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Lindsey Vonn: I can still win World Cup season titles

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Lindsey Vonn believes she can win her ninth World Cup downhill title and her sixth World Cup super-G title, despite missing the early part of the season due to her broken right arm.

Vonn will race for the first time since Feb. 28 in a World Cup downhill in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, Austria, on Saturday (5:15 a.m. ET, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app; 3 p.m. ET, NBC).

“I want to race as much as possible,” Vonn said Thursday when asked why she came back so quickly from her Nov. 10 surgery. “The more races I can get in before world championships [in February] is obviously the goal. I also think that the World Cup title is still a possibility in both downhill and super-G.

“Mainly, I was just going crazy not being able to race.”

So far this season, three of the eight scheduled downhills have been contested, and two of the seven super-Gs. Slovenian Ilka Stuhec won all three downhills. Swiss Lara Gut won both super-Gs.

But Vonn noted that she didn’t finish two of last season’s nine downhills and didn’t start another after suffering three large fractures in her left knee in a Feb. 27 race crash. She won five and finished second in the other six, clinching the title before the season finale.

Likewise, she missed two of last season’s eight super-Gs and failed to finish another. In the five she did finish, Vonn won three and notched a pair of third-place finishes. She ended up 61 points shy of season titlist Gut.

Vonn would like to add to her trophy case of a record 20 crystal globes (four overall, 16 discipline titles). Her previously stated primary goal is to close in on the World Cup career wins record of 86 held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

Vonn is at 76 wins. She would probably have to win all of her World Cup races this season, the remaining five downhills and five super-Gs, to match Stenmark. More likely, she’ll continue the pursuit next season, the Olympic season.

Vonn said she will race with “a large risk of doing more damage” to her arm for the rest of her career. It’s susceptible to another fracture above and below a plate inserted into her arm from her November surgery.

She will race with double to triple the normal amount of padding on her arm.

“Normally, in downhill, I don’t race with any padding on my arms,” she said. “It’s definitely not going to be aerodynamic, but at least I’ll be protected somewhat. If I twist my arm, get it caught behind me, that will be dangerous.”

Four-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso is also expected to take a downhill training run Friday and possibly race Saturday. Mancuso has been out since March 2015 due to hip surgery.

“She came over to Europe a few days before me,” Vonn said. “It’s nice to have the whole team back together again. Last year, without her, definitely felt a little bit of a whole in the team.”

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Usain Bolt reveals extent of injury after hearing doubts

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Usain Bolt shared the extent of his injury — a torn hamstring requiring three months of rehab — after people questioned if he was really hurt at the world championships Saturday, according to tweets from his account since deleted.

“I don’t usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured,” was posted on Bolt’s account. “I have never been one to cheat my fans in anyway (sic) & my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans.”

Bolt pulled up with the leg injury running anchor on the 4x100m relay at worlds and then tumbled onto the track not yet halfway to the finish line.

A wheelchair was brought out, but Bolt got up and walked across the finish line, aided by his teammates.

Since, unconfirmed reports have surfaced that Bolt could play in a Manchester United exhibition game, but the seriousness of his injury revealed Thursday could put an end to that, at least for now.

The injury has not sidelined Bolt completely. He was able to go bowling earlier this week.

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MORE: Usain Bolt explains why he will not unretire

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U.S. men’s gymnastics team hits reset at P&G Championships

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The sprawling sleeve of tattoos running down Alex Naddour‘s left arm is unmissable. The American flag on the shoulder. The Olympic rings running down the inside of his forearm. They serve as a testament to the Olympic bronze medalist’s passion and his longevity.

Oh and if they happen to send a message to the sea of new faces the national team captain finds himself surrounded by these days, all the better.

At 26, Naddour admits he’s “kind of the old guy,” and he’s not wrong. The core of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams are hurt, retired or both. Jonathan Horton. Jake Dalton. Danell Leyva. John Orozco. Chris Brooks. All have moved on.

Four-time national champion Sam Mikulak is recovering from his second major Achilles injury. Donnell Whittenburg is searching to regain the form that made him an all-around finalist at the 2015 World Championships.

Naddour isn’t exactly healthy, either, just six months removed from an arm issue he suffered at a meet in February that will limit him to just pommel horse and rings when the P&G Championships begin on Thursday night.

P&G CHAMPS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
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That’s fine. Naddour still has time. He’s well aware that he’s a bridge of sorts between the old generation and the next one.

“I want these guys to feel what we felt [when we came up],” Naddour said. “We looked up to those guys [before us] and hopefully these guys look up to me because I’m team captain. Hopefully they take what I have to say seriously and take my experience seriously to help them get ready for what they need to get ready for.”

Namely, returning the U.S. to international prominence. While the women’s program has become a podium-hogging machine over the last decade, the men have struggled with inconsistency. They finished fifth in the team finals in both 2012 and 2016.

Though there have been flashes of individual success — like Leyva’s bronze in the all-around in London and Naddour’s bronze on pommel horse in Rio — the Americans have been on a treadmill, one that cost national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika his job last fall.

Enter Brett McClure. The 2004 Olympic team silver medalist was appointed the “high performance director” in February and charged with providing a needed jolt. Consider the message received.

“He’s the type of person that’s not going to beat around the bush,” Whittenburg said. “If something is bothering him, he’s going to let you know straight up. If there’s a problem, how do we fix it? I feel like the last couple [Olympic cycles] I felt we were missing that stern leadership. Sometimes you can’t be the nice guy all the time.”

The men have borrowed a page from former women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi‘s playbook. Training camps are now treated more like competitions, with members of the national team and world championship teams flown in to watch. The goal is creating a more competitive environment.

“You’re saluting, and it’s like you’re at championships, so you have to do your best,” Naddour said. “It’s going to help the national team grow a lot quicker and adjust in those pressure situations.”

Good, because they’re coming. Even if Naddour, Mikulak and Whittenburg all make the world championships roster when it’s released after Saturday night’s competition, it leaves three spots for newcomers. No pressure or anything.

Yul Moldauer captured the AT&T American Cup in March, beating a field that included Olympic silver medalist Oleg Verniaiev. Akash Modi served as an alternate on the 2016 Olympic team and won the NCAA all-around title for Stanford this spring. Allan Bower and Eddie Penev are also in the mix.

The lights will come on. It’s time to get a gauge on how the strategic plan put in place after an underwhelming team performance in the Olympics is working.

“If the whole world watches this competition and is like, `we’ve got them,’ then boo us,” said Mikulak, who will compete on pommel horse and high bar. “The world doesn’t know what’s going on with USA Gymnastics until we show ourselves in this competition. I hope everyone competing has a good performance to show the world that we’re not as weak as we look to them.”

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