Mary Cain

Mary Cain turns pro at 17

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U.S. middle distance phenom Mary Cain will not run collegiately.

Cain, 17, turned professional, she announced Friday.

“For the past couple of months, my family and I have been debating whether I should compete at a collegiate or professional level going forward,” Cain said, according to a press release. “I have decided, and am truly excited to announce, that I will be turning pro. I believe that, in the long run, this is the best way for me continue to develop as an athlete.”

It’s not a surprising move for the youngest American to make a World Championships team. Cain took 10th in the 1,500m in Moscow in August as the youngest woman ever to start a worlds final.

Cain turned pro earlier than previous U.S. running prodigies. Allyson Felix, who won an Olympic silver medal at 18, competed as a senior in high school. Alan Webb, who broke Jim Ryun‘s age-group records in high school from 1999-2001, turned pro at 19.

A younger U.S. runner has Cain beat in that department, though.

High school junior Alana Hadley qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials earlier this month by running 2 hours, 41 minutes, 56 seconds at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Nov. 2.

Cain, a senior at Bronxville (N.Y.) High, is in Monaco for the IAAF World Athletics Gala. She will still go to college, her father said, but will not be eligible to compete in NCAA competitions.

“How to proceed was always going to be a difficult choice,” said Cain’s father, Charles, according to a press release. “Mary is a straight-A student and will be pursuing a college education while competing. This remains a priority and we think this approach is the best way to balance her educational and athletic goals.”

Cain is coached by Alberto Salazar, who also coaches Olympic champion Mo Farah and Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp in Oregon.

Cain’s agent will be Ricky Simms, who also represents Farah and Usain Bolt.

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Ida Keeling, 100 years old, sets world record at Penn Relays (video)

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Ida Keeling electrified the Penn Relays crowd with her 100-meter dash in 1 minute, 17.33 seconds on Saturday afternoon.

Keeling set a world record for fastest 100m by a woman 100 years and older. There is no data on USA Track and Field and masters athletics websites for a previous record holder.

“I’ll be 101 in a couple of weeks,” Keeling pointed out to NBC Sports’ Carolyn Manno after the race, a mixed-gender event for athletes 80 and older. “I’ve never seen nothing like this crowd. Maybe that’s what the excitement was.”

Keeling’s advice?

“Love yourself, do what you have to do and what you want to do,” she said. “Eat for nutrition, not for taste. And exercise at least once a day.”

More on Keeling is here.

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U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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