Flashback: Usain Bolt at the Athens 2004 Olympics (video)

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Usain Bolt‘s sights are set on a “triple-triple” at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The Jamaican, already the first athlete to sweep the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at consecutive Olympics, will try to do so for a third straight time next year.

But, no matter what Bolt does in Brazil, he will leave with a blemish on his Olympic résumé. It’s been there since 2004, when Bolt debuted at the Olympics in Athens.

Bolt, then 17 years old, made the Jamaican Olympic team for one race in the Greek capital — the 200m. He came to the Games with the second fastest time in the world in the event in 2004.

Sports Illustrated predicted Bolt would win a bronze medal behind world leader Shawn Crawford (who famously raced a giraffe and a zebra on primetime TV) and Greek 2000 Olympic champion Konstantinos Kenteris (who infamously missed a drug test the day before he was favored to the light the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony and withdrew from the Games days before the 200m race).

“It would be nice to be Olympic 200 meters champion at my age, but I don’t want to harp too much on that,” Bolt said in April 2004, according to Agence France-Presse.

But while Bolt carried enormous potential, he also was weighed down by a left hamstring injury (related to back problems and followed by an Achilles tendon issue, Bolt said in one of his books) that kept him out of the World Junior Championships one month before the Olympics and reportedly sidelined him for nearly three months that year.

“I am not where I was when I ran the world junior record,” Bolt said in Athens, according to AFP, referencing his 19.93 clocking April 11, 2004. “The good thing is, I am able to compete.”

Bolt was right on. He competed, but he wasn’t his best.

“It was too early for me, too soon in my development, and I wasn’t going to win based on how unprepared I was,” Bolt said in his book, “The Fastest Man Alive: The True Story of Usain Bolt.” “My preference had been to do the World Juniors [in July 2004]. … The Olympics [in August] should have been an occasion to look forward to. It is a significant moment in any athlete’s career, but given my poor condition I couldn’t think about enjoying it.”

He finished fifth in his first-round heat in 21.05 but needed to be 21.02 or better to advance to the quarterfinals.

“I knew it was a complete waste of time,” Bolt said of his heat in his book. “I didn’t have the heart for it. I could have got into the first four and reached the next round, but I wasn’t interested. I was in fifth place approaching the finish and could have got past the athlete ahead of me but didn’t bother. It didn’t make any sense. Even if I’d made it through, I was never going to be able to do anything and go further. I wanted to get out of Greece, which had been a very bad experience for me.”

If Bolt had made it to the final, his 19.93 world junior record would have won the silver medal behind Crawford’s 19.79.

Four years later, Bolt won the Beijing Olympic 200m in a then-world record 19.30. He reset the world record at the 2009 World Championships — 19.19 — and repeated as Olympic champion in London in 19.32.

Bolt’s run of dominance in the event at global championships appears to be in jeopardy heading to the World Championships in Beijing in August. American Justin Gatlin, who won Olympic 100m gold in Athens before serving a four-year doping ban, has the world’s two fastest 200m times since Bolt won the 2013 World title.

Flashback: Michael Phelps at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

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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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire