Olympics Day 8 - Athletics

Jamaican Williams-Mills ran at Olympics with breast cancer

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Jamaica’s top 400-meter runner revealed publicly that she was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago in an interview with the Daily Mail.

Novlene Williams-Mills, a 2004 University of Florida graduate, was told she had cancer on June 25, 2012, according to the report.

“It feels like your own body has betrayed you, like I’ve been stabbed,” she told the Daily Mail. “I’m an athlete. I work out, I train. It can’t be possible.”

She won the Jamaican trials six days later and then finished fifth in the Olympic 400-meter final and bagged her third straight bronze medal in the 4×400-meter relay.

“Was it crazy? Yes,” she told the Daily Mail. “That’s everybody’s dream, to run at the Olympics. But I was thinking about my hurdles that I have to come back to fight. I was thinking: ‘Am I going to survive this?’

“My teammates in the relay did not know. But I was standing on the podium, and I didn’t know if I would ever run another race.”

Three days after the Games surgeons removed a small lump in her breast. She then had a double mastectomy, a further operation to cut out the remaining cancerous cells and reconstructive surgery. Her final operation was on January 18.

Williams-Mills compared her struggle to that of actress Angelina Jolie, who also underwent a preventive double mastectomy, an operation which removes all or part of breasts.

It reduced her future risk of cancer from 99 percent to maybe three percent, she told the Daily Mail.

Williams-Mills returned to competition four months after that final operation. She won her seventh Jamaican 400-meter title on June 23, booking her place at August’s world championships in Moscow. The 2007 world bronze medalist is still a medal threat. Her season’s best of 50.01 makes her the fifth-fastest woman this year.

“I’m still one of the top 400m runners in the world and I want to see what I can do,” she told the Daily Mail. “Moscow will be for all the breast cancer survivors out there. I want them to know it’s still possible.”

Conflicting reports on Yohan Blake’s worlds status

Mikaela Shiffrin wrestles with doubt in seconds before World Cup downhill debut

Mikaela Shiffrin, of the United States, skis during the third training run for the World Cup women's downhill ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP)
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After a momentary panic in the start house, Mikaela Shiffrin raced to a tie for 18th in the first downhill of her World Cup career in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Shiffrin, the youngest Olympic slalom champion who has also won a World Cup giant slalom, has been slowly adding the speed events of super-G and downhill to her repertoire the last two seasons.

“It wasn’t bad,” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com. “I certainly didn’t risk anything crazy.”

Her result Friday, 1.99 seconds behind Slovenian winner Ilka Stuhec, came after Shiffrin was 18th, 24th and 30th fastest in downhill training runs the previous three days. Shiffrin also had to wait several minutes in the start house as the racer before her crashed (video here).

“That was just a bummer,” Shiffrin said, according to the Denver Post. “I was like, ‘Just don’t let it affect you,’ but being up there for 10 minutes, like, ‘What happened? What’s taking them so long? What’s going on? Is she hurt?’

“Then I started doubting myself, like my technique going off the jumps, which is actually pretty good. I was going back and forth between, ‘Should I even be doing this? Maybe I just should pull out because I don’t want to kill myself.’ Then I’m like, ‘You’re absolutely fine, you haven’t felt sketched out a single time on this track in the past three days, so stick with that. You don’t have to go crazy.'”

“To be fast in speed there certainly needs to be a certain level of risk, and I know that, but now, if [giant slalom] and slalom are my main priority this season, I don’t need to be going crazy in a downhill with flat light and after I got iced [waiting so long],” Shiffrin said, according to SkiRacing.com.

Stuhec won Friday’s race by .22 of a second over Italian Sofia Goggia. Swede Kajsa Kling was third.

A race replay can be seen here. Full results are here.

Lindsey Vonn, owner of a record 18 wins at Lake Louise, is missing the annual World Cup stop in Alberta due to a broken arm from a November crash. Vonn had raced at Lake Louise each of the previous 15 seasons.

Last season, Shiffrin made her World Cup debut in the super-G at Lake Louise and finished 15th.

The women have another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday in Lake Louise, both streaming live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app (schedule here).

MORE: Vonn eyes January return from her most painful injury

High-speed crash at World Cup downhill in Lake Louise (video)

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Swiss Joana Haehlen crashed into netting at high speed during a World Cup downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta, on Friday.

Haehlen, 24, lost her right ski after landing from a jump and sped uncontrollably off course. She braced for impact, slammed into red netting and was turned around before landing with neither of her skis still attached.

She lay on the snow while being attended to and eventually skied down the mountain on her own.

It caused a 10-minute delay before the next skier, American Mikaela Shiffrin, could take her run.

VIDEO: Vonn details the most painful injury of her career