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Harriette Thompson becomes oldest woman to finish half marathon

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Harriette Thompson, a 94-year-old cancer survivor, became the oldest woman to finish a half marathon at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on Sunday.

Thompson, who two years earlier became the oldest woman to finish a marathon, clocked 3 hours, 42 minutes, 56 seconds. That’s an average of 17 minutes per mile for 13.1 miles.

“I feel just like I did when I was 16, but I just can’t move as fast,” she joked afterward. “The whole experience was enjoyable except for the potholes.”

The previous record was held by Canadian Gladys Burrill, who ran a half marathon at age 93 in 2012 in 4:49:25, according to the Association of Road Running Statisticians.

The 4-foot-11 Thompson walked and jogged in red lipstick, dark sunglasses and her trademark purple outfit to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Thompson, who has battled jaw and skin cancer, didn’t take up marathon running until age 76 and completed 16 full San Diego Marathons between 1999 and 2015. She became a viral celebrity in 2015 when she finished the San Diego marathon in 7:24:36. She missed last year’s event due to cancer treatment.

In Sunday’s race, Thompson was surrounded by family members to shield her from adoring fans so she could focus.

“I guess it’s unusual, but I don’t really know why people make [such a big deal],” Thompson said afterward.”I guess it may be a phenomenon, but for me it’s just a natural thing to do.”

Thompson has raised more than $100,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in her road-race career. She made media appearances before Sunday’s race, joking about her age while promoting her cause.

“I’m amazed at how many young people say, I’m running just because of you,” Thompson said. “I’m glad I’m good for something.”

Having given up sugar, Thompson said before the race that her celebratory splurge might be an ice cream cone. Afterward, she said, “I’m deciding whether I want scotch or bourbon,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Thompson is a former concert pianist who played Carnegie Hall the same day that Martin Luther King Jr. died. She still plays croquet and joined 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi and retired NBA great Bill Walton at a pre-race press conference last week.

She said she enjoys the crowd atmosphere of road races, “except when it’s so loud I have to take out my hearing aids.”

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Chloe Kim, Adam Rippon, Rachael Denhollander among Time 100

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PyeongChang medalists Chloe Kim and Adam Rippon were among four Olympians named to the 2018 Time 100, along with former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.

The other Olympians were Kevin Durant and Roger Federer on the most influential people list. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt also made it.

Kim made the list as a pioneer. Award-winning chef David Chang, a second-generation Korean American and special correspondent for NBC at the PyeongChang Olympics, wrote an essay about watching the snowboarder take halfpipe gold.

“I felt two things simultaneously: incredibly happy for her — I made her a celebratory churro ice cream sandwich, which I think she called “bomb” — but also sad, because the whole world was about to descend on this now 17-year-old girl,” he wrote. “Asian-­American fans further piled on their hopes that she would shatter Asian stereotypes on her way to the podium. And to top it all off, she was competing in her parents’ birth country, one that is notoriously judgmental of its diaspora.

“And you know what? She crushed it. Blew us all out of the water. Now the best thing Chloe Kim can do is be Chloe Kim. That’s not being selfish—that’s letting people know they don’t have to be anything that anyone says they should be.”

Cher wrote the Time essay for Rippon, the first openly gay figure skater to compete for a U.S. Olympic team.

“Adam is a skater who happens to be gay, and that represents something wonderful to young people,” she wrote. “When I was young, I had no role models—everyone looked like Sandra Dee and Doris Day. There was nobody who made me think, Oh, I could be like them. They represent me. Adam shows people that if you put blood, sweat and tears into what you’re doing, you can achieve something that’s special. You can be special. And I think that’s very brave.”

Like Rippon, the gymnast Denhollander made the Time 100 in the icon category. Olympic champion gymnast Aly Raisman, also a Nassar survivor, penned an essay.

“Rachael was there for each court session of that sentencing, each impact statement and each fellow survivor,” Raisman wrote. “This show of courage and conviction inspired many people to feel less like victims and more like survivors. We still have a long way to go before we achieve all the change that is so desperately needed, and I am grateful to be fighting alongside Rachael, my sister survivor!”

Here are Olympians and Paralympians on past Time 100 lists, counting only athletes who had competed in the Games before being listed:

2017 — Simone Biles, LeBron James, Neymar
2016 — Usain BoltCaitlyn JennerKatie LedeckySania MirzaRonda Rousey
2015 — Abby Wambach
2014 — Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams
2013 — LeBron James, Li Na, Lindsey Vonn
2012 — Novak DjokovicLionel MessiOscar Pistorius
2011 — Lionel Messi
2010 — Yuna KimSerena Williams
2009 — Rafael Nadal
2008 — Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorius
2007 — Roger FedererChien Ming-Wang
2006 — Joey Cheek, Steve Nash
2005 — LeBron James
2004 — Lance Armstrong, Paula Radcliffe, Yao Ming
2000 (20th Century) — Muhammad Ali

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McKayla Maroney: I would have starved at Olympics without Larry Nassar

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McKayla Maroney said she thought she “would have starved at the Olympics” in 2012 if Larry Nassar didn’t bring her food.

“Your coaches are just always watching you and wanting to keep you skinny,” Maroney said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie that will air in full on an hourlong “Dateline” special Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. “There’s just other things about the culture that are also messed up that he used against us.”

Past U.S. national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi also gave interviews for the Dateline special “Silent No More.”

Maroney laughed when she said Nassar bought her a loaf of bread.

Her comments were shown on TODAY on Thursday, less than a day after her 2012 Olympic champion teammate Jordyn Wieber testified at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing to discuss the roles of national governing bodies — like USA Gymnastics — in protecting athletes following the Nassar case.

“We couldn’t smile or laugh in training,” Wieber said at the hearing. “We were even afraid to eat too much in front of our coaches, who were pressured to keep us thin.”

Maroney, Wieber and other U.S. national team gymnasts had personal coaches and convened multiple times per year at the Karolyi ranch in Texas for national team camps. Wieber’s personal coach, John Geddert, was the 2012 Olympic team coach.

Geddert was suspended by USA Gymnastics in January and is facing a criminal investigation after Nassar, who molested girls at Geddert’s gym in Michigan, was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison on Jan. 24. Geddert said he had “zero knowledge” of Nassar’s crimes.

“Our athletes, like McKayla, are the heart and soul of USA Gymnastics, and every effort has been made to support our athletes’ development and provide the opportunities for them to achieve their dreams.” USA Gymnastics said in a statement to NBC News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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