USA Gymnastics hires Kerry Perry after sex abuse scandal

USA Gymnastics
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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

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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