Cheerleading coach in viral splits video falsely claims to be “Olympic athlete”

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Ozell Williams, a cheerleading coach at East High School in Denver, Colo., has gained national notoriety and been placed under criminal investigation after videos were made public of him physically forcing teenage cheerleaders into the splits position while they scream in pain.

On the website for Mile High Tumblers, the 28-year-old claims to be “an Olympic athlete having won 3 Team USA First place rings in preliminary games”– but has never been a member of an Olympic team or competed at an Olympic Games.

Mile High Tumblers is a nonprofit organization for young athletes that focuses on tumbling, which is recognized as a competitive sport by the International Gymnastics Federation but is not contested at the Olympics. Cheerleading has also never been included on the Olympic program, although it could potentially join the Games in 2024. The International Olympic Committee granted it provisional status in 2016, the first step to future inclusion.

According to FOX31, the U.S. Olympic Committee confirmed that “Williams was never on any Olympic roster.” A spokesperson for USA Gymnastics added that there is “no record of him being invited to the Olympic Gymnastics Trials, let alone winning three ring titles.”

“Nobody has ever heard of him,” USA Gymnastics said.

A 2011 profile of Williams referred to him as “a member of the USA Olympic Cheer Team for 2012 in London.”

Williams was on USA Cheer’s National Coed Team, which the Tumblers’ website describes the team as “the most prestigious collegiate team in the world.” The National Coed Team has won multiple gold medals at the World Cheerleading Championships.

A group of U.S. cheerleaders performed at men’s basketball semifinal and final games at the 2012 London Olympics, and it’s possible that Williams was a member of that squad.

But that would not make him an Olympic athlete.

The video of Williams pushing a 13-year-old cheerleader deeper into a splits position while she cried and repeatedly asked him to stop went viral after it was sent to local news stations in Denver. Williams and four other staffers were suspended from the high school while both the police and school district conduct their investigations.

Williams told the Denver Post, “You can definitely say that what was in the video could be seen in a different light,” Williams said. “I would love to tell my story, but I can’t say anything else at this time.”

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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