Jordan Burroughs reacts to Iran barring U.S. wrestlers

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Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs felt a number of emotions when he learned Friday morning that the U.S. wrestling team has been barred by Iran from competing at a meet there in two weeks.

Iran’s announcement came in response to President Donald Trump‘s executive order forbidding visas for Iranians.

“Bummed, first and foremost,” Burroughs, whose last meet was the Rio Olympics, said by phone Friday morning. “I just wanted to compete. It’s been a while since I competed. I was excited to return to the mat. This was going to be a prestigious event that I got to do with my team members.”

Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio after gold in London, still believed on Thursday that the U.S. would be sending a team to the Freestyle World Cup in Kermanshah, Iran, from Feb. 16-17.

U.S. coach Bill Zadick told him on Thursday that everything was going according to plan. Flights were booked. Singlets were made. Burroughs was scheduled to travel Wednesday.

“Not only is this costly in terms of our training and competition schedule, but this is expensive,” Burroughs said. “This is an expensive lesson learned to buy 20 tickets to Iran, have them revoked and probably no reimbursement.”

Burroughs looked forward to competing in Iran, where wrestling is a national sport. Iran earned a combined 11 wrestling medals at the last two Olympics, its most of any sport, despite entering zero women’s wrestlers.

“There is such a common respect for wrestlers in Iran,” Burroughs said. “They love wrestling. They’re huge fans of mine. I’m bummed about that. I really wanted to be part of something great in what I consider a great country. Obviously, my views and our country’s views are different.”

The U.S. has sent wrestlers to meets in Iran a total of 15 times since 1998, with Burroughs part of the contingent at the 2013 Freestyle World Cup in Tehran.

“No one out there — Donald Trump or the prime minister of Iran — is purposely slighting the U.S. wrestling team,” Burroughs said. “This is a much bigger picture and a much bigger story than our wrestling tournaments, but I’m bummed because I think this was a great opportunity for us to show goodwill toward them by coming into a country where our governments may have opposed each other.”

MORE: High school gym named after Burroughs

Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon
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Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

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Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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