Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi

Ryan Hall, other U.S. runners wouldn’t help East Africans catch Meb Keflezighi

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Meb Keflezighi was an undoubted underdog going into the Boston Marathon. He needed plenty of things to go right to win. Taking nothing away from Keflezighi’s victory, his fellow top U.S. marathon runners played a small role.

LetsRun.com caught up with other top American finishers, who revealed how Keflezighi’s 2012 Olympic teammate, Ryan Hall, led the way in not taking charge in a chase group.

“Ryan Hall and I were running side by side, in front of the lead pack but not really pushing it, and Ryan just kept turning over to me, talking [to me and saying], ‘Hey don’t push the pace,'” said Nick Arciniaga, who finished seventh. “‘If they [non-American runners] want to let those guys go, they are going to have work to catch back up to them. We are not going to help them out with that at all.  If we want an American to win, this is how it’s going to be done.’”

Hall confirmed the story, according to LetsRun, and added a text message to Sports Illustrated.

“It’s true. First it was Nick Arciniaga, then different American guys would go to the front [of the chase pack, after Meb and Josephat Boit had pulled away] and start pushing. I kept telling them not to, that we needed to give Meb as much space as possible. If the African guys were going to try to catch him, we weren’t going to do the work to help them. It wasn’t my day to win, as much as I wanted to. Meb winning was the next best thing and what the US needed.” Hall said he hadn’t talked to Meb about the tactic after the race. “I haven’t seen him since the race. I flew home right after the race. I don’t want to take anything away from his victory.”

The favorites going into Monday’s race were from Ethiopia and Kenya, the two dominant nations in men’s marathon running. Kenyan Wilson Chebet was the closest pursuer of Keflezighi, closing the gap to single-digit seconds over the final few miles, but Keflezighi held him off to win by 11 seconds.

Hall and the other Americans’ tactic, to not take the lead of the chase group, is similar to what is often seen in cycling stage rages such as the Tour de France. If a rider is leading on a breakaway, his teammates will not take turns doing the work at the front of a chase group.

Cycling is a bit different than major marathon running, where there are no “teams,” but, as Hall said, having another American win was the next best thing for any U.S. runner if he was not able to cross the finish line first.

Hall is the fastest U.S. marathon runner of all time, though his time, 2:04:58 from the 2011 Boston Marathon, does not count as an American record due to the point-to-point, net downhill course.

He finished 20th in 2:17:50 on Monday, his first completed marathon in more than two years after withdrawing before the 2013 Boston Marathon and 2012 and 2013 New York City Marathons due to injuries.

Video: Keflezighi’s stunning Boston victory

Ceremony marks 4 years to go before Tokyo hosts Olympics

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TOKYO (AP) — Organizers held a ceremony on Sunday to mark four years to go before Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics.

A group of Japanese school children helped put the finishing touches on a giant globe made out of 2,020 origami paper cranes in the ceremony held at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

Yoshinobu Miyake, who won a gold medal in weightlifting the last time Tokyo hosted the Summer Games in 1964, attended the ceremony.

Takashi Yamamoto, the vice governor of Tokyo, also attended. Former governor Yoichi Masuzoe resigned last month for allegedly using political funds for personal purposes.

The 2020 Olympics will take place between July 24 and Aug. 9.

Tokyo defeated Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of the IOC voting for hosting rights. Madrid was eliminated on the first ballot.

Ready or Not: Rio Olympics open doors at Athletes Village

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 15:  A view of buildings at the Olympic Village on June 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Felipe Dana-Pool/Getty Images)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Ready or not, the Rio Olympics are opening their doors.

The Games begin in just over two weeks, but the Athletes Village opens officially on Sunday, meaning 10,500 athletes and another 7,000 staff members will start trickling into the luxurious layout, with the pace picking up daily until the Aug. 5 opening ceremony at the Maracana Stadium.

The 31-building compound should pamper the world’s best. It’s set among tennis courts, soccer fields, seven swimming pools – with mountains and the sea as a backdrop – and topped off by a massive dining-kitchen compound that’s as large as three football fields.

“I want to help all the athletes have a wonderful welcome to Brazil,” said Priscilla Antonello, a residence center deputy manager whose job is to help athletes find their accommodations.

Will she be star-struck by so many Olympians?

“I couldn’t be in this job if I behaved like that,” she replied Saturday, standing on the 13th floor of one of buildings, gazing out over cycling paths, bubbling fountains and lots of green.

She already knows which countries will be where, but she’s not allowed to say.

Some delegations had already arrived on Saturday, easy to spot with banners or flags hanging off the sides of buildings.

Slovenia had the best banner. In green and white it says: “I Feel sLOVEenia.” The LOVE portion was set off in white type, making sure the message got across.

Another read: “All for Denmark.”

Banners or flags from Canada, Britain, Portugal, Finland and Sweden were among those spotted. A tiny red and yellow Chinese flag was pinned near the top of one of the compounds.

Everything about the village is massive, though fairly standard for recent Summer Olympics.

Organizers say the compound has:

– 10,160 rooms; 18,000 beds; seven laundries; an enormous, hospital-like clinic; a massive gym.

In addition, organizers are providing 450,000 condoms, three times more than London did four years ago. Among them will be 100,000 female condoms.

Organizers said this is to encourage safe sex. Many had considered that increased supply to be due to Brazil’s outbreak of the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.

Asked about it on Saturday, deputy chief medical officer Marcelo Patricio replied: “No, it’s not.”

Then there’s the dining-kitchen area, a sprawling tent where officials expect to serve about 60,000 meals daily to Olympians and staff – and perhaps another 10,000 daily to the hired help.

“The hardest part is knowing how much to prepare,” said Flavia Albuquerque, who oversees Rio’s food and beverage service. “We want them to eat anything they want to.”

That will be easy. The choices are nearly infinite. Diners will choose from different buffets – Brazilian, Asian, International, and Pasta and Pizza. Then there’s a casual dining area that will feature barbeque.

“The casual area might be the most popular,” Albuquerque said.

There will be lots of dirty plates, but none to wash. The plates will be biodegradable, made of corn and sugar cane.

Brazilians figure their food will be a hit: rice, black beans, farofa (flour from toasted cassava often sprinkled on top of food) and meat. And Brazil’s exotic juice will be popular: caju, acai, carambola, caqui, goiaba and maracuja, often squeezed into juices – sucos in Portuguese.

Billionaire real estate developer Carlos Carvalho might have the only problem.

He aims to sell the 3,604 apartments after the Olympics – some in the range of 2.3 million ($700,000). Carvalho’s company Carvalho Hosken has declined to say how many have been sold, but reports say only between 6-10 percent.

The project is a victim of Brazil’s deep recession, the worst since the 1930s.

Carvalho Hosken earlier said the project’s total cost was about $1.5 billion, including construction, land acquisition and other development costs.

MORE: Rio unveils largest athletes village in Olympic history