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Skater loses gold at world allround championships with stunning fall

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AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a stunning finish to the world allround speed skating championships, Dutchman Patrick Roest won the title Sunday after Sverre Lunde Pedersen of Norway fell in the closing 10,000m race as he was on track for a convincing overall victory.

Video is here.

Roest was some eight seconds behind Pedersen ahead of the 10,000m and, thanks to Pedersen’s fall around 6500m, finished the grueling finale more than 15 seconds faster than the Norwegian.

Pedersen picked himself up off the ice at the temporary, outdoor oval at Amsterdam’s 1928 Olympic Stadium and still managed to come back to beat nine-time allround champion Sven Kramer in their head-to-head battle to finish second overall.

But he lost so much time that a title that was his for the taking slipped through his fingers and went to Roest.

Afterward, Pedersen sat at the side of the oval with his head in his hands as Kramer gave him a consoling pat on the back.

“I am almost never falling,” Pedersen said. “I don’t know what to say.

“What can I say? It’s a pity for all of us that something like this happens. But that’s how it is.”

In a changing of the guard, Pedersen’s fall handed the allround title to Roest, Kramer’s 22-year-old teammate and training partner.

“I can’t believe it,” Roest said. “Of course it’s a shame that Sverre fell. You wouldn’t wish that on him. But it’s very cool to be world champion allround.”

Dutchman Marcel Bosker took third place in the overall standings. Kramer finished fourth after skating 14:05.70 in the 10,000m, his slowest time in that event by more than 20 seconds in more than a decade on the top senior international level.

“I did not feel well physically this weekend,” Kramer said, according to the International Skating Union.

Kramer was going for his record-extending 10th straight world allround title (not counting the editions he missed in 2011 and 2014).

On Saturday, Miho Takagi became the first Japanese woman to win a world allround title after beating defending champion Ireen Wust in a thrilling 1500m.

The 1500m win was partial revenge for Takagi, who was relegated to silver by Wust over the same distance at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

“I am very, very happy,” Takagi said. “I am proud.”

The world title capped a great season for Takagi, who won an Olympic gold medal in the team pursuit when Japan beat the Netherlands in the final.

“She has shown all season that she’s really good,” Wust said. “She has more speed than me.”

Wust won the closing 5000m to finish second overall, falling just short in her chase for a seventh allround title. Countrywoman Annouk van der Weijden ended third.

The championships are a test of skaters’ all-around prowess, with races over 500m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m for women and 500m, 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m for men. They have been held officially since 1893.

They also were a test of how they coped with warm and rainy conditions that left puddles all over the oval at a championships being staged outdoors for the first time since 2001.

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MORE: Best speed skating moments from PyeongChang Olympics

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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