Brittney Reese
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Brittney Reese eyes repeat Olympic gold after injury, adoption (video)

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Brittney Reese won all six global meet long jump titles, including the Olympics, from 2009 to 2013, but the last three years brought significant change.

The Mississippian tore a hip labrum in 2013 and dropped to the world’s third-best long jumper in 2014 and didn’t even make the 12-woman final at the 2015 World Championships.

“That was the toughest two years of my life,” Reese said, according to USA Track and Field. “It messed me up not only physically but mentally. I was in a stage where I was thinking about just retiring because maybe I just couldn’t get myself back right. So my coach recommended a life coach and psychologist who does it all, and this year was my last resort of whether I should continue in track and field.”

Reese came back to win the World Indoor Championship on March 18, overtaking the leader on her final jump. The 7.22-meter leap was one centimeter off Reese’s American indoor record set in 2012.

“For me to finally see that I still had that drive … that helped me to be a better athlete and appreciate the sport more,” Reese said, according to USATF.

Reese is being rooted on during her run for a third Olympic team by Alex Wildee, her 8-year-old godson. Reese adopted him from a longtime friend who could no longer raise him.

Alex lived with Reese’s mom for two years, but this year Reese began raising him, according to USATF.

“He’s a good motivator,” Reese, now a single mom, told NBC’s affiliate in San Diego. “He’s at the end of the runway saying, ‘Let’s go, Brittney!'”

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Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts win three times on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One gymnast has two wins on vault. A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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