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Usain Bolt among IAAF World Athlete of the Year nominees

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Usain Bolt is one of 10 men nominated for the IAAF’s Male Athlete of the Year, bidding to win the award for a sixth time after another Olympic triple-gold performance.

Bolt, who won the award after previous Olympics in 2008 and 2012, will go up against a field made up of Rio gold medalists.

That includes South African Wayde van Niekerk, the only man to break a world record in an Olympic event this year, the 400m in Rio.

The American finalists are Ashton Eaton and Christian Taylor, who repeated as Olympic champions in the decathlon and triple jump, respectively. Eaton won the Men’s Athlete of the Year in 2015 after breaking his world record at the world championships.

The 10 Women’s Athlete of the Year nominees include nine Rio gold medalists plus American Keni Harrison, who failed to qualify for the Olympic team but broke the 100m hurdles world record two weeks before the Games.

No women who previously captured the award are among the nominees, such as 2015 winner Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia.

In November, three men’s and three women’s finalists will be announced.

The winners will be announced Dec. 2 in Monaco at the IAAF awards night.

Here are the nominees (italics = broke Olympic event world record in 2016):

Men
Usain Bolt (JAM) — 100m, 200m, 4x100m
Thiago Braz da Silva (BRA) — Pole vault
Ashton Eaton (USA) — Decathlon
Mo Farah (GBR) — 5000m, 10,000m
Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) — Marathon
Conseslus Kipruto (KEN) — 3000m steeplechase
Omar McLeod (JAM) — 110m hurdles
David Rudisha (KEN) — 800m
Christian Taylor (USA) — Triple jump
Wayde van Niekerk (RSA) — 400m

Women
Almaz Ayana (ETH) — 10,000m
Ruth Beitia (ESP) — High jump
Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) — 5000m
Keni Harrison (USA) — 100m hurdles
Caterine Ibarguen (COL) — Triple jump
Ruth Jebet (BRN) — 3000m steeplechase
Sandra Perkovic (CRO) — Discus
Caster Semenya (RSA) — 800m
Elaine Thompson (JAM) — 100m, 200m
Anita Wlodarczyk (POL) — Hammer throw

VIDEO: ‘I am Bolt’ trailer

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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