Kristian Ipsen
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U.S. could send full team of individual divers to Olympics

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U.S. divers came into the FINA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro this past week with plenty of work to do, and they just about got the entire job done.

The U.S. has qualified seven of a possible eight individual diving spots for the Olympics, after coming into the World Cup with two qualified spots.

The U.S. could receive an eighth spot, its second women’s springboard berth, but that might not be determined until June.

Abby Johnston finished 20th overall in the World Cup springboard preliminary event, missing earning the U.S. a second Olympic spot by two places (the top 18 divers in the event qualified a spot automatically).

All nations will submit their Olympic diving entries to FINA by June 15. If spots remain in the field, either by nations not sending divers or by athletes doubling up in multiple events, FINA will reallocate spots based on the World Cup results. The U.S. would be second in line to receive a women’s springboard berth.

The U.S. had a full complement of individual divers at its last 15 Olympics (not counting the boycotted Moscow 1980 Games), according to sports-reference.com.

Earlier at the World Cup, the U.S. earned Olympic berths in three of the four synchronized events, missing out only in the women’s springboard. That was a surprise given the U.S. earned its first Olympic women’s diving medals since 2000 in women’s synchro springboard at London 2012 (silver).

This past week, the best individual U.S. performances came from men’s divers.

Kristian Ipsen, an Olympic synchro springboard bronze medalist, earned individual springboard bronze on Monday, the first U.S. World Cup medal in that event since Troy Dumais‘ bronze in 2006.

David Dinsmore, who will eye his first Olympics at the June trials, also finished third in men’s platform, one spot ahead of Steele Johnson.

Olympic platform champion David Boudia did not compete individually at the World Cup because he already qualified a U.S. Olympic platform spot via his silver medal at the 2015 World Championships. He and Johnson were fourth in synchro platform Sunday.

Johnston, the only active U.S. female diver with an Olympic medal, struggled at the World Cup. She and Laura Ryan were eighth in synchro springboard, failing to qualify a U.S. spot for the Olympics by one place.

No U.S. divers clinched spots on the Olympic team at the World Cup. Rather, they qualified spots for the U.S. that will be allocated at the U.S. Olympic trials in Indianapolis from June 18-26.

MORE: David Boudia: ‘Silver is like a thorn in the side’

NBC Olympic researcher Alex Azzi contributed to this report from Rio de Janeiro.

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.

MORE: Eliud Kipchoge opines on shoe technology debate

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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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MORE: Top U.S. bobsled driver pregnant, to miss season