U.S. aerialists post best World Championships since 1999

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The U.S. aerials team won multiple medals at the World Freestyle Skiing Championships for the first time since 1999 on Thursday.

Kiley McKinnon and Alex Bowen won women’s and men’s silvers, respectively, in Kreischberg, Austria. Neither McKinnon, 19, nor Bowen, 22, were on the U.S. Olympic team in Sochi.

McKinnon, who came into Worlds second in the World Cup standings, scored 88.12 in her final jump. Australian Laura Peel beat her by .35 for gold after finishing seventh in Sochi.

The 2013 World champion and Sochi silver medalist, Xu Mengtao of China, won bronze, ahead of two-time U.S. Olympian Ashley Caldwell. Olympic champion Alla Tsuper of Belarus is reportedly on maternity leave.

In the men’s final, Bowen won a surprise silver medal. Bowen, 22, had never finished better than 14th in a World Cup competition until last week, when he was sixth in Park City, Utah.

But Bowen tallied 121.27 in his last jump under the lights in Kreischberg, a distant 18.23 points behind Chinese gold medalist Qi Guangpu but 1.36 ahead of the next-best aerialist, Belarus’ Maxim Gustik.

Qi won his second straight World title after placing fourth at the Sochi Olympics. The Olympic champion, Belarus’ Anton Kushnir, is reportedly sitting out this season due to injury.

The last time U.S. aerialists won multiple medals at a single Olympics or World Championships was 1999, when Eric Bergoust followed his 1998 Olympic gold with a World title and Joe Pack won bronze, three years before his Olympic silver. Nikki Stone won women’s bronze one year after her Olympic gold medal, too.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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