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Who were the fastest U.S. marathoners of 2016?

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New York City marked the end of the year’s major marathons. Though some fast times could still be posted, namely in Fukuoka in December, the American bests are likely all set.

It turned out to be a strong year for American marathoners placement-wise, thanks in large part to New York City, where the U.S. put a man and a woman on the podium in the same year for the first time since 1994.

The U.S.’ best finish in an annual World Marathon Major this year (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York City), prior to New York City, was a seventh place from Serena Burla in Chicago.

The lack of success in city marathons can be chalked up to the Olympic year. Every elite U.S. marathoner chose the U.S. Olympic Trials in February over a spring marathon, and the six who made the Olympic team all skipped fall marathons.

At the Olympics, Galen Rupp took bronze for the first U.S. marathon medal since 2004. Combined with Jared Ward‘s sixth-place finish, the U.S. was the only nation to put two men in the top 10.

In the women’s race, the U.S. became the second nation ever to put three women in an Olympic marathon top nine — Shalane Flanagan was sixth, Desi Linden seventh and Amy Cragg ninth.

Simplified, the U.S. would have swept the golds if the Olympic marathons were team events.

Strictly looking at times, the U.S. was not particularly fast this year. Again, the Olympics are the reason.

The best Americans skipped the traditionally fast major marathons (London, Berlin, Chicago), and the Olympic Trials and the Rio Games were not fast races.

The fastest American man, Rupp, ran 2:10:05, which ranks him No. 108 in the world in 2016, according to the IAAF.

The top woman, Flanagan, ran 2:25:26, which ranks her No. 42 in the world this year.

The 10 fastest U.S. marathon times for men and women are below.

MORE: Meb Keflezighi sets final marathon

Name Time Race Result
Galen Rupp 2:10:05 Rio Olympics Third
Galen Rupp 2:11:12 Olympic Trials First
Bobby Curtis 2:11:20 Frankfurt Fourth
Abdi Abdirahman 2:11:23 New York City Third
Jared Ward 2:11:30 Rio Olympics Sixth
Shadrack Biwott 2:12:01 New York City Fifth
Meb Keflezighi 2:12:20 Olympic Trials Second
Jared Ward 2:13:00 Olympic Trials Third
Diego Estrada 2:13:56 Chicago Eighth
Luke Puskedra 2:14:12 Olympic Trials Fourth

 

Name Time Race Result
Shalane Flanagan 2:25:26 Rio Olympics Sixth
Desi Linden 2:26:08 Rio Olympics Seventh
Molly Huddle 2:28:13 New York City Third
Amy Cragg 2:28:20 Olympic Trials First
Amy Cragg 2:28:25 Rio Olympics Ninth
Desi Linden 2:28:54 Olympic Trials Second
Shalane Flanagan 2:29:19 Olympic Trials Third
Lindsay Flanagan 2:29:28 Frankfurt Fourth
Sara Hall 2:30:06 London 12th
Kara Goucher 2:30:24 Olympic Trials Fourth

Simone Biles returns to the gym, going from mental drain to physical pain

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For Simone Biles, this was supposed to be the stretch run of a legendary career.

Instead, she returned to her gym on May 18 with long-term thoughts of waiting 14 months until the Tokyo Olympics. And the immediate aches of a world-class gymnast who just missed nearly two months of regular training.

“After that amount of time off, it kind of sucks because your body hurts and then you get really sore,” Biles said in a pre-recorded ESPNW interview that aired Thursday. “So you just have to get back into the swing of things. But it felt nice to see my coaches, my teammates, and just to be back on the equipment and in the environment.”

In that same Texas gym three months ago, Biles had a far different outlook. One that would have put fear into any gymnast who still harbored ambition of ending her near-seven-year win streak.

“I never felt more ready this early in the season,” she said. “I was so ready for the Olympics to be this year.”

Biles repeated in interviews the last two months that the Olympic postponement to 2021 was devastating. Thoughts zig-zagged: How do I go on another year, at age 23, in a sport recently dominated by (but not limited to) teenagers?

“I’m getting pretty old,” she said in the interview published Thursday. “Will I be at the top of my game?”

Biles proved the last two years — after a year off — that she can win — and comfortably — while not at her best. She grabbed the 2018 World all-around title by a record margin — with two falls. Last year, she became the most decorated gymnast in world championships history. In Tokyo, she can become the first woman to repeat as Olympic all-around champion, and the only one older than 20, in more than 50 years.

This for a gymnast whose early goal was to earn a college scholarship. Biles did, to UCLA, but had to give it up by turning professional.

“So I’ve exceeded that,” Biles said. “And then I wanted to go to world championships and Olympics, and I’ve been to five worlds and one Olympic Games. So, I’d be more than happy [to walk away].”

After gymnastics, Biles has another goal — to be a voice for foster kids. She was in foster care multiple times before being adopted at age 6 by grandparents Ron and Nellie.

Those plans, along with so much else for Biles and so many others, have been pushed back a full year.

“I was already being mentally drained and almost, not done with the sport, but just going into the gym and feeling tired and being like, OK, I’m going to get my stuff [done], get out,” she said. “We have this one end goal, and now that it’s postponed another [year], it’s just like, how are we going to deal with that? We’re already being drained, and so it’s to keep the fire in the sport within yourself alive.”

MORE: Top U.S. gymnasts disagree with Tokyo Olympic age rule

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2022 Pan Pacific Championships canceled as swimming calendar shifts

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The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, a quadrennial major international meet, will not be held in 2022 “out of respect for the recent changes to the international sporting calendar,” according to a press release.

The Pan Pacs’ charter nations — the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan — agreed to the move. The 2026 event will be held in Canada, which was supposed to be the 2022 host.

The decision came after the 2021 World Championships were moved to May 2022, following the Tokyo Olympics moving from 2020 to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The quadrennial multi-sport Commonwealth Games — which includes Australia and Canada, but not the U.S. or Japan — are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 7, 2022.

“Organizing a third major championships in that window presented several challenges,” according to the Pan Pacs release.

Pan Pacs mark the third-biggest major international meet for U.S. swimmers, held in non-Olympic, non-world championships years.

MORE: Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming.

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