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Meb Keflezighi outlines New York City Marathon goals

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NEW YORK — Meb Keflezighi would be satisfied with a top-10 finish in his 10th New York City Marathon.

“Goal No. 1 is to try to win,” he said. “Goal No. 2 is to be top three, then top five, then top six. If I can’t do that, top 10.”

The 40-year-old is the last American to win the five-borough race, in 2009, and has finished in the top 10 seven out of his nine starts dating to 2002.

“If I can land any of those [top-10s], it would be awesome,” said Keflezighi, the only men’s or women’s winner from the U.S. since Alberto Salazar in 1982. “Obviously, the closer to No. 1, the better.”

A top-10 should be no problem for Keflezighi, if his recent form holds up. Last year, he won the Boston Marathon in a personal-best 2:08:37, then finished fourth in New York in blustery conditions in 2:13:18 and in April returned to Boston with an eighth-place 2:12:42.

Ten men in the field other than Keflezighi have ever run faster than 2:13:18 over 26.2 miles, and New York is not a course conducive to personal bests.

Keflezighi will also race Sunday with the Olympic trials in 104 days in Los Angeles (live on NBC) resting in the back of his mind.

His biggest remaining goal in marathon running is to make a fourth Olympic team in 2016, and he has successful experience with short turnarounds to know he can perform well in November and February.

The biggest gauge for Keflezighi’s chances to finish in the top three in the Olympic trials will be how he performs Sunday.

The race includes one other top contender for the U.S. Olympic team, Nick Arciniaga, who is ranked No. 7 in the nation in marathon times since the 2012 Olympics.

Obviously, if Keflezighi is slower than Arciniaga, who famously finished 10th in New York last year with bloody nipples, then his trials hopes will take a major hit.

The 2004 Olympic silver medalist Keflezighi has the second-fastest marathon by an American since the 2012 Olympics, behind Dathan Ritzenhein.

In 2016, Keflezighi will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic runner. He plans to run beyond Rio, which would be his 24th time competing over 26.2 miles.

“And then maybe one Boston, and then finish up in New York [with a 26th marathon] would be huge,” he said.

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Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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