John Nunn
USATF

John Nunn emerges from fetal position, flu, endures 31 miles to make Olympics

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Few athletes will clinch Rio Olympic berths quite like U.S. race walker John Nunn.

“Last night I was in a fetal position, crying,” Nunn said Sunday, according to TeamUSA.org.

Nunn, 38, emerged from the flu state the next morning and endured 31 miles of race walking at 7:49/mile pace, making his third Olympic team in Santee, Calif., on Sunday. Temperatures reportedly reached the 70s.

The staff sergeant in the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete program qualified for the longest event on the Olympic track and field program, crossing the U.S. Olympic trials finish line in 4 hours, 3 minutes, 21 seconds.

The maximum time to qualify for the Olympics is 4:06, and Nunn was the only man to beat it in 40 laps on a 1.25km course.

He didn’t need to stride that quickly, though.

Nunn had already beaten the Olympic qualifying time last November, and no other U.S. man has done so since the qualifying period opened Jan. 1, 2015. A maximum of three U.S. men can qualify for the Olympic 50km, but they must beat the Olympic qualifying standard by May 8.

As long as Nunn completed the distance on Sunday, he would be in position to make the Olympic team as the U.S. is weak in the event and unlikely to have three other men get under 4:06 by May 8.

“I laid in bed all day yesterday, and I couldn’t fathom how I was going to be able to do this,” Nunn said, according to USA Track and Field. “I thought about it at length, but I think thinking about it gave me more anxiety. I made phone calls to USA Track & Field to see what I needed to do to still make it. Could I just start and quit? Fortunately, it just all worked.”

In two previous Olympic races, Nunn placed 20th in the 20km race walk at Athens 2004 and 43rd in the 50km race walk at London 2012. The lone U.S. Olympic race-walking medalist was Larry Young, bronze in 1968 and 1972.

Nunn is no stranger to competing through physical adversity.

In 2013, he finished last in the World Championships 50km, 56 minutes and 59 seconds behind the winner. He suffered severe cramps during the race and collapsed, screaming, at the finish line, according to 3wiresports.com. His racing uniform reportedly had to be cut off of him.

There is no Olympic women’s 50km race walk. The U.S. Olympic 20km race walk trials, for men and women, will be June 30 in Salem, Ore.

MORE: List of U.S. athletes qualified for Rio Olympics

Richie Porte crashes out of Tour de France again

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Australian Richie Porte crashed out of the Tour de France on the ninth stage for a second straight year, suffering a fractured right clavicle six miles into Sunday’s stage.

“Obviously I’m devastated,” Porte said, according to Team BMC. “For the second year in a row I am ending the Tour de France like this. I was on the ground before I knew it, and straight away felt pain in my right shoulder.”

Porte, who finished fifth in the 2016 Tour de France and was an overall podium contender these last two years, was seen sitting on the side of the road, gritting his teeth and crossing his right arm over his chest.

There was a mass stoppage of riders, with at least one spectator down on the side of the narrow road. The crash came well before the Tour stage was to hit 15 arduous cobblestone sections totaling 13 miles.

Porte was in 10th place after eight stages, 57 seconds behind race leader and BMC teammate Greg Van Avermaet. Avermaet and American Tejay van Garderen, in third place, were expected to work for Porte in the mountains later this week, hoping to put him in the yellow jersey.

Now, Van Garderen is in line to be the team leader.

In 2017, Porte fractured his clavicle and pelvis on a ninth-stage crash on a descent and had to abandon the Tour.

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Chris Froome, other stars crash on Tour de France cobblestones stage

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Richie PorteTejay van GarderenRigoberto UranMikel Landa. Even Chris Froome.

Stage nine of the Tour de France promised to rattle the top riders, and the 15 sections of cobblestones totaling 13 miles delivered just that. All of the named men crashed on Sunday, with Porte abandoning the Grand Tour altogether (albeit he crashed before the first cobbles section, six miles into the stage).

In the end, German John Degenkolb got the stage win ahead of overall race leader Greg Van Avermaet and Yves Lampaert.

Van Avermaet, the Olympic road race champion from Belgium, retained the yellow jersey for a sixth straight day, extending his lead to 43 seconds over Brit Geraint Thomas. Van Avermaet rides for Team BMC, which lost its team leader in Porte.

American van Garderen presumably became the new team leader, but he crashed later in the stage and also suffered three flat tires.

Van Garderen entered the day third in the overall standings, nine seconds behind Van Avermaet. He ended it in 30th place, 6:05 behind Van Avermaet.

The best-placed favorite to finish on the podium in Paris on July 29 is now the four-time Tour winner Froome, in eighth place, 1:42 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is trying to tie the record of five Tour titles shared by Jacques AnquetilEddy MerckxBernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

The Tour takes its first of two rest days Monday, resuming with the first day in the Alps on Tuesday live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here). Stage 10 features a beyond-category climb and three category-one climbs.

“I’m relieved to get through today and looking forward to getting into the mountains now where the real race for GC (general classification) will start,” Froome said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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