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


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

Chloe Kim, Elana Meyers Taylor among Olympians to join presidential sports council

Elana Meyers Taylor, President Joe Biden

Chloe Kim and Elana Meyers Taylor are among the Olympic and Paralympic medalists set to join the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition.

President Joe Biden intends to appoint the snowboarder Kim, bobsledder Meyers Taylor, retired Olympic medalists Chaunté Lowe (track and field) and Tamika Catchings (basketball) and Paralympic medalist Melissa Stockwell (triathlon) to the council, among other athletes and people in the health and fitness fields, it was announced Friday.

Stephen and Ayesha Curry are also on the list.

The council “aims to promote healthy, accessible eating and physical activity for all Americans, regardless of background or ability.”

Last year, Biden appointed basketball gold medalist Elena Delle Donne a co-chair of the council.

Kim, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, sat out this past season but is expected to return to competition for a third Olympic run in 2026.

Meyers Taylor, the most decorated U.S. Olympic bobsledder in history with medals in all five of her Olympic events, sat out this past season due to pregnancy. She took her first bobsled run in 13 months this past week in Lake Placid, New York.

There is a long history of Olympians and Paralympians serving on the council, which was created in 1956.

In 2017, Barack Obama appointed medalists including gymnast Gabby Douglas, soccer player Carli Lloyd and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Others to previously be on the council include sprinter Allyson Felix, figure skater Michelle Kwan and swimmer and triathlete Brad Snyder.

Members serve for two years and can be reappointed.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Kaori Sakamoto wins figure skating worlds; top American places fourth


Kaori Sakamoto overcame a late error in her free skate to become the first Japanese figure skater to win back-to-back world titles and the oldest women’s world champion since 2014.

Sakamoto, 22, totaled 224.61 points on home ice in Saitama to prevail by 3.67 over Lee Hae-In of South Korea in the closest women’s finish at worlds since 2011.

Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx took bronze, edging 16-year-old American Isabeau Levito for a medal by 2.77 points.

Sakamoto is the oldest women’s singles world champion since Mao Asada (2014), who is now the only Japanese skater with more world titles than Sakamoto.

She appeared en route to an easier victory until singling a planned triple flip late in her free skate, which put the gold in doubt. She can be thankful for pulling off the second jump of that planned combination — a triple toe loop — and her 5.62-point lead from Wednesday’s short program.

“I feel so pathetic and thought, what was all that hard work I put into my training?” Sakamoto said of her mistake, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “But I was able to refocus and do my best till the end.

“Because I have this feeling of regret at the biggest event of the season, I want to make sure I don’t have this feeling next season. So I want to practice even harder, and I want to make sure to do clean, perfect performances at every competition.”

Lee, who had the top free skate, became the second South Korean to win a world medal in any discipline after six-time medalist Yuna Kim.

Hendrickx followed her silver from last year, when she became the first Belgian women’s singles skater to win a world medal.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, last year’s world junior champion, had a chance to become the youngest senior world medalist since 2014.

After a solid short program, she fell on her opening triple Lutz in the free skate and left points on the table by performing two jump combinations rather than three. The Lutz was planned to be the first half of a combination with a triple loop.

“I am severely disappointed because I’ve been nailing my Lutz-loop for a really long time, and this is the first time I’ve messed it up in a while, and of course it had to be when it actually counted,” Levito said, according to the ISU. “But I’m pretty happy with myself for just trying to move past it and focusing on making the most out of the rest of the program.”

Levito entered worlds ranked fourth in the field by best score this season. She matched the best finish for a U.S. woman in her senior global championships debut (Olympics and worlds) since Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan took silver and bronze at the 1991 Worlds. Sasha Cohen, to whom Levito is often compared, also placed fourth in her Olympic and world debuts in 2002.

“I feel very proud for myself and grateful for my coaching team for helping me get this far so far in my skating career, and I’m just very proud to be where I am,” Levito said on USA Network.

American Amber Glenn was 12th in her world debut. Two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell was 15th. They had been 10th and eighth, respectively, in the short program.

The U.S. qualified two women’s spots for next year’s worlds rather than the maximum three because the top two Americans’ results added up to more than 13 (Levito’s fourth plus Glenn’s 12th equaled 16). The U.S. was in position to qualify three spots after the short program.

Glenn said after the short program that she had a very difficult two weeks before worlds, including “out-of-nowhere accidents and coincidences that could have prevented me from being here,” and boot problems that affected her triple Axel. She attempted a triple Axel in the free skate, spinning out of an under-rotated, two-footed landing.

Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022, had several jumping errors in the free skate.

“This season has been like one thing after another,” said the 25-year-old Tennell, who plans to compete through the 2026 Winter Games. “I’m really excited to get back and work on some stuff for the new season.”

Earlier, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates topped the rhythm dance, starting their bid for a first world title in their 12th season together and after three prior world silver or bronze medals.

“We skated as best we possibly could today,” Bates said, according to the ISU, after they tallied the world’s top score this season.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the lone U.S. ice dancers to win a world title, doing so in 2011 and 2013.

Worlds continue Friday night (U.S. time) with the free dance, followed Saturday morning with the men’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!