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Shalane Flanagan sees this Boston Marathon as a finale

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BOSTON — Shalane Flanagan may run another marathon after Monday, but she does not plan to race the Boston Marathon as an elite again.

“I don’t know if this will be my last marathon, but I think this will probably, most likely, be my last Boston as an elite runner,” the Boston area native said Friday, three days before she starts the world’s oldest annual marathon for the fourth time. “I just feel like it’s the time. It’s an instinctual, intuitive moment for me. I just feel like putting that pressure on myself that it’s my last is kind of a good mentality, too.”

Flanagan, 37 and a four-time Olympian, said before the New York City Marathon on Nov. 5 that she might retire if she pulled off the upset and won the five-borough event. Flanagan did win, the biggest victory of her career, and soon after decided to keep on going.

In part because she wanted to rewrite her last Boston Marathon memory, what she has called “a stinker” of a ninth-place finish in 2015.

What happens if Monday’s race (8:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold) — which appears likely to be run in similar rainy, windy conditions as 2015 — doesn’t go as hoped, either?

Flanagan doubled down.

“I think I’m going to make my peace with Boston on Monday,” she said. “If I come back, it’s going to be to support other runners and other people and foundations like Meb [Keflezighi] is doing.”

Flanagan didn’t close the door on trying to make a fifth Olympic team in 2020.

“I don’t know about that,” she said. “I have no idea.”

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Flanagan is coming off training in Colorado Springs and Portland, Ore. She took no vacation or significant break after the New York win, but she is healthy.

“I knocked off a huge goal of mine [winning a major marathon],” she said. “I feel really at peace with my career. Coming here and racing is more like a personal event for me.

“I want this race so badly, I almost have to pretend like I don’t want to win it in order to do well. It’s a reverse psychology for sure because this is home. These are the people that I want to make the most proud.”

Flanagan likes the fact that she isn’t the only one with a chance to end the 33-year drought since the last American female runner won on Boylston Street. The younger Desi LindenMolly Huddle and Jordan Hasay have all finished in the top three of major marathons and are among the favorites.

“What happened in New York with myself I think has allowed the Americans to say, I’ve beaten Shalane, I’m just like Shalane,” she said. “If Shalane can do it, why can’t I do it?”

One of the first things Flanagan noted in Friday’s media session was the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996, when she stood on the corner of Hereford and Boylston at age 14 and watched her dad run this race.

“It’s a full-circle moment, coming back to where it all started,” she said. “I’m hoping to have my best Boston on Monday.”

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Justin Morneau nixes Olympic baseball qualifying return

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Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP with the Minnesota Twins, was taken off Canada’s Olympic baseball qualifying roster before he would have played his first competitive game in more than two years.

Morneau, 38, experienced an unspecified setback in training and was replaced on Canada’s roster for next month’s Premier12. The global tournament marks the first opportunity for many world baseball powers to qualify for the sport’s return to the Olympics.

Morneau never played in the Olympics before baseball was cut from the Games after 2008; active MLB players have never competed in the Games. But he was on Canada’s roster at all four World Baseball Classics from 2006 through 2017.

At November’s Premier12, the top nation from North and South America will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Japan and Israel are already qualified. Those that do not qualify will get another chance next year.

Morneau could become the second Major League Baseball MVP to play Olympic baseball as a medal sport. The other was Jason Giambi, who made the U.S. team in 1992, the same summer he was drafted in the second round by the Oakland Athletics.

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Kolohe Andino is first U.S. Olympic surfing qualifier; Kelly Slater faces last chance

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Kolohe Andino is the first American to qualify for surfing’s Olympic debut, which leaves one spot left for 47-year-old Kelly Slater to chase at the final contest of the season.

Andino, a 25-year-old Californian whose first name means “rascal” in Hawaiian, clinched his place in Tokyo on Friday at the penultimate stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour in Portugal. He is ranked fifth in the world, trailing a trio of Brazilians.

One more American man will join Andino on the Olympic team. It will be one of Slater, the 11-time world champion, John John Florence, the 2016 and 2017 World champion, and rising 22-year-old Hawaiian Seth Moniz.

Slater was handed a golden opportunity to qualify when Florence announced in early July that he tore an ACL for the second time in 13 months. Florence had won two of the first five events this season.

Slater has been chasing the sidelined Florence in the standings ever since. But it has not been easy.

Slater hasn’t made the quarterfinals in any of his last seven contests going into December’s finale — the prestigious Billabong Pipeline Masters on the North Shore of Oahu.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said in July, noting a back injury. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, who won the Pipe Masters seven times between 1992 and 2013, must reach the quarterfinals at this year’s event to have any chance of passing Florence to qualify for the Olympics.

Complicating matters: Florence said in August it was his “goal to get better for Pipeline in case I have to come back and compete and gain points,” according to ESPN.com. If Florence does return for the December contest, and makes the quarterfinals, Slater could only pass him with a victory.

Moniz goes into the finale ranked one spot behind Slater, meaning he, too, can grab that second and final Olympic spot with a win or a runner-up.

Slater, who turns 48 on Feb. 11, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, according to the OlyMADMen.

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

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