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Tyson Gay makes one last Olympic run after being stripped of medal

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) – Tyson Gay has a new coach and a longer beard to go with a new attitude: He doesn’t really care what people think about him.

Behind that tough exterior, though, masks the pain of having to hand back his only Olympic medal. A doping violation cost him and all his relay teammates the silver medal from the 2012 London Games.

A career full of missed chances, close calls, untimely injuries and that stripped-away medal is nearing its end. The man who used to be considered the biggest threat to Usain Bolt is now often viewed as a bit player in the sprint game. Fine with him, the American 100-meter record holder insists. He’s making one last run at the Olympics, doing it for himself, his family, his fans and nobody else.

“This could restore things for me in my heart,” Gay said on the eve of the preliminaries of 100 meters at the Olympic trials. “I lost something when I gave that medal back. The people closest to me, they know how bad I want that medal. Anyone on the outside? I don’t really care.”

For the first time in quite a while, the 33-year-old Gay has no aches or pains. Well, maybe a little knee soreness, but that’s about it, as he tries to earn an Olympic spot in the 100 and 200. Since becoming the American record holder in 2009, Gay’s body has betrayed him. He’s gone through groin and hip surgeries over the years to keep him on the track.

He fully believes he can keep up with the likes of Justin Gatlin, who is a few months older than him, and Trayvon Bromell, the up-and-comer in the field.

“I’m considered the old one,” Gay said. “I’m going to go out there and give it my best, let it all hang.”

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He’s accepted that his past doping problem will now be part of the permanent record. Gay received a one-year ban in 2013 for testing positive for a steroid precursor DHEA – a penalty that was reduced because he provided information that led to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s case against his former coach, Jon Drummond.

“The key thing to that is putting the past in the past and showing people you can always persevere, especially when you make mistakes in life,” said Gay, who is the second-fastest man in history, thanks to his 9.69-second 100 at a 2009 meet in Shanghai (Bolt’s world record is 9.58 and Yohan Blake tied Gay’s mark in 2012). “I don’t get a lot of hate mail, or any of that type of thing. (Fans) allow me to forget about it for the most part.”

Bolt called him out, though, intimating Gay should’ve been suspended for life. Although Gatlin has a doping past as well, Bolt has been harsher toward Gay, possibly because he was Bolt’s biggest rival for so many years.

Doesn’t bother Gay.

“USADA did their investigation and understood everything wasn’t intentional,” Gay said. “But (Bolt) is entitled to his own opinion. I’m moving forward, man. Just continue to do what I do, not worry about what no one else says.”

He’s reached out to Drummond, with the two sharing a text over a family matter. Drummond, the former track star and longtime coach, got hit with an eight-year doping ban after arbitrators found a series of discussions concluded with Drummond convincing Gay to take the banned substance, and carrying it to Europe for him.

“People are in situations and do certain things,” said Gay, who has a son who is almost 2 and a teenage daughter. “At the end of the day, I can’t sit here and hold a grudge and beat myself up. That’s all I would do, if I didn’t let go.”

These days, Gay is working with longtime coach John Smith, who partnered with him about a year and a half ago. The two are smoothing out his starts, which have sometimes stood in Gay’s way. They’ve recently discovered something, Smith said.

“On Tuesday, his first start at practice and I’m like, ‘Where did that come from?'” Smith recounted. “He got better and better and better. He’s a gamer. He knows how to go for it. That’s what I love about him.

“He’s older. He’s injury-free. He’s been scarred up for the last four years, coupled with all the other publicity he had that I don’t have to expound on. This is motivational for him, to go out and prove to himself and to the rest of the public … he’s still here.”

Indeed, Gay still is.

“It’s been a rough three years,” Gay said. “But I would say I’m almost at peace. After I make this team, then I’ll be all the way there.”

MORE: Ten men’s events to watch at Olympic Trials

Lindsey Vonn and her dog to host Amazing Race-like series

Lindsey Vonn
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Lindsey Vonn and one of her three dogs, Lucy, will host “The Pack,” an “Amazing Race”-like series where dogs and their humans compete in challenges across continents.

The Amazon Prime show filmed earlier this year and will premiere later in 2020. Production included a team of veterinarians and dog experts to ensure “a positive experience for everyone.”

Twelve teams vie for a prize of $500,000, plus $250,000 for the animal charity of their choice.

Vonn, the 2010 Olympic downhill champion and female record holder with 82 World Cup wins, retired after the February 2019 World Championships, four shy of the overall victories record held by Swede Ingemar Stenmark.

She traveled the last few years of her career with Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that she got in Italy in January 2016. Lucy required German, Italian and American passports to accompany Vonn on the ski circuit.

Vonn previously adopted rescue dogs Leo, a brindle boxer to help her through recovery from knee surgery that kept her out of the 2014 Olympics, and Bear.

Vonn’s previous broadcast credits included a 2010 appearance as a secretary on “Law & Order,” two judge spots on “Project Runway” and an episode of “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” in 2016.

MORE: Lindsey Vonn’s mom is tough as nails

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London Marathon mass event canceled; Kipchoge, Bekele still to race

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The London Marathon will not hold a mass participation race of 40,000-plus runners, but will have an elites-only event featuring the fastest marathoners in history on a different course.

Organizers announced that the World Marathon Major, previously rescheduled for Oct. 4 from April 26, will be restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Elite runners, including world-record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei and Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest man in history, will instead race but not on the usual route around London landmarks.

They will run on an enclosed looped in St. James’s Park in a “secure biosphere” without spectator access. Elite wheelchair racers, including past champions David Weir and Manuela Schar, will also compete.

Before canceling, London Marathon organizers planned to use Bluetooth and wideband ranging to monitor every participant’s distance from each other, though they did not specify if the event would have still included more than 40,000 runners.

If a participant spent more than 15 minutes within a specified distance of anyone else, and if somebody had informed organizers they contracted the virus within two weeks after the race, he or she would have been contacted.

“Despite all our efforts, the fantastic support from all of our partners and the progress that has been made on planning for the return of smaller mass participation events that are not on the roads, it has not been possible to go ahead with a mass socially distanced walk or run,” event director Hugh Brasher said in press release.

Four of the other five annual World Marathon Majors this year were canceled — Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City. The earliest major, Tokyo, was held March 1 with elite runners only.

Kipchoge, the Olympic marathon champion from Kenya, and Bekele, a three-time Olympic track champion from Ethiopia, were previously announced as headliners for London in the winter, before the pandemic.

Kipchoge lowered the world record to 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. Bekele clocked 2:01:41 in Berlin last September. They are the only men to ever break 2:02 in a marathon. Kipchoge also clocked 1:59:40 at a non-record-eligible event in Vienna on Oct. 12 instead of racing a fall marathon.

Kipchoge has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

Bekele, the more accomplished track athlete with Olympic golds and world records at 5000m and 10,000m, has been a roller-coaster road runner.

Bekele owns two of the seven fastest marathons in history, recorded three years apart in Berlin. In between, he failed to finish two marathons and, in his last London start in 2018, clocked a pedestrian 2:08:53 for sixth place.

That was more than four minutes behind Kipchoge, who is undefeated in four London starts and has beaten by Bekele by at least 100 seconds in all four of their head-to-head marathons.

The Kenyan Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

The 2021 London Marathon will also be held in October to give a better chance of holding a mass race than in April.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results