Boston Marathon winners not assured Olympic spots

Lemi Bayle, Atsede Baysa
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BOSTON (AP) — The 2016 Boston Marathon was a coronation for Ethiopia, which collected its first-ever sweep of the men’s and women’s titles.

That doesn’t mean the winners of the world’s most prestigious marathon will get a spot on the Ethiopian Olympic team.

Lemi Berhanu Hayle won the 120th edition of the Boston Marathon on Monday, and fellow Ethiopian Atsede Baysa took the women’s crown. But some of their countrymen are running in the London Marathon next week, and have a chance for faster times than the wind-slowed marks posted in Boston.

Unlike the United States, which held trials to select its Olympic team, the national federations in Ethiopia and other countries pick their teams.

“This is a major marathon,” Baysa said through an interpreter. “We don’t know what they are thinking, but we are confident they will select me.”

Hayle finished in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 45 seconds to beat defending champion Lelisa Desisa by 47 seconds. Yemane Tsegay was an additional 30 seconds back to round out an all-Ethiopian top three.

Baysa finished 44 seconds ahead of fellow Ethiopian Tirfi Tsegaye. Kenyan Joyce Chepkirui‘s third-place finish was the only thing that denied Ethiopia a sweep in both races. Kenya, which had dominated the Boston Marathon since the professional era began in 1986, had its worst showing since 1990.

“In sports, sometimes that happens. But not always,” Desisa said. “It is the performance on the day.”

And the performances in Boston might not seem all that impressive on paper. Hayle’s time doesn’t crack the top 150 marathon times in the world this year; Baysa’s 2:29:19 doesn’t rank in the top 50 for the women.

But Boston’s historic up-and-down course and lack of pace-setters leads to the kind of tactical racing that runners are likely to see in Rio de Janeiro. This year’s Boston field included three of the top Ethiopian women ever.

“Boston is different from any other races,” said Desisa, who also won the 2013 race a few hours before a pair of bombs exploded at the finish line.

VIDEO: Boston Marathon documentary trailer

Mo Farah likely to retire this year

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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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