Poland’s most decorated Winter Olympian all but retires

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Justyna Kowalczyk, who holds the Poland Winter Olympic record with five medals, has all but retired from cross-country skiing, saying her only future competition would be domestic or as a relay member at world championships, according to Polish media.

Kowalczyk, 35, is one of the most decorated cross-country skiers of all time: two individual Olympic gold medals, eight world championships medals, four World Cup overall titles and a record four straight Tour de Ski titles.

She won 50 World Cup events, second only to longtime Norwegian rival Marit Bjoergen, the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time with 15 medals.

Kowalczyk made her Olympic debut in Torino in 2006 at age 23, taking bronze in 30km freestyle, two months after she was cleared of doping charges that would have banned her into 2007. It marked Poland’s first Olympic cross-country skiing medal. She remains the lone Pole to stand on an Olympic cross-country podium.

After winning her first World Cup overall in 2009, Kowalczyk made more history at the 2010 Vancouver Games. She became the first woman from Poland to win a Winter Olympic event, edging Bjoergen by three tenths of a second in the 30km classic. Before the Olympics, Kowalczyk criticized the Whistler course as “very, very easy, like for tourists.”

Kowalczyk remained atop the sport with World Cup overall titles in 2010, 2011 and 2013, then won the 10km individual in Sochi (on a broken foot) to surpass ski jumper Adam Malysz for the most Winter Olympic medals for a Polish athlete.

Her best finish in PyeongChang was seventh in the team sprint at her fourth and final Winter Games.

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MORE: Best cross-country skiing moments from PyeongChang Olympics

Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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