Shani Davis

Tearful Shani Davis returns to the top at World Championships

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Shani Davis captured his first World Championship in four years, taking the 1000m gold in Heerenveen, Netherlands, on Saturday.

Later, countrywoman Heather Richardson took the first World Single Distance Championships gold of her career in the 500m. And the biggest Dutch star, Sven Kramer, kept his winning streak alive in the 5000m.

Davis, 32, clocked 1:08.57 in the 1000m to prevail by .04 over Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia. The Netherlands’ Kjeld Nuis won bronze. It’s a major victory for Davis, a two-time Olympic champion in the event.

“I’ve always tried to win on Thialf [the name of the ice arena in Heerenveen] in the Single Distances, and I never, ever had a chance to do it,” Davis told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “My last opportunity before they break down the building, I won the race. I’m so happy and thrilled. I was crying I was so happy.

“When have you ever seen me cry after a race?”

He had not finished better than third in any World Cup race this season and was fourth in the World Championships 1500m on Friday.

Before the World Championships, Davis said he would retire next season if his results didn’t improve.

Davis was eighth in the 1000m at the Sochi Olympics and took bronze at the 2013 World Championships.

“I needed something to show me that I still have what it takes and that I need to continue on,” Davis told NOS. “It’s the best way for me to top the season after having so many bad races. … I couldn’t be happier with myself than I am right now.”

Richardson, a two-time Olympian, continued her stellar form this season by handing two-time Olympic champion Lee Sang-hwa her first defeat in the 500m at a World Championships or Olympics since 2011.

Richardson was eighth in the 500m at the Sochi Olympics but earned her first global championship medal in the event Saturday. Teammate Brittany Bowe earned silver in a reverse of their one-two finish from the 1000m on Friday.

But the loudest cheers in Heerenveen were for Kramer, who trailed countryman Jorrit Bergsma‘s time in the 5000m midway through his pair. But Kramer eventually got under Bergsma’s pace and prevailed by 1.88 seconds.

Kramer, 28, has not lost a World Championships or Olympic 5000m since 2006. Bergsma, 29, took silver after he won the 10,000m on Thursday without Kramer in the field.

Erin Hamlin just misses history at World Championships

David Taylor will not defend wrestling world title

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David Taylor waited five years to get his chance at the world championships. The wait will also be a little longer than expected to defend his world title.

Taylor suffered a knee injury in a May 6 match and underwent surgery, according to his social media. He was to face Pat Downey in two weeks for the U.S.’ spot at 86kg at September’s world championships, but that’s not happening now.

“The nature of competing as a professional athlete is a delicate one,” was posted on Taylor’s accounts. “One year, you find yourself winning the tilte of the 86 kg World Champion and being voted best pound for pound wrestler on earth. In the blink of an eye, you lose yourself in thought over the noisy lull of the MRI machine, hoping that the pain in your knee isn’t what you fear most.”

Taylor, 28, was one of three U.S. men to earn maiden world titles last October in Budapest, along with fellow former NCAA standouts J’den Cox and Kyle Dake.

Taylor upset Iran’s Olympic and world champion Hassan Yazdani in his first match at worlds. He suffered a knee injury in his second match and said he was kicked in the face in the semifinals. He then dumped Turkey’s top-seeded Fatih Erdin in the final, scoring a two-point takedown in the first 10 seconds and getting a 12-2 tech fall.

“To be able to earn it the way that I earned it, there’s no easy way,” Taylor said. “I wrestled every single best guy every single round.”

Taylor became the oldest first-time Olympic or world champion for USA Wrestling since 2006. He had finished second or third at trials for the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 World teams and the 2016 Olympic team. He is one of four men to win the NCAA Wrestler of the Year award multiple times, doing so in 2012 and 2014 for Penn State.

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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