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Andy Murray plans to retire this season

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Andy Murray said he hopes to retire this season after Wimbledon, but acknowledged he might not make it to that point.

Murray, 31, spoke through tears at a press conference in the lead-up to the Australian Open, citing a painful hip injury that is “not allowing me to enjoy any of the stuff that I love about tennis.”

“I can still play to a level, [but] not a level I’m happy playing at,” he said. “The pain is too much.”

Murray said he had been dealing with a hip injury for years but the pain has worsened in the last 20 months, making day-to-day tasks, like walking and putting on socks, uncomfortable. “I spoke to my team and I told them that I can’t keep doing this,” he said. “I said to my team, ‘I think I can get through this till Wimbledon. That’s where I’d like to stop playing. But I’m also not certain I’m able to do that.”

When asked if the Australian Open could be his last tournament, Murray paused to gather his thoughts and said, “I think there’s a chance of that.”

Murray is a three-time Grand Slam winner and the only player to win two straight singles titles at the Olympics. In his first Grand Slam title, at the 2012 US Open, Murray beat Novak Djokovic in the final to become the first British man to win a major since Fred Perry at the 1936 US Open. He reached another milestone with his second Grand Slam title at 2013 Wimbledon, topping Djokovic to become the first British man to win the tournament in 77 years. He won a second Wimbledon title in 2016. He has also been outspoken about gender issues in sports, advocating for equal prize money and more women’s matches on centre court at Wimbledon. In 2014, Murray hired Amelie Mauresmo as his coach. He wrote in a 2015 column published by French sports paper L’Equipe, “Have I become a feminist? Well, if being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then yes, I suppose I have.”

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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