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U.S. finishes world para track and field championships fourth in medals

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The U.S. finished fourth in total medals at the world para track and field championships in Dubai, its first time outside the top three since the 2012 London Games.

Longtime powers China and Russia and breakthrough Brazil topped the standings after the nine-competition finished Friday. The U.S. ended up with 34 medals, including 12 golds. Full results are here.

American stars included sprinter Deja Young, who earned 200m and universal 4x100m relay golds, plus 100m silver behind countrywoman Brittni Mason, who broke Young’s world record.

Young attempted suicide while struggling with depression and anxiety leading up to the Rio Paralympics. She went on to sweep the 100m and 200m in Brazil, then did the same at the 2017 Worlds.

Roderick Townsend earned high jump gold and long jump silver in Dubai, two years after sweeping those events in Rio.

Daniel Romanchuk, who repeated as New York City Marathon wheelchair champion two weeks ago, earned his first world medal on the track, gold in the 800m.

Tatyana McFadden, a seven-time world champion on the track, did not compete this year after placing second at the New York City Marathon.

MORE: Tokyo Paralympic medals unveiled with historic Braille design, indentations

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Marieke Vervoort, Belgian Paralympian, ends her life by euthanasia

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Marieke Vervoort, a Belgian Paralympian, died via euthanasia on Tuesday, 11 years after signing euthanasia papers so she could decide when to end her life, according to the Belgian Paralympic Committee.

Euthanasia is legal in Belgium.

Vervoort, 40, competed in wheelchair racing with an incurable, degenerative spinal disease that limited her to 10 minutes of sleep on some nights. She earned four Paralympic medals between 2012 and 2016, including 100m gold at the London Games.

Back in 2016, Belgian newspapers reported Vervoort intended to kill herself after the Paralympics ended, which she refuted at the Games.

Vervoort said then that if she didn’t have the euthanasia papers, she would have committed suicide years ago.

“You can go in peace when the time comes,” she told NBC Sports’ Lewis Johnson in Rio. “I don’t want to live like a plant that I need day-in, day-out and during all night that I need all the time somebody with me to help me.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leanne Smith leads U.S. gold medalists at para swim worlds

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Leanne Smith has never competed at a Paralympics. Came into this week’s world championships with zero world medals. But she leaves London with three individual golds, most for any American, one year before the Tokyo Games.

Smith, 21, won the 150m individual medley, 50m breaststroke and 100m freestyle in her classification, all in American record times. The last two titles came on the final day of the seven-day meet on Sunday.

Smith, diagnosed with a rare neurological muscle disease called dystonia in January 2012, began swimming in 2013. By 2017, she broke a world record and then debuted at the world championships with a best individual finish of sixth.

The U.S. finished with 35 total medals and 14 golds, ranking sixth in the overall standings. Ukraine, usually strong at the Paralympics, led the way with 55 medals. Full results are here.

Jessica Long, the second-most-decorated U.S. Paralympian in history with 23 medals, earned six this week — five silvers and a bronze — to give her 52 career world championships medals.

Two-time Paralympian Mallory Weggemann earned two golds this week, giving her 15 world titles in three appearances (her others being in 2009 and 2010).

She won 50m titles in the butterfly and freestyle. Weggemann won a 2012 Paralympic 50m free title but was fortunate just to make it back for Rio after a 2014 accident that she said was harder to come back from than her teenage paralysis. She left Rio with no medals but a resolve to return for a third Games in Tokyo.

“I’m two seconds away from bursting into tears,” Weggemann said after winning the first of her two golds in the 50m fly, according to U.S. Paralympics. “I had a really rough go these past three years since Rio, so to finally be back after busting my butt to be here, and to be here in London of all places, is absolutely incredible.”

Fellow Rio Paralympians McKenzie Coan and Robert Griswold added two golds a piece.

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