Gwen Jorgensen repeats as triathlon World champion, extends streak

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Gwen Jorgensen completed a perfect season, repeated as World champion and won her 13th straight top-level international triathlon in the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in drizzly Chicago on Friday.

Jorgensen, heavily favored to become the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion next year, prevailed by 29 seconds in 1:55:36 over Great Britain’s Non Stanford. Britain’s Vicky Holland was third. Full results here.

Jorgensen was in the lead group after the 1500m swim (five seconds behind) and the 40km bike (also five seconds behind) but did not crush the run as hard as normal.

Stanford and Holland stayed with her for the first 7.5 of 10km before Jorgensen made her move and pulled away by so much that she was able to rest her sunglasses on top of her head, look behind her and grab an American flag before crossing the finish line.

“They’re pretty tough,” Jorgensen said of the Brits shortly after winning. “I was really hurting today and had no idea what was going to happen. Non was leading a lot of the run, and I was just trying to stick with her.”

“Her kick was phenomenal,” Stanford said of Jorgensen.

Jorgensen entered seven World Triathlon Series events this season and won all of them. Her last top-level individual triathlon loss was April 26, 2014.

“I never would have thought that, to be able to perform on so many different days when I’m not feeling well or feeling well, or hilly courses, it just doesn’t seem real,” Jorgensen said.

The former Ernst & Young accountant notched her 15th career win in 31 World Triathlon Series starts, extending the longest men’s or women’s win streak in series history.

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

Jorgensen and another London Olympian, Sarah True, became the first two of a maximum three women to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic triathlon team with first- and fourth-place finishes in an Olympic test event in Rio on Aug. 2.

A third woman, favored to be Katie Zaferes, will be determined in 2016.

True was seventh Friday and finished third in the overall standings this season behind Jorgensen and New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt. Zaferes was 24th, though she’s finished runner-up in half of this season’s races and finished fifth in the season-long standings. Full standings here.

The 2016 World Triathlon Series begins in Abu Dhabi the first weekend in March.

In Rio, Jorgensen, True and perhaps Zaferes will look to join Susan Williams, who took bronze at Athens 2004, as U.S. Olympic triathlon medalists. Triathlon debuted at the Sydney 2000 Games.

In 2012, Jorgensen placed a disappointing 38th at the Olympics after suffering a flat tire on the bike and crossed the finish line thinking only about gold in Rio. True was fourth at the London Olympics as Sarah Groff, two years before marrying distance runner Ben True.

“We all know that [Jorgensen] is setting the level,” said Holland, who was closest to Jorgensen during the streak with a five-second loss in Hamburg on July 18. “She’s the target. She’ll know that. We’ve got a year now to work on that and really try and up our game and challenge her next year.”

The last defeat for some of the U.S.’ most dominant current and former female individual Olympic sports athletes:

Serena Williams (Tennis): Sept. 11, 2015
Adeline Gray (Wrestling): July 27, 2014 (25 straight wins)
Gwen Jorgensen (Triathlon): April 26, 2014 (13 straight wins)
Katie Ledecky (Swimming): Jan. 18, 2014 (31 straight wins)
Simone Biles (Gymnastics): March 30, 2013 (9 straight wins)
Claressa Shields (Boxing): May 13, 2012 (more than 30 straight wins)
Ronda Rousey (MMA/Judo): Aug. 13, 2008 (more than 15 straight wins)

Jorgensen’s streak includes only top-level individual international triathlon races. Ledecky’s includes only long-course meters 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle finals. Biles’ includes only all-around competitions. Rousey’s includes MMA fights and judo matches.

MORE TRIATHLON: Gwen Jorgensen’s bike helmet includes Paul Bunyan, Bucky Badger

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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