World record 800m runner David Rudisha will be sidelined for about three weeks after suffering an injury while running New York’s Central Park.
“[Rudisha] was jogging inside Central Park when he realized something was the matter with his knee,” his coach Colm O’Connell told Reuters Tuesday. “Two initial investigations were done, first in the USA and also in Germany, and we decided that he takes a three-week rest.”
Even though Rudisha is unable to run at this week’s Kenyan national championships in Nairobi due to the injury, his dominance of the 800m over the last few years, including a world record of 1:40.91 in London and a 2013 world’s best in Doha last month, is expect to earn him an automatic selection for August’s world championships via wildcard.
“He does not need to run at the trials to be selected for [worlds]. He will only run if he feels comfortable,” O’Connell added. “We were already panicking, but we were assured by medical specialists after the second scan that he does not need an operation. But he needs between two to three weeks to rest.”
Of course, Kenya is also the country that left the world record marathoner Patrick Makau off its London Olympic team, but it seems Rudisha fans can rest assured that he won’t meet the same fate:
“We really need him in the team to Moscow because of his experience and attitude,” Athletics Kenya’s vice president David Okeyo explained. “We hope he recovers in time.”
French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron broke their own world record scores in the last major competition before the Olympics.
Papadakis and Cizeron totaled 203.16 points with 121.87 in Saturday’s free dance at the European Championships, both new bests, in Moscow.
Full results are here. NBCSN will air coverage Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.
The French go into the Olympics as favorites over Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won all three of their head-to-heads last season.
But the French finally overcame the 2010 Olympic champions Virtue and Moir at December’s Grand Prix Final.
Virtue and Moir rank No. 2 under an eight-year-old ice dance system with a personal best of 199.86 points.
Papadakis and Cizeron became the youngest world champions in ice dance in 40 years in 2015, then repeated as world champs in 2016.
Virtue and Moir returned after two years off for the 2016-17 season and went undefeated, including dethroning the French at worlds.
Three U.S. couples are the top contenders for the Olympic bronze medal.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White have not competed since becoming the first U.S. Olympic ice dance champions in Sochi.
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Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless, oiled-up Tongan flag bearer from the Rio Games, said he qualified for the PyeongChang Olympics in cross-country skiing on Saturday.
“This was my last race possible, and we did it,” Taufatofua said in an interview with Olympic Channel, which also reported that he qualified. “This is a miracle.”
Taufatofua said he qualified at the final weekend of the Olympic qualifying period in Iceland, which is more than 9,000 miles from his home archipelago.
The last two events before qualification ends were Saturday’s freestyle race and a classic race scheduled for Sunday. Saturday’s results have not been posted yet.
Taufatofua completed a journey this season that included races in Colombia, Turkey, Poland and Armenia.
Taufatofua said he had seven chances to qualify for PyeongChang before Saturday and failed in all of them, finishing last each time (The official results show Taufatofua beating skiers from Malaysia and Mexico in some of these races.).
Taufatofua scrambled to make it to Iceland from Croatia this week. He said his group drove three days through a blizzard, an avalanche closing off the road at one point.
“People don’t see the hard work that goes behind,” he said. “They just see the shiny guy that walks with the flag.”
Taufatofua lost his opening Olympic taekwondo match by mercy rule in Rio, two weeks after his viral appearance in the Opening Ceremony.
He announced in December 2016 that he was switching to cross-country skiing in a bid for PyeongChang.
Cross-country, while a physically taxing pursuit, is one of the easier Winter Olympic sports to gain qualification for athletes from nations without much Winter Games history.
“I decided to find the hardest sport possible because I needed a new challenge,” Taufatofua said. “The goal was to do it one year, and we did it.”
Taufatofua debuted at the 2017 World Championships and was 153rd of 156 finishers in the 1.6km sprint freestyle.
It took Taufatofua 5 minutes, 44.72 seconds to complete the course in Lahti, Finland, which was about 10,000 miles from Tonga. The top qualifier clocked 3:11.72.
How will he dress at the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony, where outdoor temperatures are likely to be below freezing?
“One step at a time,” Taufatofua said. “Right now, I just want to go and party. I destroyed myself just to get here.”
In 2014, Bruno Banani became the first Tongan to compete at a Winter Olympics, placing 32nd in men’s luge. He was later the subject of a documentary.
Banani gained fame starting in early 2012, when the story of his name was widely publicized. Banani’s real name is Fuahea Semi, but he changed it to the name of his German clothing sponsor as a marketing ploy.
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