Gabby Douglas’ mom: Leslie Jones ‘came to the rescue’ in Rio

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Gabby Douglas‘ mom said comedian Leslie Jones triggered the biggest display of kindness she and her daughter felt during a difficult time at the Rio Olympics.

“A lot of what I’ve seen and we’ve encountered [on social media] and experienced has been negativity,” Natalie Hawkins said on a Share Kindness panel with Lady Gaga‘s mom and the Today Show parenting team on Wednesday. “I know it wasn’t the whole world, but it sort of felt like it was. We couldn’t go on her time feed without seeing just the most hateful, the most disgusting things.

“Leslie Jones who kind of came to the rescue with the #LoveforGabby hashtag. … That was glorious, in fact. It went so far in making our family feel so much better. It was so hard to see so many people weighing in with so many hateful things and not one ounce of compassion.”

Hawkins said she made a mistake in telling her daughter to “suck it up” when the criticism was affecting her.

“If this is going on at your job, how well would you be sucking it up,” Douglas told her.

“Knowing me and my personality, I wouldn’t have sucked it up,” Hawkins said. “I would have marched down to HR and demand that something be done, and I would not have rested until it was.

“I actually learned a lesson, that you can’t sweep it under the rug.”

Hawkins said she was more proud of Douglas enduring tough competitions in her comeback than during her triumph at the 2012 Olympics.

“You were more of a champion to me in those moments than when you stood on the podium and got a gold medal in London,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins, a single mom, reflected on raising her four kids — Douglas and her three older siblings, sisters Arielle and Joyelle and brother Johnathan.

Douglas left her family in Virginia at age 14 in October 2010 to train with coach Liang Chow in West Des Moines, Iowa.

One story in particular about the London Olympic all-around champion learning about another mom who was struggling to provide for her children:

“When she found out about it, she immediately got online and got them some things,” Hawkins said. “And I think the thing that touched me the most is that she could have gotten those items for free, because she had a partnership, but she said it didn’t feel like a gift. She wanted to take from her own abundance now and share it with someone else.”

Douglas has not publicly said if or when she will return to gymnastics.

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South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun
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Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

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World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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