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Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

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Shani Davis, the trailblazing Olympic speed skating champion, said he has retired from competition and gone into coaching.

“It was just enough,” Davis, the 2006 and 2010 Olympic 1000m champion who last competed at the PyeongChang Winter Games, told Dutch broadcaster NOS this weekend. “I had a long career, and there’s other things that I wanted to do with my life.”

Davis, 37, spent recent days coaching at a competition in the Netherlands, wearing a China jacket. He is coaching Chinese junior skaters a little more than two years before the Beijing Winter Games, according to NOS.

Davis ends one of the greatest careers in U.S. Olympic history.

In 2006, he became the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal at a Winter Games in Torino. He repeated as Olympic champion in the 1000m four years later in Vancouver. Davis also earned 1500m silver medals in 2006 and 2010.

His last two Olympics did not go as hoped. Davis finished eighth in the 1000m in Sochi in 2014 as part of a stunning medal-less performance from the U.S. in its historically most successful Winter Games sport.

He then contemplated retirement due to a lack of World Cup success, but endured to make one more Olympic team in 2018. His best finish in PyeongChang was seventh in the 1000m.

Now, he becomes the latest notable name to begin guiding Chinese athletes ahead of the Beijing Winter Games.

Previously, China hired Shaun White‘s former coach, Bud Keene, to guide its snowboarding program, a world champion German to coach bobsledders, a world champion Canadian to coach skeleton sliders, a world champion Swede to coach curlers and Dutch and South Korean coaches in speed skating.

Plus, Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the male record holder with 13 Winter Olympic medals, and his wife, Belarus’ Darya Domracheva, a six-time medalist, to head its biathlon program.

“Skating will always be my first love, so I’m happy I’m able to stay close to it,” Davis told Dutch media. “It’s not necessary for them to remember me, to need to know me. I did speed skating because I loved speed skating, and the people loved me because I loved speed skating. That’s one of those things. If they know me, great, if not, that’s OK, too.”

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MORE: Dutch speed skaters won’t defend Olympic titles

‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ primetime special covers social justice, combating inequality

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Athletes, including Olympians, discussed social justice, locker room conversations about race and ways that sports can help combat inequality in “Race and Sports in America: Conversations,” airing Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Olympic Channel, Golf Channel and NBC Sports Regional Networks.

NBC Sports’ Damon Hack hosted roundtables with active and retired athletes at the American Century Championship Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, last week.

Panelists, including Olympians James Blake and Charles Barkley and Tokyo Olympic hopeful Stephen Curry, also reflected on personal experiences.

Barkley, an Olympic gold medalist in 1992 and 1996, said coaches recently reached out to him to speak to their teams.

“First of all, relax and breathe,” Barkley said. “This crap started 400 years ago. We can’t do nothing about that. We can’t do anything about systematic racism. What I challenge every Black person, every white person to do: What can I do today going forward?

“You have to ask yourself, I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Blake, a retired former top-five tennis player and 2008 Olympian, was wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and arrested by a plainclothes New York City police officer in 2015 in a case of mistaken identity caught on video. The police officer’s punishment was a loss of five vacation days.

“The first thing I said when I got tackled was, I’m complying 100 percent,” Blake said. “And that shouldn’t have to be your response the first time you interact with a police officer. And because that’s the way my dad taught me is stay alive. Do whatever you can to stay alive. Sort it out later with lawyers or however you want to do it, and stay alive in that moment. The fact you have to have those rules in 2020 means maybe we have to do something drastic to change the way police interact with the African-American community and the way the community interacts with the police.”

Curry said his daughters, 7-year-old Riley and 5-year-old Ryan, asked questions about the images they recently saw. He’s not shielding them, but rather being honest about society, going back centuries.

“We have to continue to double down and double down and keep people accountable in all walks of life, all industries, all forms of leadership, the judicial system, all those type of things,” Curry said. “And hopefully for my kids’ generation, their kids, we will see change. I’m hopeful and optimistic about, but I understand how much work will need to go into that.”

The full list of athletes who participated in the “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” roundtables:

• Charles Barkley – 1992 and 1996 Olympic basketball champion
• James Blake – 10-time ATP tennis champion, 2008 Olympian
• Stephen Curry – two-time NBA MVP, two-time FIBA world champion
• Troy Mullins – World Long Drive competitor
• Anthony Lynn – Los Angeles Chargers head coach
• Jimmy Rollins – World Series champion shortstop
• Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings tight end
• Ozzie Smith – Major League Baseball Hall of Famer

Additionally, Hack was joined by Super Bowl champion running back Jerome Bettis for an extended interview that will be published on NBC Sports’ digital and podcast platforms.

MORE: Elana Meyers Taylor’s claims of racism in bobsled being investigated

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Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

Shelby Houlihan
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Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

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