Galen Rupp
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Galen Rupp will race U.S. Olympic marathon trials

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Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Galen Rupp will make his marathon debut at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 13.

“It came up a little sooner than I would have thought,” Rupp said of his marathon debut in a USATF.TV interview. “For a long time, it was always … after the Olympics this summer, then I would really start to look at [the marathon] more. After this last summer, it kind of came up in conversations with [coach] Alberto [Salazar].”

Rupp, 29, qualified for the Olympic trials at a half marathon Dec. 13, his first time racing that long of a distance in more than four years. NBC Sports will have live coverage of the trials in Los Angeles.

He said he still plans to race the 10,000 meters this spring with the potential of contesting both the 10,000m and the marathon at the Rio Olympics.

“I would say that the 10k is still my primary focus,” said Rupp, who would have to make the Olympic track team at those trials in Eugene, Ore., from July 1-10. “Really, it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether that’s the 5k or the marathon.”

At the Olympics, the 10,000m is Aug. 13. The 5000m is Aug. 17 (heats) and Aug. 20 (final). The marathon is Aug. 21, the final day of the Games.

Rupp’s 1:01:20 half marathon Dec. 13 ranked second among U.S. men for 2015, behind U.S. champion Diego Estrada, who is expected to make his 26.2-mile debut at the marathon trials.

“Galen wants to keep all his options open,” Salazar said in December, according to Runner’s World. “No commitments one way or the other.”

Rupp previously signed up for the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon trials — also, reportedly, because he wanted to keep his options open — with a qualifying time from the March 2011 New York City half marathon (1:00:30).

But Rupp withdrew one week before the Jan. 14, 2012, marathon trials.

Many have wondered when Rupp would make his marathon debut. And how he would fare.

“It’s a little daunting,” Rupp said in the USATF.TV interview published Thursday. “It obviously is a little risky. I’ve always been a 5k/10k guy.”

He’s long been best at the 10,000m, making the Beijing 2008 team in the second-longest running event on the Olympic program, breaking the American record in 2011 (and again in 2014) and taking that 2012 Olympic silver medal.

The Olympic marathon trials favorite is Meb Keflezighi, a 40-year-old who owns an Olympic silver medal and Boston and New York marathon victories.

The other top contender, three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, dealt with a hip injury in the fall and didn’t contest a Dec. 13 relay race with other men’s and women’s marathon hopefuls.

The top three at the trials will make the Rio Olympic team.

“Guys that certainly have a lot more experience than I do in running a marathon,” Rupp said, not about specific runners but the field. “They’ve been so great for so long. They’re there for a reason. They’re going to make it tough.”

Rupp’s goal is Olympic gold, and his best shot to do so may still be in the 10,000m.

Rupp followed the Olympic 10,000m silver by finishing fourth at the 2013 World Championships and fifth at this past summer’s Worlds. Training partner Mo Farah won all of those races and appears an overwhelming favorite to repeat in Rio.

“I was really disappointed to finish fifth,” Rupp said in November of his 27:08.91 time in Beijing on Aug. 22. “If that had been six years ago, I would’ve broken the American record in 90-degree heat, basically. So I ran really, really solidly, I thought, but sometimes you can’t control what place you get.”

He’s focused offseason training on paying more attention to his diet, yoga and upper-body stretches.

“Say I had gotten second or third, gotten my medal in Beijing, I would’ve maybe been a little disappointed, but we would’ve been, hey, we’re still right there,” Rupp said in November. “Maybe we wouldn’t have found all those other things [to work on].”

VIDEO: Rupp part of Nike Oregon Animal House tribute

At U.S. Open swim meet, teens make a splash with Olympic trials on horizon

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While Olympic and world champions Katie LedeckySimone Manuel and Chase Kalisz notched expected victories at the U.S. Open on Thursday, a trio of teenagers lowered personal bests to further establish their Tokyo Olympic hopes.

At the top domestic meet of the winter, Alex WalshCarson Foster and Kieran Smith each earned runner-up finishes, but their performances stood out in the big picture: looking at June’s Olympic trials, where the top two per individual event make the team.

Walsh, a rising Nashville high school senior, took 2.23 seconds off her 200m individual medley best. She clocked 2:09.01, overtaken by .17 by Melanie Margalis, the Rio Olympic and 2019 World Championships fourth-place finisher.

Full meet results are here.

Walsh moved from fifth-fastest in the U.S. this year to No. 2 behind Margalis, passing Olympic and world championships veterans Ella EastinKathleen Baker and Madisyn Cox. Of those swimmers, only Eastin was also in Thursday’s final.

Walsh joined her younger sister, Gretchen, in Olympic qualifying position based on 2019 times. Gretchen, 16, ranks fourth in the U.S. in the 100m free this year. The top six in that event at trials are in line to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool.

The Walshes could become the third set of sisters to make the same U.S. Olympic swim team, and the second to do it in pool swimming after Dana and Tara Kirk in 2004.

Foster, 18, continued his ascent Thursday in taking second to Kalisz in the men’s 200m IM. The world junior champion lowered his personal best in the prelims and the final, getting down to 1:57.59. Foster passed Ryan Lochte, who is nearly twice his age, in Thursday’s final and in the 2019 U.S. rankings. Only Kalisz and Michael Andrew have been faster among Americans this year.

Foster is trying to become the youngest U.S. Olympic male swimmer since 2000, when a 15-year-old Michael Phelps made his Olympic debut. Foster, who has been breaking Phelps national age-group records since he was 10, committed to the University of Texas in March 2018, two years before he graduates high school in Ohio.

Then there’s Kieran Smith, now a prime candidate to fill a huge void in the 400m freestyle. Zane Grothe is the only American ranked in the top 20 in the world this year.

Smith, a 19-year-old from the University of Florida, took 2.29 seconds off his lifetime best on Thursday to jump from outside the top 10 to No. 2 in the U.S. on the year. Smith was already ranked No. 2 in the country in the 200m free.

Two more runners-up in the 50m freestyles — Erika Brown to Manuel and Zach Apple to Brazilian Bruno Fratus — lowered personal bests to move to No. 3 in each U.S. ranking list this year.

The U.S. Open continues Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. ET with live coverage on NBCSN and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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Nathan Chen distances Yuzuru Hanyu in Grand Prix Final short program

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A brilliant Nathan Chen outscored a flawed Yuzuru Hanyu for a fourth straight head-to-head program, taking a 12.95-point lead at the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, on Thursday.

Chen, the two-time reigning world champion, tallied 110.38 points going into Saturday’s free skate. He landed a quadruple Lutz, triple Axel and quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination.

It’s the highest short program score in the world this season, leading the American to say “wow” in the kiss-and-cry area. His coach, the often-gruff Rafael Arutyunyan, banged his knee against his pupil’s.

Hanyu, the two-time reigning Olympic champion, hit a quadruple Salchow and triple Axel but then stepped out of a quad toe landing. He therefore failed to include a required jumping combination and ended up in second place.

“I wanted to do a great performance and do a good competition against [Chen], but that didn’t happen this time,” Hanyu, who was without longtime coach Brian Orser, or any other coach, said through a translator. Hanyu said Orser was busy last week, so he chose to use his lone accreditation on another coach who had travel delays.

Hanyu is not out of title contention. His world-leading free skate score this season is 16.61 points better than Chen’s best free skate from the fall Grand Prix Series.

Chen is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, but this is just his second head-to-head with Hanyu in that span. Chen defeated Hanyu at March’s world championships, where the Japanese megastar was likely affected by an ankle injury.

After Thursday’s program, Chen repeated what he said before the competition: he still feels like he’s chasing Hanyu.

“Yuzu is like the goat, he’s the greatest of all time, really,” Chen said. “So, to have this opportunity to be able to share the ice with a guy like that, someone that I’ve looked up to for a long time, someone that I’ve watched grow up through the junior ranks when I was like a baby, it’s really cool to be able see him now. It’s really cool to even just be able to see him person.”

The Grand Prix Final, the biggest annual event outside the world championships, continues Friday with the rhythm dance, women’s short and pairs’ free skate. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

Earlier in pairs, Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took their first step toward a first Grand Prix Final title. The Olympic silver medalists tallied 77.50, leading Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy by .85 going into Friday’s free skate.

Sui and Han were imperfect, with Sui putting her hand down on a throw triple flip landing. They are undefeated in this Beijing Olympic cycle and own the world’s top total score this season.

The U.S. failed to qualify a pair for the six-team Final for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

Grand Prix Final
Men’s Short Program
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 110.38
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 97.43
3. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 96.71
4. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.78
5. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 81.32
6. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 80.67

Pairs’ Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 77.50
2. Aleksandra Boikova / Dmitriy Kozlovskiy (RUS) — 76.65
3. Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin (RUS) — 75.16
4. Anastasia Mishina/Aleksandr Galliamov (RUS) — 71.48
5. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 69.67
6. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro (CAN) — 67.08

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