Card tricks and black eyes: Our Golden Goggles recap

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NEW YORK – It was a magical night at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggle Awards Monday night, the organization’s annual gala that recognizes the top performances of the year.

The usual suspects were in attendance – Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian, Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and a whole lot more. There were also a few non-swimmers in the audience and on the stage to present awards – Donald Trump was the one who stood out the most. And there was magician and endurance artist David Blaine.

Backstage after the awards were all given out, Blaine stole the show.

The guy who has willingly been encased in ice for more than 63 hours, held his breath for more than 17 minutes and, most recently, was hit with one million volts of electricity for 72 hours straight, was up to his old habits at New York City’s Marriott Marquis – card tricks. He started off by doing an elaborate trick with Phelps that lasted a good four or five minutes. Phelps was completely floored when the card he was thinking off ended up written on a sharpie Blaine had handed to him moments earlier.

Then Blaine moved on to Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni and Dana Vollmer and did another trick. Franklin was speechless when a folded up card appeared under her watchband … and again when Blaine made the card change its number and suit in an instant.

“Who are you?” a mystified Franklin asked.

Click here for a complete recap of the night (sneak preview: Phelps and Franklin took home the night’s top awards).

A few other thoughts and observations from the evening:

– It was a no-brainer to start the night by playing the U.S. Olympic swim team’s music video of “Call me Maybe.” It’s still our favorite of the “Call me Maybe” parodies on YouTube.

– Phelps is currently filming episodes of the Haney Project, a Golf Channel reality show that features celebrity golfers trying to become better golfers under the direction of coach Hank Haney. We asked Phelps who is tougher: Haney or his longtime swim coach, Bob Bowman.

“They are exactly the same,” Phelps said. “They have the same amount of passion and they’re just going to force it out of you.”

– We chatted with Jessica Hardy and her fiancé Dominic Meichtry on the red carpet about an unfortunate mishap last week that resulted in Meichtry giving Hardy a black eye. The pair was training together in the pool (Meichtry swims for the Swiss national team) and they collided in the middle of the lane after a miscommunication about whether they were swimming side by side or in a circle pattern. Hardy was left bloodied and with a colorful circle around her eye. “The first thing I said when it happened was, ‘Oh no, the Golden Goggles.’ Hardy was able to apply enough makeup that the mark was invisible.

Alex Zanardi, auto racer turned Paralympic champion, has 5-hour surgery to rebuild face after crash

Alex Zanardi
AP
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SIENA, Italy (AP) — Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi underwent a five-hour surgery Monday to reconstruct his face following a crash on his handbike last month.

It was the third major operation that Zanardi has had since he crashed into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19 during a relay event.

Dr. Paolo Gennaro of Santa Maria alle Scotte Hospital in Siena said the operation required three-dimensional digital and computerized technology that was “made to measure” for Zanardi.

“The complexity of the case was fairly unique, although this is a type of fracture that we deal with routinely,” Gennaro said in a hospital statement.

After the surgery, Zanardi was returned to the intensive care unit in a medically induced coma.

“His condition remains stable in terms of his cardio-respiratory status and grave in terms of his neurological status,” the hospital medical bulletin read.

The 53-year-old Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, has been on a ventilator since the crash.

Zanardi suffered serious facial and cranial trauma, and doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

Zanardi won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.

Last month, Pope Francis penned a handwritten letter of encouragement assuring Zanardi and his family of his prayers. The pope praised Zanardi as an example of strength amid adversity.

Shawn Johnson East shares struggles with body image, prescription drugs

Shawn Johnson
Getty Images
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Shawn Johnson East, a 2008 Olympic gymnastics champion, detailed past struggles with body image and prescription drugs and reflected on her eating disorder as an elite athlete, to show there is hope to others in difficult situations.

“It all started with pregnancy and having my daughter,” East, who had daughter Drew in October, said on TODAY on Monday. “I had so many people asking me questions about how did pregnancy affect you mentally and how did you get your body back after having your daughter. I couldn’t answer that without giving a greater and a larger story.”

East first went public about her undiagnosed teenage eating disorders in 2015, three years after retiring from the sport. She said she limited herself to 700 calories per day and didn’t tell her parents.

In a June YouTube video, Johnson said she also binged and purged, including while dating future husband Andrew in the mid-2010s. And that she had depression and anxiety in 2011, when she returned to competition for the first time since the Beijing Games.

“I thought it would fix all of my problems,” East said of returning to gymnastics for a 2012 Olympic bid.

When East won “Dancing with the Stars” in 2009, she “hit a very low spot” going through puberty on national TV. She said she gained 15 pounds after the 2008 Olympics and started taking medications and drugs “to look like I did at the Olympics.” It included fad diets, diuretics and a three-week stretch of eating nothing but raw vegetables.

“Most pain of my entire life because I couldn’t digest anything,” she said.

At some point in 2011, East began feeling burned out. She was back to eating too few calories and overtraining. An unnamed USA Gymnastics doctor prescribed her Adderall “to lose more weight, have more energy and be more successful in gymnastics.” She took “heavy doses.”

“It helped my performances, but there were massive consequences to it,” she said. “I continued to compete into 2012, where I just started to get depressed.

“I was overdosing on Adderall. I was overdosing on any medication that wouldn’t be caught by USADA.”

Adderall was a banned substance in competition without a therapeutic use exemption, but was legal outside of competition.

“I was so controlled by other people’s opinions that I wouldn’t live up to that Olympic standard that I did anything to get it back and I could never have it back,” East said. “I didn’t learn that until later on.”

East’s mental hurdles re-emerged when she had a miscarriage in 2017. She blamed herself, believing her unhealthy lifestyle in the past was a contributor.

“Our natural inclination is to say, what did I do? And what did I do wrong?” she said. “It haunted me. I felt like I had sacrificed everything for an Olympic medal to not actually get the dream I had wanted my entire life [to have a child].”

With the help of a nutritionist and therapist and her husband, she conquered the demons through her 2019 pregnancy and childbirth.

“Having gone through a whole pregnancy and knowing that I felt confident through the whole thing, I feel like I’ve climbed Everest,” she said.

MORE: Why Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson went 8 years without talking

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