Getty Images

Russian track and field stars cleared to compete as neutral athletes

Leave a comment

Russia’s two gold medalists from the 2015 World Championships were among seven athletes from the country cleared to compete as neutral athletes by the IAAF on Tuesday.

Sergey Shubenkov and Maria Kuchina, reigning world champions in the 110m hurdles and high jump, respectively, can now compete internationally for the first time in more than one year.

Russia has been banned from international track and field since November 2015 due to serious doping issues. One Russian track and field athlete competed in Rio, long jumper Darya Klishina as a neutral athlete.

Russia’s ban is set to last through the 2017 season, including the world championships in London in August.

A doping review board examines applications by Russians to compete as neutral athletes. The IAAF has received about 100 applications this year and ruled on 27 so far, accepting 10 and declining 17.

“There can be no time constraints on a process which has been established to safeguard the rights and aspirations of the world’s clean athletes and is about rebuilding confidence in competition,” IAAF president Seb Coe said in a press release. “For the avoidance of any doubt as we have consistently stated from the beginning of this process, all athletes given exceptional eligibility will compete as independent neutral athletes and not as a Russian team.”

Twelve Russian athletes total have been cleared to compete as neutral athletes since July:

Illia Mudrov (pole vault)
Sergey Shubenkov (sprint hurdles)
Sergey Shirobokov (race walks)
Daniil Tsyplakov (high jump)
Maria Kuchina (high jump)
Olga Mullina (pole vault)
Yana Smerdova (race walks)
Anzhelika Sidorova (pole vault)
Kristina Sivkova (sprints)
Aleksei Sokirskii (hammer throw)
Darya Klishina (long jump, cleared in 2016)
Yuliya Stepanova (800m/1500m, cleared in 2016)

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: IOC member apologizes for linking Russian ban to Nazis

Paralympian Blake Leeper advances in 400m at USATF Outdoors (video)

Leave a comment

Paralympic medalist Blake Leeper, believed to be the first double amputee to race at a USATF Outdoor Championships, advanced out of the 400m heats in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Leeper ran 45.52, third in his heat, to grab the 16th and last spot in the 400m semifinals Friday (10:34 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

It marked a personal best by .58 of a second for Leeper, who was racing one day after his ban for testing positive for cocaine in 2015 ended.

“I wanted to advance, but if I don’t I have won already,” Leeper said before he learned he made the semis, according to USA Track and Field. “Just being here and showing everybody what you can truly do with a disability.”

Leeper ran faster than Olympians David VerburgKyle ClemonsArman Hall and Manteo Mitchell, who were all eliminated.

It’s likely that the top five or six in Saturday’s final will make the 4x400m team for the world championships in London in August.

USATF OUTDOORS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Alysia Montano races pregnant again at USATF Outdoor Championships (video)

Leave a comment

U.S. Olympic 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced five months pregnant in 100-degree heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships (Summer Champions Series) in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday.

Montaño, who raced eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoors also in Sacramento, finished last in her 800m first-round heat in 2:21.40. She was 10 seconds faster than her time three years ago.

“People were like, oh, you’re going to run faster than you did last time because you’re less pregnant,” Montaño told media in Sacramento, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I was like, I’m still pregnant.”

Athletes are looking for top-three finishes to qualify for the world championships in London in August. Finals are later this weekend.

USATF OUTDOORS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
Broadcast Schedule | Full Results

In a Wonder Woman top, Montaño gritted her teeth on the final straightaway and raised her arms crossing the finish line.

“[In 2014] women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño said. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative of people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do.

“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. Not everybody has the same platform that I do. I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them.”

Montaño said she was inspired when she learned Gal Gadot, who played the title role in the movie “Wonder Woman,” filmed half of it while five months pregnant.

“I saw Wonder Woman, and I was like, I for sure am signing up for USA Nationals,” Montaño said. “I already was thinking I was going to do it.”

Montaño said it wasn’t easier or harder racing Thursday versus three years ago, when she had a bigger baby bump.

“The weird part about five months is you’re still growing and like shifting a lot,” she said. “So every week you have to readjust.”

Linnea has seen enough photos of her mom’s famous race in 2014 to know what was going on.

“I go, mom is going to run with your sibling in her belly,” Montaño recalled. “I did that with you, too. And [Linnea] was like, ‘Yeah, it was sticking out!'”

Montaño raced outdoors for the first time since falling in the Olympic Trials 800m final on July 4. Montaño had won the previous Olympic Trials (and finished fourth in London) and the 2015 U.S. title coming back from pregnancy.

She ran without an apparel sponsor Thursday, frustrated that Asics waited until December to say they were not interested in retaining her for 2017. Montaño said that left her no time to try and find a different sponsor, even though she was already planning to have her second child.

“You need to let an athlete know in September, October,” she said. “I’ve been calling [Asics] since September to be like, hey, I didn’t make the Olympic team, I’m 30, I’m going to have another baby.”

In the men’s 800m Thursday, two-time Olympian and 2013 World silver medalist Nick Symmonds was eliminated, 32nd-fastest of 33 runners in the first round.

Symmonds, in his final season, said he has one more race left — the Honolulu Marathon on Dec. 10.

MORE: Montaño finds little joy after Russian stripped of medals

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!