Devon Allen: Football on hold to pursue Olympic gold medal, world record

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Oregon wide receiver and Olympic hurdler Devon Allen is turning professional in track and field and doesn’t expect to return to football until after the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“That will give me the best opportunity to accomplish what I want to accomplish in the future, and that is winning a gold medal and holding the world record in the 110m hurdles,” Allen said Wednesday.

Allen, a 21-year-old junior, said his decision was more the result of finishing fifth in the Olympics — lower than he hoped, but motivating — than suffering a second torn ACL playing football on Sept. 17.

Allen had previously torn an ACL in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, and came back faster to win the Olympic Trials 110m hurdles on July 9 in a personal-best time.

“I was kind of balancing between going professional or not after the Olympic Trials [in July],” Allen said. “I ran in the Olympics, kind of was a little disappointed with my finish. So I was like, you know, maybe I’ll just play this football season out since I didn’t win a gold medal, and see how that goes. I think, either way, I would have turned professional pretty soon.”

Allen expects to return to track training in January and repeated Wednesday that he’s eyeing a return at the U.S. Championships in Sacramento from June 22-25.

“My ideal scenario is to run track for the next couple years, and then 2020 Olympics, win a gold medal, have the world record, put that to the side and try to play football,” Allen said. “My mind changes a lot, too. So you never know. Next year, I might not want to do track anymore. But I think, for right now, I want to focus on track for the next three to four years.”

One of Allen’s goals is very realistic — the Olympic gold medal. He finished 2016 ranked No. 2 in the world in the 110m hurdles behind Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica.

The world record would require a hefty improvement. Allen’s personal best is 13.03 seconds. The world record is 12.80.

Allen is optimistic he will continue to speed up. He was the only man in the Rio 110m hurdles final who had never previously competed internationally.

“If I had spent my full time focusing on track, like a lot of the other guys do, I think it gives me a better opportunity to perform well on that kind of stage,” Allen said. “I think that will give me the best opportunity to win a gold medal.”

Allen also said he wanted to move into other events, the 100m, 200m, 400m hurdles and maybe even the decathlon.

Allen tore his left ACL and MCL and suffered meniscus damage in a non-contact injury defending a punt return in a game Sept. 17.

It’s the same injury he suffered on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, just to the opposite knee. Allen returned from that injury to play in 12 of 13 games for the Ducks in the 2015 season.

MORE: Olympic wrestling medalist eyes football

Carissa Moore the latest Olympian to receive Sullivan Award

Carissa Moore
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Carissa Moore, who won surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, joined a long list of gold medalists to receive the Sullivan Award, which has honored an outstanding U.S. athlete outside of major professional sports (usually NCAA or an Olympian) since 1930.

The other finalists were Olympic wrestler Jordan Burroughs, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young, NCAA Softball Player of the Year Jocelyn Alo and NCAA Baseball Player of the Year Ivan Melendez.

Moore followed her Olympic title in 2021 by finishing second in the season-long World Surf League, upset by Australian Stephanie Gilmore in the finals in September. Most of the 2024 Olympic spots will be determined by next season’s World Surf League standings.

She is the first surfer to win the Sullivan Award.

Past honorees include Michael PhelpsCarl Lewis and Eric Heiden.

The Sullivan Award “recognizes the outstanding athlete whose athletic accomplishments are complemented by qualities of leadership, character and sportsmanship.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Olympians/Paralympians to win Sullivan Award since 2000
2022: Carissa Moore (Surfing)
2021: Simone Biles (Gymnastics) and Caeleb Dressel (Swimming)
2018: Kyle Snyder (Wrestling)
2016: Breanna Stewart (Basketball, shared award)
2013: Missy Franklin (Swimming)
2011: Evan Lysacek (Figure Skating)
2009: Shawn Johnson (Gymnastics)
2007: Jessica Long (Swimming, Paralympics)
2005: Paul Hamm (Gymnastics)
2004: Michael Phelps (Swimming)
2003: Sarah Hughes (Figure Skating)
2002: Michelle Kwan (Figure Skating)
2001: Rulon Gardner (Wrestling)

Long jumper accused of false information to get Olympic spot

Izmir Smajlaj
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A long jumper and two officials from Albania could face bans after they were accused of submitting false information that helped the athlete get a spot at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said Friday it had charged long jumper Izmir Smajlaj, Albanian track federation president Gjegj Ruli and the federation’s general secretary Nikolin Dionisi with disciplinary offenses over a competition held in Albania in May 2021, two months before the Tokyo Olympics. They are all provisionally suspended until the case is resolved.

Smajlaj was named as the competition winner with a national-record jump of 8.16 meters.

“It is alleged that false information was submitted to World Athletics and the AIU in support of this competition result,” the AIU said.

Smajlaj’s result wasn’t good enough to qualify for the Olympics outright, but he got a place under the “universality” rule that allows countries to send one male and female athlete to the Olympic track events. Those athletes still have to provide evidence they have met a certain standard to compete.

Smajlaj jumped 7.86 meters at the Olympics as he failed to qualify for the final.

The AIU said in September that Albania was one of seven countries on a “competition manipulation watch list” along with Turkey, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

It’s not the first time Tokyo Olympic qualifiers have allegedly been manipulated. Swimming’s world governing body FINA said last year there was “nefarious behavior” around two swim meets in Uzbekistan just before the Olympics and refused to recognize the results. An Indian swimmer who took part in one of the meets said the results were faked and that he had been offered a bribe to keep quiet.

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