Lelisa Desisa

Boston Marathon men’s preview

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No U.S. man has won the Boston Marathon since 1983, more than twice the previous longest drought in the race’s history dating to 1897. That skid will likely stay intact this year, even though the two preeminent Americans of the last several years are in the field.

Another streak is also expected to extend with Monday’s race. A Kenyan or Ethiopian has won the last 12 Boston Marathons and all but one since 1991.

Marathons can be fickle, but two men appear to be the class of the elite field of 21 — defending champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Dennis Kimetto of Kenya.

Desisa, 24, has run three marathons in his life, all in 2013. He won Dubai that January, debuting in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 45 seconds. He won Boston in April. He finished second at the World Championships in Moscow in August.

Kimetto, 30, is perhaps best known for finishing one second behind fellow Kenyan and training partner Geoffrey Mutai at the 2012 Berlin Marathon, which caused controversy. But he would surprise nobody by winning Monday.

Like Desisa, the former full-time farmer Kimetto has also run three career marathons, winning two. He broke course records in Chicago and Tokyo in 2013 after setting the fastest marathon debut ever in Berlin in 2012. Kimetto’s personal best, from Chicago, is one minute faster than Desisa’s best.

There are more East Africans who can contend, but let’s shift to the American stars.

Ryan Hall is the fastest American-born marathoner of all time, but he hasn’t completed a 26.2-mile race since the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Hall, 31, failed to finish the London Olympic marathon due to a hamstring injury and then signed up for and pulled out of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the last two New York City Marathons (nixing 2012 before Hurricane Sandy canceled it).

He was a late addition to this year’s Boston Marathon field, on March 3, suggesting he’s confidently overcome the injury struggles. He finished third, fourth and fourth in Boston from 2009-11, but given his lengthy absence it’s hard to gauge exactly what he’s capable of Monday.

Meb Keflezighi, 38, is one of only two in the elite field born in the 1970s and is the oldest by three years. The Eritrean-born American notched résumé builders every few years, from 2004 Olympic silver to winning New York in 2009 to fourth at the 2012 Olympics after setting a personal best at trials.

In 2013, he pulled out of Boston 10 days before the race due to a calf injury. He clocked a disappointing 2:23:47 for 23rd place in New York seven months later, though a muscle tear in his leg hampered preparation.

Keflezighi could use a strong performance Monday to fend off questions about his age and future.

Boston Marathon TV, race schedules | Women’s Preview: American hope

Full men’s elite field:

Name Personal Best Time Country
Dennis Kimetto 2:03:45 (Chicago 2013) CR Kenya
Lelisa Desisa 2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013) Ethiopia
Gebre Gebremariam 2:04:53 (Boston, 2011) Ethiopia
Markos Geneti 2:04:54 (Dubai, 2012) Ethiopia
Ryan Hall 2:04:58 (Boston, 2011) U.S.
Wilson Chebet 2:05:27 (Rotterdam, 2011) Kenya
Tilahun Regassa 2:05:27 (Chicago, 2012) Ethiopia
Frankline Chepkwony 2:06:11 (Eindhoven, 2012) Kenya
Micah Kogo 2:06:56 (Chicago, 2013) Kenya
Adil Annani 2:07:43 (London, 2012) Morocco
Paul Lonyangata 2:07:44 (Xiamen, 2013) Kenya
Joel Kimurer 2:07:48 (Gongju, 2013) Kenya
Lusapho April 2:08:32 (Hannover, 2013) CR South Africa
Abdi Abdirahman 2:08:56 (Chicago, 2006) U.S.
Meb Keflezighi 2:09:08 (Houston, 2012) U.S.
Brett Gotcher 2:10:36 (Houston, 2010) U.S.
Mathew Bowen 2:10:57 (Rennes, 2013) Kenya
Jason Hartmann 2:11:06 (Chicago 2010) U.S.
Nicholas Arciniaga 2:11:30 (Houston, 2011) U.S.
Vitaliy Shafar 2:11:52 (Frankfurt, 2013) Ukraine
Jeffrey Eggleston 2:12:03 (Chicago, 2012) U.S.

Four-time Olympic medalist returns to run Boston Marathon again

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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