Mike Brannigan

Runner with autism keeps making strides (video)

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Mike Brannigan can run a mile in 4 minutes, 7 seconds. The elite high school runner has heard from more than 200 colleges. He dreams of competing in the Olympics.

“That would be pretty awesome,” Brannigan told “NBC Nightly News.” “Put that in the books of history.”

Brannigan, 17, breaks free from the pack running as a senior for Northport (N.Y.) High School on Long Island. He’s also separated by autism, which he was diagnosed with at 18 months old.

He’s been a runner just as long.

“He just stood up as a baby and started running,” his mom, Edie, told “NBC Nightly News.” “He would run into the walls. He would fall and not put his hands down and smash his head.”

But Brannigan’s path to college — he listed distance-running powerhouses Colorado and Oregon among the 200 schools — faces academic obstacles.

He has a more than adequate grade-point average of 3.3, according to Runner’s World, but he might not be able to handle taking standardized tests, according to “NBC Nightly News.”

“Mikey’s dream is to go to a Division One school and succeed there academically and run against the best college runners in the country,” his mom said. “That’s his dream. And we want to support him in that dream. But with the NCAA academic requirements, educational requirements, we don’t know if it’s possible.”

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Gabby Douglas ‘a very strong possibility’ for all-around, Martha Karolyi says

Gabby Douglas
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Gabby Douglas has “a very strong possibility” to get a chance to defend her Olympic all-around title in Rio, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Monday.

“Gabby’s preparation is in a very, very good direction, and I foresee that she can be in the all-around, but we’re not taking this decision as of now yet,” Karolyi said.

The U.S. will put no more than three women from its five-woman team in the all-around in qualifying. The top two Americans in qualifying will advance to the all-around final, the most prestigious individual competition in the sport.

“We have a tentative lineup, but that’s absolutely tentative and we would not reveal that lineup at the moment yet, because most likely there will be changes as time goes,” said Karolyi, adding that the lineup won’t be finalized until next week.

Simone Biles is considered a lock to be one of the all-arounders in qualifying. Who joins her is unclear.

Douglas and Aly Raisman were tapped at the 2015 World Championships, with Biles and Douglas topping Raisman in qualifying and then going one-two in the all-around final.

However, both Raisman and first-year senior Laurie Hernandez finished higher than Douglas in the all-around at the P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials in the last month.

Karolyi said that Douglas, who fell off the balance beam on both nights at the Olympic Trials, has improved at a pre-Olympic training camp. Karolyi also said that Douglas would not perform the difficult Amanar vault in Rio, which carries five tenths more in start value than the vault Douglas used at the Olympic Trials.

Biles and Raisman both perform the Amanar. If Biles, Douglas and Raisman do the all-around in qualifying, Douglas will go in with a start-value disadvantage in the chase to grab two available final spots.

In 2012, Douglas, Raisman and Jordyn Wieber all did the all-around in qualifying, with the 2011 World all-around champion Wieber finishing third out of the Americans (and fourth overall), missing the all-around final.

MORE: USA Gymnastics agrees to buy Karolyi Ranch

Not everyone unhappy with housing in Rio Olympic village

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 21:  Construction progress takes place during a tour of the Ilha Pura housing complex, the future site of the Athletes' Village for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, on July 21, 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Not everyone is upset with Olympic housing. The South African Olympic team said Monday it is happy with its accommodations in Rio de Janeiro, calling the apartments “excellent.”

The South African Olympic committee says its athletes have everything they need and “have been lucky.”

The comments come a day after Australia’s Olympic team leader opted to keep the delegation’s 700 athletes or staff out of the Athletes Village for at least two days, citing electrical and plumbing problems in the sprawling complex less than two weeks before the start of the games.

A news conference is expected later Monday.

The 31-building village is expected to house 18,000 athletes and officials at the height of the games. Six Australian athletes due to arrive Monday and 50 on Tuesday will temporarily stay in hotels or other accommodations.

The South Africans said air conditioning, Wi-Fi and plumbing were all working well, and they also had a swimming pool.

The South African committee says facilities “look like being on a par with most Olympic athletes’ villages,” but noted the village wasn’t complete.

U.S. boxer Claressa Shields wrote on Facebook that USA boxing has been in Rio for five days with zero problems, and that Rio “is a beautiful place.”

MORE: Leaks, electrical outages found in Rio Olympic athletes village