Mary Cain

Mary Cain turns pro at 17

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U.S. middle distance phenom Mary Cain will not run collegiately.

Cain, 17, turned professional, she announced Friday.

“For the past couple of months, my family and I have been debating whether I should compete at a collegiate or professional level going forward,” Cain said, according to a press release. “I have decided, and am truly excited to announce, that I will be turning pro. I believe that, in the long run, this is the best way for me continue to develop as an athlete.”

It’s not a surprising move for the youngest American to make a World Championships team. Cain took 10th in the 1,500m in Moscow in August as the youngest woman ever to start a worlds final.

Cain turned pro earlier than previous U.S. running prodigies. Allyson Felix, who won an Olympic silver medal at 18, competed as a senior in high school. Alan Webb, who broke Jim Ryun‘s age-group records in high school from 1999-2001, turned pro at 19.

A younger U.S. runner has Cain beat in that department, though.

High school junior Alana Hadley qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials earlier this month by running 2 hours, 41 minutes, 56 seconds at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on Nov. 2.

Cain, a senior at Bronxville (N.Y.) High, is in Monaco for the IAAF World Athletics Gala. She will still go to college, her father said, but will not be eligible to compete in NCAA competitions.

“How to proceed was always going to be a difficult choice,” said Cain’s father, Charles, according to a press release. “Mary is a straight-A student and will be pursuing a college education while competing. This remains a priority and we think this approach is the best way to balance her educational and athletic goals.”

Cain is coached by Alberto Salazar, who also coaches Olympic champion Mo Farah and Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp in Oregon.

Cain’s agent will be Ricky Simms, who also represents Farah and Usain Bolt.

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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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