Mo Farah

Mo Farah on sub-2-hour marathon, athletes changing countries, Usain Bolt race

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British distance-running great Mo Farah made headlines two weeks ago when he said he was “considering the feasibility” of a marathon being run in under two hours.

That didn’t mean Farah thought he could be the first sub-two man. Far from it.

“For me to say I can run under two hours is ridiculous,” Farah, the Olympic and world champion in the 5000m and 10,000m told the BBC. “My goals are to run the London Marathon and do the best that I can.”

The marathon world record is 2 hours, three minutes and 23 seconds, set by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang at the Berlin Marathon last month. The previous mark was also set in Berlin, Patrick Makau‘s 2:03:38 in 2011.

Kenyan Dennis Kimetto flirted with the world record at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, winning in 2:03:45.

Farah plans to make his 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 13. He told the BBC his time goal is to get close to the British record of 2:07.13 set by Steve Jones of Wales in Chicago in 1985.

“I think in years to come (sub-two hours) is doable, but not in the first marathon,” Farah said.

Farah was also asked about England soccer player Jack Wilshere‘s comments about athletes’ nationalities.

“The only people who should play for England are English people,” Wilshere said last week. “If you live in England for five years it doesn’t make you English. If I went to Spain and lived there for five years I am not going to play for Spain.”

Farah was born in Somalia to a British father and moved to England at age 8. He trains in Oregon but has always competed for Great Britain.

“There’s people out there who switch nationality,” Farah told the BBC. “There’s Kenyan guys who last year or two years ago were running for Kenya and then they switched to Qatar and Bahrain and other countries. Yes I do have a problem with that.”

One of Farah’s 5000m rivals, Bernard Lagat, competed for Kenya at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and then the U.S. at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Farah also told Sky Sports he has yet to decide if he will compete at the Commonwealth Games in July and August. That’s a slight departure from a Telegraph report last week that Farah wanted to compete in both the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships, but probably just one event in both.

“I don’t even know if I’m going to do it, the Commonwealths or the Europeans,” Farah told Sky Sports. “It all depends how I come off the marathon, it’s totally different from the track.”

Farah also addressed the potential charity race between him and Usain Bolt.

“I don’t know, we’re still working on that,” he told Sky Sports. “Hopefully it will happen at some point. It would be good for charity but I don’t know if it will happen in one year, two years or whenever.

“It’s just something I said out of the blue – ‘it would be great to do it for charity!’ And now it’s gone worldwide.”

Farah’s training fist fight on Christmas

Curling siblings secure mixed doubles Olympic quota spot for U.S.

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The United States will be represented when mixed doubles curling makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang, thanks, in part, to the performance of siblings Becca and Matt Hamilton at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.

Although the Hamiltons finished well off the podium in 10th, their work, coupled with a third place finish at the 2016 World Championships by Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson, is all the U.S. needed to lock in an Olympic spot for 2018. The bronze won by Polo and Peterson in 2016 was the first time the United States had won a world championship medal in mixed doubles curling, according to TeamUSA.org.

The Hamiltons opened the 2017 World Championships with a perfect 7-0 record through pool play, but a 6-5 loss to Finland in a match that needed extra ends took them out of contention for a medal. Wins against Hungary and Italy moved them into position to get the necessary points to land the Olympic quota spot. In their final match at the 2017 Worlds the Hamiltons fell to Russia, 5-7.

At the top of the 2017 World Championship final standings, Switzerland won the gold, Canada took silver and China left with bronze.

The eight mixed doubles team field set to compete in PyeongChang includes China, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, United States, Norway, Finland and hosts Korea. Curling begins in PyeongChang on February 8, 2018, one day ahead of the Opening Ceremony, with competition lasting throughout the entire span of the Olympic Games.

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President of National Olympic Committees association leaves FIFA post amid bribery claims

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GENEVA (AP) — FIFA Council member Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of Kuwait is resigning from his soccer roles under pressure from allegations in an American federal court that he bribed Asian officials.

Sheikh Ahmad said Sunday in a statement he will withdraw from a May 8 election in Bahrain for the FIFA seat representing Asia, which he currently holds.

“I do not want these allegations to create divisions or distract attention from the upcoming AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and FIFA Congresses,” said the Kuwaiti royal, who denies any wrongdoing.

“Therefore, after careful consideration, I have decided it is in the best interests of FIFA and the AFC, for me to withdraw my candidacy for the FIFA Council and resign from my current football positions,” he said.

The long-time Olympic Council of Asia president contacted the ethics panels of FIFA and the IOC after the allegations were made in Brooklyn federal courthouse on Thursday.

FIFA audit committee member Richard Lai, an American citizen from Guam, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges related to taking around $1 million in bribes, including from Kuwaiti officials. The cash was to buy influence and help recruit other Asian soccer officials prepared to take bribes, Lai said in court.

Sheikh Ahmad resigned his candidacy ahead of a FIFA panel deciding whether to remove him on ethical grounds.

The FIFA Review Committee, which rules on the integrity of people seeking senior FIFA positions, has been studying the sheikh’s candidacy since the allegations emerged, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.

The FIFA ethics committee is making a separate assessment of whether to provisionally suspend the sheikh, a long-time leader of Kuwait’s soccer federation who was elected to FIFA’s ruling committee in 2015.

Resigning from his soccer positions does not necessarily put Sheikh Ahmad out of reach of FIFA ethics prosecutors and judges if any action was taken.

In 2012, former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar was banned for life by the ethics committee days after he resigned.

Bin Hammam was also clearly identified in Lai’s court hearing for having paid Lai a total of $100,000 in bribes to support the Qatari’s failed challenge to FIFA’s then-president Sepp Blatter in 2011. Bin Hammam was removed from that election contest in a Caribbean bribery case.

Sheikh Ahmad has also contacted the IOC’s ethics commission about the allegations against him, the IOC said on Saturday.

As president since 2012 of the global group of national Olympic bodies, known as ANOC, Sheikh Ahmad’s support has often been cited as key to winning Olympic election and hosting awards. The sheikh was widely credited for helping Thomas Bach win the IOC presidency in 2013.

Although Sheikh Ahmad was not named in Department of Justice and court documents last week, he has become one of the most significant casualties of the sprawling U.S. federal investigation of bribery and corruption in international soccer revealed two years ago.

The sheikh could be identified in a transcript of Lai’s court hearing which said “co-conspirator #2 was also the president of Olympic Council of Asia.” Sheikh Ahmad has been OCA president since 1991.

Co-conspirator #3 was described as having a “high-ranking” role at OCA, and also linked to the Kuwait soccer federation.

According to the published transcript, Lai claimed he “received at least $770,000 in wire transfers from accounts associated with Co-Conspirator #3 and the OCA between November of 2009 and about the fall of 2014.”

“I understood that the source of this money was ultimately Co-Conspirator #2 and on some occasion Co-Conspirator #3 told me to send him an email saying that I need funds so he could show the email to Co-Conspirator #2,” Lai said in court.

Lai admitted that he agreed to help recruit other Asian officials that voted in FIFA elections who would help Kuwait’s interests.

The Guam soccer federation leader since 2001, Lai pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. He agreed to pay more than $1.1 million in forfeiture and penalties, and will be sentenced at a later date.

The American federal investigation of corruption linked to FIFA has indicted or taken guilty pleas from more than 40 people and marketing agencies linked to soccer in the Americas since 2015.

Lai’s case marked the first major step into Asia, and suggests other soccer officials potentially recruited by the Kuwait faction could be targeted.

The Asian election for FIFA seats on May 8 in Manama, Bahrain, is the same day as a FIFA Council meeting which the sheik will not attend. The FIFA congress is held in the city three days later.

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