Gwen Jorgensen (barely) extends triathlon streak; Olympic qualifying next

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Gwen Jorgensen had become so dominant this season that in spring World Triathlon Series races she high-fived spectators with her sunglasses resting on her head before crossing the finish line.

Not so in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday.

The accountant-turned-World champion won her record-extending 11th straight race, but she was tested like never before during an unbeaten run since her last loss April 26, 2014.

Jorgensen trailed in the final half-mile, and, though she retook the lead from Great Britain’s Vicky Holland, she looked over her shoulder in the final sprint and went just about full speed through the finish line.

Jorgensen, with her Oakleys resting on her nose in more traditional fashion this time, crossed in 57 minutes, 8 seconds. Holland was five seconds behind (full results here). Vincent Luis won the men’s race, becoming the first French athlete to take a World Triathlon Series title.

Jorgensen had won her previous 10 straight races all by at least six seconds, the largest by 1 minute, 38 seconds. This was unfamiliar territory.

“A lot was going through my head,” Jorgensen said of the duel with Holland in a finish-area broadcast interview, a few minutes before being handed a large glass of beer on the podium that she took a sip of and then poured on the second- and third-place finishers. “I was like, when do I kick? What do I do? Is she going to kick first? Yeah, she really pushed me.

“I could feel her there on my shoulder.”

Jorgensen, who finished 38th in her Olympic debut in 2012, her hopes punctured by a flat tire, was eight seconds behind after the 750m swim in Hamburg and four seconds back after the 20km bike. Her strength is the run, and Jorgensen proved it again by outdistancing Brits Holland and third-place Non Stanford after 5km. Though Holland proved pesky, even leading Jorgensen (by no more than a stride) late in the race.

Holland was asked her thoughts on possibly being in a position to beat Jorgensen.

“I thought I had a chance of getting closer, maybe, than anyone has done yet this year,” Holland said. “You can’t underestimate Gwen. She’s unbeaten at the moment.”

Americans Sarah True and Katie Zaferes were fourth and sixth, respectively, as they continued to show Olympic medal-prospect form.

Jorgensen notched her 14th career win in 30 World Triathlon Series starts, extending the longest men’s or women’s win streak in series history.

Pre-WTS, Australian Emma Carney and Portugual’s Vanessa Fernandes were unbeaten across 12 straight International Triathlon Union World Cup races, but they lost separate World Championships races during those streaks.

The World Triathlon Series continues in Stockholm from Aug. 22-23.

More importantly for Jorgensen, she next heads to Rio de Janeiro for the ITU World Olympic Qualification Event on Aug. 2. The top two U.S. finishers in the top eight overall automatically earn a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

Jorgensen’s bike helmet includes Paul Bunyan, Bucky Badger

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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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s road back through destruction, death

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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