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Simone Biles clarifies timeline for gymnastics break

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Don’t expect to see Simone Biles compete at all in 2017.

“I won’t be competing for at least a year and a half,” Biles said Thursday during a media tour promoting her book, “Courage to Soar,” at the 15-minute mark here. “I’m going to take some time off from the gym, just so that I can go out, have fun and really just embrace the moment that we have. Especially vacation, because I couldn’t do that before with how much I trained. I was always in the gym.

“I think my body needs a rest,” Biles added, smiling. “It’s breaking down on me for a little bit.”

Biles last competed at the Rio Olympics in August, which would mean a break of at least 18 months would go into 2018.

Biles previously said she would take at least one year off from competing, while leaving the door open to possibly make a late run for the October 2017 World Championships in Montreal. Biles said she plans to return at some point to make a run for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Biles’ absence in 2017 means she will pass the baton of world all-around champion to a different gymnast. Biles won three straight world all-around titles from 2013 through 2015, before taking four golds and a bronze in Rio.

An American has taken the last six combined Olympic and world all-around titles, starting in 2011.

The last non-American to win, Aliya Mustafina of Russia in 2010, could compete at 2017 Worlds. Mustafina took bronze behind Biles and Aly Raisman at the Rio Games.

Raisman, like Biles, said she’s taking 2017 off from competition. Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic champion and 2015 World silver medalist, hasn’t said if or when she’ll return to competition.

Biles could follow the trend set by Raisman and Douglas in the last Olympic cycle. That duo took all of 2013 and 2014 off from competition before returning.

Next year’s all-around favorite may well be Laurie Hernandez, who finished second to Biles at the Olympic Trials but did not compete in the all-around in Rio.

VIDEO: Biles shows Stephen Colbert how to stick the landing

Brigid Kosgei beaten as another world record smashed in Nike shoes

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Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh broke the half marathon world record by 20 seconds, beating new marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Nike-sponsored runners lowered the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records since September 2018, each appearing to race in versions of the apparel giant’s scrutinized Vaporfly shoes.

Yeshaneh, a 28-year-old who finished 14th in the 2016 Olympic 5000m, clocked 1:04:31 for 13.1 miles to better Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei‘s world record from 2017.

Kosgei, a 26-year-old Kenyan, also came in under the old world record but 18 seconds behind Yeshaneh.

Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record on Oct. 13, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Nike Vaporfly shoes, including the prototypes worn by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge when he ran a sub-two-hour marathon, were deemed legal by World Athletics’ new shoe regulations last month, according to Nike.

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Olympic, world champion lugers pull out of World Cup event over safety

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U.S. Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer and other top lugers are skipping this weekend’s World Cup stop in Winterberg, Germany, citing unsafe track conditions and a growing frustration with the international federation over athlete concerns.

“This was brought to the attention of the FIL [International Luge Federation] and yet again we were told that everything is ok,” was posted on Mazdzer’s Instagram. “I realize that a boycott is a lose-lose situation and there are no winners. But I have no other option at this point. I feel personally that this track is not safe for doubles sleds or for athletes who do not have adequate numbers of runs.”

Mazdzer said by phone Friday that he noticed significant bumps on the track in his first training run earlier this week.

“I couldn’t drive because I’m being thrown everywhere,” he said. “When you’re going 130 kilometers an hour [80 miles per hour], you don’t really want the track to be bad.”

An FIL spokesperson said Friday that Mazdzer’s choice was “his individual decision” and declined further comment ahead of races scheduled Saturday and Sunday. Mazdzer said that he was told the race starts will be moved down.

USA Luge said in a Friday statement that it will not participate in the World Cup and would communicate its concern for athlete safety to the FIL.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Summer Britcher said she was boycotting via Instagram, calling it “a farce of a World Cup.” Top lugers said athletes suffered serious injuries in training runs.

“I love this sport, but after too many decisions too many times that disregard 1-the safety of the athletes, and 2- the integrity and fairness of our sport, I have grown a great disdain for the International Luge Federation, and those who make these decisions,” was posted on Britcher’s account. “I will not race this weekend. I do not believe the track is safe, I do not believe it has been prepared to a World Cup standard, and I do not believe that the International Federation and Winterberg World Cup organisers should get away from this with no consequences.”

Britcher’s post noted that her team notified coaches and the technical director that the track was unsafe after her first training run Wednesday.

“Our concerns, and the concerns of the rest of the athletes from other nations throughout the day were not taken seriously,” Britcher posted.

Britcher said that several coaches attempted to fix the track for several hours on Thursday after athletes refused to train.

Olympic champion David Gleirscher of Austria and World Cup standings leader Roman Repilov of Russia and the top doubles teams of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany also posted on Instagram that they’re skipping the Winterberg World Cup, the penultimate stop of the season, for safety reasons.

Mazdzer estimated a 20 percent crash rate in training, but that the track condition has improved since Wednesday. He still plans to race next week at the last World Cup in Königssee.

“There’s a lot of problems with Winterberg,” he said after detailing the situation between athletes and the FIL, “and it’s not just the track.”

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