Gabriele Grunewald races at USATF Outdoors between chemo (video)

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Gabriele Grunewald ran the last two laps alone, the rest of the field pulling away from her.

Applause grew, however, and she managed a wave to the Sacramento crowd before crossing the finish line at the USATF Outdoor Championships (Summer Champions Series) 1500m first round on Thursday night.

Grunewald then kneeled to the track, but she wasn’t alone for long. The rest of the nine-woman heat came up to her to form a circle. They prayed.

Grunewald called it “a little moment of solidarity” after a whirlwind, difficult year.

She raced at USATF Outdoors in between chemotherapy treatments, battling cancer for the fourth time since 2009. Grunewald was not sure she would be able to make it to Sacramento, spending Sunday in the ER with a 101-degree fever for precautionary reasons.

Her next chemotherapy infusion is Tuesday.

“Running is getting harder for me, there’s no way around it,” said Grunewald, who finished in 4:31.18, 17 seconds shy of advancing to Saturday’s final, where the top three are in line to qualify for worlds. “I know that it’s super bittersweet because I would love to be here at 100 percent competing for a [worlds] spot because I know that’s still in me somewhere, but it’s just not this year.”

Grunewald, who finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic Trials, raced for the seventh time since May 5, after learning in March that her liver cancer returned. She’s done competing for this year but plans to return in 2018.

“I really am just going to be excited to float on a lake this summer in between my chemo infusions,” she said. “I’m trying to be the best example that I can be of somebody who’s trying to persevere through something difficult.

“I’m super grateful for the support, and I hope I can be back in the future and not running on chemo and be cancer free — that’s the goal.”

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U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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MORE: USOC names first permanent female CEO

Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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