Marine who lost leg in Afghanistan runs Boston Marathon with American flag

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On the best day for Americans in the Boston Marathon’s prize-money era, it was a man who took nearly six hours to finish who provided the most indelible image of American pride.

Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez, a retired Marine who lost the lower part of his left leg stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, was filmed and photographed throughout Monday’s 26.2-mile race.

Sanchez wore a “Semper Fi” shirt, ran on a prosthetic left leg and carried an American flag.

“I wanted to not only recognize veterans, but everyone that thinks that they’re unable to do something,” Sanchez told media afterward. “I couldn’t stand up for more than three seconds or walk more than two feet [after stepped on an IED]. And I found my for four, five years, just to be able to walk farther, be able to lift my body up. I kept on pushing it. Mentally and spiritually, I was good, so I wanted to push it even farther and do the marathon.”

The flag Sanchez carried Monday was full of inspirational messages. Via Runner’s World:

The flag was sent to him by his patrol unit as he recovered in the hospital.

“I boxed it up for three or four years because I didn’t want to acknowledge it,” Sanchez said. “One day I opened it back up and read through the inspirational quotes they sent me and I was motivated.”

“It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated,” Sanchez said on local Boston TV in the finish area. “We live for others. I’ve learned that throughout being angry, being frustrated. With all that PTSD, I’m channeling it to do positive.”

He previously ran the Boston Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., last year, carrying that same flag.

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Pretty amazing. #bostonmarathon #inspiring 🇺🇸

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Proud to be an American 🇺🇸 #bostonmarathon

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Caeleb Dressel, Chase Kalisz open post-Phelps era with world titles

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In a 20-minute span, the future of U.S. men’s swimming may have arrived in Budapest on Thursday.

Chase Kalisz, 23, and Caeleb Dressel, 20, each bagged his first major individual gold medal at the world championships.

Kalisz ensured the 200m individual medley crown stayed with the U.S., fulfilling years of promise and succeeding longtime training partner Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the event.

Dressel, the youngest U.S. man to win an individual Olympic or world title since 2005, broke his American record in the 100m freestyle to prevail by a distant seven tenths of a second in 47.17. Nathan Adrian, the 2012 Olympic champion, made it the first one-two U.S. men’s finish in a global 100m free since the Seoul 1988 Games.

Kalisz won the 200m IM in 1:55.56, by .45 over Japan’s Kosuke Hagino and .72 over China’s Wang Shun, who took silver and bronze in Rio behind Phelps. Kalisz overtook Hagino on the third leg, breaststroke, with the fastest split in the field, and held on in the last 50 meters of freestyle.

Phelps and Lochte had combined to win every Olympic and world title in the 200m IM from 2003 through 2016. That’s four Olympics — all won by Phelps — and seven worlds — the first three titles taken by Phelps, the last four by Lochte.

“Those two are irreplaceable,” Kalisz said on NBCSN. “No one’s ever going to be more accomplished than what those two have in American swimming.”

Phelps retired after the Rio Olympics. Lochte isn’t in Budapest due to his suspension following his Rio gas-station incident, but plans to make a run for Tokyo 2020 at age 35.

For now, U.S. men’s swimming is led by Kalisz, Dressel and Ryan Murphy, the 22-year-old who swept the backstrokes in Rio.

Kalisz and Dressel are only the third and fourth men other than Phelps or Lochte to win individual world titles since 2009 (Aaron PeirsolMatt Grevers).

Kalisz, who took 400m IM silver at his first Olympics in Rio, may just be getting started.

He can go for double IM gold in the 400m, his trademark event, in Budapest on Sunday.

“When I had the opportunity to step into the 200m IM, it was an honor,” Kalisz said on NBCSN. “I like [the 200m IM] a lot more than the 400m IM. It doesn’t hurt as bad. If you were to tell me four months ago that would be my first world title [in the 200m IM rather than the 400m IM], I probably would have laughed in your face.”

In semifinals Thursday, Americans Simone Manuel and Mallory Comerford qualified second- and third-fastest into Friday’s 100m freestyle final. Swede Sarah Sjöström, who shattered the world record leading off the 4x100m free relay Sunday, leads the eight-woman final.

Americans Kevin Cordes and Nic Fink qualified for Friday’s 200m breast final, but the favorites are Olympic bronze medalist Anton Chupkov of Russia and world-record holder Ippei Watanabe of Japan.

Etiene Medeiros became the first Brazilian woman to win an Olympic or world swim title in the pool in the 50m backstroke. She prevailed by .01 over China’s Fu Yuanhui in the non-Olympic event.

Later Thursday, Katie Ledecky goes for her fourth gold in Budapest, one day after losing her first major international individual final, in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

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For Gabby Douglas, this break from gymnastics is different

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Gabby Douglas has been away from gymnastics training for nearly one year now, her longest break since she took up the sport at age 6.

The 2012 Olympic all-around champion has not retired, but unlike Final Five teammates Simone BilesAly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez, has no set plan to return to the gym. Yet.

“We’ll see. I mean, right now, it’s up in the air,” Douglas said while promoting Post-it’s “Make it Stick” back-to-school initiative on Wednesday. “I’m enjoying the time off.”

At this time in the last Olympic cycle, Douglas had already returned to coach Liang Chow‘s gym in West Des Moines, Iowa, for two months. However, she would leave for Los Angeles in summer 2013 before ultimately landing in Ohio for her return to competition in March 2015.

It was all different five years ago. Today is the fifth anniversary of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

Douglas rose from out of nowhere — compared to Simone Biles, who dominated from 2013 through Rio — to win her Olympic all-around title and then repeatedly said the rest of summer 2012 that she planned a run to Rio.

“This time is different because I’ve been to two Olympics, and I always wanted to go to two Olympics,” Douglas said Wednesday. “But right now since I’ve been doing gymnastics for 14 years, I am taking this time off, especially growing into my own person.”

Douglas confirmed she’s keeping her gymnastics options open by saying she’s still filling out whereabouts forms for drug testing. Generally, Olympic medalists make their retirements official by filing paperwork to take their names out of a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing pool (see Michael Phelps).

But her focus is clearly outside of the gym for the forseeable future. Douglas began taking acting classes in Los Angeles in June, like fellow gymnastics medalist Danell Leyva (who doesn’t plan to come back).

Her ultimate goal is to appear in movies.

“It’s the same, but different,” Douglas said of acting versus gymnastics. “You have to expose your vulnerability a little bit in acting classes.”

Douglas is aware that 2012 and 2016 Olympic teammate Aly Raisman hopes to make a third Olympic team in 2020. Does Douglas think Raisman is inspirational or just crazy?

“It’s whatever you want to do,” she said, “whatever you want to achieve.”

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