Helen Maroulis
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Helen Maroulis gets help from Cal Ripken Jr. on first pitch

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It would be memorable for any D.C. area person to throw a pitch to Cal Ripken Jr. Helen Maroulis can say she did it twice, with a great story behind it.

Maroulis, a Maryland native who in Rio became the first U.S. women’s wrestling champion, visited the Aberdeen IronBirds to throw a ceremonial first pitch Thursday as part of her tour of area pro sports teams.

Her catcher was none other than Ripken, the IronBirds owner, who said he had never before caught a pitch from an Olympic gold medalist. (A little surprising given Michael Phelps is a noted Ripken fan)

Maroulis, who lifted Teddy Roosevelt at a Washington Nationals game but did not throw a first pitch last week, practiced with Ripken in the bullpen before her pitch Thursday.

Once she got to the more sloped pitcher’s mound, her ceremonial toss bounced once before reaching Ripken, well off the plate. Rather than accept it, the Baltimore Orioles legend lofted the ball back to Maroulis and told her to try again.

“It felt incredible, but you know what, I’m more happy about the lessons I got beforehand,” Maroulis told the Baltimore Sun. “No one saw that, but Cal is awesome, so I don’t know if I would have gotten that to home plate without him.

“If Cal’s throwing you the ball back, you better get it right the second time. So I was going for broke at that point.”

Maroulis felt butterflies, just like she does before wrestling matches. Ripken sensed it.

“It’s nerve-wracking going out on the field and throw, if it’s not what you do,” Ripken said. “We practiced down here in the bullpen, and we measured it off down there to see if she could do it, and she took it all the way to 60 feet. I didn’t tell her about the slope of the mound, it kind of messed her up the first time, so we had to have a take two.”

Maroulis and Ripken then shared a Maryland tradition, cracking steamed crabs.

Last Saturday, Maroulis gave the Baltimore Ravens a pre-game, locker-room speech. On Friday, she is to throw a first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game.

MORE: Maroulis’ rival from Japan decides not to retire

Alistair Brownlee, after Ironman, leans toward Olympic return

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Alistair Brownlee is already the only triathlete with multiple Olympic titles. In July, he is reportedly leaning toward another impressive feat, to win an Olympic gold medal the summer after completing the Kona Ironman World Championships.

The Brit Brownlee said he is “definitely swinging towards” trying to qualify for the Tokyo Games, according to the Times of London. Brownlee’s manager confirmed the stance while noting that his result in the Ironman Western Australia on Dec. 1 will play into the ultimate decision.

Brownlee previously reportedly said he was “50-50” on going for the Olympics and that he had to decide between focusing on the shorter Olympic distance or the Ironman, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon.

Other Olympic triathletes transitioned to the Ironman and never went back, such as 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno of Germany and two-time U.S. Olympian Sarah True.

Brownlee finished 21st in Kona on Oct. 12 in 8 hours, 25 minutes, 3 seconds, which was 33:50 behind the winner Frodeno.

Brownlee won four half Ironmans between 2017 and 2018 (sandwiched by a hip surgery), then finished second to Frodeno at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on Sept. 2.

One other triathlete won an Olympic title after completing the Kona Ironman — Austrian Kate Allen, who was seventh in Kona in 2002, then took gold at the 2004 Athens Games.

MORE: 2019 Kona Ironman World Championships Results

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Alberto Salazar appeals doping ban

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The Court of Arbitration for Sport says it has registered an appeal by track coach Alberto Salazar against his ban for doping violations, though a hearing will take several months to prepare.

CAS says Salazar and Dr. Jeffrey Brown appealed against their four-year bans by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

After a multi-year USADA investigation, Salazar and Brown were found guilty of doping violations linked to the Nike Oregon Project training camp. USADA said Salazar ran experiments with supplements and testosterone, and possessed and trafficked the banned substance.

The case also related to falsified and incomplete medical records that disguised the work.

CAS says Salazar and Brown asked for more time to file “written submissions and evidence,” adding the hearing is “unlikely to take place before March.”

Verdicts typically take at least a further several weeks.

MORE: Mary Cain raises issues from being coached by Salazar

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