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Janne Ahonen, ski jumping great, retires for third time

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Janne Ahonen, the greatest ski jumper without an individual Olympic medal, has retired for a third time at age 41, according to Finland newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.

The Finnish legend earned two Olympic silver medals in team events in 2002 and 2006, plus individual world titles in 1997 and 2005. He also amassed 36 World Cup wins and 108 podiums between 1992 and 2018, plus a record five titles at the prestigious Four Hills Tournament.

“I will never quit ski jumping — I will continue to jump when I feel like it — but I can confirm that I will not take part in any competitions anymore” Ahonen said, according to an International Ski Federation translation of the report.

Individually, Ahonen’s best Olympic finish was fourth — on the normal hill in 1998, 2002 and 2010.

Ahonen retired in 2008 and 2011, only to come back for his fifth and sixth Winter Olympics. He competed in a seventh Olympics in PyeongChang with finishes of 27th and 40th, plus eighth in the team event.

Only fellow ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan has competed in more Winter Games than Ahonen.

Ahonen entered the sport at the tail end of Finland’s dominance. Now, Finland is an afterthought. No Olympic or world medals in a decade and just one men’s World Cup podium in the last seven years.

Ahonen wrote a tell-all autobiography during his first retirement that sold out in first printing. He detailed the kind of severe lack of eating that has long been associated with the sport.

During the summer, Ahonen would sometimes consume no more than 200 calories a day, eating cereal with a little nonfat yogurt for breakfast, nothing for lunch and another small portion of cereal for dinner.

He was also known for drag racing in offseasons.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Great Britain gets first win at men’s ice hockey worlds in 57 years

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Lord Stanley would be proud. Great Britain’s men’s ice hockey team pulled off its biggest win in more than a half-century on Monday.

Great Britain beat France 4-3 in overtime at the world championship in Slovakia, in its last game of the tournament, to avoid relegation and remain in the top division of worlds in 2020 with the likes of the U.S., Canada and Russia.

France, whose streak of 12 straight top-level world championship appearances ends, had led 3-0 in the second period.

“We just don’t know when we are beaten,” golden-goal scorer Ben Davies said, according to Ice Hockey U.K. “This just underlines what GB is all about.”

It marked the Brits’ first win at a top-level worlds or Olympics since 1962. Great Britain last qualified for an Olympics in 1948. Its only top-level world championship appearance since 1962 was in 1994, when it lost all five games by a combined 44-7.

At these worlds, Great Britain was outscored 38-5 in its first six games, all losses. It came into the 16-nation event as the lowest-ranked team at No. 22 in the world.

“No one knows anything about U.K. hockey, and the first couple of days here people were laughing at us,” defenseman Ben O’Connor said, according to The New York Times, which reported that fans dressed as Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Poppins, Beefeaters, cricket bats and the Olympic ski jumper Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards to the Brits’ 6-3 loss to the U.S. last Wednesday.

(h/t @OlympicStatman)

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Caster Semenya enters Pre Classic in new event after testosterone ruling

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Caster Semenya is entered in the Pre Classic on June 30 to run the women’s 3000m, an event that does not fall under the IAAF’s new testosterone limits.

It’s the first announced meet for Semenya since the new IAAF rule capping testosterone in women’s events between the 400m and the mile went into effect. The Court of Arbitration for Sport denied her appeal and upheld the rule on May 1.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion, has raced almost exclusively the 400m, 800m and 1500m up until this season.

She won an 800m on May 3 in the last top-level meet before the testosterone cap went into effect for those distances.

At that May 3 meet in Doha, Semenya reportedly said “hell no” when asked if she would take testosterone-suppressing measures to stay eligible for the 400m, 800m or 1500m at the world championships this fall.

Semenya also said she would keep competing but would not race the 5000m, the shortest flat event on the Olympic program that she could move up to without a testosterone cap, according to those same reports.

The flat 3000m is not on the Olympic program (though the 3000m steeplechase is).

South Africa’s track and field federation has indicated it will appeal the CAS ruling.

“I keep training. I keep running,” Semenya said May 3. “Doesn’t matter if something comes in front of me, like I said. I always find a way.”

The Pre Classic women’s 3000m also includes distance titans Almaz Ayana (Olympic 10,000m champion who last raced in 2017), Hellen Obiri (world 5000m champion), Genzebe Dibaba (1500m world-record holder) and Sifan Hassan (world bronze medalist at 1500m and 5000m).

The Pre Classic will be held at Stanford, Calif., this year due to construction at Oregon’s Hayward Field ahead of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials.

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