Caster Semenya
AP

Caster Semenya wins Brussels 400m in personal best

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Caster Semenya should definitely be taken seriously in the 400m.

Semenya, the scrutinized Olympic 800m champion, won a 400m race in a massive personal best in the final Diamond League meet of the season in Brussels on Friday.

The South African clocked 50.40 seconds, taking .34 off her personal best set earlier this year. It was her first time racing 400m against a top-level international field.

Semenya came from behind in the race and beat the Rio Olympic third- and fourth-place finishers, collapsing to the track after crossing the finish line. Video is here.

“This was a cheeky one,” Semenya said, according to the IAAF. “I had to come back from behind because I’m not used to run this distance in really important meets. But I’m happy of course with my PB.”

Her time would have placed fifth in Rio, but well behind gold medalist Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas (49.44) and silver medalist Allyson Felix (49.51).

Neither Miller nor Felix was in Friday’s race.

Semenya said on July 15 that she planned to race both the 400m and 800m in Rio, setting a potential anticipated clash with Felix, but she ended up entering just the 800m, as her coach had predicted in the spring.

Full Brussels results are here.

Earlier Friday, Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson won the 100m in 10.72 seconds (video here). Thompson now owns the three fastest times in the world this year — her national-record-tying 10.70 at the Olympic Trials, 10.71 in Rio and 10.72 on Friday.

“Honestly, I wanted faster this year, but OK, I won,” Thompson said, according to the IAAF.

Thompson became the third woman to clock sub-10.75 for the 100m at least three times in one year, joining Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988) and Marion Jones (1998).

U.S. Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris became the third woman ever to clear five meters in the pole vault, joining 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva and 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr. She then took three attempts at a world-record height of 5.07 meters.

“Next season I’ll try longer poles and adept my grip to a higher grip,” Morris said, according to the IAAF. “If I master this new situation I’m sure I will break the world record soon.”

Morris then sang a line from Anna Kendrick‘s “Cups” in the post-meet news conference.

Shannon Rowbury broke Molly Huddle‘s two-year-old American record in the 5000m, finishing fifth in 14:38.92.

VIDEO: Car beats Kenyan in Diamond League race

World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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Daniel Romanchuk’s ascent to marathon stardom accelerated at University of Illinois

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The rise of Daniel Romanchuk has been one of the major stories of this Paralympic cycle. The wheelchair racer was eliminated in the first round of all five of his races in Rio.

But now, he’s the world’s best marathoner with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, a world-record holder on the track and already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Romanchuk, born with spina bifida, was profiled by NBC Sports Chicago as part of a series of NBC Sports Regional Networks pieces published this week — marking 150 days until the Tokyo Olympics and six months until the Tokyo Paralympics.

NBC RSN Olympic and Paralympic Profiles
NBC Sports Bay Area

Abbey Weitzeil (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Boston
Margaret Bertasi (Rowing) — LINK
Abbey D’Agostino Cooper (Track and Field) — LINK

NBC Sports Chicago
Ryan Murphy (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Northwest
Galen Rupp (Marathon) — LINK
Mariel Zagunis (Fencing) — LINK

NBC Sports Philadelphia
Vashti Cunningham (Track and Field) — LINK
Julie Ertz (Soccer) — LINK

NBC Sports Washington
Katie Ledecky (Swimming) — LINK
Kyle Snyder (Wrestling) — LINK

Romanchuk, 21, swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon titles in 2019. He attributes that success to his native Baltimore and his training residence of the University of Illinois.

At age 2, he was enrolled in Baltimore’s Bennett Blazers, an adaptive sports program for children with physical disabilities. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist who dominated women’s wheelchair marathons, planted her athletic roots there.

“Their motto is to teach kids they can before they’re told they can’t,” Romanchuk said.

Things really blossomed for Romanchuk after he moved from Baltimore to the University of Illinois. Illinois was designated a U.S. Paralympic training site in 2014 and has produced McFadden, Jean Driscoll and other U.S. Paralympic stars.

“Without this program, I certainly would not be where I am,” Romanchuk said. “It’s a very unique combination of coaching and teammates.”

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MORE: Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch for 2020 Tokyo Games