Jenn Suhr, Renaud Lavillenie win World Indoor pole vault titles

Jenn Suhr
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — France’s Renaud Lavillenie attempted to break his own world record in the pole vault, but settled for the gold medal in the event Thursday night at the World Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Lavillenie bested American Sam Kendricks for the championship, clearing 19 feet, 9 inches. He then set the bar at 20-2¾, in the bid to surpass his record, indoor and outdoor, of 20-2½ inches, set in 2014 at an event in the Ukraine. He missed all three attempts.

Kendricks, the reigning outdoor national champion who won the U.S. indoor title last week with a personal-best vault of 19-4¼, missed at that height for the silver medal. Poland’s Piotr Lisek took the bronze, finishing with a vault of 18-10¼.

World indoor record holder and reigning Olympic gold medalist Jenn Suhr made all four of her vaults and easily cleared a meet record 16-0¾ for the gold. Fellow American Sandi Morris won the silver and Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece won the bronze.

The men’s and women’s pole vault was the only competition following opening ceremonies at the Oregon Convention Center venue on Thursday night. The meet runs through Sunday.

Lavillenie, who won the indoors in 2012 before going on to win the gold medal at the London Olympics that summer, passed on five of six heights but hit the height to beat Kendricks and pumped his fists.

His second attempt at the world record was a bit scary when he landed between the pads. But he laughed when he rose.

“It’s not so often that I do something like that. It happens,” he said afterward. “Pole vault is very dangerous and intense.”

The men’s field also included Canadian Shawn Barber, who won the gold medal at the World Outdoor Championships in Beijing last year. Barber and Lavillenie battled last month in France with Lavillenie coming out on top. This time, Barber finished in fourth.

Lavillenie earlier cleared the year’s world-best height of 19-9¼.

The competition featured the first pole vault field, indoor or outdoor, where four women cleared 15-9.

At last week’s U.S. Indoor Championships, Morris bested Suhr with a vault of 16-2¾ inches. Morris couldn’t clear that height on her final leap.

Just last month Suhr broke her own indoor world record in her home state, clearing 16-6 at the Brockport Golden Eagle Multi and Invitational at SUNY Brockport.

The crowd was excited when it was announced that Suhr might attempt a world record, but she ultimately decided against it because of a sore calf.

Outdoor world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva, a two-time gold medalist, was not in the field because the Russian federation is suspended from competition because of doping and corruption allegations. The IAAF, the sport’s governing body, is expected to decide in May whether Russia can compete in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Isinbayeva has been working her way back to the sport after a long layoff because of the birth of her daughter. An apparent Achilles injury last month further slowed her comeback.

Also missing is defending indoor champion Yarisley Silva of Cuba, who withdrew after her fiance, high jumper Sergio Mestre, was hospitalized following a training accident.

Australia’s Alana Boyd hurt her ankle during warmups and was taken to a local hospital for X-Rays. Preliminary tests indicated she had a sprained left ankle.

MORE: World Indoors broadcast schedule

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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