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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.

MORE: Usain Bolt, Olympic champs get statues next to Jamaican legends

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Jamaican bobsledders want to return to the Olympics, so they’re pushing a Mini Cooper

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The Jamaican bobsled team’s push for the next Winter Olympics took a detour to the roads of Great Britain.

Numerous British media outlets reported in the last week on Shanwayne Stephens and Nimroy Turgott, who have been pushing cars, including a Mini Cooper, in Peterborough.

“We had to come up with our own ways of replicating the sort of pushing we need to do [in bobsledding amid the coronavirus pandemic],” Stephens, a reported British resident since age 11, said, according to Reuters. “So that’s why we thought: why not go out and push the car?

“We do get some funny looks. We’ve had people run over, thinking the car’s broken down, trying to help us bump-start the car. When we tell them we’re the Jamaica bobsleigh team, the direction is totally different, and they’re very excited.”

The Jamaican bobsled team rose to fame with its Olympic debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, inspiring the 1993 Disney film, “Cool Runnings.” At least one Jamaican men’s sled competed in every Olympics from 1988 through 2002, then again in 2014, with a best finish of 14th.

A Jamaican women’s sled debuted at the Olympics in 2018, driven by 2014 U.S. Olympian Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian. A Jamaican men’s sled just missed qualifying for PyeongChang by one spot in world rankings.

Stephens, a driver, is 51st and 56th in the current world rankings for the four-person and two-man events, respectively.

He competed in lower-level international races last season with a best finish of sixth in a four-person race that had seven sleds. One of Stephens’ push athletes was Carrie Russell, a 2018 Olympian in the two-woman event and former sprinter who won a world title in the 4x100m in 2013.

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MORE: Sam Clayton, Jamaica’s first bobsled driver, was ‘a pioneer of pioneers’

Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and a Tour de France rivalry that brought tears

Lance Armstrong, Jan Ullrich
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Lance Armstrong reportedly breaks down into tears in Sunday’s second episode of his ESPN documentary, discussing his closest rival during his run of seven Tour de France titles, all later stripped for doping.

Armstrong visited Jan Ullrich in Germany in 2018, after Ullrich was released from a psychiatric hospital following multiple reported arrests over assault charges.

“The reason I went to see him is I love him,” Armstrong said, followed by tears, according to reports. “It was not a good trip. He was the most important person in my life.”

Ullrich struggled with reported substance abuse, saying in a 2018 letter in German newspaper Bild that he detoxed in a Miami facility and that he had “an illness.”

Ullrich, after winning the 1997 Tour de France, finished second to Armstrong in 2000, 2001 and 2003.

He retired in 2007. In 2013, he admitted to doping during his career (which had been widely assumed), five months after Armstrong confessed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“Nobody scared me, motivated me. The other guys … no disrespect to them, didn’t get me up early,” Armstrong said in the ESPN film, according to Cycling Weekly. “He got me up early. And [in 2018] he was just a f—ing mess.”

Armstrong and Ullrich’s most notable Tour de France interactions: In Stage 10 in 2001, on the iconic Alpe d’Huez, Armstrong gave what came to be known as “The Look,” turning back to stare in sunglasses at Ullrich, then accelerating away to win the stage by 1:59.

In Stage 15 in 2003, Armstrong’s handlebars caught a spectator’s yellow bag. He crashed to the pavement. Ullrich and others slowed to allow Armstrong to remount and catch up. Armstrong won the stage, upping his lead from 15 seconds to 1:07, eventually winning the Tour by 1:01, by far the closest of his seven titles (again, all later stripped).

For Armstrong, Ullrich began transforming from rival to friend in 2005. After Armstrong won his last (later stripped) Tour de France that July, he was told Ullrich wanted to show up at Armstrong’s victory party in a luxury Paris hotel. Ullrich wanted to say a few words in front of hundreds of Armstrong supporters.

“If you know Jan, you know that his English is not great,” Armstrong said in a 2017 episode of one of his podcasts. “I’m just going, no, this can’t be happening. This is not real. Jan showed up and took the mic and gave a speech and talked about me and talked about us. It was the classiest thing that anybody ever did for me in my cycling career. I’ll never forget it. I love him for it.

“I wasn’t man enough to do that. If the roles were reversed, there’s no way I would have done that. But for him to do that, that’s something that I’ll never forget the rest of my life.”

In 2017, Armstrong was upset that Ullrich wasn’t invited to appear at the Tour de France’s opening stages, held in Germany that year. In 2013, when Ullrich fessed up to doping, he said of his chief rival and fellow cheater, “I am no better than Armstrong, but no worse either.”

Ullrich (and other dopers) kept his Tour de France title, a fact that Armstrong has brought up in interviews since his confession. Ullrich was reportedly asked in 2016 by CyclingTips if he considered Armstrong a seven-time Tour de France champion.

“This is a hard question,” he said, according to the report. “It’s not good, that in all those years, you have no winner. It’s not good for history, it’s not good for the Tour de France. I have heard all the stories about Lance. It’s a hard question. I don’t know the answer. I’m not the judge. But for the history of the Tour de France, it’s not good that there is no winner.”

TIMELINE: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall

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