Wilson Kipsang

Wilson Kipsang: I’m still the world’s best marathon runner

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NEW YORK — Kenyan Wilson Kipsang said he remains the world’s best marathon runner, despite no longer holding the world record and losing his most recent 26.2-mile race.

“At the moment I consider myself,” Kipsang said Friday morning when asked who he thinks is No. 1. “Six races under 2:05. That’s not ever been done.”

Kipsang, 33, pointed to his unmatched consistency. His six marathons faster than 2 hours, 5 minutes, one per year since 2010, are twice as many as any other man in history.

Kipsang won three straight major marathons — Berlin in 2013 (then-world record 2:03:23), London in 2014 (2:04:29) and New York in 2014 (2:10:59). But his streak ended in London on April 26, when countryman Eliud Kipchoge defeated Kipsang by five seconds in 2:04:42.

“The last three miles, Kipchoge, he was a bit stronger,” said Kipsang, who also lost his world record Sept. 28, when countryman Dennis Kimetto won Berlin in 2:02:57. “I think the reason is that I tried to push too much from 35 [kilometers, or 21.7 miles].”

Kipsang is in New York to race the UAE Healthy Kidney 10km in Central Park on Saturday against a field that includes Kenyans Stephen Sambu, the fastest road 10km runner in 2014 and 2015, and former Berlin, Boston and New York City Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai and four-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman.

Kipsang, the 2012 Olympic marathon bronze medalist, hopes his next marathon is at the World Championships in Beijing on Aug. 22. He’s never competed at a Worlds but is on the provisional Kenyan roster of six, which must be trimmed to no more than three.

Kipsang said Friday his plan is to compete at Worlds and also defend his New York City Marathon title on Nov. 1, which would be his shortest turnaround between marathons, by 41 days, since his debut at the distance in 2010. The New York City Marathon elite fields are usually announced in September.

Kipsang was also asked which he valued more, winning an Olympic gold medal or reclaiming the world record. He didn’t choose one, instead lumping them together with a World Championships medal.

“I’m trying to see if I can get them all,” Kipsang said. “I’m trying to get the World Championships medal, then go for the Olympics and then the world record.”

Kipsang was also diplomatic when asked about his relationship with Athletics Kenya, his nation’s governing body for track and field that has drawn the ire of so many in the sport. In December, Kipsang said Athletics Kenya maliciously attempted to soil his name by announcing he missed a drug test the previous month, according to Kenyan media.

“The federation, we are trying to streamline some issues, but we are moving in the right way,” Kipsang said Friday. “The biggest issue is to bridge the gap between Athletics Kenya and the athletes. The office and the athletes need to be one.”

Looking back on Steve Prefontaine’s last race

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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