Michelle Carter has benign tumor removed, won’t defend Olympic shot put title

16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 - Day Six
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — To find defending Olympic shot put champion Michelle Carter this week, cast a glance into the stands.

She won’t be in the competition. That hurts.

But the American record holder is thankful that a surgically removed tumor on her right ankle came back benign.

The 35-year-old is relegated to cheering on her friends and fellow competitors at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials as she heals from surgery on June 3 in Dallas.

“It’s a little rough to watch the Olympic trials knowing that I will not be participating,” Carter told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “I was really excited to compete this year.

“I’m doing pretty good. Just taking everything one day at a time.”

Not long ago, she began favoring her right ankle, which would flare up “really, really bad,” she said, “and we couldn’t figure out why.” Known for a high pain tolerance, Carter was set to push through the discomfort to make it to trials and, should she earn a spot, to defend her title at the Tokyo Games. As a precaution, though, she underwent an MRI, which uncovered a growth.

TRACK AND FIELD TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview

There was still a chance for doctors to remove the tumor so she could be ready for the shot put event, which begins Thursday. But her surgery turned out to be more complicated and took more than two hours. There also was a gumball-sized piece of bone that needed to be removed.

“I guess prior to surgery, I had already kind of prepared myself to hear something other than, ‘Oh, everything was OK. You’re good,’” said Carter, a three-time Olympian. “Because I knew there was a possibility there could be more. I guess I kind of felt it in my heart that there was a possibility that there was going to be more. And I kind of already was prepared. Because the worst place for me to be in is a position of not knowing.”

Last Wednesday, she heard the news she was hoping for — the tumor was benign.

“It helped so much, my friends and family checking in on me constantly, making sure that I’m good,” said Carter, who planned to arrive in Eugene on Monday. “It’s one feeling to know that your friends and family love you. But when they get a chance to actually really show you how much they love and care about you, that’s an amazing feeling. I’ve just been enjoying being loved on from them.”

She wanted to be in Eugene to show her support. For Raven Saunders, who made the 2016 Rio team and is among the favorites to make it to Tokyo. And for Magdalyn Ewen, another fellow Nike athlete. For all of them.

“I’m so excited for these young ladies to have a chance since now there’s an extra spot open,” Carter cracked. “I’m going to enjoy it, even though it’s going to be bittersweet. But I’m there to watch other people’s dream come true.”

Don’t jump to any conclusions: She’s not retiring.

She and her dad/coach Michael Carter — a 1984 Olympic shot put silver medalist and Super Bowl-winning nose-tackle for the San Francisco 49ers — envision a few more seasons. They for sure see world championships next summer in Eugene and are locked in on the 2024 Paris Olympics, where Carter will try to recapture the title she won’t get to defend this time.

To keep her busy, Carter will work on a few of her outside track ventures — a throwing camp for youth (”You Throw Girl”) and her nonprofit One Golden Shot, which empowers and encourages youth and communities in self-awareness and confidence-building.

This week, however, is for taking in some track and field from the stands.

“I’ve been doing this for so long and next year will be 25 years of me competing and throwing the shot put,” Carter said. “That’s a long time. And so, watching the young ladies that are coming up in my event, in the sport, and just watching them have the opportunity to experience what I’ve been able to experience three times, it’s special. You work so hard for this one dream.”

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Noah Lyles clips Trayvon Bromell in personal best at New Balance Indoor Grand Prix

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Noah Lyles got his 2023 off to a personal-best start, beating Trayvon Bromell in a photo finish in the 60m at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Boston on Saturday.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, ran 6.51 seconds. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, also ran 6.51. Lyles prevailed by two thousandths of a second.

“I’ve been waiting on this for a long time,” Lyles, whose personal best was 6.55, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Lyles is running the 60m to better his start as he bids to add the 100m to his 200m slate come the outdoor season that starts in the spring

Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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