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Edwin Moses remarkably recovers from traumatic brain injuries

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Edwin Moses turned the corner, saw the blue police lights in the distance and, immediately, started spinning.

His senses overwhelmed by the strength of the strobing lights, Moses fell to the ground and crawled to the sidewalk, then used every ounce of energy to stand up and stagger back to his car.

Somehow, he made it home safely that night. Within a week, he was lying in a hospital bed, losing feeling in his legs, wondering if he would ever walk again.

The incident on the streets of Atlanta came shortly after Moses suffered his second traumatic brain injury in the span of two months – one from a tumble down the stairs, the second when he banged his head hard on the doorjamb of his car.

After the second accident, Moses suffered bleeding beneath his skull, and stayed in the hospital for about a week. Moses rejected “traditional” physical therapy for concussions that would have involved relearning how to walk and instead chose a more aggressive approach offered by his friend, physical therapist and former track star Rene Felton Bessozi.

Three months after that scary night on the street, Moses is nearing 100 percent – a credit to the talent and tenacity of one of the world’s best athletes, combined with a therapy he says put him on the fast track to recovery.

“The first thing I said was, `Nobody’s going to believe this story,”‘ Moses said. “It was the worst possible scenario and I was able to walk again. It really didn’t look like it would go that way when they were lifting my legs into the bed and I couldn’t control my upper body.”

The 62-year-old Moses began making the impossible seem possible starting in the 1970s, when he broke the world record in the 400m hurdles at the Montreal Olympics.

He took another Olympic gold in 1984, and to this day, holds four of the 10 top times in the event, including a mark of 47.02 that remains the second-best of all time. His streak of 122 straight races without a loss still stands as one of the most remarkable feats in sports.

He fought for athletes’ rights during his career, helping develop an out-of-competition drug-testing program, and has doubled down on his fight for clean sports since retirement.

He currently serves as chairman of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, a job that puts him on the front lines of a fight that currently is centered on allegations that Russia’s government ran a program to help its Olympic athletes evade positive tests. Moses has been a featured speaker for years at meetings to discuss the Russia case and others.

But this summer, it was more mundane pursuits – carrying a full load of household items down the stairs on July 2 – that sent him tumbling and triggered a spiral that landed him in the hospital, unable to walk and wondering if he might be paralyzed for life.

“I needed someone to take me upstairs at night, bring me back down, bring in food and all that,” Moses said. “Some days, it might take me 20 minutes to get up off the couch or out of the bed.”

After a few weeks, he was feeling better, and when he hit his head on the car door, he thought nothing of it, mainly because there was no bruise or outward sign of swelling. Turns out, that accident started a slow leak of blood underneath the surface, and not until a visit to the hospital shortly after that night on the street did Moses realize the severity of the impact.

“They did a CT scan and said, `Some of this blood is brand new,”‘ Moses said. “The doctor said something had to happen for something like this to be there.”

He turned down the option of a slow rehab process and instead turned to Felton Bessozi, an old friend who now lives in Italy, where she coaches track and does therapy.

Moses’ son, Julian, is a volleyball player. He worked with Felton Bessozi to overcome a knee injury, and with her help, he returned quickly back to the court.

When Moses himself was given the option of using a walker to relearn how to move, he chose to check out of the hospital and called his friend, who has traveled with him and put him through two-a-day workouts that involve, among other things, pool work, stimulation using electromagnetic currents, weights and more weights.

“I started working with him on Sept. 26, and on Oct. 26, he was able to fly over to Switzerland by himself” for an anti-doping conference, Felton Bessozi said. “I know how fast the body can recover. The human body is the most phenominal machine on the planet.”

And Moses’ is one of the best machines ever made.

Not many are aware that he ran the latter part of his career, from 1986 through 1988, with a ruptured disc. He won an Olympic bronze and world gold medal during that span. Because MRIs were few and far between at the time, he wasn’t diagnosed until 1993.

“It was the equivalent of what would happen if you were in an automobile and got rear-ended while you were twisted around,” Moses said.

But the real accident in the car – when he banged his head against the door jamb – occurred decades later, and when it happened, Moses didn’t recognize it for what it was.

Now that he’s on the mend, Moses views Felton Bessozi’s therapy as a potential answer for the thousands of concussions diagnoses that have made so many headlines other sports.

“When I first saw him, I teared up because of the condition he was in,” Felton Bessozi said, “and I told him I’d stay here with him until he could run again.”

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A century later, Naomi Osaka, Kei Nishikori can bring Japan Olympic tennis to forefront

Naomi Osaka, Kei Nishikori
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When Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori take the courts at the Tokyo Olympics, perhaps together, they will be doing so 100 years after tennis players won Japan’s first Olympic medals in any sport.

Tennis is not usually one of the handful of marquee competitions at the Games, in part because it is one of the sports whose biggest event is not the Games themselves.

“We have been playing for these Grand Slams, and I think that’s why we train for,” Nishikori said at the U.S. Open in August, when asked to compare the meaning of winning one of tennis’ four annual majors to earning a medal at a home Olympics. “That’s going to be the biggest goal to winning Grand Slams.”

Yet the term “Grand Slam” had not been conceived — for golf or tennis — at the time of the 1920 Antwerp Games. There, Ichiya Kumagae earned silvers in singles and doubles with Seiichiro Kashio to become the first Japanese Olympic medalists.

Kumagae was Japan’s first notable international tennis player, reaching the 1918 U.S. Open semifinals (then called the U.S. National Championships) and beating Bill Tilden in the final of the 1919 Great Lakes Championships.

Kumagae, born in 1890, had not seen a tennis racket or ball until his 20s, according to Roger W. Ohnsorg‘s “The First Forty Years of American Tennis.”

“He came here to America in 1916, the possessor of a wonderful forehand drive and nothing else,” Tilden wrote in “The Art of Lawn Tennis.” Kumagae was listed by Ohnsorg as 5 feet, 3 inches, 134 pounds and requiring glasses at all times. Later in 1922, Kumagae’s engagement to the daughter of a wealthy politician was published as a news brief in The New York Times.

Nearly a century later, Nishikori and Osaka brought more Japanese tennis breakthroughs. Nishikori became the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam singles final at the 2014 U.S. Open. Last year, Osaka became the first Japanese singles player to win a Grand Slam, also at the U.S. Open.

This past June, Japan’s annual Central Research sports survey (1,227 people, age 20+) put Nishikori and Osaka as its respondents’ fourth- and sixth-favorite athletes, past or present. Baseball players Ichiro (retired), Shohei Ohtani and Shigeo Nagashima (long retired) and figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu rounded out the top five.

Osaka’s U.S. Open title was voted the top sports moment of Emperor Akihito’s reign from 1989 to April 30, beating Ichiro’s retirement and Hanyu’s repeat Olympic crown in PyeongChang. Perhaps there was some recency bias.

Akatsuki Uchida, a tennis journalist from Japan, said that Nishikori’s U.S. Open final was a bigger moment for Japanese tennis than Osaka’s win over Serena Williams, though.

“Tennis at that time [in 2014] was not broadcast in Japan,” she said at the U.S. Open. “Media coverage of tennis was decreasing before Kei made that final. For most of Japanese, not tennis fans, but ordinary people, it came from out of nowhere. … He became like an overnight sensation. Since then, the situation of tennis in Japan changed dramatically.

“If [Osaka] wins the title before Kei won the title here, it could have been way bigger, but since Kei made the final before Naomi, it made Naomi’s achievement, still a big deal, less surprising.”

Another key difference: Nishikori spent the majority of his childhood in Japan, while Osaka’s family, with a Haitian father and Japanese mother, moved to the U.S. when she was 3 years old.

Osaka has dual citizenship, but Japanese law requires one to be chosen over the other by the 22nd birthday. Osaka turned 22 last month, before which she confirmed what most had assumed, that she picked Japan.

Uchida was unsure whether Osaka and Nishikori could propel tennis at the Tokyo Games into a greater spotlight among 33 total sports.

“But if Kei and Naomi played mixed doubles, that would be a big thing,” she said.

Nishikori has already reportedly said he plans to enter singles and doubles in Tokyo, the latter with Ben McLachlan, Japan’s top doubles player. McLachlan was born in New Zealand and in 2017 switched representation to Japan, his mother’s birth nation.

But Nishikori did not rule out adding mixed doubles.

“Very hot, very humid, playing singles and two doubles, I don’t know if I can,” he said before the U.S. Open. “I haven’t think too much yet, honestly. I don’t know. I will talk to Naomi later.”

Nishikori smiled as he brought up Osaka’s name at the end of his answer to a question that didn’t mention her. Later in the tournament, Osaka was told Nishikori’s thoughts.

“I would definitely play with him,” said Osaka, who in 2016 was the highest-ranked eligible player not to make the Rio Olympic field. “I just — I would actually need to practice doubles for the first time in my life. Because you cannot play mixed doubles with Kei Nishikori and lose in the first round of the Olympics in Tokyo. That would be the biggest — like, I would cry. I would actually cry for losing a doubles match. Yeah, definitely I think that that would be so, like, historic in a way. And I would love to do it, but I need to practice my doubles.”

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Another Jesse Owens Olympic gold medal being sold

Jesse Owens
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One of Jesse Owens‘ four 1936 Olympic gold medals will be put up for sale next week by Goldin Auctions.

Owens triumphed in the face of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany at the Berlin Games, taking the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump.

This could be the second Owens gold to be sold in recent years, after one was auctioned in 2013 for $1,466,574, the highest price ever for a piece of Olympic memorabilia.

Two more were said to be put up for auction in 2017, but there are no widespread reports of sales actually happening.

This gold medal was gifted by Owens to John Terpak, a U.S. Olympic weightlifter in 1936 and 1948, after Terpak helped Owens garner speaking engagements, according to Goldin. The previous gold that sold for $1.4 million was gifted by Owens to a different friend.

Terpak died in 1993 and passed the medal on to his son and daughter, who consigned it to Goldin.

The medal is part of Goldin Auctions’ Holiday Auction from Monday through Dec. 7 on GoldinAuctions.com. The listings also include Tommy Lasorda‘s autographed lineup card from the 2000 Olympic baseball gold-medal game.

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Jesse Owens Olympic Gold Medal Jesse Owens Olympic Gold Medal