Howard Siler

Howard Siler, first Jamaica Bobsled coach, passes away

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Howard Siler, the coach of the first Jamaican Olympic Bobsled Team, died at age 69 last Tuesday in Clermont, Fla., according to the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

Siler competed as a U.S. bobsledder at the 1972 and 1980 Olympics with a top finish of fifth.

He would be the inspiration for John Candy‘s role in the Disney movie “Cool Runnings” about the Jamaican Bobsled Team at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Siler remembered the film in an interview with the Calgary Sun last year, the 25-year anniversary of those Winter Games.

“It was a good movie, and there were a couple of things that were true, and a lot that wasn’t,” he told the newspaper. “First of all, I’d never won two gold medals, and second, I wasn’t an alcoholic in Jamaica.

“There was a part in the movie where we get off the plane and go out the front door, and they go right back into the terminal to put more clothes on. Well that was the true part of the movie — the chinook wasn’t there that day, and it was cold.”

Siler also told the story of the first time the Jamaican bobsledders stepped on a rink in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“I was there the very first time they walked on ice — we put them on a hockey rink without bobsled shoes, so they were slipping and sliding and having a good time,” he said.

“Then we put some bobsled shoes on, and showed them the difference.”

Jamaica Bobsled returned to the spotlight last winter for the first time since 2002, barely qualifying for the Sochi Olympics and taking 29th out of 29 finishers in the two-man event.

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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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