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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

Simone Biles, her name sparkling, extends 6-year win streak

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Simone Biles has long stood out for her gymnastics, but on Saturday she competed with her last name sparkling in silver beads on her World Champions Centre leotard for the first time. The gym’s other athletes had “WCC” on the back.

Biles lived up to the billing, extending her six-year win streak to 19 straight all-arounds, capturing the U.S. Classic, a tune-up for next month’s U.S. Championships.

Biles, the four-time Rio Olympic champion, scored 60 points in Louisville at the meet where she made her comeback last year after nearly two years off from competition. She prevailed by a comfortable 2.1 points over Riley McCusker, her largest margin of victory of her four U.S. Classic titles.

“I’m very satisfied,” she said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “I’m a little sad that I went out of bounds on floor [exercise], but overall I feel like there are improvements to be made.”

Full results are here.

Biles is prepping for nationals in Kansas City in three weeks, when she eyes a sixth U.S. all-around title to tie Clara Schroth Lomady‘s record from the AAU era in the 1940s and ’50s.

Then come the world championships in October in Stuttgart, Germany. Biles could win a fifth all-around to move one shy of Kohei Uchimura‘s record.

The world’s other top gymnasts may be her countrywomen.

Biles was outscored on balance beam on Saturday by 2018 World teammates Kara Eaker and McCusker and beaten on uneven bars by 2017 World all-around champion Morgan HurdSunisa Lee, Grace McCallum and McCusker. Biles swept all the gold medals at last year’s nationals.

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MORE: USA Gymnastics revamps Safe Sport policy amid abuse scandal

Geraint Thomas struggles; Julian Alaphilippe ups Tour de France lead

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LA MONGIE, France (AP) — When the team of Geraint Thomas was in its pomp at the Tour de France, a time trial followed by a big mountain stage would have been playgrounds for Sky — now in new colors as Ineos — to take cycling’s greatest race by the scruff of the neck and leave everyone else fighting for second place.

Not this year.

Thomas, the defending champion, cracked on Saturday on the Tour’s first encounter with a climb to above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), exposing unprecedented weaknesses in his team that has won six Tours in the past seven years.

The time trial on Friday and the climb up to the legendary Tourmalet pass on Saturday seemed primed for Thomas to reel in Julian Alaphilippe, the yellow jersey-holder from France who is setting the Tour alight with his punchy riding and determination to keep the race lead, filling French fans’ heads with dreams of a first homegrown winner since 1985.

TOUR DE FRANCE: TV Schedule | Full Standings

But instead, Thomas has seen Alaphilippe only get further and further away. In two days, the Frenchman has put 50 seconds of extra daylight between him and the Welshman. His lead — up to 2 minutes, 2 seconds — is becoming large enough to start realistically envisioning Alaphilippe in yellow in Paris next weekend as the first French winner since Bernard Hinault.

Fueling the ecstasy of delirious crowds that lined Saturday’s steep uphill finish, French rider Thibaut Pinot won Stage 14, putting him back in the picture to fight for the podium after he lost mountains of time on Stage 10.

Thomas rightly pointed out that the Tour is far from done, with six more ascents to above 2,000 meters still to come.

But his inability to stay with Pinot, Alaphilippe and other title contenders at the top of the Tourmalet — he was eighth, 36 seconds behind Pinot — was a mini-earthquake for the Tour dominated by his British team since 2012 — with champions Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and, in 2018, Thomas.

“Not the best day. I just didn’t feel quite on it from the start. I was quite weak,” Thomas said.

“At the end I knew I just had to pace it. I didn’t really attempt to follow when they kicked. I just thought I should ride my own pace rather than follow them and blow up on the steepest bit at the end. It’s disappointing. I just tried to limit the damage.”

Having taken cycling to a new level since 2012 with its vast budget and attention to the minutest of details, the team run by David Brailsford has been hit both by misfortune and by the inevitability that, eventually, other teams would start to close the gap.

A horror crash in training for four-time winner Froome, now recovering from career-threatening broken bones, robbed the team of its ace. Thomas’ own preparations were hampered by a crash at the Tour of Switzerland last month.

And Egan Bernal, being groomed by Brailsford to succeed Froome and Thomas, looks increasingly unable to compete for the title this year. Bernal was fifth on the Tourmalet and is fourth overall, 3 minutes behind Alaphilippe.

Pinot, now sixth overall and 3:12 behind Alaphilippe, is showing remarkable grit in bouncing back from his Stage 10 misfortune, when he was part of a group that got separated from other title contenders in crosswinds.

“I have this rage inside me, because in my opinion it was an injustice,” said Pinot, a podium finisher in 2014.

“Since the start of the Tour I had this stage in the back of my mind. The Tourmalet, it’s mythical,” said Pinot, who has three career stage wins at the Tour.

French President Emmanuel Macron, on hand at the top of the Tourmalet to see Pinot win and Alaphilippe extend his lead, gushed about the “two fantastic riders.”

“They attack and they have heart,” Macron said.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

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