Molly Huddle wins 10,000m final, this time running hard through finish

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Molly Huddle ran hard through the finish line this time. Didn’t matter. Nobody was going to catch her anyway.

The long-distance runner who gave up the bronze medal at the world championships last year by celebrating too soon left no room for doubt at the U.S. Track and Field Trials on Saturday.

She outdistanced second-place finisher Emily Infeld by nearly five seconds, never coming close to the finish-line stumble in Beijing, when Huddle slowed and raised her hands a step before the tape. That day, the hard-charging Infeld shouldered her way past for the bronze medal. This day, Huddle, Infeld and third-place Marielle Hall made the Olympic team.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get over it,” said Huddle, who finished in 31 minutes, 41.62 seconds on a hot afternoon at Hayward Field. “But I’m trying to move past it and not dwell on it, not let it steal anymore from me by fixating on it.”

Huddle insisted she learned from the mistake, even if the lesson was a tough one. On Saturday, Huddle took the race out at a brisk pace so that not many runners would follow the lead. There were four for a while, then three and finally just Infeld and Huddle with a lap remaining. Just to be safe, Huddle cranked it up another gear to pull away from Infeld.

Still, Huddle couldn’t help but cast a quick glance at the scoreboard near the finish, just to make sure Infeld wasn’t gaining ground.

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She wasn’t. No celebration, though.

“I was just relieved,” Huddle said. “I didn’t want any disasters to happen.”

There were certainly a few chances for one, like when a discus rolled across the track during the middle of the race. No one was bothered by it.

Or when Kim Conley — a prerace favorite — was stepped on and lost a spike. She had to stop to put it back on, costing her valuable time. So much that she elected to call it a day early and save her strength for the 5,000 on Thursday.

“I tried to catch up, but the leaders were too far ahead,” said Conley, a 2012 Olympian.

For Huddle, this was business as usual.

“What happened last year, I’m mad at myself,” Huddle said. “But I was glad that another American placed. I would’ve felt worse if it weren’t one of my teammates.”

There’s no animosity between Huddle and Infeld. They’re friends, and remained so even after the episode last year.

“That would be a better story (if we weren’t friends), but that’s not true,” Huddle said.

What’s true is this: Infeld is heading to her first Olympics. For that, the 26-year-old from Ohio thanks LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“After watching the Cavs, I better step up my game,” Infeld said. “It’s such a special moment.”

MORE: Injuries bite biggest Olympic track and field stars as Trials begin

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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