Jeremy Abbott brings queen-sized blow-up mattress to Sochi

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SOCHI – Rest assured: Jeremy Abbott is sleeping well at night.

The American who had a dismal performance at the 2010 Vancouver Games said he’s brought his own mattress to the Sochi Games, righting something that went very wrong for him on his way to a ninth-place finish in Vancouver.

“I brought a queen-sized air mattress,” Abbott told NBCOlympics.com after his practice Monday afternoon at the Iceberg Skating Palace. “I did not do well on the twin bed in Vancouver.”

“[The mattress] is really high; it’s a legitimate bed,” Abbott, 28, said. “Getting it here was a pain; it weighs 25 pounds. I literally packed a suitcase just for the bed, but it’s definitely worth it.”

MORE: Abbott’s early Olympic memories

Abbott has said in the past that he suffered for much of his career from not being able to sleep through the night, a struggle he said had mostly subsided in an October interview. Abbott said in Sochi that Vancouver was no different from aforementioned struggles.

“I toss and turn a lot. For the two and a half weeks I was in Vancouver I didn’t sleep one full night because I was always afraid that I was going to roll off the bed.”

Abbott rolled through his practice session Monday, landing his opening quad-triple combination once in his warm-up and again in his short-program run through. The veteran won the U.S. Championships last month with a record-setting short program, holding off a surging Jason Brown in the free skate.

“It was a good practice. I ran my short program for stamina and it went really well,” Abbott said. “The quad felt good.”

Abbott said the ice in Sochi had a lot of spring, something he liked.

After winning at Nationals in 2010, Abbott said he felt crushed by expectations leading into the Vancouver Games. This time around the Olympics feel shockingly “normal,” he said.

“I never in my life thought I would say this, but it feels all normal, all natural,” Abbott said, laughing. “It’s kind of bizarre to be at the Olympics and think, ‘Yeah, this is normal.'”

“I’m extremely comfortable here. I brought a lot of stuff from home to make sure that I had all of my creature comforts that I would have normally. I think I did it all the right way.”

Emmanuel Korir nearly falls, comes back to win 800m at Pre Classic

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Kenyan Emmanuel Korir overcame getting tripped with 200 meters left to win the 800m on the first day of the Prefontaine Classic on Friday.

Korir was leading when Botswana’s Nijel Amos‘ spike clipped his leg. Korir stumbled, took six steps inside the rail and ceded the lead to Amos, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist.

But Korir overtook Amos on the final straight, winning in 1:45.16, .35 ahead of Amos. The race lacked double Olympic champion and world-record holder David Rudisha, who hasn’t raced since July 4 due to injury.

Korir, 22, ran the fastest 800m in the world last year but was eliminated in the semifinals at the world championships.

Full Pre Classic results are here.

In other events, world champion Sam Kendricks beat the last two Olympic champions in the pole vault, clearing 5.81 meters.

Surprise Rio Olympic gold medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil no-heighted at Pre for a second straight year in his first outdoor meet in 10 months. London Olympic champ and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie didn’t fare much better, exiting at 5.71 meters for fifth place. Lavillenie still holds the top clearance in the world this year of 5.95 meters.

Rio gold medalist Thomas Röhler led a German javelin sweep, throwing a meet record 89.88 meters. World champion Johannes Vetter, who was second with an 89.34-meter throw, still ranks No. 1 in the world this year at 92.70.

In the two-mile, Ethiopian Selemon Barega upset Olympic 5000m silver medalist Paul Chelimo, outsprinting the American and clocking 8:20.01. Chelimo was second in 8:20.91.

The Pre Classic continues Saturday on NBC and NBC Sports Gold with streaming coverage starting at 2:50 p.m. ET.

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Allyson Felix withdraws from Prefontaine Classic

AP
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Allyson Felix withdrew on the eve of the Prefontaine Classic and will miss Saturday’s anticipated 400m showdown with Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and world champion Phyllis Francis.

No reason was given by the meet director at a Friday press conference, according to media in Eugene, Ore.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist and 16-time world outdoor championships medalist, was scheduled to race on the top international level for the first time since Aug. 20. She has raced in smaller meets this season, most recently last Friday.

This is the one year in the four-year cycle without an Olympics or world outdoor championships, making the Diamond League, and the Pre Classic in particular, marquee meets.

“In the 19 years that I’ve been running track, I’ve never taken a break,” the 32-year-old Felix said in an Instagram video Thursday after an intense training session but before her name was taken off Saturday’s start list. “Never had a year where I took it easy. … Now that this is kind of a year without a championship, I’ve had to force myself to have a different approach because my goal is 2020. … To be able to be at my best when it counts, I think that means not having as intense of a year as I usually do. Being a competitor and an athlete, that’s something that I struggle with. … This year, that’s what I’m really trying to force myself to do is have quality races, quality over quantity. … So, if you guys don’t see me at as many of the races as I usually run, don’t worry, I’m fine, I’m just challenging myself to be smarter.”

Felix will miss the Pre Classic for the second time in the last nine years. She was absent in 2016 with an ankle injury.

The USATF Outdoor Championships are in one month.

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