Olympics Weightlifting Slideshow

Samantha Harris and Tarek El Moussa

Cancer survivor and Flip or Flop host El Moussa and Harris, former Dancing With the Stars host, celebrated the American Cancer Society’s Giants of Science Gala fundraiser in L.A. On the red carpet, El Moussa explained how his diet and lifestyle have been affected by his cancer diagnosis, although he’s revealed that he’s currently cancer-free. “I’m doing more cardio than weightlifting — I used to do more weightlifting,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Diet wise, I’ve been doing more juicing. I try to eat organic.” (Photo: Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for The American Cancer Society)

Samantha Harris and Tarek El Moussa

Cancer survivor and Flip or Flop host El Moussa and Harris, former Dancing With the Stars host, celebrated the American Cancer Society’s Giants of Science Gala fundraiser in L.A. On the red carpet, El Moussa, who has revealed that he’s now cancer-free, explained how his diet and lifestyle have been affected by his cancer diagnosis. “I’m doing more cardio than weightlifting — I used to do more weightlifting,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Diet wise, I’ve been doing more juicing. I try to eat organic.” (Photo: Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for the American Cancer Society)

Russia, China among 9 top weightlifting countries suspended

FILE- In this Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 file photo Kazakhstan's Ilya Ilyin reacts after a world record 233-kg clean-and-jerk lift during the men's 94-kg, group A, weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The International Weightlifting Federation has suspended nine leading countries for a year on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, as it tries to combat an epidemic of doping. Those banned include some the sports biggest stars, such as Ilya Ilyin from Kazakhstan, a four-time world lifter of the year who was stripped of his 2008 and 2012 gold medals for taking anabolic steroids. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, file)

International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) President Tamas Ajan said the IWF would contintinue to work with China, Russia to support anti-doping activities

International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) President Tamas Ajan said the IWF would contintinue to work with China, Russia to support anti-doping activities (AFP Photo/GOH CHAI HIN)

Traina Thoughts: NFL Ratings Problem Is Not Getting Better

The best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts. And check Jimmy Traina's weekly podcast, "Off The Board," on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

1. If last night is any indication, NFL ratings are going to be a big story again in 2017. The Presidential election took a big chunk of viewers last year, with the league's ratings down 14 percent pre-election on Nov. 8 and just one percent post-election. However, the rating for last night's Chiefs-Patriots game was down considerably from past season openers.

Were people watching Hurricane Irma coverage instead? Are people still glued to cable news to keep up with what's going on in the White House? Or does the NFL have a problem with its product? If the hated Patriots getting their asses kicked couldn't bring in a big number, what will? This will be a storyline that gets a lot of play if those numbers continue.

Meanwhile, NBC's PR department tried its best to spin the weak number, but the effort was a tad cringeworthy.

* UPDATE: As I predicted Friday morning on Twitter, despite the low rating, NBC is touting is streaming numbers for the game.

2. As for the Chiefs impressive 42-27 upset over the Patriots, the stats to come out of the game were just staggering. For instance:

* The Patriots were 105-0 when leading going into the fourth quarter at home during the Tom Brady era.

* The Patriots were 81-0 when leading at halftime at Gillette Stadium in regular season.

* 42 points were the most ever given up in a game by a Patriots team coached by Bill Belichick.

* The Chiefs had one offensive play go for 75 or more yards last season. They had two touchdowns of 75 yards against the Patriots.

3. Each Friday, I'm going to give you some NFL Week. Here are three for Week 1:

Packers -3 vs. Seahawks: I'm high on Green Bay this year. I like them having an early test at home. Aaron Rodgers has a lot of weapons.

Rams -4 vs. Colts: Two words: Scott Tolzien. Who knows what Jared Goff will do this season, but Wade Phillips' defense should feast against Tolzien, who will start in place of Andrew Luck.

Saints +3.5 at Vikings: New Orleans made a ton of changes, but Drew Brees remains. We'll take him over Sam Bradford in this matchup.

4. The Craig Carton saga continues. On top of his arrest earlier this week for a Ponzi scheme, the New York Post reports that the WFAN radio host allegedly used his charity for some questionable activities.

5. The Indians 15-game winning streak has cost a window company $1.7 million in free repairs.

6. Roman Reigns and John Cena will meet at an upcoming WWE pay-per-view event, but they've been feuding on Twitter. Reigns got in a good shot at Cena over his numerous weightlifting videos that get a lot of pickup in the blogosphere.

7. Jimmy Fallon's Superlatives were back last night, targeting Chiefs and Patriots players.

8. This week's Off The Board podcast features SI's Richard Deitsch. We talked about the Carton situation, Mike Francesa, NFL media stories to watch in the 2017 season, Ed Cunningham quitting his job with ESPN over concerns about the violence in football and much more. You can listen below or on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.

9. RANDOM WRESTLING VIDEO OF THE DAY: With John Cena engaged in a war of words with Roman Reigns, let's remember time Cena got taken down by a Rock sing-a-long.

Karnam Malleswari at the Sydney Olympics, 2000

Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal. She bagged the bronze medal in the 69-kg weightlifting category

Gold medalist Cao Lei of China poses during the medal ceremony for the women's 75 kg weightlifting event during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 15, 2008

Gold medalist Cao Lei of China poses during the medal ceremony for the women's 75 kg weightlifting event during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 15, 2008 (AFP Photo/JUNG YEON-JE)

Cao Lei of China poses with her gold medal in the women's 75kg weightlifting competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

FILE PHOTO: Cao Lei of China poses with her gold medal in the women's 75kg weightlifting competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Cao Lei of China poses with her gold medal in the women's 75kg weightlifting competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

FILE PHOTO: Cao Lei of China poses with her gold medal in the women's 75kg weightlifting competition at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Karnam Malleswari at the Sydney Olympics, 2000

Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal. She bagged the bronze medal in the 69-kg weightlifting category

Karnam Malleswari at the Sydney Olympics, 2000

Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal. She bagged the bronze medal in the 69-kg weightlifting category

This three-time Olympian is prepping for PyeongChang 2018 with workout on NYC streets

Katie Uhlaender crouches in the left-turn lane of W 58th St. and makes eye contact with the driver next to her. She cracks a smile, motioning toward the intersection to initiate a race. The driver declines the challenge, and Uhlaender sprints past—a red tangle of hair flying down the street.

It’s an 80-degree afternoon in New York City. Uhlaender, a three-time Olympian in skeleton who has her sights set on PyeongChang 2018, is midway through a recovery week that has conveniently fallen over the July 4 holiday. She’s in town for a job interview, but that won’t keep her from a workout.

The hotel parking garage was too cramped, though, so Uhlaender and her impromptu cameraman—a friend she made during hip surgery, the ninth operation of her career—find themselves on the sidewalk. It’ll do.

Uhlaender, who turns 33 on July 17, only travels during recovery weeks these days. It’s a grind now, just seven months away from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Her life has been based out of the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., since the 2016–17 Skeleton World Cup ended in March. There’s structure there, along with food and housing. But with a new $15,000 sled on the horizon, Uhlaender is in town for a job interview at a advertising and production company.

But that’s not until Thursday. Today is Wednesday, and Uhlaender is just a veteran Olympian who has a very real shot at qualifying for the 2018 Winter Games.

Uhlaender, the daughter of former MLB player Ted Uhlaender, has segmented her Olympic training into four-week sections this year. She steadily builds for three weeks, then takes the fourth week at a reduced volume. These recovery weeks are often based on “perceived effort,” she says, where the intensity is there but not necessarily strict sets and programs.

"I'm going by feel,” she explains. “My hip was kinda strained after a hard few days so my goal is to get that to go away. I'm just gonna do enough this week. Normally I'd lift, but I'm going to maximize my recovery."

This workout begins with a 30-minute warmup of stretching, short sprints and some yoga. Then she takes to the sidewalk (and turning lane) for two sets of strides at sub-maximal effort.

She challenges a handful of construction workers to races. They decline, including one who is hauling bricks down the sidewalk. Uhlaender is disappointed. She thrives on the competition.

"Most people are scared to come work out with an Olympian,” she says. “Well, first of all, I'm not a track star. I'm far from it, just ask Lolo [Jones]. But I love running with people that are extremely fast. I'll run with all the guys, with Lolo, with Lauryn Williams—who crushed me—because there's something about pushing myself to be the best I can be. Even if I don't beat them, I feel really good running with them.”

In lieu of a challenger, Uhlaender decides to have some fun with her workout in the city.

"I put my headphones on and I start dancing, I start enjoying what I'm doing,” she says. “If I have to listen to music and dance my way through it, I'm doing it. If I talk to random people for motivation, I'm doing it … I guess the best time to do something is when we most don't want to.”

She begins the final segment: Six, eight-second hill sprints at maximal effort. She decides to cut it two sets short, saying her form is deteriorating and her hip isn’t feeling all too great. It’s probably a good call, seeing as it’s 3 p.m. and all she’s had today is some coffee.

Skeleton, for those uninitiated, is a winter sport that features a lone racer going headfirst down an icy track at 80 miles per hour. Women have been competing in the sport at the Olympic level since 2002, and Uhlaender has been in every Games since 2006.

One of skeleton’s complexities is its running start, which adds a training complexity.

"You want to be as lean as possible, as fast as possible and as strong as possible—all the things,” Uhlaender says with a laugh. “You want to be fast sprinting, but you have to be strong because you run bent over. It's like doing a bear crawl at top speed.”

Uhlaender is aiming to lose 10 pounds by the time the 2017-18 season starts in October. That means dietary changes (she says she’s learned that carbs are no longer the devil) and intense training (brushing her teeth at the end of an average day can feel like “a chore”).

Because speed and quickness are key for skeleton racers, Uhlaender says she always follows a slow exercise like squats or deadlifts with something quick. She explains that she wants her brain to understand that everything is supposed to be fast and powerful.

Over the years, Uhlaender has found success in a plethora of sports. She’s branched out to compete at the international level recently in both weightlifting and track cycling. Through those experiences, she has been able to incorporate wide-ranging lessons into her Olympic preparation.

“Olympic lifting is great for functional strength and movement,” she says. “It's something that works really well for me. I don't squat as much anymore because I have a great strength base. I've been training for 15 years.”

Most workouts, however, aren’t like this New York City street adventure. Uhlaender calls herself a perfectionist in her fitness regimen, recording everything and training at a high, consistent level—especially during the three weeks of steady building. It’s all part of a plan to stay healthy on her way toward the 2017-18 season and Olympic qualification.

The 2014 Winter Games were devastating for Uhlaender. She came up empty-handed, losing out on a bronze medal by four-hundredths of a second. She’ll admit that she’s still grappling with that loss to this day (the third-place winner remains under investigation for doping allegations, which has left just enough uncertainty to allow the issue to linger for years), but she says the result has served as a powerful motivator.

If she’s healthy, though, watch out. Uhlaender, a competitor in every sense of the word, isn’t about to slow down anytime soon—and she has a podium in sight.

This three-time Olympian is prepping for PyeongChang 2018 with workout on NYC streets

Katie Uhlaender crouches in the left-turn lane of W 58th St. and makes eye contact with the driver next to her. She cracks a smile, motioning toward the intersection to initiate a race. The driver declines the challenge, and Uhlaender sprints past—a red tangle of hair flying down the street.

It’s an 80-degree afternoon in New York City. Uhlaender, a three-time Olympian in skeleton who has her sights set on PyeongChang 2018, is midway through a recovery week that has conveniently fallen over the July 4 holiday. She’s in town for a job interview, but that won’t keep her from a workout.

The hotel parking garage was too cramped, though, so Uhlaender and her impromptu cameraman—a friend she made during hip surgery, the ninth operation of her career—find themselves on the sidewalk. It’ll do.

Uhlaender, who turns 33 on July 17, only travels during recovery weeks these days. It’s a grind now, just seven months away from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Her life has been based out of the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y., since the 2016–17 Skeleton World Cup ended in March. There’s structure there, along with food and housing. But with a new $15,000 sled on the horizon, Uhlaender is in town for a job interview at a advertising and production company.

But that’s not until Thursday. Today is Wednesday, and Uhlaender is just a veteran Olympian who has a very real shot at qualifying for the 2018 Winter Games.

Uhlaender, the daughter of former MLB player Ted Uhlaender, has segmented her Olympic training into four-week sections this year. She steadily builds for three weeks, then takes the fourth week at a reduced volume. These recovery weeks are often based on “perceived effort,” she says, where the intensity is there but not necessarily strict sets and programs.

"I'm going by feel,” she explains. “My hip was kinda strained after a hard few days so my goal is to get that to go away. I'm just gonna do enough this week. Normally I'd lift, but I'm going to maximize my recovery."

This workout begins with a 30-minute warmup of stretching, short sprints and some yoga. Then she takes to the sidewalk (and turning lane) for two sets of strides at sub-maximal effort.

She challenges a handful of construction workers to races. They decline, including one who is hauling bricks down the sidewalk. Uhlaender is disappointed. She thrives on the competition.

"Most people are scared to come work out with an Olympian,” she says. “Well, first of all, I'm not a track star. I'm far from it, just ask Lolo [Jones]. But I love running with people that are extremely fast. I'll run with all the guys, with Lolo, with Lauryn Williams—who crushed me—because there's something about pushing myself to be the best I can be. Even if I don't beat them, I feel really good running with them.”

In lieu of a challenger, Uhlaender decides to have some fun with her workout in the city.

"I put my headphones on and I start dancing, I start enjoying what I'm doing,” she says. “If I have to listen to music and dance my way through it, I'm doing it. If I talk to random people for motivation, I'm doing it … I guess the best time to do something is when we most don't want to.”

She begins the final segment: Six, eight-second hill sprints at maximal effort. She decides to cut it two sets short, saying her form is deteriorating and her hip isn’t feeling all too great. It’s probably a good call, seeing as it’s 3 p.m. and all she’s had today is some coffee.

Skeleton, for those uninitiated, is a winter sport that features a lone racer going headfirst down an icy track at 80 miles per hour. Women have been competing in the sport at the Olympic level since 2002, and Uhlaender has been in every Games since 2006.

One of skeleton’s complexities is its running start, which adds a training complexity.

"You want to be as lean as possible, as fast as possible and as strong as possible—all the things,” Uhlaender says with a laugh. “You want to be fast sprinting, but you have to be strong because you run bent over. It's like doing a bear crawl at top speed.”

Uhlaender is aiming to lose 10 pounds by the time the 2017-18 season starts in October. That means dietary changes (she says she’s learned that carbs are no longer the devil) and intense training (brushing her teeth at the end of an average day can feel like “a chore”).

Because speed and quickness are key for skeleton racers, Uhlaender says she always follows a slow exercise like squats or deadlifts with something quick. She explains that she wants her brain to understand that everything is supposed to be fast and powerful.

Over the years, Uhlaender has found success in a plethora of sports. She’s branched out to compete at the international level recently in both weightlifting and track cycling. Through those experiences, she has been able to incorporate wide-ranging lessons into her Olympic preparation.

“Olympic lifting is great for functional strength and movement,” she says. “It's something that works really well for me. I don't squat as much anymore because I have a great strength base. I've been training for 15 years.”

Most workouts, however, aren’t like this New York City street adventure. Uhlaender calls herself a perfectionist in her fitness regimen, recording everything and training at a high, consistent level—especially during the three weeks of steady building. It’s all part of a plan to stay healthy on her way toward the 2017-18 season and Olympic qualification.

The 2014 Winter Games were devastating for Uhlaender. She came up empty-handed, losing out on a bronze medal by four-hundredths of a second. She’ll admit that she’s still grappling with that loss to this day (the third-place winner remains under investigation for doping allegations, which has left just enough uncertainty to allow the issue to linger for years), but she says the result has served as a powerful motivator.

If she’s healthy, though, watch out. Uhlaender, a competitor in every sense of the word, isn’t about to slow down anytime soon—and she has a podium in sight.

Gatorade Athlete of the Year MacKenzie Gore enjoyed a baseball season of near perfection

MacKenzie Gore thought he could be great, but he did not know for sure. There was considerable hype surrounding the lefthander in tiny Whiteville, N.C., but Gore hadn’t spent much time facing the country’s top competition. He had delayed the start of serious travel ball by a year to stay in the legion league with his friends. He rarely got a look at a radar gun. To manage his workload, he didn’t pick up a baseball for months during the off-season and as a result, he’d thrown hundreds, if not thousands, of fewer pitches than most top players his age.

So the 2016 Perfect Game All-American Classic, held last summer at San Diego’s Petco Park, offered him a chance to find out how close he was to his goal of being the best amateur player in the country. In the fifth inning the Whiteville High rising senior took the mound, poised to mow down a collection of top hitting prospects. He went into his pretzel-like windup, right knee to his left armpit, right toes nearly in line with his hands . . . and then labored through a 39?pitch frame, surrendering two walks and a couple of runs.

Man, he realized as he trudged to the dugout. I’m not even the best player on the field today.

Gore had always been diligent, never missing a workout and practicing his delivery in his bedroom mirror each night. His coaches encouraged him to first learn finesse and control, promising he would add velocity as he matured. After the Petco outing Gore decided to accelerate the process. So—cue the Rocky montage—he added a daily weightlifting session, focusing on his lower body, and packed an extra 15 pounds onto his then 6' 1", 170-pound frame. He refined his delivery. He grew an inch.

Today he is the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year, the Baseball America high school player of the year and the No. 3 pick in the 2017 MLB draft. He’s collected so many awards that he’s started sharing them with his teammates. Though he asked to be excluded from consideration for a third state championship MVP in four years, Gore earned the plaque, posed with it, then handed it to the freshman who’d delivered the title-winning hit.

His statistics this season approached perfection: Gore allowed just two earned runs (in 74 1?3 innings) for an ERA of 0.19, whiffed hitters at a rate of 14.89 per seven innings and had as many walks (five) as complete games. Says Whiteville High coach Brett Harwood, “He’d strike out 13 and we’d say, Aw, he didn’t have his best stuff today.”

Gore also played first base and the outfield well enough, scouts say, to have gone in the third or fourth round as a position player. He once hit a ball so hard that the opposing rightfielder, without taking a step, turned and waved goodbye as it sailed over the fence.

But Gore’s future is on the mound. His fastball sits between 92 and 95 mph; it has touched 97. He also mixes in a curve, slider, and changeup. Last month the Padres signed him for $6.7 million, the largest bonus in franchise history. San Diego will start recouping its money before Gore ever throws a pitch for the Padres: Whiteville’s two sporting goods stores immediately placed orders for Padres gear to display alongside their Braves merchandise.

* * *

Thirty years ago tobacco plants seemed to stretch from downtown Whiteville (pop. 5,601) to the horizon. But as the industry declined, the town did, too; farmers struggled to make do with corn, soybeans and sweet potatoes, while their children left for nearby Wilmington or Raleigh. Civic pride is especially meaningful in a place like this, where nearly everyone knows MacKenzie Gore from church or from seeing him stocking shelves at McNeill’s Pharmacy.

The town ground to a halt this spring whenever Gore took the mound. Harwood fielded so many questions about scheduling that he finally declared that Gore would just pitch every Tuesday. The local youth leagues cancelled their games the day of his last home start, and school let out at 11:30 a.m. on the opener of the state tournament—the baseball and softball teams both qualified—so fans could beat the traffic on the drive to Raleigh. An enterprising burglar could have made a fortune by checking the playoff schedule; Gore’s postseason starts drew nearly 20% of the town.

Pint-sized Whiteville pitchers with exaggerated leg kicks are on the rise. Even Gore’s mother, Selena, uses MacKenzie as a model, telling her fifth-grade students, “You have to do your homework before you play. MacKenzie does his.” Gore signed autographs after outings for clusters of wide-eyed local elementary-schoolers—and then, at road playoff games, for kids in opposing team colors.

It would be tempting to say that he sees himself in them, but when he was their age, MacKenzie couldn’t have been less interested in baseball. T-ball had bored him in preschool, and at age eight he insisted he wanted to play soccer. All your friends are playing baseball this year, his parents cajoled. You’re going to be lonely. If you hate it, you can quit.

Fine, MacKenzie agreed. I’ll play if I can quit. That was the last time they heard that word. Selena and her husband, Evan, knew their boy had found a home on the mound, at 11. He threw a strike—and stopped to clap for himself.

Since then the applause has come from others. Even in the community Sport magazine dubbed Baseball Town USA in the 1980s amid a string of state championships and first-round draft picks, no one had seen anything like the commotion surrounding Gore. He worked in obscurity early in high school because he had eschewed the showcase circuit, but after he no-hit the top seed in the playoffs as a freshman, the seats behind home plate began to fill with college coaches. He met with UNC, Clemson and Virginia, but signed with East Carolina the summer after his sophomore year.

The circus got bigger as scouts began paying attention before teams with later picks realized they were wasting their time. The Gores’ home phone rang nonstop. In an attempt to keep dinnertime sacred for MacKenzie and his sisters, Meredith and Lexie, the family relocated the traditional home visits to Harwood’s office during MacKenzie’s lunch period.

To outsiders Gore’s unruffled demeanor was surprising: He was a rock star, the unquestioned leader of a team on which he was not only the best player but also the only senior, and a young man whose future rested on his ability to perform at his peak while a hundred adults studied him for flaws. Yet his main concern was that if he missed his midnight curfew, he would lose car privileges. “Part of what makes him great,” says Hammond, “is handling the mental part.”

East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin, in a phrase borrowed from Bill Belichick, tells his players to “ignore the noise.” No one heeded that more than Gore. (After yet another 97?mph heater, the coach would text Gore: “MacKenzie, you need to back off that a little bit if you’re going to come to East Carolina!”) Godwin checked in regularly about Gore’s outings and the scouting attention and was unsurprised when, after a mock draft placed the lefty in the top 10, Gore shrugged. “They’re not the ones picking,” he said of the analysts.

When the Wolfpack lost in the Class 1A finals his junior year, Gore blamed himself for the team not having the right mix of calm and intensity and vowed to remember that his teammates were studying him for cues. Early in his senior season, while Hammond’s heart raced as his ace warmed up in front of scouts, Gore just grinned. “This is fun,” he said.

That attitude has already helped him adapt to life in Phoenix, where he joined his rookie-level team. Aside from the new coaches and more advanced hitters, Gore will also have to adjust to the relative anonymity of minor league life. If he ever misses being a celebrity, he can check in with the citizens of Whiteville. “They’ll probably give him the key to the city soon,” says Godwin. “If he has the career we expect, they’ll probably name the town after him.”

Gore’s goal is simpler. Next time he takes the mound at Petco Park, he wants to pitch well enough to make that last inning a distant memory.

Gatorade Athlete of the Year MacKenzie Gore enjoyed a baseball season of near perfection

MacKenzie Gore thought he could be great, but he did not know for sure. There was considerable hype surrounding the lefthander in tiny Whiteville, N.C., but Gore hadn’t spent much time facing the country’s top competition. He had delayed the start of serious travel ball by a year to stay in the legion league with his friends. He rarely got a look at a radar gun. To manage his workload, he didn’t pick up a baseball for months during the off-season and as a result, he’d thrown hundreds, if not thousands, of fewer pitches than most top players his age.

So the 2016 Perfect Game All-American Classic, held last summer at San Diego’s Petco Park, offered him a chance to find out how close he was to his goal of being the best amateur player in the country. In the fifth inning the Whiteville High rising senior took the mound, poised to mow down a collection of top hitting prospects. He went into his pretzel-like windup, right knee to his left armpit, right toes nearly in line with his hands . . . and then labored through a 39?pitch frame, surrendering two walks and a couple of runs.

Man, he realized as he trudged to the dugout. I’m not even the best player on the field today.

Gore had always been diligent, never missing a workout and practicing his delivery in his bedroom mirror each night. His coaches encouraged him to first learn finesse and control, promising he would add velocity as he matured. After the Petco outing Gore decided to accelerate the process. So—cue the Rocky montage—he added a daily weightlifting session, focusing on his lower body, and packed an extra 15 pounds onto his then 6' 1", 170-pound frame. He refined his delivery. He grew an inch.

Today he is the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year, the Baseball America high school player of the year and the No. 3 pick in the 2017 MLB draft. He’s collected so many awards that he’s started sharing them with his teammates. Though he asked to be excluded from consideration for a third state championship MVP in four years, Gore earned the plaque, posed with it, then handed it to the freshman who’d delivered the title-winning hit.

His statistics this season approached perfection: Gore allowed just two earned runs (in 74 1?3 innings) for an ERA of 0.19, whiffed hitters at a rate of 14.89 per seven innings and had as many walks (five) as complete games. Says Whiteville High coach Brett Harwood, “He’d strike out 13 and we’d say, Aw, he didn’t have his best stuff today.”

Gore also played first base and the outfield well enough, scouts say, to have gone in the third or fourth round as a position player. He once hit a ball so hard that the opposing rightfielder, without taking a step, turned and waved goodbye as it sailed over the fence.

But Gore’s future is on the mound. His fastball sits between 92 and 95 mph; it has touched 97. He also mixes in a curve, slider, and changeup. Last month the Padres signed him for $6.7 million, the largest bonus in franchise history. San Diego will start recouping its money before Gore ever throws a pitch for the Padres: Whiteville’s two sporting goods stores immediately placed orders for Padres gear to display alongside their Braves merchandise.

* * *

Thirty years ago tobacco plants seemed to stretch from downtown Whiteville (pop. 5,601) to the horizon. But as the industry declined, the town did, too; farmers struggled to make do with corn, soybeans and sweet potatoes, while their children left for nearby Wilmington or Raleigh. Civic pride is especially meaningful in a place like this, where nearly everyone knows MacKenzie Gore from church or from seeing him stocking shelves at McNeill’s Pharmacy.

The town ground to a halt this spring whenever Gore took the mound. Harwood fielded so many questions about scheduling that he finally declared that Gore would just pitch every Tuesday. The local youth leagues cancelled their games the day of his last home start, and school let out at 11:30 a.m. on the opener of the state tournament—the baseball and softball teams both qualified—so fans could beat the traffic on the drive to Raleigh. An enterprising burglar could have made a fortune by checking the playoff schedule; Gore’s postseason starts drew nearly 20% of the town.

Pint-sized Whiteville pitchers with exaggerated leg kicks are on the rise. Even Gore’s mother, Selena, uses MacKenzie as a model, telling her fifth-grade students, “You have to do your homework before you play. MacKenzie does his.” Gore signed autographs after outings for clusters of wide-eyed local elementary-schoolers—and then, at road playoff games, for kids in opposing team colors.

It would be tempting to say that he sees himself in them, but when he was their age, MacKenzie couldn’t have been less interested in baseball. T-ball had bored him in preschool, and at age eight he insisted he wanted to play soccer. All your friends are playing baseball this year, his parents cajoled. You’re going to be lonely. If you hate it, you can quit.

Fine, MacKenzie agreed. I’ll play if I can quit. That was the last time they heard that word. Selena and her husband, Evan, knew their boy had found a home on the mound, at 11. He threw a strike—and stopped to clap for himself.

Since then the applause has come from others. Even in the community Sport magazine dubbed Baseball Town USA in the 1980s amid a string of state championships and first-round draft picks, no one had seen anything like the commotion surrounding Gore. He worked in obscurity early in high school because he had eschewed the showcase circuit, but after he no-hit the top seed in the playoffs as a freshman, the seats behind home plate began to fill with college coaches. He met with UNC, Clemson and Virginia, but signed with East Carolina the summer after his sophomore year.

The circus got bigger as scouts began paying attention before teams with later picks realized they were wasting their time. The Gores’ home phone rang nonstop. In an attempt to keep dinnertime sacred for MacKenzie and his sisters, Meredith and Lexie, the family relocated the traditional home visits to Harwood’s office during MacKenzie’s lunch period.

To outsiders Gore’s unruffled demeanor was surprising: He was a rock star, the unquestioned leader of a team on which he was not only the best player but also the only senior, and a young man whose future rested on his ability to perform at his peak while a hundred adults studied him for flaws. Yet his main concern was that if he missed his midnight curfew, he would lose car privileges. “Part of what makes him great,” says Hammond, “is handling the mental part.”

East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin, in a phrase borrowed from Bill Belichick, tells his players to “ignore the noise.” No one heeded that more than Gore. (After yet another 97?mph heater, the coach would text Gore: “MacKenzie, you need to back off that a little bit if you’re going to come to East Carolina!”) Godwin checked in regularly about Gore’s outings and the scouting attention and was unsurprised when, after a mock draft placed the lefty in the top 10, Gore shrugged. “They’re not the ones picking,” he said of the analysts.

When the Wolfpack lost in the Class 1A finals his junior year, Gore blamed himself for the team not having the right mix of calm and intensity and vowed to remember that his teammates were studying him for cues. Early in his senior season, while Hammond’s heart raced as his ace warmed up in front of scouts, Gore just grinned. “This is fun,” he said.

That attitude has already helped him adapt to life in Phoenix, where he joined his rookie-level team. Aside from the new coaches and more advanced hitters, Gore will also have to adjust to the relative anonymity of minor league life. If he ever misses being a celebrity, he can check in with the citizens of Whiteville. “They’ll probably give him the key to the city soon,” says Godwin. “If he has the career we expect, they’ll probably name the town after him.”

Gore’s goal is simpler. Next time he takes the mound at Petco Park, he wants to pitch well enough to make that last inning a distant memory.

*Running back* Saquon Barkley’s now broken a Penn State weightlifting record

Jon Gruden's son wins gold at IPF World Classic Powerlifting Championships

Jon Gruden's 23-year-old son Deuce won a gold medal at the IPF World Classic Powerlifing Championships in Belarus, according to Neeta Sreekanth of ESPN.com.

Deuce Gruden serves as a strength and conditioning assistant for the Washington Redskins. He previously played football at Lafayette College, where he reportedly owned every weightlifting record at the school.

At the USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals, Gruden bench-pressed 402 pounds and dead-lifted 633 pounds.

“I took pride in trying to be as strong as I could," the elder Jon Gruden told the L.A. Times. "I never got anywhere in the same zip code as this guy. His mother is a physical-fitness freak. Weightlifting to Deuce is like football to me.”

International Weightlifting Federation President Tamas Ajan of Hungary speaks during a news conference at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

FILE PHOTO - International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) President Tamas Ajan of Hungary speaks during a news conference at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Yves Herman (CHINA)

Weightlifting Fairy's Lee Sung-kyung brings her ‘swag’ to Singapore

Weightlifting Fairy's Lee Sung-kyung brings her ‘swag’ to Singapore

Weightlifting Fairy's Lee Sung-kyung brings her ‘swag’ to Singapore

Weightlifting Fairy's Lee Sung-kyung brings her ‘swag’ to Singapore

4th Islamic Solidarity Games

Ivan Efremov of Uzbekistan competes in the Men’s Weighlifting 105 kg finals during day three of Baku 2017 – 4th Islamic Solidarity Games at Weightlifting Arena. on May 17, 2017 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Microsoft Theater

Weightlifting at Microsoft Theater is shown in this Downtown Sports Park rendering. (Photo: Courtesy LA 2024)

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