Simone Biles eyes medal that has eluded her at world championships

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Whenever Simone Biles takes the competition floor, she’s setting out for some kind of history. But it’s what’s in her own past that’s motivating at this week’s world championships, her first international meet since bagging four gold medals at the Rio Olympics.

“I’ve never medaled in a bar final [uneven bars], but I’ve only been in one,” Biles said last week when asked the event she would most like to win aside from the team competition. “Maybe if I could make a bar final, that would be pretty cool because I think of all the medals you can get and the finals you can participate in, I always admire the bar workers just because it’s so hard mentally and physically.”

Biles’ U.S. team is an overwhelming favorite to earn a sixth straight Olympic or world title in Doha — the longest female run of dominance in the sport since the 1970s Soviet teams.

She’s just as expected to grab a fourth world all-around crown, breaking a tie with Russian Svetlana Khorkina for the female record. (Worlds were not held as often in the era of legends Larisa Latynina, Vera Caslavska and Nadia Comaneci.)

Men’s qualifying starts Thursday. The U.S. women’s qualifying session is Saturday. The women’s team final is next Tuesday, followed by the all-around two days later and individual apparatus finals the two days after that.

MORE: Gymnastics worlds TV schedule

Biles is the lone member of the U.S. women’s team of six (one will be named an alternate) who has competed at an Olympics or in a world championships team competition.

That doesn’t mean they’re not decorated.

Morgan Hurd won the world all-around title in Biles’ year off in 2017 (when there was no team event). Ragan Smith was favored over Hurd for last year’s gold before tearing ankle ligaments on a warm-up vault minutes before introductions. Riley McCusker made the U.S. all-around podium the last two years.

But of Rio’s Final Five, only Biles has competed on the elite level since the Games.

“We have a different group of girls,” Biles said. “They’re all upcoming and trying to make a name for themselves. … Here I am a veteran.”

Most of Biles’ teammates speak of her in awe.

“Just watching her compete is inspiring,” said Kara Eaker, a balance beam star who was 10 years old when Biles won her first world title in 2013.

What else Biles can do next week in Doha: with three gold medals, pass Vitaly Scherbo‘s 12 for the most in worlds history. Have a vault named after her, if she becomes the first woman to perform the Cheng with an extra half twist. Biles stuck it at the world team selection camp two weeks ago.

“It’s shocking, actually, how easily she does some of these moves,” said Tom Forster, in his first year as U.S. high-performance team director. Forster was asked last week about which five gymnasts of the six were going to compete for the U.S. “I know you’re not going to be surprised by this, but definitely going to use Simone,” was his lone concrete statement.

“She’s really the epitome of what coaches talk about in every sport, an athlete that’s very focused, works really hard, has natural ability and has good technique,” Forster continued. “It’s uncommon to get all those attributes together in one person in any sport. When you do, you get Simone.”

The lone apparatus that Biles has not conquered internationally is the uneven bars. In 2014, Biles said all she wanted for Christmas was to become a good bars worker. During her year off, she dreamed that she went back to the gym and couldn’t do a single giant swing on the apparatus.

Biles has made one uneven bars final at worlds — placing fourth in 2013 — and was 14th in Rio.

When Biles returned to training less than a year ago, her new coach, Laurent Landi, was best known for guiding a bars specialist — Olympic silver medalist Madison Kocian. In her comeback this summer, Biles brought her most difficult bars set yet and won her first national title on the apparatus.

“Never thought at this point in my career I would be most confident on bars,” she tweeted last month.

Biles snapchatted from Doha on Friday the first page of a book’s third chapter titled, “You are not Special.” Read into that what you will. An excerpt:

“Cultivating the mind through learning from failures is more effective than making yourself feel special even for the most trivial things. … High self-esteem is displayed in recognizing your weaknesses and striving to overcome them.”

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MORE: USA Gymnastics CEO resigns after Simone Biles’ criticism

Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed over the second half, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48.

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago. The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, doing so in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

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2022 Berlin Marathon Results

2022 Berlin Marathon
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2022 Berlin Marathon top-10 results and notable finishers from men’s and women’s elite and wheelchair races. Full searchable results are here. ..

Men
1. Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) — 2:01:09 WORLD RECORD
2. Mark Korir (KEN) — 2:05:58
3. Tadu Abate (ETH) — 2:06:28
4. Andamiak Belihu (ETH) — 2:06:40
5. Abel Kipchumba (ETH) — 2:06:40
6. Limenih Getachew (ETH) — 2:07:07
7. Kenya Sonota (JPN) — 2:07:14
8. Tatsuya Maruyama (JPN) — 2:07:50
9. Kento Kikutani (JPN) — 2:07:56
10. Zablon Chumba (KEN) — 2:08:01
DNF. Guye Adola (ETH)

Women
1. Tigist Assefa (ETH) — 2:15:37
2. Rosemary Wanjiru (KEN) — 2:18:00
3. Tigist Abayechew (ETH) — 2:18:03
4. Workenesh Edesa (ETH) — 2:18:51
5. Meseret Sisay Gola (ETH) — 2:20:58
6. Keira D’Amato (USA) — 2:21:48
7. Rika Kaseda (JPN) — 2:21:55
8. Ayuko Suzuki (JPN) — 2:22:02
9. Sayaka Sato (JPN) — 2:22:13
10. Vibian Chepkirui (KEN) — 2:22:21

Wheelchair Men
1. Marcel Hug (SUI) — 1:24:56
2. Daniel Romanchuk (USA) — 1:28:54
3. David Weir (GBR) — 1:29:02
4. Jetze Plat (NED) — 1:29:06
5. Sho Watanabe (JPN) — 1:32:44
6. Patrick Monahan (IRL) — 1:32:46
7. Jake Lappin (AUS) — 1:32:50
8. Kota Hokinoue (JPN) — 1:33:45
9. Rafael Botello Jimenez (ESP) — 1:36:49
10. Jordie Madera Jimenez (ESP) — 1:36:50

Wheelchair Women
1. Catherine Debrunner (SUI) — 1:36:47
2. Manuela Schar (SUI) — 1:36:50
3. Susannah Scaroni (USA) — 1:36:51
4. Merle Menje (GER) — 1:43:34
5. Aline dos Santos Rocha (BRA) — 1:43:35
6. Madison de Rozario (BRA) — 1:43:35
7. Patricia Eachus (SUI) — 1:44:15
8. Vanessa De Souza (BRA) — 1:48:37
9. Alexandra Helbling (SUI) — 1:51:47
10. Natalie Simanowski (GER) — 2:05:09

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