Sochi Olympic Daily Recap, Medal Count: Day 2

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Russia’s team of figure skaters are the toast of their nation after Day 2 of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But there were plenty of other stars that shined brightly on Sunday.

We’ll start off at the Iceberg Skating Palace, which rocked with cheers after the Russians – powered by Yevgeny Plushenko and Yulia Lipnitskaya (pictured) – won the inaugural gold medal in the Olympic team figure skating competition. Team USA, led by Meryl Davis and Charlie White’s winning effort in the free dance, earned the bronze…

Attending that competition was Russian president Vladimir Putin, who cheered along with the rest of the crowd inside the Iceberg for their country. Meanwhile, Plushenko, still brash as ever, delivered a short and sweet message to his critics.

The gold was Russia’s first such medal in Sochi, while the U.S. added its second as Jamie Anderson won the women’s title in another new Olympic competition, snowboard slopestyle. The victory completed a U.S. sweep of the new discipline following Sage Kotsenburg’s Saturday triumph on the men’s side…

The slopestyle action took turns that were both humorous and scary. Anna Gasser of Austria had a comical, stumbling start to her first run, while Czech rider Sarka Pancochova took a nasty fall that split her helmet; thankfully, she got up and completed her trek down the course…

Alpine skiing got underway in Sochi with the men’s downhill. Bode Miller of the U.S. was looking like a gold medal contender after several great training days, but ultimately failed to hit the podium. While Miller struggled, Austria’s Matthias Mayer captured the gold ahead of a exuberant silver medalist in Italy’s Christof Innerhofer

MORE: Complete Team USA rundown from Day 2

Felix Loch of Germany won a second consecutive gold in men’s luge, while bronze medalist Armin Zoeggeler of Italy made history by becoming the first Olympian to win six consecutive medals in the same individual event. Finishing with the silver was Russia’s Albert Demtschenko, who earned his second overall Olympic medal…

Also grabbing golds today were Dutch speedskater Ireen Wust in the women’s 3000m, Slovakian biathlete Anastasiya Kuzmina in the women’s sprint, Swiss cross-country skier Dario Cologna in the men’s skiathlon, and Polish ski jumper Kamil Stoch in the men’s normal hill

After taking down Finland in their first contest with Jessie Vetter as goalie, the U.S. women’s hockey team announced that they will put Molly Schaus between the pipes for their next game against the Swiss…

Social media also continued to buzz around the Olympics. Boston Bruins star and Slovakia defenseman Zdeno Chara is becoming a legitimate photo op for his fellow OlympiansThe Twittersphere tried to cheer up Bode Miller after his tough day on the slopes…And the father of U.S. luger Tucker West has fueled the #TeamTucker movement after revealing on TODAY that his son was “very single” and “a little shy.”

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 9
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)
1. Norway – 2/1/4 – 7
2. Netherlands – 2/1/1 – 4
3. United States – 2/0/2 – 4
T-4. Canada – 1/2/1 – 4
T-4. Russia – 1/2/1 – 4
6. Austria – 1/1/0 – 2
T-7. Germany – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Poland – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Switzerland – 1/0/0 – 1
11. Sweden – 0/2/0 – 2
T-12. Czech Republic – 0/1/1 – 2
T-12. Italy – 0/1/1 – 2
T-14. Finland – 0/1/0 – 1
T-14. Slovenia – 0/1/0 – 1
T-16. Great Britain – 0/0/1 – 1
T-16. Ukraine – 0/0/1 – 1

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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