Cam F. Awesome among U.S. Olympic boxing trials winners

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Heavyweight Cam F. Awesome was among nine men’s boxers to move closer to Rio Olympic berths by winning the U.S. Olympic trials in Reno, Nev., over the weekend.

Awesome and a group that includes 2014 Youth Olympic champion Shakur Stevenson can clinch spots at the Rio Games via results at international tournaments next year. The first opportunity is in March in Buenos Aires.

They hope to join the lone U.S. boxer already qualified for the Olympics, lightweight Carlos Balderas. All potential 2016 U.S. Olympic men’s boxers would be first-time Olympians.

In 2012, U.S. men’s boxers failed to win a medal for the first time in Olympic history.

The vegan Awesome, 27, won the Olympic trials four years ago as Lenroy “Cam” Thompson in the super heavyweight category but received a one-year doping ban in February 2012 not for failing drug tests, but for missing three out-of-competition drug tests.

He then changed his name — “because I am an entertainer,” and the F stands for “whatever you want it” — and, after reportedly ballooning to 270 pounds, shed 70 pounds to compete in the heavyweight division.

“I’m trying not to cry,” Awesome, who calls himself the Taylor Swift of boxing on his Twitter profile, said after winning Saturday night, according to USA Boxing. “It’s a long road and a very emotional week. I felt like I held myself together long enough that I can go cry now.”

Here’s the full list of U.S. Olympic men’s boxing trials winners:

108 lbs: Nico Hernandez
114 lbs: Antonio Vargas
123 lbs: Shakur Stevenson
141 lbs: Gary Russell
152 lbs: Paul Kroll
165 lbs: Charles Conwell
178 lbs: Jonathan Esquivel
201 lbs: Cam F. Awesome
201+ lbs: Marlo Moore

MORE BOXING: Marlen Esparza posts tearful videos after missing Olympic team

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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