Lolo Jones
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Lolo Jones sets return to track, bobsled after latest surgery

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NEW YORK — Twice in 2015, Lolo Jones thought her track and field career might be over.

First, when she fought last spring to clock 12.8 seconds in 100m hurdles races, following November 2014 shoulder surgery.

“Normally I can close my eyes and run 12.6, 12.7,” Jones, 33 and one of 10 Americans to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, said while in Manhattan on Tuesday, promoting Orangetheory Fitness. “I was like literally, all-out fighting for 12.8s. I was like what the hell is going on? That’s when I started to hit the panic.”

Her coach assessed video but couldn’t find any technique problems. Doctors and physical therapists took a look at her. Nobody had a solution but to keep running.

So Jones did, except it felt like she raced all season with “a flat tire.”

“At that point, as an athlete, you have to think, OK, well am I done?” said Jones, who has constantly dealt with injuries since transitioning back to track and field from bobsled after the Sochi 2014 Olympics. “Maybe I really burned myself out by doing two sports. Maybe that’s all I had in the tank.”

In late spring, Jones began feeling pain in her upper trail leg as it flopped over 33-inch hurdles in races. She knew it wasn’t a torn hamstring — Jones has suffered six to eight of those — so she worked more on hip strength, thinking that part of her body was weak.

At the U.S. Championships in June, Jones hit two hurdles and walked off out of lane eight halfway through the 100m hurdles final. The top three finishers made the World Championships team. Jones, who was 10th overall in the semifinals, ended her season soon after Nationals.

She briefly returned to bobsled training in September, hopeful that the previous month off would have healed her hip. But she still felt pain pushing sleds and decided then to get an MRI.

It turned out that Jones had another torn labrum, this time in her left hip.

“When they told me I needed surgery, it was almost as if somebody told me my career was over,” she said. “I knew how long it took me to recover from my shoulder [November 2014 torn labrum surgery], and I couldn’t lift weights until March [2015]. That puts you too much in the hole.”

Jones was on a bike six hours after the Oct. 15 surgery, posting Instagram video but leaving out the part where she almost passed out from over-exertion.

She then visited the U.S. Olympic training center in Colorado Springs for the first time in an 11-year post-collegiate career and took full advantage.

Three workouts per day. The first set included somebody else slowly moving her left leg for 30 minutes at a time. On crutches, Jones asked other athletes to carry her lunch and dinner trays at the on-campus cafeteria. Appointment after appointment with recovery and rehab specialists.

Jones learned she had allergies to eggs, potatoes and Bordeaux, her arthritic 11-year-old silver Weimaraner with a Twitter account.

“I can have a dog around, I just can’t pet it,” she said. Bordeaux will live with Jones’ mom until after the Rio Olympics.

The accelerated recovery led Jones to hurdle for the first time in December and schedule two races already this month — despite doctors telling her in the fall that she wouldn’t be able to compete until the spring.

She might show up at the U.S. Indoor Championships and World Indoor Championships in March, both in Portland, Ore.

She’s returned quicker to running from a hip surgery than from a shoulder surgery.

“Which is crazy,” Jones said.

The focus is on July and the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., where Jones is set to line up in arguably the deepest event in U.S. track and field.

The 18 fastest 100m hurdles times in the world last year were shared by five Americans, though the U.S. was shockingly shut out of the medals at the World Championships. Jones was the eighth-fastest American in 2015 while running with that flat tire.

Regardless of if Jones can make her third Summer Olympic team by placing top-three at trials, she still has designs on making her second Winter Olympic team in 2018.

Jones said she plans to compete in bobsled in the 2016-17 season, which begins three months after the Rio Games, with an eye on the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games.

Jones said she’s not worn down by age and surgeries as much as her well-known Olympic finals, hitting the penultimate hurdle while leading at Beijing 2008 and taking fourth at London 2012.

“Not the injuries so much as coming so close to a medal,” she said. “That’s energy-depleting.”

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Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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