One more comeback for retiring Jeremy Abbott

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SOCHI, Russia – His hip badly bruised from a cringe-worthy fall on Thursday night, Jeremy Abbott’s pride was far from far injured. In fact, the to-be-retired 28-year-old went out and skated a personal-best free skate to finish his second of two Olympic appearances.

“Of course I would have wanted an Olympic title, a world title,” Abbott said after his long program. “But, this is my story. And I’m proud of it.”

The American, long known to be a hot-and-cold performer on international ice, wasn’t able to say if he’d skate at the World Championships next month in Japan, leaving it a mystery as to if Sochi was the last place he’d skate competitively.

“I’m so happy to have had this experience and finish the competition,” Abbott said. “I really showed courage under pressure. That is what the Olympics are all about and they’ve inspired me once again. The crowd really rallied around me and I appreciated that. I had to scale back my program because of pain.”

VIDEO: Full recap of men’s free skate

What Abbott didn’t scale back was his emotion and expressions on the ice, skating with a kind of heart that one can only have after a decade of competition. He finishes with four U.S. national titles, two Olympic appearances and eight Grand Prix medals on the international circuit.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career; it’s been a roller coaster,” said Abbott, who fought back tears as he spoke. “But my favorite memories are when I’ve come back from the bottom.”

That’s what Abbott had to do twice in Sochi, having skated to a low 65.65 in the team event short program and then suffering a horrific crash on his opening jump in the individual event, which caused him to alter his jumping patterns in the free skate.

“I had to change my program because of bruising from my hip to my ribs,” Abbott said, explaining his muscled had seized up in that part of his body, as well. “We took out all the loops from my program, they were just too painful.”

VIDEO: Jeremy Abbott’s “beautiful” Olympic swan song

Abbott, as he deserves to do, will take the remainder of his time in Sochi to soak up the Olympics.

“I’m going to revel in the Olympic moment,” the Colorado native said. “I wouldn’t change what I’ve done for anything. I can own it forever. I’m just so grateful to have this opportunity.”

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.

VIDEO: Bob Costas picks biggest storyline of Rio Olympics

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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