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USA Gymnastics hires Kerry Perry after sex abuse scandal

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USA Gymnastics is reaching outside the sport in an effort to move forward after a sex abuse scandal.

The organization hired Kerry Perry as its new president and CEO on Tuesday. She was the vice president of business development at Learfield Communications. Perry will officially start on Dec. 1.

“My focus is going to be creating an environment of empowerment where all have a strong voice and we are dedicated every single day on athlete safety,” Perry said.

She replaces Steve Penny, who resigned in March after 12 years on the job following criticism over the way USA Gymnastics handled sexual abuse claims.

USA Gymnastics has been rocked by accusations of sexual misconduct against Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor from 1996-2015. Nassar is in jail in Michigan awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.

He’s also awaiting trial on separate criminal sexual conduct charges and has been sued by more than 125 women alleging abuse. Nassar has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges.

The U.S. women have won the last two team titles at the Olympics, as well as the last four all-around golds.

Perry doesn’t have a gymnastics background, but the mother of two said her top priority is in line with the governing body’s renewed emphasis on the protection of more than 150,000 members — the vast majority children — at 3,500 clubs in the country.

David Benck, chairman of the seven-person search committee, said Perry was approved by a unanimous vote.

“Everybody wanted us to find the best leader we could possibly find, someone that could bring increased transparency and leadership and team building skills to the organization to really try and take the organization, from the grass roots all the way to the board, take it forward and rebuild the trust in the entire company,” Benck said.

Perry takes over one of the Olympic movement’s most high-profile programs, one that captured 105 Olympic or world championship medals since Penny began his tenure in 2005.

American women have become a dominant force over the last 13 years. Simone Biles produced a record run at the 2016 Rio Olympics, winning four gold medals to go along with a bronze.

USA Gymnastics launched an independent review of its policies in the wake of the allegations against Nassar in the summer of 2016, following reporting by the Indianapolis Star that highlighted chronic mishandling of abuse allegations against coaches and staff at member clubs across the country.

In June, the board adopted the new USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy that replaced the previous policy. Key updates include mandatory reporting, defining six types of misconduct, setting standards to prohibit grooming behavior, prevent inappropriate interaction and establishing accountability.

In July, the organization hired Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of Safe Sport. Part of Stark’s mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs and reporting. The federation also adopted several recommendations by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the review.

Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher have discussed alleged abuse by Nassar.

Dantzscher and six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman have called for sweeping changes in leadership, including the removal of the chairman of the board Paul Parilla.

Perry declined to get into specifics about the future of the current leadership, saying only “I have confidence in our leadership and staff.”

She says her concern is helping restore faith in the organization.

“I want all the moms and dads to know that when they drop their children off at a USA Gymnastics gym or club, that they have the confidence knowing we’re doing everything at every level of the organization to ensure that their children are safe so they can thrive in a sport that so many of us love,” she said.

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MORE: Takeaways from World Gymnastics Championships

Noah Lyles takes next step to stardom as youngest U.S. 100m champion in 34 years

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Incredible, Noah Lyles.

Lyles, wearing red “The Incredibles” socks, won the U.S. 100m title in 9.88 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year, at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Des Moines on Friday night.

Lyles overtook Ronnie Baker in the final strides to win by .02 and become the youngest man to take the sprint crown since Sam Graddy in 1984. Nationals were held a week before Olympic Trials won by Carl Lewis in 1984. Essentially, Lyles is the youngest U.S. 100m champ since Lewis in 1981.

What’s more incredible is that Lyles is primarily a 200m runner, having finished fourth in that event at the 2016 Olympic Trials as an 18-year-old. Lyles is joint fastest in the world in the 200m this year and has not lost an outdoor 200m since the trials (he missed 2017 Nationals, and thus 2017 Words, with a hamstring tear).

“I wanted to prove myself as a 100m runner,” Lyles, who turned pro after Olympic Trials and skipped NCAA track, told Lewis Johnson on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “I’ve kind of been cheatin’ on my 200m. It’s time to go back to my baby.”

NCAA champion Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 100m in 10.91 seconds, beating Ashley Henderson by .05 and Olympian Jenna Prandini by .07.

Hobbs, 22, was seventh in her senior nationals debut last year. She entered Des Moines with the four fastest times among Americans this year, ranked No. 3 in the world behind Marie-Josée Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare-Ighotegunor.

The U.S.’ established 100m stars — world gold and silver medalists Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman and world champion Tori Bowie — are not racing at nationals. This is the only year in the four-year cycle without an Olympics or world outdoor championships.

USATF Outdoors continue Saturday on NBC (4-6 p.m. ET) and NBC Sports Gold (11 a.m.-6 p.m.), highlighted by 400m, 1500m and 100m hurdles finals.

USATF Outdoors: TV Schedule | Results | Women’s Preview | Men’s Preview

Earlier Friday, Olympic champion Christian Taylor fouled and passed out of the triple jump after three jumps, shortly after finishing fifth in his 400m semifinal to miss Saturday’s final by one spot.

Olympian Zach Ziemek became the first man other than Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee to win the U.S. decathlon title since 2010. Ziemek, who finished third, third and second the last three years, scored 8,294 points to win by 275 over Solomon Simmons.

Favorites Kendall Ellis, Courtney Okolo and Shakima Wimbley advanced to Saturday’s women’s 400m final. Olympic silver medalist Allyson Felix and 2017 World champion Phyllis Francis chose not to race the 400m in Des Moines. Eighteen-year-old pro Sydney McLaughlin, fastest in the world this year in the 400m hurdles, entered the 400m but scratched before Thursday’s first round after feeling tightness in her quad in warm-up.

World bronze medalist Ajee’ Wilson and Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy highlighted the qualifiers into Sunday’s 800m finals.

MORE: Lyles, Norman, green teens at Olympic Trials, now stars at USATF Champs

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He won a gold medal with Michael Phelps, then he lived in his car

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Klete Keller, a five-time Olympic medalist who anchored the U.S. 4x200m freestyle relay to gold (holding off Ian Thorpe) at the 2004 Athens Games, went into “a deep depression” after a 2014 divorce and said he lived in his car for almost one year, according to USA Swimming.

“I was paying child support for my kids and couldn’t afford a place, so I lived in my car for almost a year,” Keller, a 36-year-old who retired after his third Olympics in 2008, said, according to USA Swimming. “I had a Ford Fusion at the time, so at 6-foot-6, it was challenging to make the room to sleep. But I made it work.”

Keller, who has three kids, was jobless and homeless.

“He alternated parking at one of the two Wal-Marts in his area and at rest stops and kept his gym membership active so he had somewhere to shower and workout,” according to the story.

In a spring 2014 interview, Keller said he was bitter toward his swimming career and didn’t know where three of his Olympic medals were located.

“It’s not right, but I still probably hold some bitterness toward myself mostly, but also a little bit toward my sport because I let myself get too deep into it,” Keller said then. “I’m still not quite over that, unfortunately, but I’m working on it. I do love the sport. I’m just a little disappointed overall.”

The effects of leaving swimming spread through his life.

“After swimming, I thought I had to find the same title or level of success in my work — no matter what I was doing or how much I didn’t enjoy it – to feel that same success that I did in swimming,” Keller said, according to USA Swimming. “In swimming, you have to be selfish to a large degree to be successful, but when you are a husband and father, you have to be more selfless — and I wasn’t. As I look back now, I wasn’t a very good husband.”

Now, Keller is back on his feet, having moved to Colorado Springs, working in residential real estate and accruing airline miles on his credit card to fund trips to see his children, according to USA Swimming.

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