J.R. Celski

J.R. Celski taking break from short track speed skating

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Three-time Olympic medalist J.R. Celski is taking a break from short track speed skating but expects to return to the sport. He just doesn’t know when.

Celski, 23, said he will take the next couple months to plan his post-skating future, perhaps taking strides into film production or advertising. But he’s not ready to hang up his skates.

“I know that I’m going to take a little time off, regain my bearings, rest the body, rest the mind,” Celski said last week. “I love skating. I really foresee that in my future. I’m just not sure when.”

Celski was part of the U.S. 5000m relay team that won silver in Sochi, the only U.S. long track or short track medal of the Olympics. He also won bronze medals in the relay and the 1500m at the 2010 Olympics.

Celski took a year off from the sport after 2010, collaborating on a documentary on the Seattle-area hip-hop scene, famously featuring Macklemore.

He returned, broke a world record in October 2012 and came to Sochi as an individual medal contender. His best individual finish in Sochi was fourth in the 1500m.

Celski finished second overall behind Russian Viktor Ahn at last month’s World Championships, which were taxing mentally as well as physically after coming off the Olympic high.

“It’s hard to keep the mind into it, really,” Celski said. “A lot of us are very worn out from the Olympic experience and going there and preparing our whole season, really, to perform at the Olympics.”

Celski also said he liked the idea recently floated by International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta to merge long and short track into one 250m oval sport.

“I’ve heard about that for years now, so it’s nothing new to me,” Celski said. “It’s progressive and might bring more attention to the sport.”

Catching up with Tim Goebel

 

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

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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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