Boris Berian
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Boris Berian, McDonald’s man turned 800m champ, may miss Olympics due to sponsor dispute

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By day, Boris Berian took orders at the fast-food counter, flipped burgers and cooked fries to make ends meet.

By dusk, he trained to become one of the fastest 800m runners in the United States.

Now, he wonders if all that hard work will really pay off. Berian’s biggest opponent these days isn’t on the track, but in the courtroom. A lawsuit filed by Nike dealing with what sort of gear Berian wears threatens to derail what looked like a for-sure trip to the Rio Olympics this summer.

And to think, Berian used to daydream about big endorsement deals while working the 8 a.m.-to-2 p.m. shift at a McDonald’s inside a Walmart in Colorado Springs, Colo.

How times have changed: His coach said the 23-year-old Berian would consider retiring rather than race for Nike after this grievance, which could possibly keep him from the starting line on July 1 at the Olympic Trials.

“It’s just sad. You can’t do this to a kid who’s done nothing to you,” said Carlos Handler, who trains Berian at the Big Bear Track Club in California. “I’ve told people that when it’s all said and done, he will be the American record holder.”

Nike signed Berian on June 17, 2015, during a breakout season. The contract went through December 31 and gave the shoe and apparel company the right to match any other offers.

Berian signed a deal with New Balance, but Nike maintained that its sponsorship remained in effect since the company properly exercised its right of first refusal. Berian’s side feels certain terms of the New Balance deal were more favorable.

While the controversy has played out, Berian has continued to excel on the track, winning a World Indoor title in Portland, Ore., in March, against a field that lacked most Rio Olympic 800m medal favorites.

At a meet last month in Southern California, Berian was served a lawsuit by Nike that accused him of breach of contract. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Oregon on April 29.

In a statement, Nike said it “values its relationships with athletes and we expect them to honor their contractual commitments. Where necessary we’ll take steps to protect our rights.”

A judge has at least temporarily banned him from wearing the footwear of any Nike competitor including but not limited to New Balance. There’s another hearing set for June 21.

“Apparently myself alone can cause harm to a MULTI-BILLION dollar company Nike,” Berian posted on his Twitter account. He recently ended a tweet with the hashtag, “FreeBoris.”

A promising runner out of Widefield High School in Colorado Springs, Berian went to Adams State in Alamosa, where he won indoor and outdoor national titles as a freshman.

But he struggled with his eligibility because of grades. He practiced, just couldn’t race.

“It was annoying, because my fitness was getting crazy,” Berian said. “The workouts were getting easier and faster. But the fact I couldn’t compete was driving me crazy.”

He dropped out and embarked on his own in the spring of 2014. A friend offered him a couch to crash on and he found a job at McDonald’s.

Each day he would ride his bike or walk the nearly three miles to work the early shift, leaving him time to train in the evening.

“I was hoping to make enough money to train and travel to meets,” he said. “Hopefully run fast and get sponsored. It was a hard goal, but it was enough to keep me going.”

For weeks, that was his routine — completing workouts from a log book he kept.

“There were a few days working at McDonald’s that got me down — making a little bit of money, going back home tired and training at the track,” Berian said. “But just a couple of days like that.”

That’s when Hall of Fame coach Joe Vigil entered the picture. Vigil, the former coach at Adams State for three decades, kept tabs on Berian by following his track exploits and then lost track of him. Vigil got back in touch with Berian and recommended him to Handler, whose wife, Brenda Martinez, is also instructed by Vigil.

Handler offered Berian a place to live and train in Big Bear. Berian accepted and soon joined the training group — after submitting his two-week notice, of course.

Almost instantly, Handler knew there was something different about Berian. His speed and work ethic were impressive.

“He was just meant to be a runner,” Handler said. “It just took someone to get out of their own way to actually give him a chance.”

In July 2015, he turned in a blistering time of 1 minute, 43.34 seconds, which ranks among the fastest ever by an American.

Last month, Berian won the Prefontaine Classic — a meet sponsored by Nike.

Heading into Rio, he’s heard the cute comments about him going from fry cook to potential Olympian, such as “From ‘Golden Arches’ to a gold medal.” He appreciates it.

He just hopes he gets the chance to try.

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Anna van der Breggen is first cyclist to sweep road world titles in 25 years

Anna van der Breggen
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Dutchwoman Anna van der Breggen added the road race crown to her time trial victory at the world road cycling championships, becoming the second rider in history to win both events at the same edition.

“This is, for me, pretty good so far,” she said.

Van der Breggen, the Rio Olympic road race champion, won after a solo attack with more than 25 miles left of an 89-mile course in Imola, Italy, on Saturday.

She prevailed after more than four hours of racing by 80 seconds over countrywoman Annemiek van Vleuten, the 2019 champion. Van Vleuten raced nine days after breaking her left wrist in a Giro Rosa crash.

Italian Elisa Longo Borghini took bronze in the same time as van Vleuten after losing a photo-finish sprint. Lauren Stephens was the top American in 11th.

Full results are here.

The race lacked American standout Chloé Dygert, who crashed out of the time trial while leading on Thursday and required leg surgery.

Van der Breggen joined Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo as the only male or female cyclists to sweep the time trial and road race at a single worlds. Longo did so in 1995 at age 36.

Van der Breggen, 30, said in May that she will retire after the 2021 Olympic season.

It will be the end of one of the great cycling careers. She is now a three-time world champion and nine-time world medalist to go along with her road race gold and time trial bronze in her Olympic debut in Rio.

Worlds conclude Sunday with the men’s road race. A TV and stream schedule is here.

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2020 French Open TV, live stream schedule

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Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams can each tie Grand Slam singles titles records at the French Open, with daily live coverage among NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel.

NBC coverage starts Sunday with first-round action at Roland Garros, its 38th straight year covering the event. Tennis Channel airs the majority of weekday coverage. Peacock, NBC Universal’s new streaming service, has middle weekend broadcasts.

All NBC TV coverage alo streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Nadal is the primary men’s storyline, favored to tie Roger Federer‘s male record of 20 major titles and extend his own record of 12 French Open crowns. Federer is absent after knee operations earlier this year.

The Spaniard’s primary competition is top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the 2016 French Open champion whose only defeat in 2020 was a U.S. Open default for hitting a ball that struck a linesperson in the throat.

Williams bids again to match the overall Grand Slam singles mark of 24 held by Australian Margaret Court. Williams, a three-time French Open champion, lost in the third and fourth round the last two years and is coming off a U.S. Open semifinal exit.

The women’s field is led by 2018 champion Simona Halep but lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic. Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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French Open TV Schedule

Date Time (ET) Network Round
Sunday, Sept. 27 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
12-3 p.m. NBC
Monday, Sept. 28 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Tuesday, Sept. 29 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel First Round
Wednesday, Sept. 30 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Thursday, Oct. 1 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Second Round
Friday, Oct. 2 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
Saturday, Oct. 3 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Third Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Sunday, Oct. 4 5 a.m.-12 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Monday, Oct. 5 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tennis Channel Fourth Round
11 a.m. Peacock
Tuesday, Oct. 6 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Wednesday, Oct. 7 6 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tennis Channel Quarterfinals
Thursday, Oct. 8 5 a.m.-2 p.m. Tennis Channel Women’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Friday, Oct. 9 5 a.m.-4 p.m. Tennis Channel Men’s Semis
11 a.m. NBC, NBCSN
Saturday, Oct. 10 9 a.m. NBC Women’s Final
Sunday, Oct. 11 9 a.m. NBC Men’s Final