Justin Gatlin’s coach steps down as U.S. relay coach

Dennis Mitchell
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Three-time Olympic medalist Dennis Mitchell resigned as a USA Track and Field relays coach due to a new rule that prohibits the coach of an athlete likely to be part of the relay pool from coaching a relay, according to USA Track and Field.

“I do not want to start a controversy,” Mitchell said, according to Reuters, which first reported the news. “I just want to thank USA Track and Field, the U.S. Olympic Committee and everybody for their support.

“I would do it again if they asked me to.”

Mitchell coaches sprinters including Justin Gatlin, the reigning World Championships silver medalist in the 100m and 200m and likely member of the Olympic 4x100m relay pool.

Mitchell coached the U.S. sprint relays at the IAAF World Relays in 2014 and 2015 and was the relays head coach at the August 2015 World Championships in Beijing.

The U.S. earned one of a possible four gold medals in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays at the World Championships for a second straight time.

Mitchell’s original appointment as relays coach in 2014 was a controversial one, as during his sprint career he served a two-year ban for testing positive for testosterone in 1998.

“In terms of dealing with my past, all parties that were involved were very respectful of my past and, in my opinion, didn’t really use that as a driving force,” Mitchell said Monday, according to Reuters. “But I think there obviously are people out there that have strong feelings about my past … and didn’t support me being the relay coach.”

Mitchell, 50, earned 1992 Olympic bronze and was part of medal-winning U.S. 4x100m relay teams in 1992 (gold) and 1996 (silver).

MORE: Gatlin still regrets Worlds defeat as Olympic season nears

Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona men’s pro race, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Both entered Kailua-Kona, where the races were now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men. Chelsea Sodaro won the women’s race, ending a 20-year American victory drought.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

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