Ashton Eaton

Ashton Eaton near world record pace at World Indoors; wife wins silver

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The first day of the World Indoor Championships was good to husband and wife Ashton Eaton and Brianne Theisen-Eaton.

The American Eaton took a 70-point lead in the heptathlon in Sopot, Poland, on Friday, one point shy of his world record pace set at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. The Canadian Theisen-Eaton won silver in the pentathlon.

The first U.S. medal was gold, to shot putter Ryan Whiting who defended his 2012 World Indoor title.

The Olympic decathlon champion Eaton reportedly multi-tasked at ERGO Arena, cheering on Theisen-Eaton in her final pentathlon event, the 800m, while in between high jumps in the fourth of seven events in his heptathlon.

Theisen-Eaton finished 62 points behind winner Nadine Broersen of the Netherlands. American Sharon Day-Monroe finished six points out of bronze.

Eaton had the best 60m and long jump in the heptathlon and was fourth in the shot put and third in the high jump. He’s in line to win his fourth straight major multi-event championship with three events to go Saturday.

Whiting, who also won silver at the 2013 World Outdoor Championships, prevailed with a 22.05-meter throw to beat two-time reigning World Outdoor champion David Storl of Germany.

American Marvin Bracy overcame a slow start in the 60m to advance to Saturday’s semifinals in 6.60 seconds. Bracy, 20 and a former Florida State football recruit, is seen as a medal favorite given he’s the fastest man in the world this year among competitors in Sopot.

“It’s my first World Championships and it’s not something I’m used to,” Bracy said, according to Agence France-Presse. “Normally I just show up a day before a championship and run, but this is different.

“I concentrated on my preparations for the race so much that I actually wasn’t paying attention to when the gun went off, that’s why my start was so bad.

“I don’t feel much pressure, I’m just 20 so I know that even if I don’t do as well as I’m expected to, I’ve got a lot of World Championships left in my career.”

Other medal contenders Great Britain’s Dwain Chambers (6.57) and Jamaican Nesta Carter (6.58) also advanced.

Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson of Australia was the fastest qualifier into the 60m hurdles semifinals in 7.79 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year and faster than any other woman in the field has ever run.

Americans Nia Ali and Janay DeLoach Soukup also made the 16-woman semifinals set for Saturday.

In the men’s 800m, World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Nick Symmonds failed to advance out of his heat and then said it was the final indoor race of his career.

“I’m not in that point in my season where I have that speed to get out,” Symmonds, 30, told reporters. “It [indoors] doesn’t suit me very well. As much fun as I’ve had out here, I think, for me, personally, obviously you’ve seen the last three or four seasons when I skip the indoor season, the long buildup works better for me in the summer [outdoors].”

All of the contenders advanced to Sunday’s men’s 3000m final, including Americans Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp. Lagat, 39, is the two-time defending 3000m champion and the oldest athlete at the meet.

Both Americans also made the women’s 3000m final, Shannon Rowbury and Gabriele Grunewald. Grunewald was controversially disqualified and then reinstated as the U.S. 3000m champion last week. Ethiopian world record holder Genzebe Dibaba is the overwhelming favorite in the 3000m.

American Lopez Lomong, the Sudan-born 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer, failed to advance out of the 1500m heats.

U.S. Olympian Francena McCorory was the fastest qualifier into the women’s 400m final Saturday. Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic failed to make the men’s 400m final, while Olympic bronze medalist Lalonde Gordon of Trindad and Tobago made it in only after another man was disqualified.

World Indoor Championship broadcast schedule

Simone Biles says Larry Nassar sexually abused her

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Simone Biles watched as friends and Olympic teammates came forward to detail abuse at the hands of a now-imprisoned former USA Gymnastics team doctor.

Drawing in part from their strength, the four-time gold medalist acknowledged Monday she is among the athletes who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar.

Biles, who won five medals overall at the Rio Olympics, released a statement via social media outlining that abuse.

Nassar, who spent more than two decades as a physician at USA Gymnastics while also working at Michigan State University, has admitted sexually assaulting gymnasts, possessing child pornography and molesting girls who sought medical treatment.

He was sentenced in December to 60 years in federal prison for possessing child pornography and is facing another 40 to 125 years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting seven girls.

Biles, now 20, called Nassar’s behavior “completely unacceptable, disgusting, and abusive, especially from someone whom I was told to trust.”

She joined a list of high-profile gymnasts who came out against Nassar, including six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman, 2012 all-around champion Gabby Douglas and two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney.

Like her Olympic teammates, Biles detailed abuse by Nassar that he disguised as treatment.

“It is not normal to receive any type of treatment from a trusted team physician and refer to it horrifyingly as the ‘special’ treatment,” Biles wrote.

Biles is in the beginning stages of a return to competition, a journey that includes visits to the national team’s training center at the Karolyi Ranch north of Houston, where she said the abuse occurred.

“It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing in Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” Biles wrote.

USA Gymnastics initially agreed to buy the Karolyi Ranch in the summer of August 2016, following the retirement of longtime national team coordinator Martha Karolyi but then backed out of the deal, though the national team continues to use the facility while options for a replacement are explored.

Biles says she initially wondered if she was to blame.

“For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? Was it may fault?’” Biles wrote. “I now know the answer to those questions. No. No. It was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others.”

USA Gymnastics did not initially respond to a request for comment.

The organization has taken several steps in recent months. President and CEO Steve Penny resigned under pressure last March and was replaced by Kerry Perry, who took over on Dec. 1.

The organization hired Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of SafeSport last summer.

Part of Stark’s mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs and reporting.

The federation also adopted over 70 recommendations by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw an extensive independent review.

That’s not far enough for some.

Raisman has urged the organization to remove chairman of the board Paul Parilla among others. Biles, like Raisman, wants USA Gymnastics to take a deeper look at the conditions that allowed Nassar’s behavior to run unchecked for so long.

“We need to know why this was able to take place for so long and to so many of us,” Biles said. “We need to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Jamaica qualifies first Olympic women’s bobsled team

Jamaica Bobsled Jazmine Fenlator
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Jamaica, we have a women’s Olympic bobsled team.

Jamaica qualified an Olympic women’s bobsled team for the first time, earning the last quota spot in the PyeongChang field by a slim margin over Romania.

This season, Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian (a 2014 U.S. Olympian) drove the first Jamaican women’s sled in World Cup competition since 2001.

She and brakewoman Carrie Russell debuted in seventh place in December, which put them into Olympic qualifying position. Russell won a 2013 World title in track and field as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay.

Fenlator-Victorian and Russell competed in a sled named “Mr. Cool Bolt” after “Cool Runnings” and Usain Bolt, according to International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation announcers.

Eleven Jamaicans have competed at the Winter Olympics — all men. All bobsledders, too, save ski cross racer Errol Kerr in 2010, according to Olympic historians.

Fenlator-Victorian, 32, announced her plan to switch representation to Jamaica (where her father is from) in 2015.

The year before, she finished 11th in her Olympic debut in Sochi with two-time Olympic track and field athlete Lolo Jones.

Jamaica just missed qualifying a two-man bobsled outright for PyeongChang. It is the first alternate if one of the qualified nations returns a quota spot.

The Olympic women’s bobsled medal contenders are American, Canadian and German sleds.

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MORE: Would Usain Bolt make a good bobsledder?

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