Eliud Kipchoge just misses world record at London Marathon (video)

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Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge won the London Marathon in 2:03:05, missing the world record for 26.2 miles by eight seconds.

Countryman Dennis Kimetto‘s record of 2:02:57 was set at the 2014 Berlin Marathon. Kipchoge is now No. 2 all time.

Kipchoge prevailed by 46 seconds over countryman Stanley Biwott, the 2015 New York City Marathon champion. Full results are here.

“I am frustrated I missed the world record, but I am happy to break the course record,” Kipchoge said in a press release. “I realized I had broken the 30km record [on marathon world-record pace through 18 miles], but I lost a few seconds before 35km. I tried to get it back at the end, but I just couldn’t do it.”

Kipchoge won his fifth straight marathon and second straight London title, all but sewing up a place on the Kenyan Olympic team of three men’s marathoners. The team hasn’t been announced yet, and there was no defined qualifying criteria.

In Kipchoge’s previous marathon in Berlin on Sept. 27, wayward insoles may have cost him the world record.

At Athens 2004, Kipchoge was 19 years old when he finished behind legends Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele in the Olympic 5000m. A year earlier, he beat both of them at the World Championships in Paris.

Bekele, an Olympic champion and world-record holder on the track in the 5000m and 10,000m, finished third in his fourth career marathon Sunday.

It looks like one of the last two men to break the marathon world record — Kimetto and Wilson Kipsang — will be left off the Kenyan Olympic team. Kipsang finished fifth after falling on Sunday; Kimetto ninth.

Since the London Olympics, Kimetto made his marathon debut in September 2012, broke the world record in September 2014 and is now no longer among the three best Kenyans in the event.

Six days after Ethiopians swept the Boston Marathon men’s and women’s titles, rival Kenya returned the favor at the other major spring marathon in London.

Jemima Sumgong won the women’s race in 2:28:58, beating 2015 London champion Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia by five seconds.

Sumgong, 31, captured her first major marathon title after finishing second at Boston 2012 and New York City 2014. Kenyans have won five of the last six women’s London Marathons.

Sumgong recovered from an earlier fall, where two-time London winner Mary Keitany also hit the pavement. Keitany finished ninth in 2:28:30.

“The fall really affected me, and I was unsure if I could continue,” Sumgong said in the press release. “I have a cut on my head and on my shoulder, they are bleeding, but I don’t feel any pain yet. I did feel it in my legs, so I am so surprised I won.”

London marked the final World Marathon Major before the Rio Olympics. No member of the U.S. Olympic marathon team took part in the spring marathons after qualifying for Rio in Los Angeles on Feb. 13.

MORE: Boston Marathon winners not assured Olympic spots

40 years ago today: Jimmy Carter lays plan for Olympic boycott

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On Jan. 20, 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter said he would not support sending a U.S. team to the Moscow Olympics later that summer if the Soviet Union did not withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Carter detailed his stance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” airing that Sunday. A transcript:

Bill Monroe: Assuming the Soviets do not pull out of Afghanistan any time soon, do you favor the U.S. participating in the Moscow Olympics, and if not, what are the alternatives?

Carter: No. Neither I nor the American people would support the sending of an American team to Moscow with Soviet invasion troops in Afghanistan. I’ve sent a message today to the United States Olympic Committee spelling out my own position that unless the Soviets withdraw their troops within a month from Afghanistan that the Olympic Games be moved from Moscow to alternate site or multiple sites or postponed or canceled. If the Soviets do not withdraw their troops immediately from Afghanistan — within a month — I would not support the sending of an American team to the Olympics. It’s very important for the world to realize how serious a threat the Soviets’ invasion of Afghanistan is. I do not want to inject politics into the Olympics, and I would personally favor the establishment of a permanent Olympic site for both the Summer and the Winter Games. In my opinion, the most appropriate permanent site for the Summer Games would be Greece. This will be my own position, and I have asked the U.S. Olympic Committee to take this position to the International Olympic Committee, and I would hope that as many nations as possible would support this basic position. One hundred and four nations voted against the Soviet invasion and called for their immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan in the United Nations, and I would hope as many of those as possible would support the position I’ve just outlined to you.

Monroe: Mr. President, if a substantial number of nations does not support the U.S. position, would not that just put the U.S. in an isolated position without doing much damage to the Soviet Union?

Carter: Regardless of what other nations might do, I would not favor the sending of an American Olympic team to Moscow while the Soviet invasion troops are in Afghanistan.

Three days later, Carter said in his State of the Union address, “I have notified the Olympic Committee that with Soviet invading forces in Afghanistan, neither the American people nor I will support sending an Olympic team to Moscow.”

The Soviets did not withdraw troops.

Though Carter did not have the authority to order a boycott, the U.S. Olympic Committee did decide on April 12 not to send a team.

The U.S. was among more than 60 nations that were invited to the Moscow Games and did not participate (for various reasons). Other notable absences included Canada, West Germany, Japan and China.

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With four former champions in the mix, who can claim U.S. Championships pairs’ title?

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There have been four different U.S. pairs’ champions in the past four years. All four of those teams are in the field at this week’s U.S. Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina. With that in mind, who could get the nod to compete at the world championships in March?

The U.S. has two spots to fill, thanks to the efforts of Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, who finished ninth at last year’s worlds.

Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier had the best fall of any U.S. pair, winning two bronze medals on the Grand Prix Series. Denney and Frazier finished with silver medals at last year’s national championships, too. The team has previous experience at the world championships (2015: 12th; 2017: 20th).

Cain-Gribble and LeDuc won the national title last year after a season that was nearly sidelined by Cain-Gribble’s concussion in December 2018. As the solo U.S. representatives at the world championships, they succeeded in earning back two world berths for 2020.

This season, they won two B-level competitions and finished fourth and fifth at their Grand Prix assignments. LeDuc said last week that despite their win at Golden Spin in December, “there was a little bit of room for improvement, which is exactly what we want from a competition going into nationals.”

“We feel like we’ve improved a lot as far as what we’re able to take on mentally because we know that this is going to be an intense week,” Cain-Gribble said. “We’re prepared for that. We’ve never had to do this before, where we’re coming in and we’re already the reigning champions. We’ve never come in with that title before. We’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people about it and what that feeling is, but overall their main thing was, ‘Be prepared. Prepare yourself beyond what you can even imagine. When you get there, just go on autopilot and do your thing.’”

PyeongChang Olympic team event bronze medalists Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim haven’t been in top form since the Games. Later in 2018, they split from short-lived coach Aljona Savchenko in Germany and moved to California.

They finished an all-time low of seventh at last year’s nationals and were not assigned to any events later in the season. In their off-season, Chris underwent wrist surgery. The couple also added Rafael Arutunian to their coaching team to address their jumping abilities. Their season consisted of a silver medal at a B-level competition, followed by two Grand Prix assignments where they finished fourth and seventh.

“We feel that many people probably have kind of written us off, because we’re an old married couple and we’re kind of labeled ‘can’t get it together,’” Scimeca Knierim said after finishing fourth at Skate Canada this fall. “That’s almost an advantage, because I feel like for so long, we were considered the front-runners. I still believe we are. We’re trying to show we can get it together.”

The last time the Knierims competed at a nationals in Greensboro, in 2015, they won the first of their two titles. That year, they notched their highest placement (seventh) across five total trips to the world championships.

Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea won their national title in 2016 and were also sent on their only trip to the world championships where they finished 13th. In 2017, Kayne underwent knee surgery, but they returned to the national podium in 2018 and won silver. Last year, they finished fourth after a disastrous free skate.

This season, they collected a silver medals and a fourth place finish at two B-level competitions as well as a pair of sixth-place finishes on the Grand Prix.

MORE: 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships TV, live stream schedule

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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