David Rudisha Readies his UK Return

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David Rudisha didn’t just win gold in the 800m at the 2012 London Olympics, and he didn’t just set a new world record in that event either – he blew people’s minds.

And the Kenyan didn’t just blow the minds of casual spectators, but the minds of people who know a thing or two about running an immaculate 800. Seb Coe, the iconic British Olympian and former world record holder in the event, called Rudisha’s dominant Olympic performance “the most extraordinary piece of running I have probably ever seen.”

Two years later, Rudisha, now 25, is back in the UK and set to challenge his own world record in Friday night’s  Diamond League Glasgow Grand Prix – though the reality is he will probably save his best effort for the Commonwealth Games that begin July 23.

Yet as Rudisha returns to Britain, a lot has changed since his sterling Olympic run. If his gold medal-winning time of 1:40.91 isn’t quite a distant memory, the hope of reaching it again is diminished by two years of battling knee and calf injuries. Observers say he is running at about 90 percent right now, but 90 percent doesn’t break world records and it doesn’t bode well for his Commonwealth Games.

Rudisha doesn’t sound worried about his long-term health, and told The Telegraph that he thinks he can challenge his own record.

“At the Olympics I did it by myself, without a pacemaker,” Rudisha said. “Maybe, if we can get the right pacing and the right competition, and if I am in good shape, we might be able to do something better than that.”

Eventually, he thinks he can do even better. While 1:41 used to be a mythical barrier, Rudisha told the Telegraph he thinks breaking 1:40 could be happen down the road, even if it doesn’t happen this year.

“It might be possible in the future,” he said.

Rudisha is the biggest name to watch at this event. Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, who took silver in the 100 and 200 at the 2012 Olympics will be competing but is injured and has already withdrawn from the Commonwealth Games. Great Britain’s Mo Farah, who won gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 in 2012, withdrew earlier this week after battling a recent stomach illness.

 

Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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