Blind man runs New York Marathon, guided by technology (video)

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Simon Wheatcroft previously ran several marathons. Even attempted a 150-mile ultra marathon in the Sahara Desert.

But this one was different. Last Sunday, Wheatcroft set out to complete his third New York City Marathon, but his first without the aid of a guide runner.

Wheatcroft, a 35-year-old Brit who has been legally blind since age 17, took off on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island wearing two pieces of technology.

Bands around his chest and his upper left arm would guide him among a sea of runners — around 50,000 start this race annually, making it the world’s largest marathon. Over five bridges and around more than a dozen turns of 90 degrees or more.

“Seven years ago [when I started running], I never thought I’d get to the point where I could run solo the biggest marathon in the world,” said Wheatcroft, who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as he entered teenage years.

Wheatcroft wore a band around his chest with ultrasonic sensors triggering different vibrations when detecting people around him based on the distance. He wore an armband to help navigate the course, such as notifying him when to turn.

“Traditionally to compete usually there’s a guide runner, someone who runs alongside,” Wheatcroft said. “Whereas now, if I choose solo, I can just start entering races and trying to win them all alone.”

Light rain during Sunday’s race caused his technology to malfunction. Wheatcroft finished in 5 hours, 17 minutes, 40 seconds, completing the final several miles in Manhattan with the traditional aid of guide runners.

In May 2016, Wheatcroft reportedly covered about 100 miles of the 150-mile Sahara Race in Africa using a smartphone app as a guide.

In 2014, he reportedly ran 240 miles in nine days from Boston to New York City — and then ran the New York City Marathon in 5:13:18.

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2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens TV, streaming schedule

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The Rugby World Cup Sevens, held in the U.S. for the first time, airs live on NBC, NBCSN and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

NBC Sports’ TV coverage totals more than 30 live hours. NBC Sports Gold will also stream live, commercial-free coverage of every match with its “Rugby Pass.”

NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will stream all NBC Sports and Olympic Channel TV coverage.

The Rugby World Cup Sevens is the biggest standalone competition outside of the Olympics for an event that debuted at the Rio Games. Traditional 15-a-side rugby was played at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920 and 1924.

Like the Olympics, the World Cup takes place every four years, now in the middle of every Olympic cycle, with men’s and women’s competitions at the same site.

New Zealand is the defending World Cup champion for men and women, though Fiji took the men’s Olympic title and Australia the women’s gold in Rio.

The U.S. finished fifth (women) and sixth (men) in this season’s World Series standings, though the U.S. men won the only World Series leg played in the U.S. in Las Vegas in March.

The U.S. men are led by Perry Baker, the 2017 World Player of the Year, and Carlin Isles, the 2018 World Series leader in tries. The U.S. women feature Naya Tapper and Rio Olympian Alev Kelter, two of the top scorers from the World Series.

The NBC Sports broadcast team includes U.S. Olympian and Super Bowl champion Nate Ebner as a studio analyst. Leigh Diffey and Bill Seward are on play-by-play, and Ahmed Fareed hosts on-site studio coverage.

Former USA Sevens captain Brian Hightower, U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame member Dan Lyle, former Premiership Rugby and English international prop Alex Corbisiero and World Rugby Hall of Famer Phaidra Knight will provide game and studio commentary.

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Day Time (ET) Network Coverage Highlights
Friday 1 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Men’s Qualifiers
4-7 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Qualifiers
7 p.m.-1 a.m. NBCSN Women’s Quarters/Men’s Round of 16
Saturday 12:25-3 p.m. Olympic Channel Women’s Semifinal 1
3-5 p.m. NBC Women’s Semifinal 2
5-6 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Challenge Quarters
6:30-11:30 p.m. NBCSN Men’s Quarters/Women’s Finals
Sunday 11:55 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Bowl/Challenge Semifinals
2:30-5 p.m. NBC Men’s Semifinals
5-7 p.m. Olympic Channel Men’s Bowl Finals
7-10 p.m. NBCSN Men’s Finals

Denis Ten, Olympic medalist figure skater, dies

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Denis Ten, the 2014 Olympic figure skating bronze medalist from Kazakhstan, died after he reportedly was stabbed in Almaty on Thursday.

The International Skating Union and the Kazah Olympic Committee confirmed Ten’s death.

Ten, 25, competed in three Olympics and earned world championships silver and bronze medals in 2013 and 2015.

At 16, Ten was the youngest men’s competitor at Vancouver 2010 and finished 11th in his Olympic debut; he was also only the second singles skater Kazakhstan had ever sent to the Olympics.

Ten made unexpected history in 2013, becoming the first skater from Kazakhstan to win a world championships medal. After experiencing health setbacks at the start of his 2014 Olympic season, he was the biggest question mark among the top men in Sochi, but he surprised by becoming the first skater from Kazakhstan to earn an Olympic medal.

Ten struggled through health issues leading into his last Olympics in PyeongChang, where he placed 27th. Those Winter Games were nonetheless special to Ten, who was of South Korean descent; his great-grandfather was a famous general who fought for Korean independence, and there is a statue and memorial dedicated to him in Wonju, a town 35 miles southwest of PyeongChang.

Ten also played a significant role as an ambassador for his hometown Almaty’s bid for the 2022 Winter Games. Beijing got the Games over Almaty in an IOC members vote in 2015.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.