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Geoffrey Kamworor eyes New York City Marathon repeat, Eliud Kipchoge

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NEW YORK — When Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor finished last year’s New York City Marathon, Eliud Kipchoge was already there waiting for him. One day, Kamworor would like to reverse those roles.

“You believe that maybe one time you run against him, you’d like to beat him,” Kamworor said Thursday, three days before he defends his title in New York.

Kamworor is arguably the world’s second-best marathoner behind training partner Kipchoge, the world-record holder whom Kamworor calls a mentor.

They’ve gone head-to-head once, at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, before either had reached their 26.2-mile peak. Kipchoge placed second, his only defeat in 11 marathons, and Kamworor was third, another 2:21 behind.

Kipchoge’s appearance in New York last year was purely as a spectator, delighted to see Kamworor’s breakthrough. Kamworor does not expect him to return to watch this year’s race.

While Kipchoge is in a class of his own, Kamworor is among those jockeying in the amoeba-like second tier. Chicago Marathon winner and four-time Olympic track champion Mo Farah is there, too. Ethiopian Shura Kitata, 22, can boost his argument by challenging Kamworor on Sunday.

Kamworor, who chose a running career over studying law at a U.S. college, notched his first major marathon win in New York last November. It fulfilled years of promise.

At 18 years old, he helped pace Patrick Makau to a world record in Berlin in 2011. A year later, he debuted in the marathon and then had a biopic titled, “The Unknown Runner.” Kamworor has won the last three world titles in the half marathon.

“I don’t think I’ve trained the most talented athletes, but I’ve trained athletes with talent who are hard-working people and who want to maximize their full potential, like Eliud and Geoffrey,” Patrick Sang, who coaches the training group with Kipchoge and Kamworor, said in 2016, according to the IAAF. “I don’t think they are the greatest talents, but they are the people who are willing to give the most out of their potential.”

One thing working against Kamworor is his personal best — 2:06:12 from his debut in Berlin in 2012. That ranks outside the top 100 in the world all-time and is 4:33 slower than Kipchoge’s world record.

However, Kamworor hasn’t run a marathon other than New York City since 2014, and New York is not a course for fast times with its bridges and undulations.

“I don’t have any specific time,” goal for Sunday, said Kamworor, who held off surging countryman Wilson Kipsang by three seconds last year.

Kamworor remembers learning of Kipchoge’s world-record 2:01:39 at the Berlin Marathon on Sept. 16.

“I was not so much surprised,” he said. “I’m optimistic that in the future maybe I’ll try to break it.”

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MORE: Galen Rupp out several months, to miss spring marathon

Javier Fernandez, Alina Zagitova highlight action at European Championships

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Spain’s Javier Fernandez competes for what is expected to be the final time this weekend at the European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus. Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia is also looking to defend her title in the ladies’ field.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program starting on Wednesday, and NBCSN and NBC will also have coverage.

MORE: Schedule/ How to watch

Men

Fernandez, the 2018 PyeongChang bronze medalist, owns six European titles. No man since Austrian Karl Schaefer – who won eight consecutive European titles beginning in 1929 – has won as many straight titles as Fernandez. Fernandez traded world titles during the last Olympic quadrennial with his training partner Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. They both train in Toronto under Brian Orser.

Also in the field are Michal Brezina from the Czech Republic, who most recently finished fourth at the Grand Prix Final at age 28, and three Russian men: Mikhail Kolyada, Maxim Kovtun, and Alexander Samarin.

Ladies

Reigning Olympic gold medalist Zagitova could lead a Russian podium sweep at the 2019 European Championships with teammates Stanislava Konstantinova and Sofia Samodurova.

The competition-within-the-competition at Europeans is also notable: Russia will not choose their World team until after the event. For example, two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva is not competing at Europeans, and 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was already told to train for Worlds despite not competing at Europeans.

Pairs

French pair Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres will try and buck a trend at Europeans, where teams representing Russia or the Soviet Union have won 47 of the last 54 titles. Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are looking for a three-peat, though have been inconsistent so far this season and recently returned to last season’s short program.

James and Cipres missed out on bronze by 0.01 points at the 2018 Europeans, and could become the first French pair to win the event since 1932. The last non-Russian team to win Europeans was Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy in 2011.

Ice dance

Three-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France should coast to the gold medal in Minsk for a fifth consecutive title. Other dance teams have won more European titles, but no team has ever won five in a row.

The rest of the podium is more unclear. The Italians, Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, will likely split the difference between the two Russian teams – who have their own domestic battle to contend with: Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin.

As a reminder, you can watch the European Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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How to watch the European Figure Skating Championships

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Javier Fernandez returns to competition for probably a final time with his eyes on a seventh title at the European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk, Belarus Jan. 23-27.

Olympic champion Alina Zagitova looks for a second European title in the ladies’ field, while two couples from France look to top the podiums in the dance and pairs’ fields.

NBC Sports Gold’s “Figure Skating Pass” will live stream every program from Minsk starting Wednesday with the ladies’ short program.

NBCSN and NBC will also have coverage throughout the weekend.

Preview: Javier Fernandez, Alina Zagitova highlight Europeans

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European Figure Skating Championships broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)

Wednesday

Ladies’ short program: 3 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Pairs’ short program: 10:45 a.m. (GOLD)

 

Thursday

Men’s short program: 4 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

Pairs’ free skate: 11 a.m. (GOLD), begins at 11 p.m. on NBCSN

 

Friday

Rhythm dance: 3:30 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 2 p.m. on NBCSN

Ladies’ free skate: 10 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 6 p.m. on NBCSN

 

Saturday

Men’s free skate: 3:15 a.m. (GOLD) begins at 11 a.m. on NBCSN

Free dance: 8:25 a.m. (GOLD)

 

Sunday

Ladies’ and men’s free skate: 1:30 p.m. on NBC