It cost $100 million to build France’s new National Velodrome in Paris, which opened on Thursday. So it’s only fitting that a cyclist over 100 years old was the one to give the venue a truly grand opening.
Today, 102-year-old Robert Marchand earned a standing ovation for breaking his own world record in the over-100 category after riding 26.927 kilometers (16.7 miles) in one hour. That effort bettered the old mark he set two years ago by more than two and a half kilometers.
“It was very good, but at the end it started to become very hard,” Marchand said afterwards according to the Associated Press. “…You have to know there are people who came from 600 kilometers away to see me today! It is incredible. That’s all I can say.”
Marchand also owns the time record for people over the age of 100 riding 100 kilometers (62 miles). He earned that particular record in 2012 at a velodrome in Lyon, France, logging a time of four hours, 17 minutes, 27 seconds over a span of 300 laps.
Cycling has been a longtime hobby for Marchand, who first started when he was 14 years old. Throughout his life, he’s had a varied list of professional jobs including turns as a firefighter, show salesman and wine dealer. He came back to cycling in 1978, when he was 67 years old.
Just before he set the centenarian record for the fastest 100km by bike two years ago, Marchand explained how he kept himself in good shape.
“All my life, I used all but I never abused, I have never smoked nor drank except for festive occasions, and in women I did not indulge too much,” he said to AFP with a laugh prior to his record run in Lyon.
Lance Armstrong’s lifetime ban could be reduced
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama.
Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Olympics after raising their black-gloved fists in a symbolic protest during the U.S. national anthem. They called it a “human rights salute.”
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun asked them to serve as ambassadors as the federation tries to bring more diversity to its own ranks. They will join the team at the White House next Wednesday, then later that evening at an awards celebration in Washington.
The sprinters have been referenced frequently in the recent protests, spurred by Colin Kaepernick, during national anthems at NFL games. One player, Marcus Peters of the Chiefs, raised his own black-gloved fist before Kansas City’s season opener.
“I think Tommie and John have played an important and positive role in the evolution of our attitudes about diversity and inclusion, not only in the United States but around the world,” Blackmun said Friday night at a dinner to celebrate the U.S. performance in Brazil this summer.
MORE: Usain Bolt says he received offers to play wide receiver in the NFL (video)
The men’s marathon world record has been broken five of the last nine years at the Berlin Marathon.
Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, who broke the world record at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, believes that he can do it again on Sunday, when the race will stream live on the NBC Sports app beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET.
“I’ve trained well and, three years down the line from my world record here, I feel good and believe I have the potential to attempt the world record once more,” he said at today’s press conference, according to the IAAF. “Running at the top level, there is a lot of wear and tear on the body, especially when you are running for a time, but I am very focused on the world record.”
Kipsang clocked 2 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds when he broke the world record in 2013. A year later, fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto lowered it to 2:02:57 on the same course. Kimetto will not race in Berlin this year.
Kipsang will be challenged by Kenyan compatriot Emmanuel Mutai, who has the fastest time (2:03:13) in the field, and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
Bekele is a three-time Olympic track champion and the 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder, but acknowledged that his marathon personal best of 2:05:04 places him a distant fourth in the field.
“I consider my personal best of 2:05 to be slow compared to the best runners,” he said. “I want to run as fast as I can on Sunday and beat my best.”
MORE: Berlin Marathon to live stream on NBC Sports app