The Running Decathlon: Victory is mine

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Kelly Hayes, a spotter on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, is attempting to to complete “The Running Decathlon” which consists of the ten most widely-run track events. His goal is to run each race “half as fast,” or in twice the time, of the current world record in each event. And he will attempt to run these races in the footsteps of those who set the records on the very tracks, and in the very stadiums where the records were set.

His “quest” serves as a platform to raise funds to purchase a $90,000 exoskeleton Bionic Suit, which allows those with critical spinal injuries to rise from their wheelchairs and actually take assisted walks. Think Tony Stark from Ironman. He is relying on donations to the Bridging Bionics Foundation to make this a reality.

Follow Kelly on his journey, which begins in Rome on July 7, 2016, here, on Facebook, Twitter and at race2walk2016.com where you can make a 100 percent tax-deductible contribution towards the purchase of an exoskeleton Bionic Suit for the Bridging Bionics Foundation. One hundred percent of your donations will go towards the purchase of these suits.

Please turn Kelly’s steps into dollars. And we will turn dollars into steps for those who want to walk again.

As I stood at the start line in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, site of the 1960 Summer Olympic Games, waiting for the gun to go off, I had no idea if I would achieve my goal.

Running in the shadow of the great Moroccan runner, Hicham El Guerrouj, who set a world record in 1999 for the Mile Run seemed daunting at best. And I was only trying to run half as fast as El Guerouj’s mark of 3:43 that had stood for seventeen years. Could I do it?

This was race number one of my Quest, something I call the Running Decathlon. My goal is to run each of the ten most contested track events in twice the time or, half as fast, as the standing world record in each. It may seem somewhat pedestrian, but when you throw in the fact that I am 60 years old and plan to run these races on the exact tracks where those records were set, in places like the Stadio Olimpico, and the Berlin and London Olympic Stadiums, it seems a little more challenging.

When I took the track shortly after dawn on a hot, muggy Roman morning, still jet lagged from the previous day’s flight, the time of 7:26 kept pulsing through my consciousness. I had been concentrating on those numbers for a few weeks as I trained for this moment. I am a daily runner, a streak runner, who for the last five years has plodded along on 10-minute miles. And even though I had a 7:32 under my belt, that one was at home and truth be told, it had a downhill slant to it. Still, I thought, “This is a fast track. I have new spikes and if I can just stay with my pace setter, Gabriele Pattumelli, who had been recruited to help out by the stadium, maybe I could get close enough to the 7:26 to not embarrass myself.”

When El Guerrouj set this record on the same date, July 7th, that I was running on, he was on the precipice of being acknowledged as the greatest distance runner in the world. Fifty-one weeks before, he had run away with the 1500m in this very stadium, setting the record for the Metric Mile. On this date, he would run stride for stride with Kenyan Noah Ngeny, who was there to be his pace setter, but instead stayed in the race for keeps. El Guerrouj finished two strides ahead as both runners broke the world record in times that have not been duplicated since.

This was all in my mind as stood in the exact spot on the outside where El Guerrouj started his record mile. As the Italian starter pulled the trigger on the gun, I sprinted towards lane one and the first curve behind Gabrielle feeling incredible excitement and energy. The 65,000-seat stadium was empty, save for couple of handfuls of workers who were there to set new turf for the AS Roma and Lazio football clubs that call the stadium home. With each lap, they cheered and clapped and encouraged me in their native Italian.

I had worked it out with Gabriele that I thought we should do 1:50 laps and let me gut it out down the stretch. Though neither of us spoke the same language, he seemed to understand. So when we finished lap 1, the one with the extra 9 yards, in 1:32, I was a little concerned. But feelin’ alright, I continued on just a few steps behind the easy running Gabriele, who has a 4:00 1500m to his credit. Lap 2 was nice and easy, and when we got to the third lap I thought, “Just keep your form, don’t fall apart until the last lap if you are going fall apart.”

There was no bell, but the bell lap was a total joy. I ran with great form on the two curves and felt no pain as I got to the final 100m.

“Go Kelly, go!” Gabriele implored as he slowed to let me pass.

I lifted my legs and pumped my arms, hoping to get to the line in, say, 7:30.

When I crossed the line, I looked instantly at the timer. “7:05.76” he shouted across the track. Victory was mine.

At least in the first race. Nine more to go including a trip back to Rome for the 1500m this week.

Nassar victim: Michigan State leader offered secret payoff

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LANSING, Mich. – A sexual assault victim of former sports doctor Larry Nassar confronted Michigan State University officials on Friday, alleging the school’s interim leader offered a payoff to settle her lawsuit and pressured her to do so without her attorney present.

Kaylee Lorincz spoke during a contentious board of trustees meeting, where interim President John Engler expressed regret over the university’s response to another woman’s federal lawsuit over the schools handling of rape allegations involving basketball players. Lorincz, who has said Larry Nassar sexually assaulted her when she sought treatment for back pain, said Engler and his attorney offered her $250,000 when the teen and her mother were at the school a few weeks ago to sign up to speak at Friday’s meeting.

According to Lorincz, Engler said to her, “Right now if I wrote you a check for $250,000 would you take it?”

Lorincz said Engler also claimed another Nassar victim had given him an amount she would consider to settle with the university. Lorincz said she felt “bullied” by the encounter.

Engler didn’t immediately respond to her comments. His spokeswoman, Emily Guerrant, said she was in the room during the conversation and does not remember Engler offering a dollar figure.

“My interpretation of the discussion was not that he was saying, `I’m offering you $250,000,”‘ she said. “It was a discussion about the civil litigation and how it was going on.”

Lorincz addressed Engler in a room brimming with protesters, parents and sexual assault victims of Nassar, now serving decades in prison for molesting women and girls and for possessing child pornography. Lorincz was among roughly 250 women who gave statements earlier this year during Nassar’s sentencing hearings in two Michigan courtrooms.

In a separate case, a woman filed a lawsuit Monday saying the university’s counselors discouraged her from filing a police report after three Michigan State basketball players allegedly raped her in 2015. She accuses the school of violating Title IX protocol and claims staff made it clear that “she faced an uphill battle that would create anxiety and unwanted media attention” should she report her rape.

The university’s immediate response to reporters asking about the lawsuit was to decline comment. But on Wednesday it issued a lengthy statement that detailed staff interaction with the woman.

The university faced criticism over that response from people who say it violated privacy laws.

Engler acknowledged Friday that the school “provided an unnecessary amount of detail” about the case, saying some people saw the response as “violating privacy expectations.”

Engler became interim president after Lou Anna Simon resigned in January hours after Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison for crimes involving Michigan State athletes. Students remain anxious over the future course of the university, which has yet to choose a permanent replacement for Simon.

In Friday’s board meeting, Engler attempted to steer focus toward celebrating milestones of the university’s graduating seniors but was frequently usurped by boos and jeers from a crowd clad in teal shirts with the phrase, “I stand with the sister survivors (hash)MeTooMSU.” Some Nassar victims wrapped their mouths with black bands that had the phrase “Silenced” scrawled over them.

Parents of victims were left in the lobby downstairs because their posters of their children’s faces were considered “signs” and thus barred from the meeting room. Protesters who were able to attend instead held up cellphones with childhood pictures of victims.

During the meeting, Engler proposed a 2.97 percent tuition increase, the third lowest in 20 years. Earlier he had teased the possibility of heavy tuition increases should the school’s lawsuits over the Nassar controversy continue to snowball financially.

During public testimony, Engler and his board were castigated for how he handled the public fallout over the past few months and repeatedly told to resign.

“You sponsored my assault,” dancer Morgan McCaul, a Nassar victim, said. “Your time is up. Resign.”

As McCaul’s testimony concluded, the crowd joined her in chanting, “Shame on you,” at the board.

Sportscaster Dick Enberg dies at 82

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SAN DIEGO — Dick Enberg, the longtime sportscaster who got his big break with UCLA basketball and went on to call Super Bowls, Olympics, Final Fours and Angels and Padres baseball games, died Thursday. He was 82.

Engberg’s daughter, Nicole, confirmed the death to The Associated Press. She said the family became concerned when he didn’t arrive on his flight to Boston on Thursday, and that he was found dead at his home in La Jolla, a San Diego neighborhood, with his bags packed.

“He was dressed with his bags packed at the door,” wife Barbara told the Union-Tribune. “We think it was a heart attack.”

Enberg retired in October 2016 after a 60-year career – and countless calls of “Oh my!” in describing a play that nearly defied description. He also was well-known for his baseball catchphrase of “Touch `em all” for home runs.

Raised in Armada, Michigan, Enberg’s first radio job was actually as a radio station custodian in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, when he was a junior at Central Michigan. He made $1 an hour. The owner also gave him weekend sports and disc jockey gigs, also at $1 an hour. From there he began doing high school and college football games.

During his nine years broadcasting UCLA basketball, the Bruins won eight NCAA titles. Enberg broadcast nine no-hitters, including two by San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum against the Padres in 2013 and 2014.

He said the most historically important event he covered was “The Game of the Century,” Houston’s victory over UCLA in 1968 that snapped the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak.

“That was the platform from which college basketball’s popularity was sent into the stratosphere,” Enberg said. “The `79 game, the Magic-Bird game, everyone wants to credit that as the greatest game of all time That was just the booster rocket that sent it even higher. … UCLA, unbeaten; Houston, unbeaten. And then the thing that had to happen, and Coach Wooden hated when I said this, but UCLA had to lose. That became a monumental event.”

Enberg’s many former broadcast partners included Merlin Olsen, Al McGuire, Billy Packer, Don Drysdale and Tony Gwynn. He even worked a few games with Wooden, whom he called “The greatest man I’ve ever known other than my own father.” Enberg called Padres games for seven seasons and went into the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame in 2015.

John Ireland, the radio voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, tweeted that “If there was a Mount Rushmore of LA Sports Announcers, Dick Enberg is on it with Chick Hearn, Vin Scully and Bob Miller. Rams, Angels, UCLA, NBC, and so much more. Was the first famous announcer I ever met, and he couldn’t have been nicer. Definition of a gentleman.”

Enberg won 13 Sports Emmy Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and UCLA named its Media Center in Pauley Pavilion after Enberg this year.

“Kindest, most proactive possible treatment of newcomers in this business, for the length of his career,” broadcaster Keith Olbermann said of Enberg on Twitter. “What a terrible loss.”