Sanya Richards-Ross, running in pain, OK if she misses Olympic team

Sanya Richards-Ross
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Reigning Olympic 400-meter champion Sanya Richards-Ross calls them gold-medal moments, when a complete stranger walks up to her and thanks her for a career that’s included plenty of celebrations, along with some tears.

Those moments are priceless for Richards-Ross, even more so with the 31-year-old retiring after the Rio de Janeiro Games. She’s a long shot to make the American squad at the Olympic trials because of a painful big toe that’s haunted her for years and a hamstring ailment that recently surfaced.

Richards-Ross insisted she’s OK if she doesn’t make the team — that it’s just as much about soaking it all in one last time.

Still, that competitive nature is hard to switch off. The four-time Olympic gold medalist and American record holder won’t go without one final kick down the back stretch.

“As an athlete, you’re optimistic until the very end. I can’t help but be that way,” said Richards-Ross, who begins Friday with a first-round heat. “If I’m in it, I can win it. If I don’t, I’m grateful that I made it this far.”

It’s been a stroll down memory lane for Richards-Ross since she arrived in Eugene earlier in the week. She and her dad went to the track and took a casual trip around it. Her dad has been by her side through her triumphs (her crowning achievement, 400-meter gold at the 2012 London Olympics) and her heartaches (finishing third at the 2008 Beijing Games when she struggled down the stretch and was later found crying underneath the stands). Not only that, but the health concerns, too — she spent five years fighting a painful autoimmune disease called Behcet’s syndrome, only to discover it may have been misdiagnosed.

“To walk the track with my dad and reflect on this amazing journey I’ve been on felt perfect,” Richards-Ross said. “I’m trying not to get too emotional, because I need to give everything on the track.”

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Her big toe is a big reason she’s calling it a career. Before this season, she had her third surgery, but the pain remains a “10” when she runs. Her shoe company, Nike, designed a spike for her to train in to take the pressure off her foot and it helps, but the pain persists.

“There’s a quality of life thing where I don’t want to run to the point that I can’t walk,” she said. “I want to run with my kids one day and not say, ‘Well, I used to run but that was only when I was young.'”

She’s long been the gold standard in the 400 since her days at the University of Texas. She was a member of the last three 4×400 relay teams that captured Olympic gold, but an individual Olympic gold eluded her until London.

Richards-Ross would love nothing more than to defend her crown in Rio, but it’s going to be difficult with a field that includes Allyson Felixeven if she has a sore ankle — up-and-comer Courtney Okolo and Francena McCorory, to name a few. Making matters worse, Richards-Ross hurt her hamstring in a race a few weeks ago, limiting her practice time. This after finishing seventh, more than 2 seconds behind the winner, during the Prefontaine Classic in late May at Hayward Field.

“Just taking it one race at a time,” said Richards-Ross, who’s trained under legendary coach Clyde Hart.

She’s already thinking about her post-race career. At the top of the list, she’d like to start a family with her husband, NFL defensive back Aaron Ross. She’s also in the process of writing a book, owns several businesses — including a luxury car service with her husband and a salon with her sister — and wants to launch a broadcasting career.

“Be the female version of Michael Strahan, because he transitioned so well,” said Richards-Ross, who lives in Austin, Texas. “I want to do something with as much fire and passion as I did my sports career.”

While there’s a chance she could be in the U.S. relay pool if she doesn’t finish in the top three, there’s also a chance this could be it. If it is, Richards-Ross said she’s not sure how she will punctuate her final big race on the track.

“It’s impossible to rehearse for something like this,” Richards-Ross said. “I want to be in the moment and whatever my emotions lead me to do, that’s what I’m going to do.”

As for how she wants to be remembered, that’s simple: Giving every race everything she had.

“I hope that fans were inspired by my effort,” Richards-Ross said. “As I was leaving the track (Tuesday), this father tapped me on the shoulder and said to me, ‘Sanya, you’ve been such a good role model for my daughter. “‘

Another gold-medal moment.

MORE: Jeter, Symmonds out of Olympic Trials

U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
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Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024
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The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
Lafayette
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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