Meb Keflezighi

Boston Marathon announces elite U.S. field

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One of the most anticipated marathons in recent memory will include a bevy of American star distance runners.

2004 Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan headline the list announced Tuesday.

The 118th Boston Marathon will be April 21, 2014, and will mark a return to the site of bombings that rocked one of the great 26.2-mile races last year.

Keflezighi and Flanagan will be joined by three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein and 2012 Olympians Desi Davila and Amy Hastings. The full elite U.S. field list is here.

Flanagan, who grew up in Marblehead, Mass., was the top American at last year’s Boston Marathon in fourth.

“In my career, I’ve never felt my running take on a more personal meaning than it will to prepare for this year’s race,” Flanagan said in a press release. “The 2014 Boston Marathon will be run with overwhelming honor, passion and joy. Each step we take closer to the finish line is a victory in and of itself. It’s hard to express what it means to return this particular year to the place where I grew up and compete. In one word, I guess it would be ‘pride’. I and many in the field will be fueled by those who were affected by the tragedy and will be running for those who can not.”

Also in the field is Jason Hartmann, the top U.S. men’s finisher each of the last two years. He was fourth both times.

“I had the opportunity to become part of the historic legacy the past two years,” Hartmann said in a press release. “And now I look forward to running the Boston Marathon to improve upon my past performances. My expectations are for me to leave it all out on the course, no matter the elements.”

The international field is expected to be announced later this month.

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Laurie Hernandez eyes return to competition in 2018

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NEW YORK – Laurie Hernandez hardly considers her 14 months away from competitive gymnastics a break.

Since earning Olympic team gold and balance beam silver in Rio, the 17-year-old won “Dancing with the Stars,” authored a book and even enrolled in ballet lessons.

But her most rewarding experience has been speaking at schools. Students have asked her seemingly every question, from when she started taking gymnastics classes (age 5) to whether she climbed trees when she was younger (yes, all the time).

Seeing how many children were inspired by her Rio performance motivated Hernandez as she prepares to return to the sport.

“I didn’t realize at the Olympics how many people were truly watching,” Hernandez said Wednesday night at the annual Women’s Sports Foundation Salute to Women in Sports. “Now I’m excited to get back into the gym.”

Hernandez recently added handstand holds, back tucks and front flips to her conditioning program, in addition to continuing to run and lift weights.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s fine,” she said. “I’ll push it a little more after the holidays.”

She has her eye on returning to competition in 2018.

“That’s definitely the hope,” Hernandez said. “I’m not going to rush anything, but I would love to compete in 2018.”

Hernandez, who said her next goal in gymnastics is to compete at the world championships for the first time and hopefully the 2020 Olympics, has not yet identified her comeback meet.

She noted that Aly Raisman took more than two years off after the London Olympics.

“I know every athlete is different,” Hernandez said. “But I wouldn’t mind following in her footsteps.”

Simone Biles, who has not competed since winning four gold medals in Rio, recently announced that she plans on returning to full-time training Nov. 1 and competition next summer.

“I look up to her, even though we are teammates,” Hernandez said. “I can’t wait to see her out there, but hopefully I’ll be out there with her soon.”

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Olympic cycling champion running for Congress

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Olympic cycling gold medalist Marty Nothstein is the latest to announce he’s running for the eastern Pennsylvania congressional seat being vacated by fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Dent.

Dent, a former state senator, is a centrist Republican who has held the seat since 2005. He’s retiring after his term expires next year.

Nothstein, who won sprint silver in 1996 and gold in 2000, is the only American track cyclist to win an Olympic title at a fully attended Games.

Two Republican state representatives, Ryan Mackenzie and Justin Simmons, previously announced they’re running for Dent’s 15th District seat.

Democrat Bill Leiner, a former Lehigh County commissioner, is also running.

Dent’s district includes Allentown and all of Lehigh County, and parts of four surrounding counties.

Republicans in 2011 stretched the district almost 90 miles to the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania to make it more Republican.

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