Alysia Montaño falls, battles to finish Olympic Trials 800m

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The first thing Alysia Montano thought was, “Get up. Get up.”

By the time she finally did, everyone else was gone.

The 800-meter runner who has been victimized more than once by a cruel, unseemly side of her sport got the worst break of all at U.S. Track and Field Trials.

Cheated out of medal after medal by Russians who were later found to have been doping – including at the London Olympics four years ago – Montano saw her chance at an Olympic victory come up painfully short when she tripped over a competitor’s feet while lining up her last charge in Monday night’s final.

“It doesn’t really settle in in that moment where you’re thinking, ‘This is it,'” Montano said about the moment when she hooked shoes with Brenda Martinez, who had made contact with the leader and eventual runner-up, Ajee Wilson. “And then, you get up and they’re really far away. Your heart breaks.”

Montano did get up. She jogged a bit, then stopped, fell to her knees and began to wail as she kicked her foot to the ground in disgust. She got up again and ran to the finish line, then collapsed to her knees, put her head on the ground, looked skyward, clutched her right hand to her heart and let out a primal wail.

“All of a sudden, they came around the corner and she wasn’t there,” said her husband, Louis, who was watching from the side with their daughter, Linnea, who turns 2 next month. “It was heartbreaking.”

Officials reviewed the tape and deemed the smash-up a result of incidental contact. They did not disqualify anyone. Asked if she would protest, Montano replied: “What good would that do me?”

If anyone would know, it would be her.

The woman who showed her devotion to the sport by running on this track two years ago while eight months pregnant made herself the poster child for all athletes who’ve been robbed over the past several years by what investigators say is a state-sponsored Russian system that encourages doping among its athletes.

ZACCARDI: After Trials chaos, it’s Caster for U.S. 800m runners

She finished fourth or fifth at 2011 and 2013 world championships, and at the London Olympics, behind Russians who were later found to have cheated. She may get those medals someday.

She will not get one this year and the fact that the sport’s governing body, the IAAF, has called for the Russian track team to be banned from the Rio Games comes as small consolation for her.

“Eight years of my life as a professional runner, and my entire professional career has been a farce, basically,” the 30-year-old said.

“Now, people are saying Russians aren’t running in the Olympics, but they’re missing the whole point. The IAAF is a corrupt institution and it’s still running the games.”

She tried to set all that anger aside coming into trials, knowing she would have no platform, no way to get her fair due, if she didn’t perform over three days of racing in Eugene this week.

She cruised into the final and, for 600 meters, everything looked fine. Boxed in on the rail in years past, she did what she’d been practicing all spring – moving out to Lane 3 to stay out of trouble and make her final push. She was vying for third place when the contact started.

“I saw tripping. Brenda start to trip and Alysia start to fall,” said Kate Grace, who picked an inside route and coasted by all the trouble for the victory.

And Montano saw some dreams slip away.

“There’s a lot of healing,” she said, “that has to happen beyond this race.”

Other happenings at Day 4 of Olympic Trials:

WANT FRIES WITH THAT?: Less than two years ago, Boris Berian was flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant. In less than two months, he’ll be running at the Olympics. Berian finished second in the 800-meter final behind Clayton Murphy to secure his spot in Rio. It’s been a long journey for the 23-year-old from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Last month, he didn’t even know if he’d compete here because of a lawsuit filed by his former sponsor, Nike, over what kind of gear he wears. Nike dropped the lawsuit and Berian made it.

POLE VAULT POWER: Perhaps it was only fitting that Army reservist Sam Kendricks won the pole vault on the Fourth of July. The second lieutenant proudly waved his red, white and blue flag after setting a U.S. Track and Field Trials record by clearing 19 feet, 4 3/4 inches (5.91 meters) to make the Olympic team. It was a big day for the Armed Forces all around, with U.S. Air Force pole vaulter Cale Simmons taking second on the holiday. Logan Cunningham was third.

BROKEN DREAMS: Pole vaulter Joey Uhle‘s chances for an Olympic spot all but ended when his pole broke on his first attempt. The pole smacked him on the kneecap and, though he lined up to jump again, he wasn’t quite the same. “It messes with your mind a bit, throws you off your balance,” he said.

RUPP ROMP: Galen Rupp, Bernard Lagat and Lopez Lomong all made it through qualifying at 5,000 meters. If Rupp qualifies at 5K, he’ll have to decide between that distance and the marathon. He’s already qualified for the 10K and plans on competing in that event.

LUCKY 11th: They don’t give any medals for 11th place. Javelin thrower Sean Furey didn’t care. In his case, 11th was good enough to make the Olympics. Because Furey was one of only three throwers in the final who had reached the Olympic qualifying standard, he earned a spot on the team. So did fourth-place finisher Sam Crouser and, yes, the winner, Cyrus Hostetler.

MORE: Allyson Felix overcomes pain to win Olympic Trials 400m

David Taylor will not defend wrestling world title

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David Taylor waited five years to get his chance at the world championships. The wait will also be a little longer than expected to defend his world title.

Taylor suffered a knee injury in a May 6 match and underwent surgery, according to his social media. He was to face Pat Downey in two weeks for the U.S.’ spot at 86kg at September’s world championships, but that’s not happening now.

“The nature of competing as a professional athlete is a delicate one,” was posted on Taylor’s accounts. “One year, you find yourself winning the tilte of the 86 kg World Champion and being voted best pound for pound wrestler on earth. In the blink of an eye, you lose yourself in thought over the noisy lull of the MRI machine, hoping that the pain in your knee isn’t what you fear most.”

Taylor, 28, was one of three U.S. men to earn maiden world titles last October in Budapest, along with fellow former NCAA standouts J’den Cox and Kyle Dake.

Taylor upset Iran’s Olympic and world champion Hassan Yazdani in his first match at worlds. He suffered a knee injury in his second match and said he was kicked in the face in the semifinals. He then dumped Turkey’s top-seeded Fatih Erdin in the final, scoring a two-point takedown in the first 10 seconds and getting a 12-2 tech fall.

“To be able to earn it the way that I earned it, there’s no easy way,” Taylor said. “I wrestled every single best guy every single round.”

Taylor became the oldest first-time Olympic or world champion for USA Wrestling since 2006. He had finished second or third at trials for the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 World teams and the 2016 Olympic team. He is one of four men to win the NCAA Wrestler of the Year award multiple times, doing so in 2012 and 2014 for Penn State.

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MORE: Helen Maroulis on why she missed world team trials

Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire