didn't return to the program until 2016, in the reduced but faster sevens version with men and women.

“Our goal,” Bydwell said, “is not just to compete but to move the jersey forward, leaving a legacy for those to follow and to deliver a performance that inspires American fans.”

The Eagles will know who is in their Olympic pool this weekend. They leave for a training camp in Tours, France, in mid-July. The three-day Olympic competition at Stade de France starts on July 28, following the men.

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United States: Lauren Doyle (co-captain), Naya Tapper (co-captain), Alev Kelter, Kayla Canett, Kristi Kirshe, Ilona Maher, Ariana Ramsey, Alena Olsen, Spiff Sedrick, Sammy Sullivan, Sarah Levy, Steph Rovetti. Traveling reserves: Kris Thomas, Nicole Heavirland.

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AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/summer-olympics

The Associated Press