Bill Demong to run New York City Marathon

Bill Demong
0 Comments

Bill Demong, the only American to win an Olympic Nordic combined gold medal, will test his endurance at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 2.

“Intermittently, over the last however many, 15 years, I have had the desire and done some running races,” Demong said in a phone interview while driving in rural Germany on Monday. “I’ve kind of had a desire to do a marathon, especially while I’m relatively fit.”

Demong, 34, won gold and silver medals at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. He came back for a fifth Olympics in Sochi, and placed sixth with the U.S. team and 24th and 31st in individual events.

It was reported in Sochi that Demong would probably retire after those Winter Games, but he will partially compete this season, hoping to help the U.S. Nordic combined team regain funding following U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association cuts after Sochi.

Demong hopes to average six minutes per mile at the New York City Marathon, with a finishing time around 2 hours, 36 minutes. He said in 2003 he ran a 37km Colorado road race (three miles shy of a marathon) over a mountain in 2 hours, 17 minutes, but said he was in better running shape then.

Demong’s work ethic is well-known among U.S. Winter Olympians.

“He will wake up at four in the morning, go hike up some insane mountain with his cross-country skis, find a field and go trudging around cross-country,” ski jumper Anders Johnson once said. “Then he’ll come back down for breakfast, go do intervals on his bike for two hours, come home and eat lunch. … Then he’ll go and do a bike race. … I don’t think the guy has taken a day off since he was 13.”

Demong’s experience in cross-country skiing endurance training for Nordic combined should pay off in New York. He pointed to other cross-country skiers who performed well in distance running, such as former Dartmouth skier Ben True. True was the second-fastest U.S. man in the 5000m this year.

“Certainly having that cardiovascular base helps immensely, already knowing that given a few training sessions you can easily go out and probably run a marathon,” said Demong, whose summer roller-ski training over the last two decades included three-, four- and five-hour sessions at 10 mph. “The catch is, of course, that just because you could finish one doesn’t necessarily make you, a) fast — not all cross-country skiers cross over well into running — and b) in cross-country skiing, you’re used to going out, uphill, as hard as you can and then recovering. Obviously, in a marathon if you go and burn it in the first three miles, you’re not coming back. That’s going to be the challenge.”

Demong will join a long list of Olympians to take part in the five-borough race.

It includes his U.S. Winter Olympic teammate Apolo Ohno, who clocked 3:25:14 in 2011. Ohno recently completed the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

Outside of Olympic distance runners, Olympic champions swimmer Summer Sanders and sprinter Marie-Jose Perec also ran the NYC Marathon in 2013.

Caroline Wozniacki, a two-time Olympic tennis player, will also run this year’s NYC Marathon.

Olympic triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, the reigning World champion, will race the Dash to the Finish Line 5k in Central Park the day before the marathon.

Lindsey Vonn still struggles with depression

U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup
Getty
0 Comments

The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new uptempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

IOC looks for ways Russian athletes ‘who do not support war’ could compete as neutrals

Thomas Bach
Getty
0 Comments

GENEVA (AP) — Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday.

“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding, “We have to think about the future.”

Most sports followed IOC advice in February and banned Russian teams and athletes from their events within days of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.

With Russians starting to miss events that feed into qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, an exile extending into next year could effectively become a wider ban from those Games.

In an interview in Rome, Bach hinted at IOC thinking after recent rounds of calls with Olympic stakeholders asked for views on Russia’s pathway back from pariah status.

“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” he said. “On the other hand — and here comes our dilemma — this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”

Bach did not suggest how athletes could express opposition to the war when dissent and criticism of the Russian military risks jail sentences of several years.

Some Russian athletes publicly supported the war in March and are serving bans imposed by their sport’s governing body.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Yevgeny Rylov appeared at a pro-war rally attended by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak displayed a pro-military “Z” symbol on his uniform at an international event.

Russian former international athletes are being called up for military service in the current mobilization, according to media reports. They include former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev and soccer player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

Russians have continued to compete during the war as individuals in tennis and cycling, without national symbols such as flags and anthems, even when teams have been banned.

Bach told Corriere della Sera it was the IOC’s mission to be politically neutral and “to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity.”

“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” he suggested. “We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!