Katie Meili
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Katie Meili, Olympic breaststroke medalist, retires from swimming

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Katie Meili, the 2016 Olympic 100m breaststroke bronze medalist, has retired from swimming, a year before the Tokyo Games.

“It is with a heart full of joy and gratitude that I announce my retirement from competitive swimming,” was posted on Meili’s social media. “My swimming career has been a dream come true and I am so grateful for the lessons it has taught me, the opportunities it has provided me, and most importantly, the incredible people it has brought into my life.

“This chapter is closing, but I’m very much looking forward to the challenges and adventures the next one will bring.”

Meili, 28, had already taken her name off the team for this month’s world championships as she focuses on law school at Georgetown this year and next. She’s spending the summer as an associate at Jones Day law firm in Washington, D.C.

In April, Meili said whether she would go for a second Olympics in 2020 was “the million-dollar question,” according to the Washington Post.

“If I choose not to do it, it’ll be for all the right reasons: It’s just time,” Meili said then, according to the newspaper. “I’ve always said I’ll keep swimming as long as I’m enjoying it and as long as I’m able. A lot of factors go into both of those prongs. But if I decide I’m not going to swim next year and I’m not going to try to make Tokyo, then I will be happy and at peace with that decision.”

Meili’s success in 2016 was the product of perseverance. She swam at Columbia (not among the NCAA powers) and planned to retire after graduating in 2013. She was offered a legal assistant job in New York and planned to take it before visiting coach David Marsh in Charlotte and accepting a place in Marsh’s training group.

Meili, who faked a headache at her first swim practice as a kid and hid in the bathroom because she thought it was too hard, lowered her 100m breast personal best by 1.8 seconds in 2015 and made the Rio Olympic team by placing second to Lilly King at trials.

In Rio, Meili took bronze behind King and Russian Yuliya Efimova and added a gold as a prelim swimmer on the medley relay. She earned a medal of every color at her lone world championships appearance in 2017, including silver in the 100m breast, again behind King. She retires as the sixth-fastest woman in history in the event.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Tokyo Paralympic medals unveiled with historic Braille design, indentations

Tokyo Paralympic Medals
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The Tokyo Paralympic medals, which like the Olympic medals are created in part with metals from recycled cell phones and other small electronics, were unveiled on Sunday, one year out from the Opening Ceremony.

In a first for the Paralympics, each medal has one to three indentation(s) on its side to distinguish its color by touch — one for gold, two silver and three for bronze. Braille letters also spell out “Tokyo 2020” on each medal’s face.

For Rio, different amounts of tiny steel balls were put inside the medals based on their color, so that when shaken they would make distinct sounds. Visually impaired athletes could shake the medals next to their ears to determine the color.

More on the design from Tokyo 2020:

The design is centered around the motif of a traditional Japanese fan, depicting the Paralympic Games as the source of a fresh new wind refreshing the world as well as a shared experience connecting diverse hearts and minds. The kaname, or pivot point, holds all parts of the fan together; here it represents Para athletes bringing people together regardless of nationality or ethnicity. Motifs on the leaves of the fan depict the vitality of people’s hearts and symbolize Japan’s captivating and life-giving natural environment in the form of rocks, flowers, wood, leaves, and water. These are applied with a variety of techniques, producing a textured surface that makes the medals compelling to touch.

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Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Alysa Liu lands quad Lutz

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Alysa Liu, a 14-year-old who in January became the youngest U.S. women’s figure skating champion, on Saturday landed a quadruple Lutz, something no other U.S. woman has done in competition.

Liu landed the jump at the Aurora Games, a women’s sports festival in Albany, N.Y. It does not count officially, since it’s not a sanctioned competition.

Previously, Sasha Cohen landed a quadruple Salchow in practice in 2001, but never in competition. At least three Russian teens landed quads in junior competition in the last two years.

Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva became the first woman to land a clean, fully rotated quad in senior competition en route to silver at last season’s world championships.

Liu, who landed three triple Axels between two programs at January’s nationals, makes her junior international debut at a Grand Prix stop in Lake Placid, N.Y., next week.

She will not meet the age minimum for senior international competitions until the 2022 Olympic season. But she can continue to compete at senior nationals.

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