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Nathaniel Coleman is second athlete to qualify for U.S. Olympic sport climbing team

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Nathaniel Coleman became the first American man to qualify for sport climbing’s Olympic debut by making the final of an Olympic qualifier in Toulouse, France, on Thursday.

Coleman, a 22-year-old from Utah, qualified for Tokyo on his second try. He was the top U.S. man at the world championships in August, placing 12th when a top-10 would have clinched an Olympic berth.

“As Toulouse creeps closer, I’ve noticed my mind fixating on it throughout my days and nights,” was posted on his Instagram earlier this week. “I think the last time I’ve cared so much about a competition was in the weeks leading up to my first open national, back in 2014. I’m usually pretty laid back until the actual day of the comp, when I can let my nerves surface and feel them drive me to compete. But not this one, it’s got my number and won’t stop calling.”

On Thursday, Coleman was seventh in qualifying into Saturday’s eight-man final. The top six in Toulouse make the Olympics, but two of the finals qualifiers were Japanese, and Japan had already maxed out its Olympic qualifiers at worlds in August. Therefore, everybody else who made the final is guaranteed an Olympic spot. Another American, Sean Bailey, missed the final by one spot.

A pending Japanese federation lawsuit could impact Olympic qualification, but under the current procedures, Coleman has clinched.

He joined the already qualified Brooke Raboutou on the U.S. Olympic team. The roster could get up to two athletes per gender total after the women’s event in Toulouse and the Pan American qualifier in three months.

Overall, 25 athletes have qualified for the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. A full roster is here. The team will eventually eclipse 500 athletes.

Olympic sport climbing will feature one set of medals per gender, the event combining three disciplines: lead, speed and bouldering. Coleman specializes in bouldering.

From Tokyo 2020: Speed climbing pits two climbers against each other, both climbing a fixed route on a 15-meter wall at a 95-degree angle. Winning times are generally between five and eight seconds. In bouldering, climbers scale a number of fixed routes on a four-meter wall in a specified time without safety ropes. In lead climbing, athletes attempt to climb as high as possible on a wall measuring over 15 meters in height within a fixed time with safety ropes.

The sport debuted at the Youth Olympics in 2018 in Buenos Aires, but no Americans were entered.

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Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

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Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

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