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Tyson Gay speaks to thousands at vigil for daughter Trinity (video)

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Thousands of people joined Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay at a candlelight vigil Monday night on a Kentucky high school track honoring Gay’s 15-year-old daughter, who was fatally shot over the weekend.

Gay stood on the track at Lexington’s Lafayette High School where he and daughter Trinity excelled and he thanked people for showing support after the girl’s death early Sunday after gunfire erupted outside a restaurant in that city. The teen’s mother, Shoshana Boyd, also was present amid the crowd honoring her memory.

“I want you guys to love each other, have peace and protect each other,” said Gay, who added that he was numb from crying over her death. “That’s what Trinity would have wanted. … Life is not a joke.”

Many in the crowd wore pink and purple — Gay’s favorite colors — with some holding balloons of those same hues that were later released into the air. Several pairs of track spikes hung from a fence along with a baton that said In Memory of Trinity.

Three men charged in connection with the shooting pleaded not guilty Monday and face an Oct. 25 court date. The three appeared via video before Fayette County, Kentucky, District Court Judge T. Bruce Bell.

Bell set bail at $5,000 each for Chazerae Taylor, 38, and his son, D’Markeo Taylor, 19, on wanton endangerment charges. Dvonta Middlebrooks, 21, is charged with wanton endangerment and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. His bail was set at $12,500.

Bell will assign attorneys for two of them. The younger Taylor already has a lawyer.

Lexington police say Middlebrooks was in the parking lot of the Cook Out restaurant early Sunday and fired multiple shots in the incident in which Trinity Gay was shot. Court records said the Taylors acknowledged firing shots.

Police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said police don’t believe Trinity Gay was in either of two vehicles involved.

Gay told The Associated Press on Monday evening that in talking with police, he believed his daughter was an innocent bystander. But he said authorities didn’t reveal details of their investigation.

Tyson Gay said he and his daughter were very close, according to Lexington TV station WLEX, which spoke to him Sunday.

“It’s so crazy. I have no idea what happened,” Gay told the station.

Grief counselors also went to the Lexington high school Monday for students and staff, Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said. Years ago, Gay had attended the same school as his daughter. Trinity Gay was a standout sprinter, placing in the top five in several events at the state championships in May. Her father still holds the state record in the 100 set in 2001.

Lafayette principal Bryne Jacobs, teacher Rhonda Mullins and girls track coach Crystal Washington all described Trinity Gay as friendly and outgoing. She dreamed of becoming a surgeon.

“She was full of energy and life,” said Mullins, who had Gay in family and consumer science classes along with the Future Educators of America club. “She was a kid that everybody wanted to teach.”

Jacobs said Trinity Gay’s mother, who also attended Lafayette, had thanked him for support from the school and community, and noted that Trinity’s life was something to celebrate.

“Our hearts are burdened that she is not in our building anymore,” Jacobs said.

The emotions flowed before, during and after a candlelight vigil on the track where Trinity Gay excelled. Tyson Gay hugged Shoshana several around him.

Many others hugged and cried, but Jerome Brown, 16, held his feelings for his former teammate in check. “I don’t want to cry, but it hurts a lot,” said Brown, who ran with Trinity Gay since she was 9. “I wanted to come here for her mom. With Trinity, when she was on the track, it was home.”

Tyson Gay competed in the last three Summer Olympics. He was part of a team that won a silver medal in the 4×100-meter relay at the 2012 London Games, though that medal was ultimately stripped after Gay tested positive for steroids in 2013.

Last summer’s Games in Rio featured another stinging disappointment for Gay, 33, who has battled injuries. He was a member of the American men’s 4×100-meter relay team that finished third in the final before being disqualified for an illegal baton exchange between Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin. The team’s appeal was denied, giving Canada the bronze medal.

Amy Cragg to withdraw from U.S. Olympic marathon trials

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Defending champion Amy Cragg will miss the Feb. 29 U.S. Olympic marathon trials with an illness, according to her social media.

“The Trials are the reason I have shown up every day for the last four years, so this has been an extremely difficult decision,” was posted on her social media. Cragg later said she had Epstein-Barr virus, according to multiple reports.

Cragg, 36, was among the favorites to grab three Olympic spots at trials in Atlanta, despite not having competed over 26.2 miles since the February 2018 Tokyo Marathon.

She withdrew from the 2018 Chicago Marathon with a hamstring injury and also scratched a month before the 2019 Chicago Marathon, citing signs pointing to needing more time after the previous year’s injury.

Cragg, fourth at the 2012 Olympic trials, relegated Des Linden and Shalane Flanagan to second and third at the 2016 trials. Linden and Flanagan went on to win the Boston and New York City Marathons, respectively, ending long U.S. women’s victory droughts.

Cragg went on to finish ninth in Rio and earn a 2017 World bronze medal, the first world championships marathon podium finish for an American woman since the first worlds in 1983.

Cragg could still make the Tokyo Olympic team in the 10,000m if she races at track trials in June. She won the 2012 Olympic trials 10,000m but hasn’t raced the distance on the track since May 2017.

“Right now my only goal is to get healthy so that I can train at the level needed to be competitive,” Cragg said in an emailed message from her agent. “That being said, the reason I am still in this sport is because of the Olympic Trials and Olympics. It is what excites me more than anything, so it is something I would still love to do.”

With Cragg absent and Flanagan retired, Linden is the only woman in next week’s field with Olympic marathon experience.

Other favorites include Olympic 10,000m runner Molly Huddle, world championships 10,000m runner Emily Sisson and Jordan Hasay, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner in history.

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Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic marathon trials

Galen Rupp
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As Galen Rupp bids for a fourth Olympics, and perhaps become the first man or woman to win the Olympic marathon trials twice outright, he found some rare familiarity these days on the roads Feb. 8.

“Feeling like my old self again,” Rupp said Wednesday of winning a low-key half marathon in Mesa, Ariz., his first completed race in 16 months and since parting from now-banned, career-long coach Alberto Salazar. “It’s obviously been a long year and a half.”

Rupp clocked 61 minutes, 19 seconds on a downhill course. It’s faster than any half marathon by an American recorded by World Athletics since the start of 2019. Granted the downhill, but Rupp also said he was instructed by new coach Mike Smith to make it a controlled effort.

“He didn’t want me to run all-out, didn’t want me to really push and put myself in a big hole,” Rupp said, noting he was still in heavy training. “You don’t want to break that [training] up and put yourself in a deficit by having a massive effort.”

Mesa answered questions about Rupp’s readiness for the Olympic trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (NBC, 12-3 p.m. ET). Even to the two-time Olympic medalist himself. Rupp said he started the half marathon with a little bit of doubt — given recent left ankle and calf injuries — but felt early on that everything would be fine.

“It really put my mind at ease,” he said. “I’m going to be good for the marathon.”

His last two marathons did not go well.

At the 2018 Chicago Marathon, Rupp dropped from the leaders around mile 19 and finished fifth in a title defense. An Achilles injury flared up near the end. He underwent surgery later that month for two tears. Doctors said the ankle had been “a ticking time bomb.”

“They said I was really lucky to have as good of health as I had and manage it as I did,” Rupp said.

He went a full year before racing again, at the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13, 12 days after Salazar’s ban was announced. Even that was a rushed comeback, Rupp said after dropping out around mile 23 with a calf injury.

“I’m not going to say it was a wake-up call,” Rupp said, “but I think I was a little bit stubborn before Chicago.”

Rupp said he ran through pain in training to get to the start line four months ago. He had trouble walking for several days after the abbreviated race and focused on physical therapy for about two months. He resumed normal, pain-free training in December.

By early January, Runner’s World reported that Oregon-based Rupp found a new Flagstaff-based coach in Smith, who leads a Northern Arizona University program that won the last three NCAA men’s cross-country titles.

“The biggest thing to me was Mike’s philosophy in coaching was very similar to the program that I was under for so many years,” said Rupp, who was for more than a decade part of the Nike Oregon Project, which was shut down last fall after Salazar’s ban for doping violations (which he appealed). Rupp wasn’t implicated by USADA and has a clean drug-testing record. “What I love most about it was Mike’s honesty and how forthright he was about everything. You could tell he wasn’t just saying what I wanted to hear or say, ‘We’re just going to do whatever you’ve been doing and try and replicate that.’ You’ve got to keep evolving and trying new things.”

Smith declined an interview request through NAU until after trials. He agreed to coach Rupp after about a month of communication and hard questions, according to Runner’s World.

“Because of its timing and the headlines I was reading like everyone else at the time, this was not a road I wanted to go down,” Smith said, according to the report. “To be honest, it was just easiest to turn it down. I’m actually — as crazy as this sounds — really proud I did not.

“What I found out by getting to know Galen was that there was much more going on than the picture portrayed of him, and I wish the world knew that. I have never seen someone more all-in in my life.”

Rupp, asked his toughest moment of the last two years, said he moves forward.

“Throughout any hardships and setbacks, I felt a lot of gratitude that I had as good of a run as I did with my health and everything going well for as long as I did,” he said. “It can be easy to get angry and get down, like why me, but I do believe that things always work out. There’s a reason behind all this stuff.”

Which brings Rupp to Atlanta next week for the first time in his life, aside from airport layovers. The race is unlike any other he has contested. The course is unusually hilly. The format — Americans only, top three make the Olympic team — makes for different tactics than the World Marathon Majors that Rupp is used to.

In 2016, Rupp entered as a favorite but without any marathon experience. He won convincingly, pulling away from now-retired Meb Keflezighi by 68 seconds.

The field is deeper this year. Seven Americans broke 2:11 in 2019. Only one did in 2015. But Rupp, at his best, is in his own class.

His personal best 2:06:07, from his last healthy marathon in 2018, is 1:49 faster than the second-fastest in the trials field in this Olympic cycle (Leonard Korir). The next-fastest, Scott Fauble, is more than three minutes behind by personal bests.

“I can confidently go in and say that I’ve put in the work for this, just like I know that I put in the work in 2016,” Rupp said. “Of course, you want to go in and have good races, feeling confident and being on a roll like I was several years ago. But I think that’s why that race in Mesa was so important to show, more to myself, that hey, you’re ready to go. You can still run well. You haven’t lost everything. Surgery didn’t wipe you out.”

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