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Alysia Montaño finds little joy after Russian stripped of medals

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NEW YORK — U.S. 800m runner Alysia Montaño is set to earn her first two world outdoor championships medals, four and six years after she ran those races. She wasn’t in a celebratory mood about the news Saturday evening.

Russian Maria Savinova, the 2012 Olympic 800m champion, was stripped of results from 2010 to 2013 and given a four-year ban due to doping derived from biological passport evidence on Friday.

That means Savinova loses her 2011 World Championships 800m gold medal and 2013 Worlds silver medal. Montaño was fourth in both of those races and stands to be upgraded to a pair of bronze medals, pending a Savinova appeal.

Montaño has been outspoken against track and field’s issues in recent years, specifically the widespread doping problem. Savinova was first implicated more than two years ago.

So when Montaño learned the Savinova news while traveling to New York on Friday to race in the Millrose Games on Saturday, it wasn’t exactly a relief or joyous. She found out via Twitter mentions.

“I took it the same way I’ve taken every other type of news of this caliber and didn’t really think that much of it until I got to look it up myself,” Montaño said after finishing second in an indoor 500m race Saturday, her first since falling in the Olympic Trials 800m final on July 4. “I feel like for the past three years people have been tweeting me, good job, congratulations, and no news has come out.”

Montaño said the more overriding feeling was a bummer that she was in New York without her family. And it must be said she was exhausted and in need of fresh air after her race, not exactly the best environment to discuss the matter at hand.

“Here’s my moment, woo,” she said without excitement in her voice. “I should not be finding out from everybody else in Twitter mentions. There was nothing in my inbox from the federation.”

There has always been a part of Montaño that believed medals would never be redistributed. Now, she’s one step closer to receiving them.

On Friday, a post on her Facebook account read, “2 Medals from the 2011 & 2013 World Championships,” with a link to a Savinova article.

“It’s hard to say what it’s going to feel like,” to get the medals, she said. “Feelings are feelings. I only feel them when I have them.”

MORE: Russia track and field ban set for world champs

Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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Rafael Nadal recreates famous 1992 Olympic cauldron lighting

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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.

Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.

Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.

Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.

The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.

The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.

“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”

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