World Relays

U.S. women sweep on final day of World Relays (videos)

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The U.S. won all three women’s races at the first World Relays on Sunday, giving it victories in five of 10 overall events to close the meet in Nassau, Bahamas.

The American women captured the 4x200m, 4x400m and 4x800m one day after taking the 4x100m. Also Sunday, the American men won their first and only relay in the 4x400m. Jamaica took the men’s 4x100m (after the U.S. was disqualified in a preliminary heat). Kenya won the men’s 4x1500m in world-record time.

Overall, the U.S. (five), Kenya (three) and Jamaica (two) were the only nations to win races at the two-day meet.

The U.S. women topped Great Britain and Jamaica in the 4x200m with a quartet of Shalonda SolomonTawanna MeadowsBianca Knight and Kimberlyn Duncan. London Olympic 200m medalists Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter were not on the U.S. roster in Nassau.

The U.S. prevailed in 1 minute, 29.45 seconds, .16 better than Great Britain. Jamaica, with world 200m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on anchor, settled for third after a poor final baton exchange.

The U.S. women’s 4x400m, with 2012 Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross, won in 3:21.73, holding off Jamaica (3:23.26). The U.S. and Jamaica were even after Richards-Ross’ second leg, but veteran Natasha Hastings opened a lead that proved more than enough for anchor Joanna Atkins. World 4x400m champion Russia, long a U.S. rival in this event, did not enter a quartet despite being on the initial start list Saturday.

Yohan Blake anchored a Usain Bolt-less Jamaica to a sprint relay win for a second straight night, this time in the 4x100m in 37.77. The U.S. men missed the final after being disqualified for passing a baton out of the zone in their preliminary heat. On Saturday, the U.S. men’s 4x200m relay team was also disqualified on an illegal handoff.

Beijing Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt broke some 17,000 hearts at Thomas Robinson Stadium, passing the Bahamian 4x400m anchor on the final straight for victory. Merritt and the U.S. men, including Olympic and world triple jump champion Christian Taylor, clocked 2:57.25. The Bahamas, which won the 2012 Olympic 4x400m gold, was second in 2:57.59.

Kenya completed a world-record sweep of the men’s and women’s 4x1500m. World 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop crossed the finish in 14:22.22, 14 seconds faster than Kenya’s previous world record from 2009. The U.S., with Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano anchoring, held off Ethiopia for second place in 14:40.8.

But the U.S. women prevented Kenya from a middle-distance sweep, taking the 4x800m in 8:01.58, bettering Kenya by 2.7 seconds. World junior 800m champion Ajee’ Wilson handed a significant lead to anchor Brenda Martinez, the reigning world bronze medalist. Martinez, who also anchored the second-place U.S. 4x1500m team Saturday, was never challenged by Kenyan anchor Eunice Sum, the reigning world champion.

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Max Aaron retires from figure skating

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Max Aaron, a national champion and Skate America winner, has retired from competitive figure skating.

Aaron, 26, ends his career as the only Skate America men’s winner not to compete in an Olympics. He is one of three U.S. men’s champions in the last 55 years not to compete in an Olympics, along with Ryan Bradley and Rudy Galindo.

“Of course, becoming an Olympian, or having an Olympic medal would have been great to say, ride off on my white horse, but having the ability to say that I have no regrets in my entire career of figure skating, for me that is my gold medal,” Aaron said Thursday night.

Aaron, a former top USA Hockey developmental player, also figure skated growing up to help with his skating skills as one of the smaller players on his team.

He stopped playing hockey at 16 due to a broken vertebra but continued full-time with figure skating. By 2012, Aaron considered quitting figure skating after placing eighth at nationals (one year after being U.S. junior champion) and being told he wasn’t artistic enough.

But Aaron kept with it and completed a remarkable bounce back the next year, winning the U.S. title and setting himself up as a favorite to make the 2014 Olympic team.

But Aaron ended up third at the 2014 U.S. Championships. The two Sochi Olympic spots went to Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

Aaron continued, becoming the first U.S. man to win Skate America in six years in 2015 and topping the short program at the 2016 U.S. Championships before ultimately finishing second to Adam Rippon.

Aaron plummeted to ninth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, coming back from offseason hernia surgery, but returned to the Olympic team radar last fall with a personal-best free skate at Cup of China, including three landed quadruple jumps. He went into the 2018 U.S. Championships ranking third among American men for the season.

But Aaron was again ninth at nationals, missing the Olympic team. He was called on to compete at last month’s world championships as the third alternate after Rippon, Ross Miner and Brown all passed.

Aaron had stopped skating and instead was training for a triathlon. He went to worlds in Milan on two weeks of training and finished 11th, a result that helped the U.S. keep three men’s spots for 2019 Worlds. Nathan Chen won the world title, but Vincent Zhou was 14th. The U.S. needed its second man to be 12th or better to go along with Chen’s first place to ensure three spots next year. Aaron reportedly said at worlds that it may have been his last competition.

Aaron said he’s started a job with Merrill Lynch.

“It’s really been a great ride. I have no regrets,” he said. “That’s one thing that I always told myself, in sport, in life, I want to have no regrets, and I can honestly say, with the help from my coaches and friends, that I have no regrets in the sport.”

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Martha, Bela Karolyi speak on Larry Nassar case (video)

Martha Karolyi, Bela Karolyi
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Former USA Gymnastics national team coordinators Martha and Bela Karolyi said they knew nothing about Larry Nassar‘s alleged abuse in an interview that airs on an hourlong NBC News “Dateline” special Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

Star U.S. gymnasts, among more than 100 who said they were sexually abused by the convicted Nassar, said they were abused at the Karolyi’s ranch in Texas during national-team training camps.

“That’s awful, but I would say even if they have big names or they have no names, any child who was violated by Nassar, it’s a crime and it’s so sad,” Martha Karolyi told Savannah Guthrie in part of the interview that aired on TODAY on Friday.

How could the Karolyis not have known about the alleged abuses committed at their property?

“Yes, but if you couldn’t suspect anything, I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this — and the parent couldn’t see. How I could see?” Martha Karolyi said.

“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding, boom,” Bela Karolyi said.

Martha Karolyi led the national team for 15 years before retiring after the Rio Olympics. She told Guthrie that in “no way” did she suspect Nassar was sexually abusing athletes.

The Karolyis have been named as co-defendants in several civil lawsuits filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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