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

More Olympic distance-running medalists banned for doping

Gamze Bulut
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MONACO (AP) — Turkish runner Elvan Abeylegesse has been banned for doping and stands to lose two Olympic silver medals.

The IAAF says Abeylegesse tested positive for the banned steroid stanozolol in a retest of a sample she gave at the 2007 World Championships.

She has been banned for two years and had her results wiped out from 2007-09.

Abeylegesse won Olympic silver medals in the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2008 Beijing Games and silver in the 10,000m at the 2007 world championships.

The IAAF also said it had imposed a four-year ban on another Turkish runner, Gamze Bulut, for a violation of its biological passport program. Bulut won 1500m silver at the 2012 London Olympics.

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Maria Sharapova not fully committed to 2020 Olympic run

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The rumors and reports have been out for months, but asked directly, Maria Sharapova wasn’t immediately quite sure how to answer when asked about going for the 2020 Olympics.

“Ooh, I don’t, umm,” Sharapova said, laughing lightly, sitting across from retired U.S. Olympic soccer champion Julia Foudy at a conference in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Tuesday (video here). “It’s a question I’ve been asked, and I’d love to sit here today and say yes, in three-so years that is where I want to be. But it’s hard. It’s hard to look that far, also being a woman that’s also [turning] 30 years [old in three weeks]. I want to have a family. I want to be a mother. Those are definitely long-term goals of mine. But of course to compete in another Olympics, that’s an athlete’s dream. I’d love to be a part of that.”

Sharapova is set to return from her 15-month meldonium ban next month. What stings the most about her suspension?

“Something was taken away from you that you’ve done so passionately since you were a little girl,” she said. “Although I’m at a stage and an age in my career and in my life where you’re closer to the end than you are to the beginning, you always want to end your career or a chapter in your life on your terms and in your voice. And to be in a moment where you feel or you felt like it could have ended on someone else’s voice and someone else’s terms was very difficult to accept. That’s why I fought so hard for the truth to be out. You don’t realize how much you love something and how much something it means to you until you lose it for some time. It gave me a chance also to live.”

Sharapova joked about going to Coachella last year.

“There’s 120,000 people doing drugs that I’m not aware of?” she said, laughing. “And completely being out of my element. I was like, OK? … I’m skipping Coachella this year, because I got my day-job back.”

The fans’ reaction when she gets back on the competition courts?

“I don’t know if there’s much that I can control,” she said.

Earlier this month, her agent reportedly said he thought that Sharapova will play through the 2020 Tokyo Games if healthy.

Sharapova will be 33 years old come the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, two years older than any previous Russian Olympic tennis player. She will likely have to be ranked among the top four Russians in the world in spring 2020 to qualify for the Games outright.

Sharapova’s passion for the Olympics is well documented.

She carried the Russian flag into the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and carried the Olympic flame into Fisht Stadium at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony, where she worked for NBC Olympics.

“It was the one thing that my parents allowed me to watch on TV late into the evening was the Olympics,” Sharapova said Tuesday. “I grew up watching figure skating and hockey and a little bit of tennis. … Just capturing the Opening Ceremonies and seeing all the countries and the little hats that they wore, and I, as a little girl, I just imagined that maybe it would be me. But I never, ever thought that I would be carrying the flag.

“I received that [flag] honor in a text message, which is a very Russian way of communicating. I originally thought it was a joke, a big fat joke. Then I showed it to my mother, and she [said], no, they probably wouldn’t joke like that.”

In February 2016, Sharapova entered a Fed Cup tie, despite saying she was injured, in order to receive Olympic eligibility.

One month later, her failed drug test was announced.

Two women’s players, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams, have achieved the singles career Golden Slam — winning all four majors and the Olympics. Sharapova, beaten by Williams 6-0, 6-1 in the London 2012 final, is a Tokyo title away from joining them.

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