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Poland’s most decorated Winter Olympian all but retires

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Justyna Kowalczyk, who holds the Poland Winter Olympic record with five medals, has all but retired from cross-country skiing, saying her only future competition would be domestic or as a relay member at world championships, according to Polish media.

Kowalczyk, 35, is one of the most decorated cross-country skiers of all time: two individual Olympic gold medals, eight world championships medals, four World Cup overall titles and a record four straight Tour de Ski titles.

She won 50 World Cup events, second only to longtime Norwegian rival Marit Bjoergen, the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 15 medals.

Kowalczyk made her Olympic debut in Torino in 2006 at age 23, taking bronze in 30km freestyle, two months after she was cleared of doping charges that would have banned her into 2007. It marked Poland’s first Olympic cross-country skiing medal. She remains the lone Pole to stand on an Olympic cross-country podium.

After winning her first World Cup overall in 2009, Kowalczyk made more history at the 2010 Vancouver Games. She became the first woman from Poland to win a Winter Olympic event, edging Bjoergen by three tenths of a second in the 30km classic. Before the Olympics, Kowalczyk criticized the Whistler course as “very, very easy, like for tourists.”

Kowalczyk remained atop the sport with World Cup overall titles in 2010, 2011 and 2013, then won the 10km individual in Sochi (on a broken foot) to surpass ski jumper Adam Malysz for the most Winter Olympic medals for a Polish athlete.

Her best finish in PyeongChang was seventh in the team sprint at her fourth and final Winter Games.

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MORE: Best cross-country skiing moments from PyeongChang Olympics

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon

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Watch the world’s best distance runners chase world records at the London Marathon, live on NBCSN and commercial free on the NBC Sports Gold “Track and Field Pass” for subscribers on Sunday at 3:30 a.m. ET.

NBCSN coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

WATCH LIVE: London Marathon
NBCSN coverage — STREAM LINK
NBC Sports Gold commercial free — STREAM LINK

Sunday’s race start times (ET)
3:55 – Elite Wheelchair Races
4:00 – World Para Athletics Marathon World Cup ambulant races
4:15 – Elite Women’s Race
5:00 – Elite Men’s Race, Mass Race

The men’s field features arguably the two greatest distance runners of all time — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

Kipchoge, the Rio Olympic marathon champ, ran the fastest marathon ever recorded — 2:00:25 in Nike’s sub-two-hour attempt last May in non-record-eligible conditions.

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history under legal conditions, having run six seconds shy of Kenyan Dennis Kimetto‘s world record of 2:02:57 from 2014.

In the women’s race, Kenyan Mary Keitany, already the world-record holder in a women’s-only race, looks to take down Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s world record with male pacers set in London 15 years ago. That time is 2:15:25.

Keitany is challenged by Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, the third-fastest female marathoner in history behind Keitany and Radcliffe.

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MORE: Shalane Flanagan looks to future after last Boston Marathon

Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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