Galen Rupp returns to Boston Marathon, recalling words from 2017

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BOSTON — Soon after Galen Rupp finished second in the 2017 Boston Marathon, he found his wife, Keara, and coach, Alberto Salazar.

“I’ve got to come back here,” Rupp told them. “I want to try to win this.”

The double Olympic medalist returned to Boston, this time coming off what he said was “by far” his best preparation before any of his five marathons (he’s finished top three in each of the previous four).

He is a co-favorite with last year’s winner, Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya, on Monday morning (8:30 ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

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“It kind of left a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth,” finishing 21 seconds behind Kirui last year, Rupp said Friday. “Getting second, being a little dinged up.”

Last year, Rupp considered withdrawing two weeks before Boston with plantar fasciitis. This year, Rupp’s prep race was a personal-best half marathon — 59:47, four seconds off Ryan Hall‘s American record.

Rupp spoke with confidence Friday.

He learned from last year to respect the Newton Hills between miles 18 and 21, which he said “killed” him. Rupp and Kirui broke from the pack in the hills, but Kirui gapped Rupp right after them.

Rupp said all of his key workouts this year have been as fast or faster than they were before he won the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8.

And he’s grown to revere this race, from experiencing it for the first time to being coached by the man who won the 1982 Boston Marathon “Duel in the Sun.”

“It’s the most prestigious marathon in the world,” Rupp said. “There’s nothing bigger for me than running here.”

A win Monday would change Rupp’s career. He would be introduced as Boston Marathon champion before two-time Olympic medalist, in some places. It’s not clear which he values more.

“That’s too hard to say,” said Rupp, a father of three. “That’s like saying if you can only have one child.”

Fifteen men in this field have faster personal-best times than Rupp, but that is misleading. Rupp chose twice last year to forego the chance to chase a fast time on a swift course. He picked Boston over London. Then he picked Chicago over Berlin.

“At some point, I would try to see how fast I can run from a race, going out hard at the gun,” the 31-year-old said. “I still think there’s still a lot of potential for me to run a lot faster than I have, given that all the races I’ve been in have been fairly tactical. Definitely something to do, but I’ve always put more of a priority on winning, placing, high, winning medals and championships.”

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Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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Softball set to return to Olympics as first event on Tokyo 2020 schedule

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Softball, returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, is scheduled to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.

The preliminary master schedule for the Tokyo Olympics was published Wednesday, with the first softball game scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on the Wednesday before the Opening Ceremony.

The first game is scheduled to be held in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster

Traditionally, soccer has been the first sport to have action at a Summer Olympics, one or two days before the Opening Ceremony. While soccer is again scheduled to have matches that same Wednesday, they start later than 10 a.m.

The Tokyo 2020 schedule is subject to change and certainly not a final version — swimming, diving and synchronized swimming schedules are still to be determined, but those sports do not typically start before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball was added in 1991 to the Olympic program to debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won the first three gold medals before softball and baseball were narrowly voted off the Olympic program in 2005/06 (a 52-52 IOC vote for softball, with a majority needed to stay in the Olympics), with the 2008 Beijing Games being the last edition. Japan won the last Olympic softball gold medal 10 years ago.

Then on Aug. 3, 2016, baseball and softball were among five sports added for the 2020 Tokyo Games only, at the request of Tokyo Olympic organizers. Baseball and softball are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program in Paris in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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