Meb Keflezighi’s rusty bib a reminder with Boston Marathon approaching

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NEW YORK — Meb Keflezighi says his bib from winning the 2014 Boston Marathon, the one with the four 2013 Boston Marathon bombings victims’ names written in black marker in the corners, is still pinned on his singlet from the race.

“Believe it or not,” the bib collector Keflezighi said, smiling. “The pins picked up water and stuff, got rusty.”

It hangs in a special closet in his Southern California home. It has company, too.

Also in there is his Athens 2004 Olympic uniform. He earned a silver medal 11 years ago.

And Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals baseball jerseys, reminders of the last 11 months — a nationwide tour that included ceremonial MLB first pitches, at least one call from President Obama and passing 22,780 runners in Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race 10K on July 4.

He received fan mail after his Boston triumph from students, teachers and cancer survivors. And Germans. Many, many Germans. Somebody made him a scarf.

Keflezighi has been everywhere since becoming the first U.S. man in 31 years to prevail in Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon, one year after that tragedy.

“Sometimes 11 p.m. is the only time I can take a shower,” he said.

Yet training hasn’t suffered, Keflezighi said. He feels healthy and competitive going into the NYC Half Marathon on Sunday, his tune-up race for Boston for a second straight year. He spoke Thursday after jogging laps with students in a P.S. 452 gymnasium on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

In 2014, Keflezighi’s goal at the NYC Half was not to win, but to emerge healthy after 13.1 miles. He suffered a “little hamstring issue” the week before that race, missed about five days of training and finished 10th.

This Sunday, Keflezighi’s competition includes countrymen Dathan Ritzenhein, top American in the 2008 Olympic marathon in ninth, and Abdi Abdirahman, a 2012 Olympic marathon teammate, and Kenyans 2012 Boston Marathon winner Wesley Korir and Stephen Sambu.

It lacks Keflezighi’s biggest perceived threats to come in Boston on April 20 — former marathon world record holder Kenyan Patrick Makau and 2013 Boston winner Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa — but will test the 39-year-old.

“Hopefully it will be a good indicator for Boston,” Keflezighi said.

In Boston, Keflezighi will likely not be able to employ the same tactic to win as he did last year.

Then, Keflezighi and occasional training partner Josphat Boit opened a 15-second lead over the East African favorites at the 10-mile mark. It grew. Keflezighi moved ahead of Boit at mile 16 and held off Kenyan Wilson Chebet to win by 11 seconds.

“I probably can’t do a similar thing, but they didn’t let me go [in 2014], I decided to go,” Keflezighi said. “They didn’t say, hey, Meb, run, we’ll let you have it. I made the decision to go for the win.”

Few considered Keflezighi a contender before that race. Now, he feels targeted.

“I’ll have more [of a chance] now than I did last year,” Keflezighi said, referring to expectations, “but I’m older.”

His goal is to finish in the top three or run a personal best. He did both last year.

“I’m relaxed,” he said, “but at the same time I’m a competitor.”

Keflezighi hopes to benefit from injury-free training, allowing more hill workouts than when his hamstring held him back one year ago.

Confident, he plans to race as an elite in at least four more marathons.

There will likely be a fall marathon, perhaps New York City on Nov. 1, followed by the Olympic trials in Los Angeles on Feb. 13 and (should he be top three at trials) the Rio Olympic marathon in August 2016. And then one, maybe two more, though he sees himself running half marathons, 10Ks, pacing races and doing clinics beyond that.

“To give back to the sport,” he said.

Keflezighi, who turns 41 in 2016, will try along with Bernard Lagat to become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time, according to Keflezighi (UCLA) and Lagat (Washington State) competed against each other in college in the 1990s.

They still text.

“We inspire each other,” Keflezighi said. “[1996 Olympic champion] Allen Johnson, I remember in the 110-meter hurdles, I saw him doing it at 39, jumping over all of those things. I said, you know what, I’ve just got to maintain five-minute [mile] pace as long as I can.”

Keflezighi will be in Boston two days after the NYC Half, for more appearances and functions.

“Then head back to seclusion and train,” he said, “and disappear.”

In 2014, Keflezighi arrived in Boston three days before the race on a redeye from San Diego. He wants to keep a similar schedule this year but also acknowledged one pre-race difference on Thursday.

“I’m going to wear bib No. 1,” Keflezighi said of what will be pinned on the back of his singlet (his front bib will still read “MEB”). “That’s earned, not given.”

Galen Rupp talks training with Mo Farah, marathons, weird drug test story

Weightlifting investigation finds doping cover-ups

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — An investigation into the International Weightlifting Federation has found doping cover-ups and millions of dollars in missing money, lead investigator Richard McLaren said Thursday.

McLaren said 40 positive doping tests were “hidden” in IWF records and that athletes whose cases were delayed or covered up went on to win medals at the world championships and other events. The cases will be referred to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

McLaren said former IWF president Tamas Ajan was “an autocratic leader” who kept the board in the dark about finances. Ajan received cash payments, some as much as $100,000, as doping fines from national federations or sponsors, McLaren said.

He said $10.4 million was unaccounted for.

“Everyone was kept in financial ignorance through the use of hidden bank accounts (and transfers),” McLaren said. “Some cash was accounted for, some was not.”

McLaren said Ajan “permitted the (federation) elections to be bought by vote brokers” as he kept the presidency and promoted favored officials. Large cash withdrawals were made ahead of federation congresses, McLaren said, adding that voters were bribed and had to take pictures of their ballots to show to brokers.

The 81-year-old Ajan stepped down in April, ending a 20-year reign as president and a total 44 years in federation posts. A month before that he also gave up his honorary membership of the International Olympic Committee.

McLaren’s investigation was sparked in January when German broadcaster ARD reported financial irregularities at the federation and apparent doping cover-ups.

McLaren, a Canadian law professor, was the World Anti-Doping Agency’s lead investigator for Russian doping and has judged cases at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Weightlifting’s reputation under Aján had already been hit by dozens of steroid doping cases revealed in retests of samples from the Olympics since 2008.

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MORE: Coco Gauff delivers speech demanding change

Coco Gauff delivers speech, demands change, promises to use platform

Coco Gauff
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Coco Gauff, the 16-year-old tennis star, delivered a speech at a peaceful protest in her hometown on Wednesday, demanding change and promising to use her platform to spread vital information.

“I’ve been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement,” Gauff told a crowd, holding an affixed microphone atop a lectern in front of Delray Beach City Hall in Florida, after her grandmother spoke. “You need to use your voice, no matter how big or small your platform is. You need to use your voice. I saw a Dr. [Martin Luther] King quote that said, ‘The silence of the good people is worse than the brutality of the bad people.'”

Earlier this week, Gauff posted links on her social media accounts — with more than 800,000 combined followers — to register to vote and a petition for justice for the death of George Floyd. On Wednesday, she shared video of her participating in a march, saying her hometown police chief was part of the group.

Click here for NBC News’ coverage of Floyd’s death and protests in Minneapolis and around the country.

Last summer, Gauff, then 15, became the youngest player to reach Wimbledon’s fourth round since Jennifer Capriati in 1991. She followed that with third- and fourth-round runs at the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, sandwiched between her first WTA Tour title.

The full text of the beginning of her speech, which she shared on social media:

“Hello everyone. My name is Coco, and who just spoke was my grandma. I think it’s sad that I’m here protesting the same thing that she did 50-plus years ago. So I’m here to tell you guys this: that we must, first, love each other no matter what. We must have the tough conversations with my friends. I’ve been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement. Second, we need to take action. Yes, we’re all out here protesting, and I’m not of age to vote, but it’s in your hands to vote for my future, for my brother’s future and for your future. So that’s one way to make change. Third, you need to use your voice, no matter how big or small your platform is. You need to use your voice. I saw a Dr. [Martin Luther] King quote that said, ‘The silence of the good people is worse than the brutality of the bad people.’ So, you need to not be silent, because if you are choosing silence, you’re choosing the side of the oppressor. So, I’ve heard many things this past week. One of the things I’ve heard is, well, it’s not my problem. This is why I have to tell you this. If you listen to black music. If you like black culture. If you have black friends. Then this is your fight, too. It’s not your job. It’s not your duty to open your mouth to say, ‘Lil Uzi Vert‘s my favorite artist, but I don’t care what happened to George Floyd.’ Now how does that make sense? So, I demand change now. It’s sad that it takes another black man’s life to be lost for all of this to happen, but we have to understand that this has been going on for years. This is not just about George Floyd. This is about Trayvon Martin. This is about Eric Garner. This is about Breonna Taylor. This is about stuff that’s been happening. I was 8 years old when Trayvon Martin was killed. So why am I here at 16 still demanding change? And it breaks my heart because I’m fighting for the future for my brothers. I’m fighting for the future for my future kids. I’m fighting for the future for my future grandchildren. So, we must change now, and I promise to always use my platform to spread vital information.”

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