Henry Ellard

Henry Ellard, former NFL All-Pro receiver, competes at USATF Masters

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Henry Ellard triple jumped at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials during the prime of his 16-year NFL career. He’s back in track and field, at 52, for his first USATF Masters Outdoor Championships this weekend.

Ellard is entered in the long jump and triple jump at the Winston-Salem, N.C., meet, where a 65-year-old woman has already run 800m in 2:42 (video here).

A simple conversation sparked Ellard’s return to the sport.

“It’s funny, but my girls all run track, and one day I was out there, and I saw this older guy working on the pole vault, so I went over and started talking to him,” Ellard told the Winston-Salem Journal.

Ellard caught 814 passes for 13,777 yards and 65 touchdowns in a career with the Rams, Redskins and Patriots from 1983 through 1998. He made three Pro Bowls and was twice a first-team All-Pro.

Ellard made the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials by triple jumping 54 feet, 1 inch, his first time competing since 1986, according to the Sporting News. He suffered a hamstring injury at trials and did not make the team for Barcelona.

“I’m just going to go out there [at Masters] and have a little fun with it,” Ellard told the Winston-Salem Journal. “I remember I was a little disappointed in 1992, so I want to kind of redeem myself a little bit in this meet.”

Ellard isn’t the first NFL wide receiver to take part in Masters Nationals. Chicago Bears Super Bowl champion Willie Gault is the American Masters record holder in the 100m and 200m for the 45-49 and 50-54 age groups.

(h/t @JohnDellWSJ)

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U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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