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A day in the life of Beacon, the therapy dog at U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials - ESPN

MINNEAPOLIS — It's just past 10 on Friday night and the Target Center, packed to near capacity an hour ago, falls quiet as one of USA Gymnastics' busiest volunteers makes his way toward an exit. Beacon, a 4-year-old golden retriever, is the organization's first therapy dog and its only part-time, four-legged staff member. He wears a credential, travels to important meets such as the Olympic trials and holds the title of USAG's «Goodest Boy.»

Tonight, Beacon is wiped. He has spent a long day comforting athletes and coaches, calming members of the women's national team before their first night of competition at the Olympic trials, and providing them a belly to rub and gentle face licks after a heart-wrenching meet that saw injuries to two of the country's top prospects.

«He's tired now,» Tracey Callahan Molnar, Beacon's handler and a former gymnast and coach who's never more than a 5-foot leash away, said. «I think we did important work. It was a rough night for some of the gymnasts, and I think Beacon helped celebrate the good stuff and be there and give support for the challenges.»

Those started before the meet did. Shilese Jones, a two-time world champion who was considered a lock to make the team, was injured during vault warmups. After landing a double-twisting Yurchenko, she grabbed her left knee and was helped out of the arena by her coach, Sarah Korngold, and national team technical lead Chellsie Memmel. She returned to compete on uneven bars and earned the highest score of the night, but scratched from the other events and her status on Sunday is uncertain.

Not long after, Kayla DiCello, a 2021 alternate who has looked as promising as anyone recently, led off the meet on vault. She landed awkwardly, sat down on