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U.S. pair wins debut of Paralympic women’s triathlon races

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Americans Grace Norman and Allysa Seely became the first Paralympic women’s triathlon champions on Sunday.

Norman won the very first Paralympic women’s triathlon in the PT4 division as the sport was added to the Games for Rio. Twenty minutes later, Seely led a U.S. sweep with Hailey Danisewicz and Melissa Stockwell in the PT2 division.

NBCSN and the NBC Sports app will have Paralympics coverage later Sunday at 7 ET.

Norman, 18, won in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 39 seconds, beating silver medalist Lauren Steadman of Great Britain by 64 seconds after a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run. Norman is also scheduled to race in the 400m preliminary heats later Sunday at Olympic Stadium.

The Ohio native is the first female amputee to qualify for a high school state track meet and finish on the podium. Norman was born missing her left leg below the knee due to congenital constriction band syndrome.

Seely, 27, came from behind to win the PT2 division in 1:22:55, topping Danisewicz by 48 seconds and Stockwell by 2:29.

Seely is the 2015 and 2016 world champion in her class. In 2010, she was diagnosed with Chiari 2 Malformation, Basilar Invagination and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. She had a traumatic brain injury and an incomplete spinal cord injury at the age of 20. Her left leg was amputated below the knee in 2013. Like Norman, she’s also entered in a track event in Rio, the 200m, which starts Monday.

Danisewicz, 25, is the reigning U.S. Paratriathlete of the Year and was the first American to qualify for a Paralympic triathlon. She had her left leg amputated at age 14 after being diagnosed with bone cancer two years earlier.

Stockwell, a mother of a 1-year-old boy, swam at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics as the first Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran to make Team USA.

The first lieutenant and first female U.S. soldier to lose a limb in active combat, Stockwell then switched to paratriathlon and received a last-minute invite to Rio after not qualifying for the U.S. team outright.

MORE: Paralympics broadcast schedule

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