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Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky impress each other

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RIO DE JANEIRO – Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky met for the first time in 2015, when they were nominees for the same award. Ezekiel Elliott won.

Biles and Ledecky, who have a combined five gold medals at these Games and could finish with nine between them, came to New York City in April 2015 for the Sullivan Award ceremony.The award goes to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the U.S. (the definition of amateur athlete is used loosely in choosing nominees). Past winners include Michael Phelps, Michelle Kwan and Tim Tebow.

Biles and Ledecky were nominated for their 2014 performances – Ledecky winning five gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships and Biles winning a second straight world all-around title.

But the award went to the then-Ohio State running back Elliott.

“Ezekiel truly epitomizes what the AAU Sullivan Award is all about – leadership and excellence both on and off the field,” AAU President Dr. Roger Goudy said in a press release then.

Biles is from Texas. Ledecky from Maryland. They each made the New York trip during the middle of their seasons, got dressed up and did media appearances before the ceremony that ended up crowning Elliott (but honoring all nominees).Biles’ coach, Aimee Boorman, jokes about it now.

“We were like, what, seriously, all right whatever,” Boorman said with a laugh and a smile and no disrespect Friday morning.

Biles said she and Ledecky exchanged little more than polite greetings at that first meeting.

“Everyone’s pretty shy, even though you’re at the same place for the same reason,” Biles said. “So we barely talked, but then we saw each other in L.A. [at pre-Olympic media shoots], and that’s when we started talking.”

Congratulations, good luck at your next meet, stuff like that.

Then on June 11, the 4-foot-9 Biles actually mounted a swimming starting block at an indoor pool, had it filmed and tweeted it at Ledecky.

“Yes @Simone_Biles! Great technique! You are more than welcome on the @USASwimming team!” Ledecky tweeted back.

 

Ledecky has tweeted 747 times, including about once every 12 days in the last year. Biles has tweeted more than 7,250 times.

On Biles’ first day in Rio, she saw Ledecky in the athletes’ village, ran up and hugged her.

“Simone’s kind of animated,” Boorman said. “Katie’s kind of chill.”

Asked if she could compare anything about the athletes’ accomplishments, Boorman remembered walking behind two male and two female swimmers the other day. They were discussing how hard it was for the male swimmer to train with Ledecky, who has been known to beat men in practice.

Then the male swimmer asked how Ledecky will fare if she swims at Stanford starting next year (Ledecky has not turned pro, so she is still eligible for NCAA competition).

“I don’t know, because she needs to train with the guys just to have someone to push her, someone to challenge her,” Boorman remembered the female swimmer saying.

“So that says how dominant she is,” Boorman continued. “It’s funny, because I’ve heard male gymnasts talk about Simone that way. They get upset that she can tumble and vault better than they can.”

Ledecky will end her Olympics on Thursday night as an overwhelming favorite in the 800m freestyle. If she wins, she will become the third U.S. woman to win four gold medals at a single Olympics, joining Missy Franklin and Amy Van Dyken.

Biles gets Friday and Saturday off before returning for apparatus finals Sunday (vault), Monday (balance beam) and Tuesday (floor exercise). If she sweeps them, which is possible to probable, she will surpass Ledecky, Franklin and Van Dyken with five golds.

As impressive as that would be, Biles looks at what Ledecky does and gives a look of dread.

“I would drown for sure,” Biles said.

Chicago Marathon canceled; one major marathon left in 2020

Chicago Marathon
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The Chicago Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 11, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the fourth World Marathon Major called off this year.

Organizers cited the challenge of staging the 45,000-runner event “out of concern for the safety of event participants, volunteers, event staff and spectators.”

Previously, major marathons were canceled in Berlin (originally scheduled for Sept. 27), Boston (April 20, then Sept. 14) and New York City (Nov. 1). The London Marathon, originally scheduled for April 26 and postponed to Oct. 4, remains scheduled.

The other World Marathon Major, Tokyo, took place on its scheduled date of March 1 but with elite runners only.

Last year, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei won Chicago by taking 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record. Kosgei clocked 2:14:04.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results

Figure skating Grand Prix events in China remain scheduled

Grand Prix Final
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Figure skating Grand Prix events in China in November and December remain scheduled, the International Skating Union announced Monday, four days after reports about international sporting events in China being canceled through the end of 2020.

A notice about sports events, issued Thursday by the General Administration of Sport of China, made an exception for Beijing Winter Olympic test events and other preparations for the first Winter Games in China in February 2022.

The Grand Prix Final, the second-most prestigious annual figure skating competition, is still scheduled for December in Beijing because it is an Olympic test event.

Furthermore, the Cup of China, one of six events across the globe that determines Grand Prix Final qualifiers, remains scheduled for November in Chongqing because it is related to the Final.

“Like for all other five ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events in the different countries, this is of course subject to finding the necessary logistical, medical and safety solutions to hold the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events as planned,” according to the ISU.

The ISU previously announced it set a deadline to decide on possible event cancellations: 12 weeks before an event starts. For the first Grand Prix Series competition, Skate America in Las Vegas, the decision deadline is Aug. 1.

The ISU council will meet virtually on Aug. 3 to decide on further action for upcoming competitions.

MORE: Tai Babilonia, a Winter Olympic original, credits skating trailblazer

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