Jessica Ennis-Hill out of world track and field championships

Jessica Ennis
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The world track and field championships lost another superstar when Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill pulled out of the August meet due to an Achilles injury.

It’s no shock. Ennis-Hill has been hampered since the spring, only competing twice since the Brit’s Olympic triumph a year ago.

“To say I am gutted is an understatement — no athlete likes to miss the opportunity to compete at a major championships — they don’t come round that often,” Ennis-Hill said in a statement.

She had voiced concern after taking part in the London Anniversary Games on Saturday, taking fourth in the 100-meter hurdles and eighth (last place) in the long jump. Ennis-Hill said she was disappointed with her performance at the Olympic Stadium and would confer with her coach two or three days later about her status for worlds.

“Up until now we have been focusing on managing the pain so I can train and get myself in shape to go out there to win in Moscow — which has meant not focusing on finding a cure for the injury,” Ennis-Hill said. “The time has now come to stop chasing fitness and look to cure the problem.”

Ennis-Hill will now focus on getting healthy for the 2014 indoor season. The heptathlon at worlds is now wide open with Ennis-Hill and 2011 world champion Tatyana Chernova of Russia out with a knee injury.

American Sharon Day has the highest point total this year of those entered in Moscow — 6,550. That would have placed seventh at the Olympics and fourth at the 2011 world championships. No American has won a world title in the seven-event competition since Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1993.

Canadian Brianne Theisen — who just married Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton — is also in the medal picture after placing 11th at the Olympics.

Here’s a list of track and field stars who will not compete in Moscow:

Aslı Çakır Alptekin (drug test) — 2012 Olympic champion, 1,500 meters
Nijel Amos 
(injury) — 2012 Olympic silver medalist, 800 meters
Ryan Bailey (injury) — 2012 Olympics fifth place, 100 meters
Yohan Blake (injury) — 2011 world champion, 100 meters
Tatyana Chernova (injury) — 2011 world champion, heptathlon
Vivian Cheruiyot (extended break) — 2011 world champion, 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters
Veronica Campbell-Brown (drug test) — nine-time world championship sprint medalist
Walter Dix (injury) — 2011 world silver medalist, 100 meters, 200 meters
Jessica Ennis-Hill (injury) — 2012 Olympic champion, heptathlon
Tyson Gay (drug test) — 2007 world champion, 100 meters, 200 meters
Phillips Idowu (extended break) — 2009 world champion, triple jump
Lolo Jones (did not qualify) — 2012 Olympics fourth place, 100-meter hurdles
Abel Kirui (injury) — 2009, 2011 world champion, marathon
Liu Xiang (injury) — 2007 world champion, 110-meter hurdles
Taoufik Makhloufi (illness) — 2012 Olympic champion, 1,500 meters
Oscar Pistorius (trial) — 2011 world silver medalist, 4×400-meter relay
Asafa Powell (did not qualify) — 2007, 2009 world bronze medalist, 100 meters
Sanya Richards-Ross (injury) — 2009 world champion, 400 meters
Dayron Robles (banned by Cuba) — 2008 Olympic champion, 110-meter hurdles
David Rudisha (injury) — 2011 world champion, 800 meters
Caster Semenya (did not qualify) — 2009 world champion, 800 meters
Sherone Simpson (drug test) — 2008 Olympic silver medalist, 100 meters
Barbora Spotakova (childbirth) — 2008, 2012 Olympic champion, javelin
Andy Turner (injury) — 2011 world bronze medalist, 110-meter hurdles
Blanka Vlasic (injury) — 2007/2009 world champion, high jump

h/t @Statman_Jon, @UltimateCrans

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Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

Emily Sisson
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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best U.S. performance all-time. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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