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

Federica Brignone passes Mikaela Shiffrin for World Cup overall lead

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Italian Federica Brignone passed an absent Mikaela Shiffrin for the World Cup overall standings lead by winning a combined in Switzerland on Sunday.

Brignone prevailed by .92 of a second adding times from super-G and slalom runs in Crans-Montana. Full results are here.

Brignone moved 73 points ahead of Shiffrin in the overall through 29 of 40 scheduled races. A race winner receives 100 points on a descending scale through the 30th-place finisher. The season runs through March 22.

Shiffrin, the three-time reigning World Cup overall champion, has not competed since the unexpected death of her father on Feb. 2. She has not announced if or when she will return this season.

Brignone, 29, is having a career season with five wins and 10 podiums across four disciplines.

Brignone’s best previous World Cup overall standings finish was fifth. She earned giant slalom medals at the 2018 Olympics (bronze) and 2011 World Championships (silver).

She could become Italy’s first female World Cup overall champion. The last Italian male winner was Alberto Tomba in 1995.

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves to La Thuile, Italy, for a super-G and a combined next Saturday and Sunday.

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Jade Carey on brink of becoming first gymnast to qualify for U.S. Olympic team

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The U.S. Olympic gymnastics trials aren’t until late June, but Jade Carey is in position to qualify for the Tokyo Games in March.

Carey, seeking an individual Olympic gymnastics spot outside of the team competition, earned the maximum points in a World Cup series that is one path to Olympic qualification.

Carey has three wins each on floor exercise and vault with two World Cups left in March. Carey will mathematically clinch an Olympic spot if no other gymnasts earn maximum points on one of the apparatuses to force a tiebreaker.

A gymnast’s top three finishes across the eight-stop series count in Olympic qualifying. If Carey finishes atop the floor or vault standings, she goes to the Olympics.

Carey picked up those third wins on floor and vault at the sixth World Cup in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

So far, no other gymnast has two wins on floor. One other gymnast can get to the maximum points on vault with one win between the last two stops (and others with two).

The one downside to qualifying this route: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four spots will be determined at and after June’s trials in St. Louis, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

“I knew I would be giving up being on the team,” Carey said in October of going the World Cup route, “but I think, for me, it made sense to just go for it.”

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but she doesn’t have the all-around credentials of Biles and some other U.S. gymnasts.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

The U.S. is the deepest country in women’s gymnastics, so the only truly safe pick to make the four-woman Olympic team event roster is Biles.

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