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In Ibtihaj Muhammad, fencing might have finally found an athlete whose story transcends the sport. Gary Payton Jersey .Muhammad will make history at the Rio Games by becoming the first American athlete to wear a hijab -- a Muslim head scarf -- while competing in the Olympics.Muhammads Olympic goal -- beyond winning a medal, of course -- is to be a positive role model for the Muslim-American community.Ive been in this sport for a pretty long time -- at this point I feel like Ive kind of created a name for myself. If anything, I think the wonderful thing is that now these young kids, they see Muslim women involved in sports. So its not an anomaly anymore, Muhammad said at the Team USA media summit Los Angeles in March.But Muhammad is hardly the only American poised for a breakout in Rio.The U.S. might be as strong as its ever been ahead of an Olympics -- and the fact that this years Games will be broadcast live in the Eastern time zone should only help fencings growth domestically.The Americans and Russians caught some bad luck because two of their top teams -- mens sabre and womens foil -- wont compete in Rio because the IOC only has room for 10 of the sports 12 divisions during the Olympics. But those athletes will still compete as individuals.Here are some of the key story lines to follow during this years Olympic fencing tournament.---U.S. ON THE RISEThe U.S. and Italy have three teams ranked in the top three in their weapon in the most recent FIE rankings, trailing only Russias five.The Americans havent won a gold medal in mens Olympic fencing since Albertson Van Zo Post in 1904. But Alexander Massialas, the son of former national team coach Greg Massialas, is ranked No. 1 in the world in mens foil. Gerek Meinhardt and Race Imboden -- whos also a fashion model -- also owned top-seven spots in that weapon.Daryl Homer and Eli Dershwitz are ranked 10th and 12th in mens sabre, well within striking distance of a medal.Two-time Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis is a medal favorite in womens sabre, and Muhammad (eighth, sabre) might be peaking just when she needs to. Lee Kiefer took a year off from her studies at Notre Dame to focus on Rio, and shes ranked third in foil.---RETURNING STARArianna Errigo is the new face of Italian fencing after Valentina Vezzali, a six-time Olympic champion, failed to qualify for Rio.Errigo, who lost to teammate Elisa Di Francisca 12-11 in the gold medal match in London, went on to win world championships in 2013-14 and is currently ranked No. 1 in foil. Errigos 270 points earned so far in 2016 are the most of any individual fencer.Sophia Velikaya of Russia (sabre) was also a runner-up in London who has since ascended atop the world rankings, one spot ahead of Zagunis.Top-ranked Anqi Xu of China will seek her first world championship in epee.---OLYMPIAN EFFORTRuben Limardo, Venezuelas flag bearer for Rio, will be asked to bear the weight of a continents worth of pressure as South Americas best hope for a fencing medal. But the favorite in Limardos weapon, Gauthier Grumier, has led France to five team epee world titles and is desperate to claim Olympic gold as an individual.Japans Yuki Ota and James Andrew-Davis of Great Britain are the biggest threats the U.S. will likely face in foil.Russias Alexey Yakimenko is ranked No. 1 in sabre on the strength of a strong end to 2015. But South Koreas Kim Jung-hwan recently won a Grand Prix in Moscow and looks primed for a run at gold in Rio.---RULE CHANGESThe biggest change fans will noticed from London in 2012 to Rio is the shift in the piste, or fighting strip, from parallel to angled.The venue in London only allowed fans to view from two sides of the arena. But with seats circling all of Carioca Arena 3, spectators should have a much clearer and more dimensional view of the matches. There will also be a family-friendly area just outside the venue, where passers-by will be able to grab a weapon and give fencing a try free of charge. Coaches will be on hand to provide instructions, and safety equipment will be provided. Steven Adams Jersey . The 20-year-old Pelicans big man glanced up and smiled widely at the well-wishers -- a fitting end to a day he wont soon forget. Davis responded to his selection earlier in the day as a Western Conference All-Star with 26 points and 10 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 98-91 on Friday night. Terrance Ferguson Jersey .C. -- Todd Fiddler scored a hat trick, including the overtime goal, as the Prince George Cougars survived an 8-7 win against the Kamloops Blazers in Western Hockey League play Sunday. http://www.cheapthundersjerseys.com/?ta ... son-jersey . For the Wild it was their first win of the season and they now have a record of 1-1-2 while the Jets fall to 2-2. Jets start a six game home stand Friday with another divisional game, home to the Dallas Stars. Its been a disappointing season for the Tampa Bay Rays, who will finish last in the American League East for the first time since 2007.However, there have been some bright spots for the Rays this year, including Logan Forsythe, Evan Longoria, Brad Miller and Jake Odorizzi. So who has been their MVP? Castt your vote in the poll below (stats entering Friday). Shawn Kemp Jersey. The Rays wrap up the regular season with a series against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park this weekend. ' ' '
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