Gwen Jorgensen, Sarah True, Katie Zaferes

Gwen Jorgensen leads historic U.S. triathlon sweep at Gold Coast

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Only one flag was raised at the medal ceremony.

“The rumor was they didn’t even have three USA flags, so hopefully they’ll get three for next time,” Gwen Jorgensen said, according to The Associated Press.

The World champion Jorgensen won her eighth straight World Triathlon Series event and, for the first time, was joined by two countrywomen on the podium in Gold Coast, Australia, on Saturday.

Jorgensen, Sarah True and Katie Zaferes made up the second-ever medals sweep by one nation in a men’s or women’s World Triathlon Series event (the series started in 2009, and Gold Coast marked the 50th stop).

Jorgensen prevailed by 1 minute, 18 seconds, winning so easily that she crossed the finish line of the 10km run after several high-fives with fans and with her sunglasses perched on her hair (full results here).

Jorgensen was in the lead pack after the 1500m swim and the 43km bike, and she’s the greatest runner in the world. She had to serve a 15-second penalty during her run because her bike fell in the transition zone, but nobody was going to catch her.

“I don’t think you ever have a perfect race, but I was really thrilled to come out of the water and be in the front pack right away,” Jorgensen said in a finish-area interview.

Jorgensen notched her 11th career win in 27 World Triathlon Series starts. She hasn’t lost a WTS race since April 26. She extended the longest men’s or women’s win streak in series history. Pre-WTS, Australian Emma Carney was unbeaten across 12 straight International Triathlon Union World Cup races in 1995-96, but she did not win the separate World Championships races those years.

“You don’t think about that,” Jorgensen said of her streak. “When you say it, it sounds really weird. You look back at some of the triathlon legends, and it doesn’t seem like I’m at that level at all.”

True, who was the top American at the 2012 Olympics (fourth) and second in last year’s overall standings behind Jorgensen, made the podium for the first time in three tries this year.

Jorgensen, 28, and True, 33, went one-two at last season’s WTS event in London.

“And I knew that Katie is a podium athlete; it’s just a matter of time,” said True, who finished ninth and eighth in the first two events this season. “Those of us who are 30-plus, it takes us a little while to get warmed up to the season. … I’m actually ahead of where I thought I’d be.”

Zaferes made the podium for the third time in as many races this season. She was second to Jorgensen in the first two events in Abu Dhabi and Auckland. Zaferes finished 18 seconds behind True.

The only other time one nation swept a World Triathlon Series podium came in 2011, when three Australian Emmas did so — Emma Moffatt, Emma Jackson and Emma Snowsill.

In the men’s Gold Coast race, Olympic bronze medalist Jonathan Brownlee captured his second straight victory, topping Spain’s Mario Mola and Javier Gomez (full results here).

U.S. mile record holder Alan Webb failed to finish the race in his second career World Triathlon Series start.

The World Triathlon Series continues with a stop in Cape Town, South Africa, in two weeks.

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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
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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.

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