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Jessica Ennis-Hill retires from track and field

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London Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill said she’s retiring because she wants to leave “on a high,” ending one of the greatest heptathlon careers at age 30.

“This has been one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make,” Ennis-Hill’s Instagram read Thursday. “But I know that retiring now is right. I’ve always said I want to leave my sport on a high and have no regrets and I can truly say that.”

At London 2012, Ennis-Hill was part of Great Britain’s “Super Saturday,” winning one of three gold medals by the host nation in track and field that evening.

Ennis-Hill took a break in 2014 for childbirth and then made the Rio Olympics her finale. She took silver behind Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiem.

Ennis-Hill also won world titles in 2009 and 2015 but is ending her career less than one year before the 2017 World Championships in London’s Olympic Stadium. Ennis-Hill has said she wants to be upgraded from 2011 Worlds silver to gold after Russian titlist Tatyana Chernova was found in 2013 to have doped in 2009.

“We’ve known for a long time this day was coming,” her longtime coach, Toni Minichiello, said on a “Many sports people hold on too long. Jess has managed to avoid walking out of the stadium after failing a qualifying round. She’s walking out of the stadium by stepping off the podium. She’s one of our sporting greats. It seems fitting this way.”

In Rio, Ennis-Hill joined Jackie Joyner-Kersee as the only women to win Olympic heptathlon titles and return to take a medal in the event in the following Games.

Olympic Heptathlon Medals
1. Jackie Joyner Kersee (USA) — 2 gold, 1 silver
2. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR) — 1 gold, 1 silver
3. Denise Lewis (GBR) — 1 gold, 1 bronze

World Heptathlon Medals
1. Carolina Kluft (SWE) — 3 gold
2. Sabine Braun (GER) — 2 gold, 1 silver
2. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR) — 2 gold, 1 silver
4. Eunice Barber (FRA) — 1 gold, 2 silver

Heptathlon All-Time List
1. Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA) — 7,291 points (Kersee has the top six totals all-time)
2. Carolina Kluft (SWE) — 7,032 points
3. Larisa Turchinskaya (URS) — 7,007 points
4. Sabine Braun (GER) — 6,985 points
5. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR) — 6,955 points

Great Britain has a strong heptathlon tradition, one that should be extended by Olympics sixth-place finisher Katarina Johnson-Thompson, 23, and 2014 World junior champion Morgan Lake, 19.

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Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

WORLDS: TV Schedule | Pairs Preview | Nagasu’s Outlook

Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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