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Ethiopia, Kenya push back over decision to drop 5,000 from Diamond League

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The IAAF’s decision to drop the 5,000 meters from its Diamond League track and field series has been met with strong resistance from Ethiopia and Kenya, where one former world champion accused the sport’s governing body of trying to “kill long-distance running.”

The Ethiopian Athletics Federation has written to IAAF president Sebastian Coe asking the governing body to reconsider the change, which comes into effect from next year and was part of a larger overhaul of the series.

Athletics Kenya said it would also argue for the 5,000 to be restored and would ask African nations to come together in opposition to the IAAF’s decision at a meeting of the African track body next month.

The IAAF this week announced a plan to revamp the Diamond League from 2020, reducing the series to 12 meetings and a finals event. There will now be 24 disciplines at each meet — 12 for men and 12 for women.

The 5,000 meters was one of the disciplines to be cut, leaving the 3,000 as the longest race on the schedule.

“They want to kill long-distance running,” two-time 10,000-meter world champion Moses Tanui of Kenya said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Friday. “I think (the reason) is the dominance of our athletes in long distances.”

Ethiopia’s opposition came in a letter from track federation interim president Derartu Tulu. She wrote in Thursday’s letter addressed to Coe: “We totally disagree with the decisions made.”

Tulu, a two-time Olympic champion in the 10,000 meters, urged the IAAF to reconsider.

″(It’s) not fair to countries like ours who are very competitive in long-distance running, and these distances are our cultural sports and also our identity,” she wrote.

The Diamond League is the highest-profile athletics competition outside of the world championships and the Olympics. But its format underwent a yearlong review in an attempt to find a product that was more pleasing to television viewers and more engaging for fans.

The changes were aimed at creating “a faster-paced 90-minute television event” for each meet, the IAAF said. In an effort to find a more compact, TV-friendly format, the 5,000 meters was one of the events to lose out.

In a statement to the AP on Friday, the IAAF noted that last year only three regular-season Diamond League meetings opted to stage a 5,000-meter race for men, and only two put on a women’s 5,000. From next year, meets will still have the option of including a 5,000, just outside the 90-minute TV window.

“We made the decision to reduce the 5,000m distance to a 3,000m distance based on clear market feedback from the broadcasters and fans,” the IAAF said.

Both the Ethiopian and Kenyan federations also complained about a lack of consultation with them or their athletes before the IAAF announced the changes. The IAAF said it did receive feedback from distance runners.

Still, the 5,000 at the Diamond League gave Kenyan distance runners precious chances to earn a living in prize money as well as prepare for the worlds and the Olympics, Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said.

“That chance has been curtailed and therefore we are appealing to the IAAF to consider that position,” Tuwei said.

Hayley Wickenheiser is 7th woman elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Hayley Wickenheiser
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Hayley Wickenheiser, arguably the greatest female hockey player of all time who retired in 2017, will be the seventh female player in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The six-time Canadian Olympian (once in softball) was elected in her first year of eligibility. Wickenheiser is joined by Sergei Zubov, who earned gold at the 1992 Albertville Games with the Unified Team, two-time Czech Olympic medalist Václav Nedomanský and 1980s and ’90s NHLer Guy Carbonneau, among others.

The induction ceremony is Nov. 18 in Toronto.

Wickenheiser is the fifth Canadian female player elected after Angela James (2010), Geraldine Heaney (2013), Danielle Goyette (2017) and Jayna Hefford (2018). Americans Cammi Granato (2010) and Angela Ruggiero (2015) are also Hall of Famers.

Wickenheiser, now the Toronto Maple Leafs’ assistant director of player development, earned four golds and one silver in the first five Olympic women’s hockey tournaments. She played 23 years for the Canadian national team, earning seven world titles and being named Olympic tournament MVP in 2002 and 2006.

She also carried the Canadian flag at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony and recited the Athletes’ Oath at the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony. She was elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission in 2014.

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Breaking provisionally added for 2024 Olympics

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Breaking (don’t call it break dancing) was provisionally added to the Olympics for the 2024 Paris Games.

The IOC also announced Tuesday that skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were provisionally added to the 2024 Olympic program. Those three sports will debut at Tokyo 2020 but were not assured places on the Olympic program beyond next year.

“They contribute to making the program more gender balanced and more urban, and offer the opportunity to connect with the younger generation,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a press release. “The proposed sports are in line with these principles and enhance Paris 2024’s overall dynamic Games concept, which focuses on inclusivity, inspiring a new audience and hosting socially responsible Games.”

The IOC Executive Board will make the final decision on the Paris 2024 event program in December 2020, but no more sports can be proposed for inclusion. That means baseball and softball, which return to the Olympics next year, will not be on the 2024 Olympic program. Those sports can still be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Breaking debuted at the Youth Olympics last year, where the U.S. did not have any athletes. Sergei “Bumblebee” Chernyshev of Russia and Ramu Kawai of Japan took gold medals.

Breaking had never previously been up for a vote for Olympic inclusion, but the World DanceSport Federation is recognized by the IOC.

Teenagers, some of whom went by nicknames like Bad Matty, Senorita Carlota and KennyG, went head-to-head in dance battles at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires last year. They performed on a mat atop an outdoor basketball court to a musical beat and emcees.

Judges determined winners using six criteria: creativity, personality, technique, variety, perfomativity and musicality.

“Breaking (also called b-boying or b-girling) is an urban dance style,” according to the Youth Olympics. “The urban dance style originated during the mid 1970s in the Bronx borough of New York City.”

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