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

Ragan Smith, after watching in Rio, leads P&G Championships

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Ragan Smith could do nothing more than watch in Rio as the Final Five dominated. The roles reversed at the P&G Championships on Friday night.

Smith, a Rio Olympic alternate, easily topped the all-around standings on the first of two nights of competition that will determine national champions.

Oh, and Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez were among those in the Honda Center crowd in Anaheim.

It’s the beginning of a new era for U.S. women’s gymnastics. None of the Rio Olympians are competing this weekend, but all five could come back for a Tokyo 2020 run.

For now, the spotlight is on Smith.

“It’s kind of nice, like, having a new generation coming up,” Smith, who is coached by 1992 Olympic bronze medalist Kim Zmeskal Burdette, said on NBCSN. “I think it’s a little less pressure, but I still kind of feel like it’s the same because I had no idea what was going to happen last year.”

The 17-year-old Texan leads by 1.3 points over Riley McCusker going into the final day Sunday (7 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app). Full scores are here. A four-woman team for October’s world championships will be named after a camp later this summer.

Smith overcame minor flaws on her first routine — uneven bars — and more significant ones on her next — balance beam. A solid floor exercise and vault gave her a first-day lead six tenths shy of Biles’ average margin from 2013 through 2016.

The second- and third-highest scores Friday actually came from the earlier junior division. With no team event at this year’s worlds, senior depth is less necessary.

Smith, after just missing the Rio Olympic team in her first year as a senior gymnast, won the AT&T American Cup on March 4 despite a beam fall. That made her the favorite this week.

The rest of the field — with no Olympians for the first time since 2008 — could not keep pace Friday. Smith’s top challengers coming in were McCusker and Morgan Hurd.

McCusker, who shares a coach with Hernandez, reeled back some difficulty. She was on crutches with a cast on her wrist in early July.

Hurd, a first-year senior who competes in glasses, took two out-of-bounds steps and sat down on back-to-back floor exercise passes.

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Simone Biles says she’s back in the gym (video)

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Simone Biles is back in the gym.

In between giggles, Biles said she returned to the gym two weeks ago in an NBCSN interview at the P&G Championships in Anaheim on Friday night.

“I actually started, like, two Fridays ago,” Biles said. “I’m weak. But I’m coming back. I’m just doing conditioning and basics right now.”

Biles last competed at the Rio Olympics, winning five medals, including four golds, for the greatest single-Games medal haul by a female gymnast in nearly three decades. That came after Biles swept every U.S. and world all-around title in that four-year Olympic cycle.

The 20-year-old said late last year and early this year that she planned to return to training in late 2017 or early 2018 with an eye on Tokyo 2020.

“It’s OK to sit out one [year],” Biles said. “I can’t imagine being out on the floor now.”

Biles has not set a return to competition. Her longtime coach, Aimee Boorman, moved from Texas to Florida after Rio.

If Biles makes the Tokyo 2020 team, she can attempt to become the first woman to repeat as Olympic all-around champion since the late Czech Věra Čáslavská in 1964 and 1968.

Gabby Douglas attempted this feat in Rio but did not qualify for the all-around final.

Douglas said earlier this month that she has not decided whether she will return to competition.

Aly Raisman said in September that she plans to return to training after taking 2017 off. Laurie Hernandez said she hopes to go for 2020 but has not set a return to training.

Madison Kocian is the lone member of the Olympic team who has competed since Rio, but it wasn’t on the elite stage. The Texan did a full freshman season for UCLA with a torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff in her shoulder.

Kocian said in June that she has not decided if she will return to elite gymnastics.

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P&G CHAMPS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
TV Schedule | Final Five Updates