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Jessica Ennis-Hill retires from track and field

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London Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill said she’s retiring because she wants to leave “on a high,” ending one of the greatest heptathlon careers at age 30.

“This has been one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make,” Ennis-Hill’s Instagram read Thursday. “But I know that retiring now is right. I’ve always said I want to leave my sport on a high and have no regrets and I can truly say that.”

At London 2012, Ennis-Hill was part of Great Britain’s “Super Saturday,” winning one of three gold medals by the host nation in track and field that evening.

Ennis-Hill took a break in 2014 for childbirth and then made the Rio Olympics her finale. She took silver behind Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiem.

Ennis-Hill also won world titles in 2009 and 2015 but is ending her career less than one year before the 2017 World Championships in London’s Olympic Stadium. Ennis-Hill has said she wants to be upgraded from 2011 Worlds silver to gold after Russian titlist Tatyana Chernova was found in 2013 to have doped in 2009.

“We’ve known for a long time this day was coming,” her longtime coach, Toni Minichiello, said on a coachtorio.com. “Many sports people hold on too long. Jess has managed to avoid walking out of the stadium after failing a qualifying round. She’s walking out of the stadium by stepping off the podium. She’s one of our sporting greats. It seems fitting this way.”

In Rio, Ennis-Hill joined Jackie Joyner-Kersee as the only women to win Olympic heptathlon titles and return to take a medal in the event in the following Games.

Olympic Heptathlon Medals
1. Jackie Joyner Kersee (USA) — 2 gold, 1 silver
2. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR) — 1 gold, 1 silver
3. Denise Lewis (GBR) — 1 gold, 1 bronze

World Heptathlon Medals
1. Carolina Kluft (SWE) — 3 gold
2. Sabine Braun (GER) — 2 gold, 1 silver
2. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR) — 2 gold, 1 silver
4. Eunice Barber (FRA) — 1 gold, 2 silver

Heptathlon All-Time List
1. Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA) — 7,291 points (Kersee has the top six totals all-time)
2. Carolina Kluft (SWE) — 7,032 points
3. Larisa Turchinskaya (URS) — 7,007 points
4. Sabine Braun (GER) — 6,985 points
5. Jessica Ennis-Hill (GBR) — 6,955 points

Great Britain has a strong heptathlon tradition, one that should be extended by Olympics sixth-place finisher Katarina Johnson-Thompson, 23, and 2014 World junior champion Morgan Lake, 19.

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Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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Greg Van Avermaet triples Tour de France lead in first mountain stage

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Belgian Greg Van Avermaet more than tripled his Tour de France overall lead in the first day in the mountains on Tuesday, but Wednesday may be his last day in the yellow jersey.

Julian Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman to win a stage in this year’s Tour, claiming the 10th stage that included three first-category climbs and a beyond-category climb but ended with a descent and the contenders together in the peloton.

Van Avermaet finished fourth, 1:44 behind Alaphilippe. More importantly, Van Avermaet crossed the Grand-Bornand finish line 1:39 ahead of a group that included most of the main contenders to top the podium in Paris on July 29.

The Olympic road race champion increased his overall lead from 43 seconds to 2:22.

Van Avermaet has worn the maillot jaune for a week straight, but he is not a climber, and the biggest test of the Tour thus far is imminent.

“No disrespect, but he’s not going to win the Tour,” said Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who is in second place.

The Tour continues with stage 11, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Wednesday (full broadcast schedule here). The 67-mile stage starts in the 1992 Winter Olympic host Albertville and includes two beyond-category climbs. It concludes with a category-one summit at La Rosière.

“Tomorrow’s a climber’s day,” Van Avermaet said. “It will be super hard to keep [the yellow jersey]. … Tomorrow it will be over.”

Chris Froome, eyeing a record-tying fifth Tour de France title, is best placed of the pre-Tour favorites.

Froome is in sixth place and 3:21 behind Van Avermaet. Froome is followed by Spaniard Mikel Landa in the same time and 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali another six seconds back.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran, the 2017 Tour runner-up, finished 2:36 behind the group with Froome, Landa and Nibali.

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