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Wilson Kipsang wouldn’t have raced Kenya Olympic marathon trials

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NEW YORK — If Kenya went ahead with an Olympic marathon trials in February, its most consistent runner over the last few years planned to skip them.

Wilson Kipsang, the former world-record holder who will defend his New York City Marathon title on Sunday, said he would have chosen to race a spring marathon, presumably with much more money at stake, rather than an Olympic trials.

“It wouldn’t have been convenient,” Kipsang said Thursday.

Fortunately, Kenya’s track and field federation quickly scrapped its Olympic trials plan first announced two weeks ago. The world’s dominant marathon nation will choose its three-man and three-woman team by other means.

Kipsang, 33, is arguably the top choice if it’s a subjective system, with an Olympic bronze medal and Berlin, London and New York City Marathon victories in the last three years, plus holding the world record for one year. Though with Athletics Kenya, anything goes.

For the 2012 Olympics, it passed over Wesley Korir, the reigning Boston Marathon winner, Patrick Makau, who broke the world record at the 2011 Berlin Marathon, and Geoffrey Mutai, who broke the course record at the 2011 New York City Marathon.

Kipsang suggested the Olympic team should be chosen in February even without the trials.

“So that when you’re running in April [in a spring marathon], you know I’m on the team,” he said. “So you know how to run in the next race and try to prepare. But if you are confirmed late, it’s not really very good because, to prepare mentally, time will catch up.”

Kipsang is the favorite in the five-borough race Sunday, but he was defeated in his previous two marathons.

Kipsang finished second to countryman Eliud Kipchoge in the London Marathon in April and then dropped out of the World Championships marathon in Beijing in August, saying then, “the heat got the better of me,” but on Thursday that he considered it a training run.

Is Kipsang then worried Athletics Kenya could pass him over for the Olympics?

“Somebody like me I don’t have much pressure,” he said. “Whether I’m with the team or not, I will still have races to run.”

MORE MARATHON: Meb: I didnt want to put all my eggs in Olympic trials basket

World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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Daniel Romanchuk’s ascent to marathon stardom accelerated at University of Illinois

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The rise of Daniel Romanchuk has been one of the major stories of this Paralympic cycle. The wheelchair racer was eliminated in the first round of all five of his races in Rio.

But now, he’s the world’s best marathoner with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, a world-record holder on the track and already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Romanchuk, born with spina bifida, was profiled by NBC Sports Chicago as part of a series of NBC Sports Regional Networks pieces published this week — marking 150 days until the Tokyo Olympics and six months until the Tokyo Paralympics.

NBC RSN Olympic and Paralympic Profiles
NBC Sports Bay Area

Abbey Weitzeil (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Boston
Margaret Bertasi (Rowing) — LINK
Abbey D’Agostino Cooper (Track and Field) — LINK

NBC Sports Chicago
Ryan Murphy (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Northwest
Galen Rupp (Marathon) — LINK
Mariel Zagunis (Fencing) — LINK

NBC Sports Philadelphia
Vashti Cunningham (Track and Field) — LINK
Julie Ertz (Soccer) — LINK

NBC Sports Washington
Katie Ledecky (Swimming) — LINK
Kyle Snyder (Wrestling) — LINK

Romanchuk, 21, swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon titles in 2019. He attributes that success to his native Baltimore and his training residence of the University of Illinois.

At age 2, he was enrolled in Baltimore’s Bennett Blazers, an adaptive sports program for children with physical disabilities. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist who dominated women’s wheelchair marathons, planted her athletic roots there.

“Their motto is to teach kids they can before they’re told they can’t,” Romanchuk said.

Things really blossomed for Romanchuk after he moved from Baltimore to the University of Illinois. Illinois was designated a U.S. Paralympic training site in 2014 and has produced McFadden, Jean Driscoll and other U.S. Paralympic stars.

“Without this program, I certainly would not be where I am,” Romanchuk said. “It’s a very unique combination of coaching and teammates.”

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MORE: Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch for 2020 Tokyo Games