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Kyra Condie, decade after severe back surgery, qualifies for Olympic sport climbing

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Ten years ago, a nurse practitioner told a crying Kyra Condie that climbing wasn’t that important. Condie needed back surgery for severe idiopathic scoliosis, which could have ended her sport climbing career at age 13.

“Turns out, climbing IS pretty important to me and it was that moment that made me choose a different surgeon,” was posted on Condie’s social media.

She underwent 10-vertebrae spinal fusion surgery to correct a 70-degree curvature the following March.

“I’m lucky I did [the surgery], because his approach was to fuse less vertebrae and leave me with more mobility which has been crucial to my climbing,” was posted on Condie’s social media.

That decision led Condie on a path that, on Friday, hit a milestone marker — qualifying for the first U.S. Olympic sport climbing team. Condie earned her spot by reaching the final of an Olympic qualifier in Toulouse, France.

She is the third American to qualify for the sport’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, joining Brooke Raboutou and Nathaniel Coleman. One more man can make the U.S. team at a Pan Am qualifier in three months.

Condie is a Twin Cities native who graduated from the University of Minnesota last year and recently moved to Salt Lake City. She was 25th at the world championships in August.

Overall, 26 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.

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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In the fall of 2009, I had a nurse practitioner tell me that I could stop crying because “climbing isn’t that important” and that “one day you’ll have a family and you’ll realize you don’t need to be sad.” Turns out, climbing IS pretty important to me and it was that moment that made me choose a different surgeon to perform my 10 vertebrae spinal fusion. I’m lucky I did, because his approach was to fuse less vertebrae and leave me with more mobility which has been crucial to my climbing. It’s now been 9 years since my surgery (March 12th, 2010) and it still amazes me how little I even notice my restricted mobility. I do tend to have trouble on certain types of moves, but there’s almost always another method to avoid twisting and sideways bending (the two motions I have trouble with). If anyone has any questions about my recovery or anything else, please don’t hesitate to ask 😁 I love talking to other people with a spinal fusion! Photo 1: pre back surgery Photo 2: post back surgery Photo 3: post back surgery rib hump (from the remaining curve in my spine) Photo 4: @greg_mionske photo from the Vail World Cup! #scoliosis #spinalfusion

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Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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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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U.S. Open mulls no fans, group flights, coronavirus tests as decision looms

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Charter flights to ferry U.S. Open tennis players and limited entourages from Europe, South America and the Middle East to New York. Negative COVID-19 tests before traveling. Centralized housing. Daily temperature checks.

No spectators. Fewer on-court officials. No locker-room access on practice days.

All are among the scenarios being considered for the 2020 U.S. Open — if it is held at all amid the coronavirus pandemic — and described to The Associated Press by a high-ranking official at the Grand Slam tournament.

“All of this is still fluid,” Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Tennis Association’s chief executive for professional tennis, said in a telephone interview Saturday. “We have made no decisions at all.”

With that caveat, Allaster added that if the USTA board does decide to go forward with the Open, she expects it to be held at its usual site and in its usual spot on the calendar. The main draw is scheduled to start Aug. 31.

“We continue to be, I would say, 150% focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates. It’s all I wake up — our team wakes up — thinking about,” Allaster said. “The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date … we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”

An announcement should come from “mid-June to end of June,” Allaster said.

All sanctioned competition has been suspended by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation since March and is on hold until late July.

The French Open was postponed from May to September; Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945.

There is no established COVID-19 protocol for tennis, a global sport with several governing bodies.

“Everybody would agree to the fundamental principles, I’m sure: protecting the health of participants, following the local laws and minimizing the risk of the transmission of the virus,” said Stuart Miller, who is overseeing the ITF’s return-to-tennis policy. “But then you have to get down into the specific details.”

One such detail: The USTA wants to add locker rooms — including at indoor courts that housed hundreds of temporary hospital beds at the height of New York’s coronavirus outbreak — and improve air filtration in existing spaces. Also being considered: no locker-room access until just before a match. So if anyone goes to Flushing Meadows just to train, Allaster said, “You come, you practice, and return to the hotel.”

The USTA presented its operational plan to a medical advisory group Friday; now that will be discussed with city, state and federal government officials.

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