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London Marathon runners reflect on viral finish-line moment

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A collapsing London Marathon runner who was helped to the finish line and the fellow runner who held him up recounted their inspiring two minutes.

Matthew Rees was rounding the final corner, signifying 200 meters left of the 26.2-mile race, when he saw David Wyeth struggling to stay on his feet on Sunday.

“My mind was like, I need to help this guy,” Rees said on the BBC. “He needs to get to the finish. You’ve come 26 miles, and the finish was just there. For me, it was important to get him to the end and cross together.”

Wyeth said he told Rees to go on without him. Rees declined. Wyeth said, “I’ve got to finish,” and Rees told him, “You will,” according to the Press Association.

“I can’t say how grateful I am to Matthew because you say that, Matthew, that others would have stopped,” Wyeth said on the BBC. “And I’m sure you’re right, that there may have been others, but you persisted.”

Rees held up Wyeth as it took them nearly two minutes to trudge to the finish line. Another person, appearing to be a race volunteer or official, also came over to help.

“It was great if I’ve inspired anyone, but I do think that anyone would’ve done the same thing,” Rees said on the BBC. “If it wasn’t me, it would have been the next runner. It’s just being a human, isn’t it? Seeing someone who’s struggling and helping them out.”

The pair crossed the finish at The Mall together, but with different times as they didn’t start together. Rees’ official time was 2 hours, 52 minutes, 26 seconds. Wyeth clocked 2:51:08.

“The time means absolutely nothing to me,” Wyeth said, according to the Press Association. “I feel a slight fraud for having a [finisher’s] medal around my neck. I should cut a little piece out because it belongs to Matthew.

“I really wouldn’t have got across the line — on my hands and knees, maybe, but the time meant nothing in the end because I know I wouldn’t have got there without Matthew putting his arm around me and carrying me over the line.”

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Leanne Smith leads U.S. gold medalists at para swim worlds

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Leanne Smith has never competed at a Paralympics. Came into this week’s world championships with zero world medals. But she leaves London with three individual golds, most for any American, one year before the Tokyo Games.

Smith, 21, won the 150m individual medley, 50m breaststroke and 100m freestyle in her classification, all in American record times. The last two titles came on the final day of the seven-day meet on Sunday.

Smith, diagnosed with a rare neurological muscle disease called dystonia in January 2012, began swimming in 2013. By 2017, she broke a world record and then debuted at the world championships with a best individual finish of sixth.

The U.S. finished with 35 total medals and 14 golds, ranking sixth in the overall standings. Ukraine, usually strong at the Paralympics, led the way with 55 medals. Full results are here.

Jessica Long, the second-most-decorated U.S. Paralympian in history with 23 medals, earned six this week — five silvers and a bronze — to give her 52 career world championships medals.

Two-time Paralympian Mallory Weggemann earned two golds this week, giving her 15 world titles in three appearances (her others being in 2009 and 2010).

She won 50m titles in the butterfly and freestyle. Weggemann won a 2012 Paralympic 50m free title but was fortunate just to make it back for Rio after a 2014 accident that she said was harder to come back from than her teenage paralysis. She left Rio with no medals but a resolve to return for a third Games in Tokyo.

“I’m two seconds away from bursting into tears,” Weggemann said after winning the first of her two golds in the 50m fly, according to U.S. Paralympics. “I had a really rough go these past three years since Rio, so to finally be back after busting my butt to be here, and to be here in London of all places, is absolutely incredible.”

Fellow Rio Paralympians McKenzie Coan and Robert Griswold added two golds a piece.

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Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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