Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Mixed results for World champions in Zurich

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce consolidated her status as world’s fastest woman, winning a 100m race at a Diamond League meet in Zurich on Thursday, 10 days after she captured her third World Championship in the sprint.

Other gold medalists from Beijing last week, including Wayde van Niekerk, David Rudisha and Genzebe Dibaba, were not as fortunate in the first top-level meet since Worlds. Full results are here.

Fraser-Pryce clocked 10.93 seconds in Zurich, pulling away from the field early and cruising over the last 20 meters. The two-time Olympic 100m gold medalist won her World Championship in 10.76 on Aug. 24 and has a personal best of 10.70.

Fraser-Pryce beat a field that included World bronze medalist Tori Bowie (third, 11.06) and two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown (sixth, 11.22).

“It is not easy to race again in such a close time,” after Worlds, Fraser-Pryce said, according to the IAAF. “I needed to adjust again, but we are used to it, we are professional athletes.”

Earlier, World 200m silver medalist Elaine Thompson won a separate 100m race in 11.06.

The Diamond League season concludes on Sept. 11 in Brussels, a meet that could include Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin (in a separate race from Bolt) and Allyson Felix, all of whom skipped Zurich.

Also Thursday, South African 400m World champion Wayde van Niekerk was no match for LaShawn Merritt in Zurich.

Merritt, the 2008 Olympic and 2009 and 2013 World champion, prevailed in 44.18. Reigning Olympic champion Kirani James was second in 44.28, followed by van Niekerk in 44.35. Van Niekerk won the World title in 43.48, the sixth fastest time ever, and was undefeated this season going into Zurich.

Olympic and World champion David Rudisha lost the 800m lead on the final lap and faded to fourth. That’s the first time this year Rudisha has been lower than second in a race he’s finished. Poland’s Adam Kszczot won in Zurich in 1:45.55 after placing second to Rudisha at Worlds.

Rudisha said he raced scared due to cold and wet weather, according to the IAAF.

“I was a little bit afraid of this,” he said.

Russian Sergey Shubenkov showed no fear in following his World title in the 110m hurdles with a victory in 13.14. The race was missing World silver medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica and bronze medalist Aries Merritt, the Olympic champion and world-record holder recovering from a kidney transplant.

The World champions in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m met up in the women’s 3000m. The 5000m title holder prevailed over the 1500m gold medalist. Ethiopian Almaz Ayana outsprinted countrywoman Genzebe Dibaba on the final lap to win in 8:22.34. American Jenny Simpson, the 2011 World 1500m champion, was fourth. Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot, the World 10,000m champion, was sixth.

Kenyan Asbel Kiprop took the men’s 1500m over countryman Elijah Manangoi, just as he did at Worlds. Kiprop clocked 3:35.79, prevailing by .22.

Evan Jager finished third in the 3000m steeplechase, an improvement over his disappointing sixth at Worlds. Jager clocked 8:18.39, 10.15 seconds behind Kenyan winner Paul Koech. Jager’s personal best is 8:00.45. Nobody from the Western Hemisphere has broken eight minutes in the event.

South Africa’s Anaso Jobodwana finished third in the 200m, just as he did at Worlds, but neither Bolt nor Gatlin raced in Zurich. Instead, Panama’s Alonso Edward prevailed in 20.03, followed by Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer (20.20) and Jobodwana (20.24).

Kenyan Eunice Sum won her sixth straight 800m at a Diamond League meet, after she was upset at the World Championships last week. Sum, who took bronze in Beijing, beat the World gold and silver medalists in Zurich.

Czech Zuzana Hejnova followed her second straight World title in the 400m hurdles with a victory in 54.47. World silver medalist Shamier Little wasn’t in the race, while World bronze medalist Cassandra Tate took fifth in 55.50.

Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford again held off the top Americans in the long jump. Rutherford, the Olympic and World champion, tied Marquis Dendy at 8.32 meters, but Rutherford’s second best jump was better than Dendy’s.

In the women’s long jump, World champion Tianna Bartoletta finished second to Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic. Bartoletta said she was still in pain from spraining her left ankle at the World Championships, according to the IAAF.

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Emily Sisson a U.S. Olympic marathon trials favorite, thanks to Ireland

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Emily Sisson didn’t think she would become a professional runner until her last year of college. Now, at 28, she goes into the U.S. Olympic marathon trials as a contender for one of three Tokyo spots, if not the overall favorite.

“I’ve only done one marathon, so I definitely don’t feel like I’m an experienced marathoner,” Sisson said by phone last week from her Arizona base. “That’s the one question mark I’ve had all build-up.”

Predicting a marathon can be a crapshoot, but a Podiumrunner.com experts panel pegged Sisson to win. She is younger than any female U.S. Olympic marathoner since Anne Marie Lauck in 1996 (though fellow contender Jordan Hasay is a month younger).

Confidence stems from last April 28. Sisson clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in U.S. women’s history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow. She finished sixth — behind five East Africans. She crossed 3:25 ahead of sometimes training partner and mentor Molly Huddle, also a headliner at trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (12 p.m. ET, NBC).

“We wanted to run faster,” Sisson said that day in London. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”

Sisson later mentioned a pre-race scare on the “Keeping Track” podcast. She tripped over a carpet jogging back from a bathroom, banged both knees 15 minutes before the start and got checked out physically by a chiropractor and mentally by her husband, who has a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

Sisson then covered the final half of that marathon alone, a foreign feeling for the longtime track runner. At one point, she thought about having never before run more than 23 miles.

Her mind could have also wandered to sports memories that led her to the world’s strongest marathon: Attending a 1999 Women’s World Cup match and seeing her hero, Mia Hamm. As a soccer-playing teenager, being asked by a friend to join a track relay team. Or being told during a record-breaking high school career that she was reminiscent of 2004 Olympic marathoner Jen Rhines.

Sisson, whose dad ran and mom did gymnastics at the University of Wisconsin, transferred after one year in Madison to Providence. She had a best NCAA Championships finish of fourth going into her last year. Before that final season, Sisson was prepared to leave competitive running once her NCAA eligibility exhausted in pursuit of an MBA.

“I had been going through a bit of a funk with running,” she said. “I was getting a little tired.”

Things changed the summer before her senior year. She vacationed with then-boyfriend/now-husband Shane Quinn, a fellow Providence runner, in Quinn’s native Ireland. At one point, they altered training, ditching tempo runs for local road races. Sisson never before competed on the roads. She doesn’t remember the distances being exact. She does remember winning.

“That was a new, fun thing that kept the sport kind of fresh for me,” she said. “You finish, and you go into a local pub and have sandwiches.”

Providence coach Ray Treacy put Sisson in more road races that fall. The opportunity was right. She had no cross-country eligibility left while she readied for the winter and spring track seasons. She went on to win the 2015 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 5000m, a springboard to the pros (while still going after the MBA).

Sisson was set back by injury in 2016 and placed 10th in the Olympic trials 10,000m. She kept training under Treacy, and perhaps just as important, with Huddle, the American record holder at 10,000m. Huddle, seven years older than Sisson, made her marathon debut after the Rio Olympics.

“Emily really looks up to her and is inspired by her,” Treacy said. “Molly has helped her out in numerous ways in training. … Making sure she’s not going overboard with the training, not running too fast. She kind of keeps her under control.”

Sisson made the last two world championships teams in the 10,000m, but Treacy thought marathon since 2015. They signed her up for the 2019 London Marathon, in part because Huddle was going to race it as her third career 26.2-miler. And in part to get Sisson ready for the Olympic trials in 10 months’ time.

The build-up was better than ideal. Sisson ran the second-fastest half marathon in U.S. history (on a record-eligible course) in January. She became the third-fastest U.S. woman all-time at 10,000m in March.

Come April, Treacy was impressed again just by watching Sisson after she crossed the London finish line in what would be the second-fastest marathon for a U.S. woman in 2019.

“It didn’t look like it took anything out of her,” Treacy said. “She recovered really fast. Within minutes, she was feeling pretty good. That was a good sign.”

Sisson returned home to Quinn and their golden retriever, Desmond, who has 1,400 Instagram followers. She skipped a fall marathon to compete in the 10,000m at track worlds in Doha, placing a respectable 10th.

The recent marathon build-up for trials went just as well, if not better, than the training for London.

“I’m definitely putting a bit of pressure on myself with this one,” Sisson said. “But at the same time, I don’t get caught up in so much what other people say. I don’t really read the articles about who’s the favorite or what chance you have of making the team.”

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Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

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Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

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