Jack Hatton
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Jack Hatton’s death leaves search for answers

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Jack Hatton brightened every gym he attended and had a bright future in judo.

But Hatton also had his down days.

“When Jack was up, he was way up,” Canadian judoka Zach Burt told reporter Tim Layden for an NBC Sports story. “When he was down, he was way down, almost drastically so.”

On Sept. 24, Hatton was found dead in the house he shared with other athletes in Wakefield, Mass. He left no note, but he had taken his own life. He was 24 years old.

The judo community responded with shock and support, quickly raising nearly $10,000 for his family through a GoFundMe campaign that went on to draw nearly $37,000.

Hatton was a strong contender for a place in the 2020 Olympics. If Olympic qualification ended today, Colton Brown would qualify as one of the top 18 athletes in his weight class who aren’t already qualified. The other qualification path is to give one spot per country to the highest-ranked judoka in any class. At the moment, that’s Adonis Diaz, who is 33rd in his class. At the time of his death, Hatton was ranked 30th in his class, and he had been ranked higher in the past.

The Hatton family’s search for answers started with the possibility of brain injuries, but they were unable to get a study for possible chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

In retrospect, a few incidents from Hatton’s last few months have troubled his family and friends. In August, at the world championships, he expressed concern about life after judo, an issue that arose in part because he had not been able to stick with college studies. In early September, he went for a hike with inadequate clothing and was found the next day suffering from hypothermia.

Hatton’s father, Mark, spoke with Jack the morning Sept. 23 and found him agitated, saying he needed to get out of the house where he was living. Mark suggested therapy, which they had discussed before.

“I know, Dad, I know,” Jack said.

But Jack bristled at the idea of contacting Kayla Harrison, a two-time Olympic champion who trained with him and has been open about struggling with depression and considering suicide. Sometime during the day, though, Jack did think of Harrison one of the last two searches on his phone was “Kayla Harrison mental health.”

READ: Harrison on MMA and judo careers

Harrison is one of many people who remember Hatton as a friendly teammate with a great sense of humor.

“Jack made me laugh every day,” Harrison said.

Layden’s story on Hatton, his family and friends is posted at NBCSports.com.

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No words could describe the amount of pride that the New York Athletic Club Judo Program had in knowing that Jack Hatton wore The Winged Foot. He embodied everything that athletes who represent the Club stands for: he was an ideal ambassador of the Club’s credo, both as an athlete and a person. No words will ever describe the amount of sorrow that we all share from Jack’s passing.  Jack once described how much of an honor it was for him to compete for the New York Athletic Club, but the greater honor was having our program, and lives, elevated by such a talented, genuine, and wonderful young man. He gave everyone affiliated with the NYAC reason to hope, reason to be proud, and reason to smile. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the Hatton family, and we also extend our deepest appreciation for bringing Jack into our lives.

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Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement