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Ed Temple, coach of Wilma Rudolph, dies

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ed Temple, the former Tennessee State track and field coach whose Tigerbelles won 13 Olympic gold medals and helped break down racial and gender barriers in the sport, died Thursday night. He was 89.

Temple’s daughter, Edwina, told Tennessee State officials that her father died after an illness. He celebrated his birthday Tuesday.

“Words cannot in any fashion or manner express how deeply saddened we are over the loss of our beloved Ed Temple,” Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover said in a statement. “The TSU family has truly lost a precious gem and contributor to the history and legacy that is TSU. Most importantly, our hearts go out to his family.”

Temple coached the women’s track team at Tennessee State, formerly Tennessee A&I, from 1953 to 1994. He was head coach of the U.S. Olympics women’s teams in 1960 and 1964 and assistant coach in 1980.

One of the athletes he coached at TSU, Wilma Rudolph, became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics, in Rome in 1960. She won the 100 and 200 meters and teamed with Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams and Barbara Jones to win the 400 relay.

Temple, whose other gold medalists from TSU included Edith McGuire and Wyomia Tyus, was inducted into nine halls of fame, including the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012, where he was one of only four coaches to be inducted. He also served as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, the international Women’s Track and Field Committee and the Nashville Sports Council.

Temple coached the first U.S. women’s teams to compete in the Soviet Union in 1958 and in China in 1975. But he was best known for leading the athletes at TSU, known as the Tigerbelles, during his 41 years as the university’s women’s track coach.

He coached his teams to more than 30 national titles and led 40 athletes to the Olympics.

For many of the women on his teams, Temple was more than a coach.

“I always looked at Coach Temple as a father figure and a man of truth and wisdom,” said TSU Olympian Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice, a former Tigerbelle who succeeded Temple as track and field coach. “He really brought out the best in me. He made me realize my potential that had not been tapped.”

Former Tigerbelle Edith McGuire Duvall said Temple was there for her after she lost her father.

“This man treated us all like his kids,” Duvall said. “He impressed upon me to finish school. We were there to run track, but also to get an education and to be ladies.”

Temple began his career during a time when black female athletes were treated as second-class citizens, even by their male counterparts.

At the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the U.S. men’s team refused to provide Temple with clothes for a female shot putter who didn’t fit into the women’s uniform. His runners had to practice with Japanese starting blocks because the men’s team refused to turn over three blocks sent over for the women.

Still, Temple’s team brought home the gold and silver in the 100 meters, gold in the 200 and a medal performance in the 400 relay.

“Those were the kind of things we had to battle,” he said in June 1993 after retiring from coaching. “It was unnecessary types of things. We, the women, were USA citizens representing the United States. Why did we have to go through all that kind of stuff? It just didn’t make sense.”

In a 2007 interview with The Tennessean, Temple said Rudolph was the best female track and field athlete he’d ever seen.

“She had it all,” he said. “She had the charisma, she had the athletic ability, she had everything. When I look back, she opened up the door for women’s sports, period. I’m not just talking about track and field.”

Temple said Rudolph took a nap just before winning the 1960 gold medal in the 100.

“I was out there all nervous, walking around the infield,” he recalled. “And Wilma was on the rub-down table, and she had fallen asleep. Fell asleep!”

Rudolph, who suffered from polio as a child, died of brain cancer in 1994.

Temple was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and attended Tennessee A&I, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

The track at TSU is named for Temple. So is Ed Temple Boulevard in Nashville, adjacent to the TSU campus. Seminars on sports and society, held each year on TSU’s campus, are named in his honor, and in 2015, a 9-foot bronze statue was unveiled in Temple’s likeness at First Tennessee Park in Nashville.

“Even the Bible says a prophet is seldom honored in his hometown,” U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper said at the statue’s unveiling. “But here we are honoring perhaps one of the greatest coaches in all of history.”

Temple took great pride in the success of his athletes, both on and off the field.

“They are an inspiration to everybody,” he said late in life. “It just shows what can be done. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

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Ghana Olympic skeleton slider’s helmet: rabbit escapes lion

Ron Leblanc
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It’s called The Rabbit Theory.

That’s what Akwasi Frimpong, Ghana’s first Olympic skeleton slider, calls his new helmet.

The one that he will wear in PyeongChang as the second athlete from his nation to compete at a Winter Games.

Frimpong, 31, tells an incredible story.

He said he was raised by his grandmother Minka in a one-room home with nine other children before joining his mom in the Netherlands at age 8 as an illegal immigrant and eventually moving to Utah.

Frimpong’s full story is here.

Frimpong’s life — before he converted from sprinting to bobsled to skeleton — was chronicled in a 2010 Dutch documentary tilted “Theorie van het Konjin” (translation: The Rabbit Theory).

“My former sprint coach Sammy Monsels talks about the analogy of a rabbit in a cage, ready to escape from a lion,” Frimpong said in an email Monday. “I am that rabbit, and I have escaped the lions [of my past]. I am no longer being eaten by all the things around my life.”

The helmet that he will wear sliding head-first down an icy chute in South Korea in three weeks draws attention to it.

The design is of a lion’s head with mouth agape and a pair of rabbits coming out. Plus the colors of the Ghanaian flag.

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MORE: Jamaica qualifies first Olympic women’s bobsled team

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USA Gymnastics leaders resign as more victims speak

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — USA Gymnastics announced the resignations of three key leaders Monday while more women and girls told a judge about being sexually assaulted at the hands of a sports doctor who spent years with Olympic gymnasts and other female athletes.

The resignations of chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley were announced in Indianapolis while a judge in Lansing heard a fifth day of statements from women and girls who said they were molested by Larry Nassar.

“We support their decisions to resign at this time,” said Kerry Perry, president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, which is the national governing body for gymnastics. “We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization.”

The board positions are volunteer and unpaid, but the resignations add to the months of turmoil. Steve Penny quit as president last March after critics said USA Gymnastics failed to protect gymnasts from abusive coaches and Nassar.

“New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement Monday. “USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors.”

USA Gymnastics last week said it was ending its long relationship with the Karolyi Ranch, the Huntsville, Texas, home of former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi and her husband, Bela. Some Olympians said they were assaulted there by Nassar.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Nassar’s sentencing hearing continued Monday, raising the number of girls and women who have spoken to nearly 100 since last week.

“I want to you know that your face and the face of all of the sister survivor warriors — the whole army of you — I’ve heard your words,” Ingham County Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said after a woman spoke in her Michigan courtroom. “Your sister survivors and you are going through incomprehensible lengths, emotions and soul-searching to put your words together, to publicly stop (the) defendant, to publicly stop predators, to make people listen.”

Nassar, 54, has admitted molesting athletes during medical treatment when he was employed by Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics. He has already been sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes.

Under a plea deal, he faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in the molestation case. The maximum term could be much higher.

“Larry, how many of us are there? Do you even know?” asked Clasina Syrboby, as she fought back tears while speaking for more than 20 minutes Monday. “You preyed on me, on us. You saw a way to take advantage of your position — the almighty and trusted gymnastics doctor. Shame on you Larry. Shame on you.

She and other victims also continued their criticism of Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing enough to stop Nassar when initial complaints were made.

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