Getty Images

Wayde van Niekerk wants World Championships schedule change for double

Leave a comment

Wayde van Niekerk wants the schedule for the World Track and Field Championships in London in August to be changed so he can better attempt to sweep the 200m and 400m.

The South African won the Rio Olympic 400m in 43.03 seconds, breaking Michael Johnson‘s world record.

Many track and field fans hope to see Van Niekerk race Usain Bolt for the first time this year, in what is expected to be Bolt’s last season before retiring.

That race doesn’t appear likely at the world championships. Bolt is not expected to contest the 200m at worlds or perhaps at all this season.

“[Coach Glen Mills] still wants me to do the double, but I’ve told him I would really like to just do the 100m, so at the start of the season we’ll decide exactly what, but that’s what’s on my mind,” Bolt said on Jamaican TV in September, according to Reuters.

Van Niekerk’s agent said Friday that there’s no chance the South African races the 100m or the 4x100m relay at worlds if he’s able to race the 200m and 400m.

“Wayde wants to try and double … but currently the program at world champs in London is not conducive to that,” Van Niekerk’s agent said. “We’re in conversations with the IAAF to see if there is any possibility to alter the program.”

The IAAF said later Friday that it hasn’t received any request to change the world championships schedule from South Africa’s track and field federation.

The current worlds schedule has the 200m first round taking place about two and a half hours before the 400m final. Van Niekerk said he plans to double regardless of if the schedule is changed, according to South Africa media.

Last year, the Olympic track and field schedule was changed to give Allyson Felix more time between the 200m and 400m. She ended up qualifying for only the 400m, missing the U.S. team in the 200m by .01 after an ankle injury.

Van Niekerk said he will enter 200m races during the spring and/or early summer to prepare. His personal best, 19.94 seconds from 2015, would have earned the silver medal behind Bolt’s 19.78 in Rio.

“I’ve made up my mind, that’s really what I want to do for this year,” Van Niekerk said in a South African TV interview published Thursday. “I’ve achieved so much in the 400m these last two years. I feel I want to put a new element or aspect into my athletics. I feel I want to invest a bit more in the 200m and the 100m without totally neglecting the 400m. So I want to continue improving myself in the 400m, but at the same time I want to get back to why I started track and field, and that was the 100m and 200m.”

Van Niekerk said it’s “bittersweet” that he “probably” won’t race the 4x100m relay at worlds, assuming South Africa qualifies a 4x100m team.

“We’ll see how many body feels, and if I’m willing to take that risk,” he said. “At the moment, I’m already trying a new challenge with the 200m and 400m. So I don’t believe I should take that extra bit of pressure for myself. Let’s first see how I do this year, and how I handle that, and we’ll decide about the 4x100m. But right now I really need to make up my mind on how I would like to take this year.”

As for his goals in 2017? Van Niekerk wants to set a personal best.

“It’s really just about that growth, that continuous growth,” he said. “I’d love to do better than what I’ve done last year. So, whatever times I’ve set up, or whatever times is under my name right now, it needs to fall.”

MORE: Bolt ’50-50′ on competing in 2018

USA Gymnastics closes Karolyi Ranch

Getty Images
Leave a comment

USA Gymnastics said it will no longer use the Karolyi Ranch in Texas as its training center, where athletes said Larry Nassar sexually abused gymnasts.

“USA Gymnastics has terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas,” USA Gymnastics CEO and president Kerry Perry said in a press release Thursday. “It will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.

“It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December. Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.

“We have cancelled next week’s training camp for the U.S. Women’s National Team. We are exploring alternative sites to host training activities and camps until a permanent location is determined. We thank all those in the gymnastics community assisting in these efforts.”

MORE: Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

World champions Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols said that Nassar sexually abused gymnasts at the ranch.

“When I was 15 I started to have back problems while at a National Team Camp at the Karolyi Ranch,” Nichols wrote in a victim impact statement read at one of Nassar’s sentencing hearings on Wednesday and published last week. “This is when the changes in his medical treatments occurred.

“I trusted what he was doing at first, but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should. He didn’t have gloves on and he didn’t tell me what he was doing. There was no one else in the room and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain.

“He did this ‘treatment’ on me, on numerous occasions.”

Raisman, a three-time Olympic champion, urged USA Gymnastics to close the ranch in a Tuesday interview on ESPN.

“I hope USA Gymnastics listens because they haven’t listened to us so far,” she said. “I hope they listen, and I hope they don’t make any of the girls go back to the ranch. No one should have to go back there after, you know, so many of us were abused there.”

Simone Biles did not specifically name the Karolyi Ranch in her Monday statement, but Raisman said Tuesday that Biles was referring to that site.

“It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing at Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” was posted on Biles’ social media.

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian, said Nassar was alone with her in her bed at the ranch.

“There was no one else sent with him,” she said on CBS last year. “The treatment was in the bed, in my bed that I slept on at the ranch.”

USA Gymnastics said in July 2016 that it reached an agreement with former national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi to purchase the training facility the couple owned.

The national governing body backed out of the purchase in May “for a variety of reasons” but continued under its current lease agreement while exploring alternative locations for camps. It held national team camps there in September and November.

The Karolyis established the ranch in 1983 after defecting from Romania. It had been a national team training center since 2001.

Larry Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

AP
1 Comment

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A statement from McKayla Maroney read Thursday repeated that sexual assault by Larry Nassar “left scars” in her mind that may never fade as a judge heard a third day of testimony from victims.

Nassar could be sentenced Friday in Lansing. Since Tuesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has been listening to dozens of young women who were molested after seeking his help for injuries.

Aquilina started the hearing Thursday by saying Nassar had written a letter fearing that his mental health wasn’t strong enough to sit and listen to a parade of victims. He called the hearing “a media circus.”

The judge dismissed it as “mumbo jumbo.”

“Spending four or five days listening to them is minor, considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense, ruining their lives,” Aquilina said.

Nassar, 54, faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls as a doctor for Michigan State University and at his home.

He also was a team doctor at USA Gymnastics for nearly two decades. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.

“Dr. Nassar was not a doctor,” Maroney said in a statement read by a prosecutor (Maroney’s statement was previously posted in the fall). “He left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”

USA Gymnastics in 2016 reached a financial settlement with Maroney that barred her from making disparaging remarks. But the organization this week said it would not seek any money for her “brave statements.”

A 2000 Olympian, Jamie Dantzscher, looked at Nassar and said, “How dare you ask any of us for forgiveness.”

“Your days of manipulation are over,” she said. “We have a voice. We have the power now.”

Nassar wasn’t the only target. Victims also criticized Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon attended part of the session Wednesday. The school is being sued by dozens of women, who say campus officials wrote off complaints about the popular doctor.

“Guess what? You’re a coward, too,” current student and former gymnast Lindsey Lemke said Thursday, referring to Simon.

The judge has been praising each speaker and criticizing Nassar.

It’s “about their control over other human beings and feeling like God and they can do anything,” Aquilina said of sex offenders.

On Jan. 31, Nassar will get another sentence for sexual assaults at a Lansing-area gymnastics club in a different county.