Usain Bolt pulls out of July track meets

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Usain Bolt pulled out of his two scheduled July meets, citing a left leg injury that required him to fly to Munich for treatment.

Bolt “has been feeling discomfort in his left leg since his last competition which has restricted his training,” according to a press release. “He visited Doctor Müller-Wohlfahrt in Munich who confirmed that he has a blocked sacroiliac joint which is restricting his movement and putting pressure on his knee and ankle. Usain will spend the next couple of days in Munich getting treatment after which he will resume full training in his quest to defend his titles at the IAAF World T&F Championships in Beijing at the end of August.”

Bolt withdrew from Diamond League meets in Paris on Saturday and Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 9. Those were his only remaining announced competitions before the World Championships in Beijing from Aug. 22-30.

Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, said Bolt has been complaining “for several weeks” and restricted in training, triggering the trip to the German doctor, according to Reuters.

“What I can say is I’m very concerned about the progress of his preparation [for the World Championships] so far,” Mills said, according to Reuters. “But as to between now and Beijing that depends on what I learn when I have the discussion with the doctor.”

Bolt, 28 and a six-time Olympic champion, reportedly visited Munich for two weeks for treatment last year, when he had March foot surgery that delayed the start of his 2014 season.

Bolt pulled out of last week’s Jamaican Championships after Mills said he would race, but he didn’t need to compete as he had byes into the World Championships as the 2013 World champion in the 100m and 200m.

Bolt last raced at the Adidas Grand Prix on June 13, clocking 20.29 in a 200m, his slowest 200m final time since 2006.

Bolt is increasingly looking like an underdog to American Justin Gatlin in the 100m and 200m at the World Championships. Gatlin is the world’s fastest man in the 100m and 200m this year and was last year.

Gatlin, 33 and five years removed from a four-year doping ban, has run personal bests 9.74 and 19.57 in the 100m and 200m this year. Bolt’s best times since the start of 2014 are 9.98 and 20.13.

In Paris, Bolt was lined up to face former world-record holder and countryman Asafa Powell in a 100m. Powell, 32, is the only Jamaican to run 9.90 or faster in 2014 or 2015, which he has done four times.

Powell last beat Bolt on July 22, 2008, in Bolt’s last race before the Beijing Olympics, when he won the first three of his six Olympic golds.

Video: Usain Bolt at the Athens 2004 Olympics

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

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

MORE: How Gracie Gold landed in Philadelphia, thoughts competitive return

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