Meb Keflezighi, Jenny Simpson win USATF Athlete of the Year awards

Meb Keflezighi
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Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and Diamond League 1500m winner Jenny Simpson were named USA Track and Field’s Athlete of the Year winners Monday.

Keflezighi, the first American man to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years, earned the Jesse Owens Award over the likes of Justin Gatlin, who went undefeated in the 100m and 200m this year, four years removed from a four-year doping suspenion.

“This recognition as the best athlete on the world’s best track and field team, especially at the age of 39, means a lot to me, and is a tribute to all who have supported me unconditionally throughout the years,” Keflezighi said in a press release.

Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist, also won the USATF Half Marathon Championships and finished fourth in the New York City Marathon this year.

He could become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner ever in Rio.

Simpson, 28, won the final two Diamond League 1500m races this summer to secure the season-long title in the event. She won the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Award over fellow Diamond League champions Allyson Felix and Dawn Harper-Nelson, among others.

“Twenty years ago, I was a normal kid running around PE class when my gym coach suggested I join the cross-country team,” Simpson said in a press release. “I never could have imagined where that suggestion would lead.”

Simpson broke her 1500m personal best twice this year and is one tenth shy of Mary Slaney‘s American record, the longest-standing American record in an Olympic men’s or women’s track event.

In Rio, Simpson could become the first American to win an Olympic track gold medal in an event longer than 400m in 44 years.

Peter Forsberg and the Olympics

Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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