Tatyana McFadden upset in Rio Paralympic marathon, finishes with historic medal haul

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Tatyana McFadden, the U.S. track and field star of the Rio Paralympics, was shockingly beaten in a photo finish in her final event, the T54 marathon, on Sunday.

McFadden lost to China’s Zou Lihong, though they both completed the 26.2-mile course in Rio in 1:38.44. American Amanda McGrory took bronze in 1:38.45, the same time as the fourth-place finisher.

McFadden finished the Games with four gold medals and two silvers, the most medals by a U.S. track and field athlete at a Paralympics since Bart Dodson took eight (all gold) at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

The marathon may be McFadden’s best event, as she swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon wheelchair races in 2013, 2014 and 2015, plus the Boston and London Marathons so far this year.

In Rio, McFadden won the 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m and earned silver in the 100m. She and the U.S. were disqualified from the 4x400m relay. McFadden came to Rio with a shot at seven gold medals.

“It’s amazing to be on the podium six times,” she said. “Some people weren’t on the podium at all.”

McFadden, 27, is now at 17 career Paralympic medals, including seven golds. One medal came at the Winter Paralympics, where McFadden took cross-country skiing silver at Sochi 2014.

“I have lots of homework,” she said. “I know what I need to do next time. Hopefully a little stronger and smarter. I’m ready for Tokyo [2020].”

McFadden’s back story is well-known in Paralympic and marathon circles. She was born in Russia paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida and adopted from a St. Petersburg orphanage at age 6.

NBC and the NBC Sports app will have Paralympics coverage Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.

MORE: Rio Paralympics broadcast schedule

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

Sam Girard
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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

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

MORE: How Gracie Gold landed in Philadelphia, thoughts competitive return

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