Alysia Montano

Very pregnant Alysia Montano runs at U.S. Championships

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Olympian Alysia Montano entered the 800m at the U.S. Championships about six weeks before her due date on Thursday.

Montano, a five-time U.S. outdoor champion, clocked 2 minutes, 32.13 seconds to finish last in her eight-woman preliminary heat, 24.38 seconds behind her closest competitor. Here’s video of her race.

“I’ve been running through my entire pregnancy, and I felt really, really good during the whole process,” Montano told reporters after her race in Sacramento, Calif. “I definitely was like, OK, I think I can run a pretty decent time. I didn’t have a time on it [that I wanted to run]. I just knew I didn’t want to get lapped, be the first person to ever get lapped in an 800m. More than anything, I wanted to be here, and I’m feeling that fire and that desire to be on the track and to race. What a better avenue than to do it at USA Nationals.”

[WATCH LIVE: U.S. Championships, Friday at 10 pm ET]

Montano, the four-time reigning U.S. champion, had a previous qualifying time that allowed her to enter the competition. She said she consulted her doctor and midwife, who encouraged her to race 34 weeks into her pregnancy.

“That took away any fear of what the outside world might think about a woman running in pregnancy or exercise in general,” said Montano, wearing a customary flower in her hair. “What I found out mostly was that exercising and maintaining during pregnancy is actually much better for the mom and the baby.”

She received a standing ovation at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.

“I just felt so supported,” she said. “I didn’t want to be judged or have any ill things said about me. I just wanted to kind of do what my heart and my desire wanted to do.”

Montano said she knew she wouldn’t advance out of the first round. Rather, she viewed her participation as a celebration.

“We see so many people in different avenues in their life start their family, and it looks so different than it does for a professional athlete, especially for a professional athlete woman,” said Montano, whose due date is Aug. 13. “You’ve seen [four-time Olympic middle distance runner] Bernard Lagat have two kids, and we don’t see the other side of it. This is what it looks like to be a professional athlete as a woman.”

Montano, 28, finished fifth in the Olympic 800m and fourth at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships. No American woman has won an Olympic 800m medal since Kim Gallagher‘s bronze in 1988.

USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships broadcast schedule

Russia’s goal for 2018 Olympics to top medal standings

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 07:  Bobsleigh racer Alexander Zubkov of the Russia Olympic team carries his country's flag during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 7, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
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Russia’s goal for the 2018 Olympics is to repeat its success from Sochi by topping the medal standings for a second straight Winter Games, the Russian Olympic Committee president reportedly said Thursday.

“Our team finished in the first place of the unofficial medals standings during the Olympics in Sochi,” Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said, according to Russian news agency TASS. “This is why the priority task for the national team is to maintain its leading position at the 2018 Games.”

Zhukov cautioned that there has been a recent decrease in potential medalists, plus no longer having the home-field advantage as it had in Sochi.

Zhukov’s comments came one day before the second part of a World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned report investigating Russian doping allegations is to be published.

In May, The New York Times reported that dozens of Russian athletes, including 15 Sochi medalists, were on a state-run doping program leading into the 2014 Winter Games.

So far, no Russian medalists have been found guilty of cheating for the Sochi Olympics.

In Sochi, Russia earned 33 medals and 13 golds. The next highest totals were 28 medals by the U.S. and 11 golds by Norway.

The last time the Winter Games were in East Asia, Russia placed third in total medals and golds behind Germany and Norway at Nagano 1998.

MORE: Russian Olympic champion to oversee RUSADA

Bob McKenzie: ‘It doesn’t look like the NHL is going to South Korea’

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If the status quo doesn’t change, the NHL will likely decide in January not to send players to the 2018 Olympics, insider Bob McKenzie said on NBCSN on Wednesday night.

The NHL Board of Governors is meeting in Florida on Thursday and Friday, and the Olympics are expected to be discussed, but no decision on NHL participation in Pyeongchang is expected.

“Absent some new X-factor that comes into the equation, something that changes up the minds of the governors or other people involved in this Olympic decision, it doesn’t look like the NHL is going to South Korea,” McKenzie said. “But that decision won’t be made until probably January.”

The International Ice Hockey Federation recently met with hockey federations, which asked about a Plan B should the NHL not participate in the Olympics for the first time since 1994.

“There was no real answer, don’t worry, we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it,” McKenzie said. “There are some federations who believe that it’s going to be absolute chaos. For the very simple reason that if you think the National Hockey League doesn’t want to shut down its league, neither do a lot of the European leagues, whether it be Sweden or Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, you name it.”

Earlier this fall, the world’s second-best league — the KHL in Russia — said it planned to take its usual break and release players for the Olympics like it has done for recent Winter Games. KHL rosters for its 29 teams include double-digit Canadians and double-digit Americans, some with NHL experience.

An official from Sweden’s top league said in October that it had not decided if it will take an Olympic break and was following the discussions between the NHL and IIHF.

Finland’s top league said in October that it was planning to take a break in its season to send players to the Olympics, but a final decision had not been made.

NCAA rules allow players to leave their programs for Olympic tryouts and the Games themselves. One active NCAA player competed in the 2014 Olympics — Bowling Green’s Ralfs Freibergs, who missed two college games that season to participate in Sochi for Latvia.

“If the NHLers aren’t going, it could be the wild, wild, west,” McKenzie said. “Try and find a player anywhere to represent your country.”

MORE: 2018 Olympic men’s hockey groups set