Great Britain hockey aims for first Olympics since 1948

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After losing to South Korea, 5-4, in a shootout Friday, the British ice hockey team rallied with wins against Romania (3-0) on Saturday and Japan  (2-1) on Sunday to earn a spot in February’s Olympic qualification tournament in Germany.

British teammates Craig Peacock and Ben O’Connor each scored goals during a 30-second window in the first period to help the team out to an early 2-0 lead, and then relied on goaltender Stephen Murphy and his 21 saves to hold off Japan’s offensive attack.

“We just had to make sure that we kept to our strengths,” British captain Jonathan Phillips told the AP after victory against Group J tournament host Japan. “We felt we were bigger and stronger, so we just had to get the puck deep and work the boards which we did well in the first period and that was the deciding factor.”

The British team is aiming to qualify for its first Olympics since the 1948 Games, when it finished fifth. Great Britain hasn’t won a medal since they shocked the world by take home gold at the 1936 Games, which was actually the first time they ever put a “British born” team on the ice. They had previously won bronze in 1924 after poaching Canadian soldiers and university students for the team.

Netherlands and Ukraine also won its groups over the weekend to advance in qualification.

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon

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Watch the world’s best distance runners chase world records at the London Marathon, live on NBCSN and commercial free on the NBC Sports Gold “Track and Field Pass” for subscribers on Sunday at 3:30 a.m. ET.

NBCSN coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon
NBCSN coverage — STREAM LINK
NBC Sports Gold commercial free — STREAM LINK

Sunday’s race start times (ET)
3:55 – Elite Wheelchair Races
4:00 – World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup ambulant races
4:15 – Elite Women’s Race
5:00 – Elite Men’s Race, Mass Race

The men’s field features arguably the two greatest distance runners of all time — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

Kipchoge, the Rio Olympic marathon champ, ran the fastest marathon ever recorded — 2:00:25 in Nike’s sub-two-hour attempt last May in non-record-eligible conditions.

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history under legal conditions, having run six seconds shy of Kenyan Dennis Kimetto‘s world record of 2:02:57 from 2014.

In the women’s race, Kenyan Mary Keitany, already the world-record holder in a women’s-only race, looks to take down Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s world record with male pacers set in London 15 years ago. That time is 2:15:25.

Keitany is challenged by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, the third-fastest female marathoner in history behind Keitany and Radcliffe.

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Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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