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Elana Meyers Taylor, like her NFL father, motivated by years of waiting

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Elana Meyers Taylor is nearing the end of a four-year wait to make up for a mistake that cost her Olympic gold in Sochi.

Her father waited longer — six years — to play in an NFL regular-season game. It never happened.

As Meyers Taylor lines up to make her third Olympic bobsled team, her dad helps her train. By sitting in the driver seat of black Kia Sportage as his daughter pushes the 3,500-pound SUV down a driveway.

Eddie Meyers set school rushing records at Navy in the early 1980s and was destined for the NFL. Except he first had to serve six years of military service.

For six straight summers from 1982-87, Meyers used his Marine leave to join the Atlanta Falcons training camp.

“I’m a hell of a lot hungrier now than I was when I finished at the Academy in 1982,” Meyers said in 1986, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve been waiting a long time. It’s been driving me crazy for five years.”

He played exhibition games — 23 carries, 108 yards, one touchdown in total, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — but never in the regular season. Dreams deferred. Duty called.

“I wrote up several different types of appeals,” Meyers, who became a regional president of PNC Bank in Atlanta, told NBC News. “The Marine Corps just would not allow it.”

Once the six years were up, Meyers suffered a toe injury in the 1987 preseason and was later released.

“I know it’s a sore subject for him, so he doesn’t bring it up very often,” Meyers Taylor said.

In 2006, the Meyers were watching the Torino Winter Games when Elana’s mother suggested she try bobsled.

At the time, Elana was a college softball player with Olympic aspirations. She wouldn’t make the team for 2008, which would be softball’s last time on the Olympic program (until 2020, we learned last year).

But she had the short, explosive build like her father. Perfect for pushing Kia Sportages. Or bobsleds. Her dad enlisted one of his former teammates, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, to be her fitness coach.

“My father’s NFL dreams never really felt like motivation to me, but it was something to aspire to,” Meyers Taylor said. “He was such a great athlete, the least I could do is try and use my athletic talent to represent my country in a different way. He represented as a Marine. Maybe I could do something to represent as an athlete.”

Meyers Taylor was a push athlete for Erin Pac at Vancouver 2010 and took bronze. She transitioned to driving a bobsled after that and was leading the Sochi Olympic event after three of four runs.

But Meyers Taylor made a mistake out of the second corner and skid in her final run. She fell to silver, one tenth of a second behind Canadian Kaillie Humphries, her training partner and the 2010 Olympic champion.

“As I go on with my career, even if I win a gold medal I’m sure that I won’t forget the pain I feel right now,” Meyers Taylor blogged from Sochi, titled “Silver Lining,” “but if I am fortunate enough to win a gold medal, I know it will be because of this moment.”

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MORE: U.S. bobsledders remember Steven Holcomb as Olympic season starts

Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s first Olympic track and field medalist, has coronavirus

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Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s lone Olympic track and field medalist, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to World Athletics and an Iranian news agency.

“We’ve received word from several Asian journalists that Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi has tested positive for coronavirus,” according to World Athletics. “[Hadadi] trains part of the year in the US, but was home in Tehran when he contracted the virus.”

Hadadi, 35, became the first Iranian to earn an Olympic track and field medal when he took silver in the discus at the 2012 London Games. Hadadi led through four of six rounds before being overtaken by German Robert Harting, who edged the Iranian by three and a half inches.

He was eliminated in qualifying at the Rio Olympics and placed seventh at last fall’s world championships in Doha.

Jordan Larson preps for her last Olympics, one year later than expected

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Whether the Tokyo Olympics would have been this summer or in 2021, Jordan Larson knew this: It will mark her final tournament with the U.S. volleyball team, should she make the roster.

“I’m just not getting any younger,” said Larson, a 33-year-old outside hitter. “I’ve been playing consistently overseas for 12 years straight with no real offseason.

“I also have other endeavors in my life that I want to see. Getting married, having children, those kinds of things. The older I get, the more challenging those become.”

Larson, who debuted on the national team in 2009, has been a leader the last two Olympic cycles. She succeeded Christa Harmotto Dietzen as captain after the Rio Games. Larson started every match at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

As long as Larson was in the building, the U.S. never had to worry about the outside hitter position, said two-time Olympian and NBC Olympics volleyball analyst Kevin Barnett.

“She played as if she belonged from the start,” he said. “They will miss her all-around capability. They’ll miss her ability to make everyone around her better. She’s almost like having a libero who can hit.”

Karch Kiraly, the Olympic indoor and beach champion who took over as head coach after the 2012 Olympics, gushed about her court vision.

“It’s a little dated now, but somebody like Wayne Gretzky just saw things that other people didn’t see on the hockey rink,” Kiraly said in 2018. “And I remember reading about him one time, and the quote from an opposing goalie was, oh my god, here he comes, what does he see that I don’t see right now? She sees things sooner than most people.”

Larson grew up in Hooper, Neb., (population 830) and starred at the University of Nebraska. She was a three-time All-American who helped the team win a national title as a sophomore. She had the opportunity to leave Nebraska and try out for the Olympics in 2008 but chose to remain at school for her final season.

She earned the nickname “Governor” as a Cornhusker State sports icon.

Larson helped the U.S. win its first major international title at the 2014 World Championship. She was also part of the program’s two stingers — defeats in the 2012 Olympic final and 2016 Olympic semifinals, both matches where the U.S. won the first set (and convincingly in 2012).

“It just gives me chills thinking about it now,” Larson said of the Rio Olympic semifinals, where Serbia beat the U.S. 15-13 in the fifth. “That team, we put in so much. Not just on the court but off the court working on culture and working on how are we best for each other. How can we be the best team? How can we out-team people? Certain teams have a better one player that’s a standout that we maybe didn’t have or don’t have. So how can we out-team the other teams? We had just put in so much work that was just heartbreaking.”

Larson and the Americans rebounded to win the bronze-medal match two days later.

“I don’t know anybody that didn’t have their heart ripped out. It was just a soul-crusher of a match,” Kiraly said of the semifinal. “More meaningful was what a great response everybody, including Jordan, mounted to the disappointment of that loss.”

The U.S. took fifth at worlds in 2018 and is now ranked second in the world behind China.

Larson spent the past club season in Shanghai. The campaign ended in mid-January. She hadn’t heard anything about the coronavirus when she took her scheduled flight back to California, learning days later that LAX started screening for it. Now, she’s working out from her garage.

Larson is in line to become the fifth-oldest U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball player in history, according Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

Her decade of experience could go a long way to help the next generation of outside hitters, led by three-time NCAA champion and Sullivan Award winner Kathryn Plummer.

“If you’re coming into the USA program as an outside hitter, in the next year or the quad or the quad after that,” Barnett said, “the measuring stick is going to be Jordan Larson.”

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