Maria Lamb

Maria Lamb goes from ER to third Olympic team

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Maria Lamb‘s road to Sochi went through an emergency room.

Lamb, 27, overcame a throat infection that put her in the ER for five hours Monday to make her third Olympic team in her last-chance race at the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Trials on Wednesday.

“I couldn’t breathe at all [Monday],” Lamb, who also had a severe migraine, said on NBCSN. “Two days ago, I was literally in the ER with an IV and oxygen. I’m like, oh my God, I have to try and make the Olympic team in two days. It’s not quite your normal or ideal setup.”

Only the winner of the 5000m would go to Sochi, and Lamb prevailed in 7 minutes, 13.31 seconds at the Utah Olympic Oval on Wednesday. She became the eighth and final member of the U.S. Olympic women’s speed skating team.

Emery Lehman, who already qualified in the 5000m, won the men’s 10,000m to wrap up competition. The U.S. had one Olympic spot in the 10,000m, too.

Lamb placed 15th in the 5000m at the 2010 Olympics and 24th in the 1500m and fifth in the team pursuit at the 2006 Olympics. She was fifth in the 3000m at trials Friday, where the top two made the Olympic team.

Lamb was in the emergency room three days later, knowing her only chance to get to Sochi would come in the longest, most exhausting event in the women’s program.

“The 5K is my best and my favorite race,” Lamb said. “People think I’m a little bit crazy.”

Lamb and Jilleanne Rookard were co-favorites in the 5000m, but Rookard scratched out of the 5000m. Rookard already made the team in the 1500m and 3000m.

That left Petra Acker as Lamb’s biggest competition. Acker, trying to make her first Olympic team, was seven seconds slower than Lamb on Wednesday.

Another contender, Theresa Cliff-Ryan, was not allowed to skate after not passing concussion tests Wednesday. She was injured Monday when she landed on her head after being struck on the sidelines by a crashing skater, according to The Associated Press.

In the men’s 10,000m, Lehman came from behind to shock pair counterpart Jonathan Kuck by .07 after 25 laps. Lehman, a Chicagoland high school student, won in 13:22.77, shaving nearly seven seconds off his personal best.

“I saw some of [Kuck’s] lap times were slowing down, and mine were staying pretty consistent,” Lehman, wearing a green Chicago Blackhawks cap, said on NBCSN. “I was kind of waiting for myself to die, but it never came.”

Here’s the slated U.S. Olympic Speed Skating roster, pending skaters confirming their spots:

Tucker Fredricks — 500m
Mitchell Whitmore — 500m
Shani Davis — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Brian Hansen — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Jonathan Garcia — 1000m
Joey Mantia — 1000m, 1500m
Jonathan Kuck — 1500m, 5000m
Emery Lehman — 5000m, 10,000m
Patrick Meek — 5000m

Sugar Todd — 500m, 1000m
Heather Richardson — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Brittany Bowe — 500m, 1000m, 1500m
Lauren Cholewinski — 500m
Kelly Gunther — 1000m
Jilleanne Rookard — 1500m, 3000m
Anna Ringsred — 3000m
Maria Lamb — 5000m

Short track trials preview

Kayla Harrison begins MMA career

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 12:  (BROADCAST - OUT) Judoka Kayla Harrison of the United States poses for a photo with her gold medal on the Today show set on Copacabana Beach on August 12, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Two-time Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison has joined mixed martial arts promotion World Series of Fighting as a commentator, brand ambassador and potentially a fighter, but she isn’t 100 percent committed to competing and won’t set a first bout for at least one year.

“All signs point to a yes, but everything has to work out,” Harrison said. “I haven’t booked a fight.”

Harrison, 26 and all but retired from judo, has been asked time and again for years about her interest in pursuing MMA. That’s in part because of former training partner Ronda Rousey‘s overwhelming success after she switched from Olympic judo.

Harrison will serve as a commentator and brand ambassador before potentially getting into MMA competition. Her commentating debut will be at WSOF 34 in New York on Dec. 31 on NBC.

Harrison has taken boxing and jiu-jitsu lessons as far back as 2013, which should boost her MMA potential.

To compete in MMA, Harrison will require a weight cut from her Olympic judo class of 172 pounds.

Rousey competes at 135 pounds, the heaviest women’s weight class in UFC. WSOF, which has no women’s weight classes, plans to develop a women’s program as Harrison readies for a potential debut.

Harrison expects that if she fights, it will be at 145 pounds.

Harrison laughed about people tweeting at her to fight Brazilian Cristiane Justino, a former 145-pound title holder who is set to face Rousey, should Rousey win her comeback fight.

“I’ve never fought MMA before, so my first fight is not going to be for a belt,” Harrison cautioned. “I’m going to MMA 0-0, not as a two-time Olympic champion. People need to remember that.”

Harrison said she last conversed with Rousey one or two months ago. Rousey, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, congratulated Harrison on her second gold medal and told Harrison she was available if she needed anything.

Harrison said she might reach out to her former training partner early next year, after Rousey’s comeback fight, to pick her brain about MMA.

“And be like, hey, what do you got for me? Tell me everything,” Harrison joked.

MORE: Ronda Rousey sets comeback fight

U.S. men’s gymnastics program undergoes changes

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 25: Members of the U.S. Men's National Gymnastics Team gather before day two of the 2016 Men's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at Chafitz Arena on June 25, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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U.S. men’s national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika‘s contract will not be renewed at the end of the year as USA Gymnastics makes changes after missing the men’s team podium at a second straight Olympics.

Mazeika was the U.S. men’s head coach at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, where the U.S. men earned team medals at a non-home Games for the first time. He then served as national team coordinator from 2009 through this year.

The U.S. men finished fifth at the last two Olympics.

USA Gymnastics will replace the national team coordinator role with a high-performance director “focused on sustained international success.”

“The coaches, committee members and staff did a thorough review of the existing structure and results, and then took a hard look at what is needed to prepare our athletes for success heading toward Tokyo and beyond,” USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said in a press release.

MORE: U.S. women’s national team coordinator named