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Matthew Centrowitz comes to New York for Millrose Games, dad’s tattoo

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NEW YORK — Matthew Centrowitz has his gold medal. Soon, his dad will be wearing one for the rest of his life, too.

Last summer, Centrowitz’s father, Matt Centrowitz, told his son out of the blue that if he won a medal in the Rio Olympic 1500m, he might get a tattoo to commemorate it. And if he won gold, he would definitely get inked.

Six months later, the promise is expected to be fulfilled in Manhattan.

Centrowitz is in New York as one of 12 Olympic champions and 57 Olympians competing in the Millrose Games, the most-ever in the event’s history dating to 1908.

The Millrose Games will air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Saturday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

When Centrowitz won surprise gold in Rio, he became the first American to do so in the Olympic 1500m since 1908. His father and sister both screamed in the stands. Centrowitz did an NBC broadcast interview shirtless, showing off his chest tattoo, “Like father like son.”

Centrowitz got that tattoo about three years ago, during a six-week stretch when he couldn’t exercise due to pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining surrounding the heart with heart-attack-like symptoms.

“I was kind of freaking out, this is it for me,” Centrowitz thought. “I’m going to die. I was like, you know what, screw it, I’m going to get a tattoo. I just wanted something to symbolize our relationship.”

The Centrowitz men share so much. They’re both two-time Olympians who majored in sociology in college. Matt raced in the first round of the 1976 Olympic 1500m and would have competed in Moscow in 1980 if not for the boycott.

When Centrowitz decided he would get a tattoo, he asked his dad for suggestions.

“He was like, ugh, that’s not my taste,” Centrowitz said. “My generation, we never did stuff like that. … He always jokes, a Hallmark card would have been just fine.”

It just came to Centrowitz one day to go with “Like father like son,” which was actually the headline of a 2007 New York Times story about the runner while he was in high school.

Centrowitz revealed the tattoo on Instagram, ending the post with an apology to his mother.

Centrowitz’s dad, a New York native, was scheduled to get his first tattoo on Friday afternoon in Manhattan, but a scheduling problem may delay it. The design is of Christ the Redeemer holding a gold medal, which will go on a shoulder.

“It’s to honor my son’s gold medal. It’s a tribute to him,” said Matt Centrowitz, who recently published a book, aptly titled “Like Father, Like Son,” about his life as an Olympic runner, NCAA track coach and parent of an Olympian. “I promised it a little hastily, and then, of course, he got a gold medal. There was no choice. Whenever he wanted to cash in his win, I’m ready. Today he wants to do it.”

The 62-year-old said he was half-anticipating, half-dreading sitting down in the artist’s chair.

“I just don’t want to cry,” he joked.

Neither Centrowitz has any immediate plans to get another tattoo.

“Yeah, they’re addicting, but not for a while,” Matthew Centrowitz said. “My mom would kill me.”

Matt Centrowitz added that he would only get another tattoo if his son wins another gold medal. That’s possible, as the 27-year-old has said he could race through the 2024 Olympics.

Matthew Centrowitz’s first tattoo was the word “CITIUS” on the back of his shoulder. It’s the Greek word for “faster,” and the first word of the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Faster, Higher, Stronger).

The elder Centrowitz was at first disgusted with the “Like father like son” tattoo but quickly got over it. He has texted his son to send him a picture of it to share with his friends. He has asked Matthew to lift his shirt in public to show strangers.

Over Christmas break, Matthew Centrowitz hosted a young runner, Cam Sorter, who created social media buzz last year for getting a tattoo of Centrowitz’s upper body on the back of his left shoulder. They spent a day working out together at Centrowitz’s base in Portland, Ore.

Sorter, a college runner, has gone on to have a strong indoor season. Centrowitz would like to believe it was inspired.

“Maybe everybody should get tattoos of me on them,” Centrowitz said.

MORE: Centrowitz recalls being near Australian theme park tragedy

David Taylor will not defend wrestling world title

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David Taylor waited five years to get his chance at the world championships. The wait will also be a little longer than expected to defend his world title.

Taylor suffered a knee injury in a May 6 match and underwent surgery, according to his social media. He was to face Pat Downey in two weeks for the U.S.’ spot at 86kg at September’s world championships, but that’s not happening now.

“The nature of competing as a professional athlete is a delicate one,” was posted on Taylor’s accounts. “One year, you find yourself winning the tilte of the 86 kg World Champion and being voted best pound for pound wrestler on earth. In the blink of an eye, you lose yourself in thought over the noisy lull of the MRI machine, hoping that the pain in your knee isn’t what you fear most.”

Taylor, 28, was one of three U.S. men to earn maiden world titles last October in Budapest, along with fellow former NCAA standouts J’den Cox and Kyle Dake.

Taylor upset Iran’s Olympic and world champion Hassan Yazdani in his first match at worlds. He suffered a knee injury in his second match and said he was kicked in the face in the semifinals. He then dumped Turkey’s top-seeded Fatih Erdin in the final, scoring a two-point takedown in the first 10 seconds and getting a 12-2 tech fall.

“To be able to earn it the way that I earned it, there’s no easy way,” Taylor said. “I wrestled every single best guy every single round.”

Taylor became the oldest first-time Olympic or world champion for USA Wrestling since 2006. He had finished second or third at trials for the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 World teams and the 2016 Olympic team. He is one of four men to win the NCAA Wrestler of the Year award multiple times, doing so in 2012 and 2014 for Penn State.

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

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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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