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When Boston Marathon turned into a sprint, Cherono was ready

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BOSTON (AP) Sometimes a race is both a marathon and a sprint.

Lawrence Cherono paced himself for 26 miles from Hopkinton to Boston, making the turn from Hereford Street for the last 600 meters on Boylston shoulder-to-shoulder with two other runners. From there, it was a footrace.

“I’ve never run on the track before,” the 30-year-old Kenyan said on Tuesday after picking up a check for $150,000 as the winner of the 123rd Boston Marathon. “To me, it was a lesson. I never lost hope.”

A six-time marathon winner, Cherono was the fastest man in the field by virtue of his victory in Amsterdam last fall in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 6 seconds. That speed came in handy Monday when the pack ran faster in the second half than the first, and Cherono completed the final mile in 4:29 to get to the tape before two-time Boston winner Lelisa Desisa.

In fact, at the 30K checkpoint there were still a dozen runners in the lead pack, including three of the last four champions: Desisa, who won in 2013 and ’15, Geoffrey Kirui (’16) and Lemi Berhanu Hayle (’17).

“I was not thinking of what they did last year,” Cherono said. “I was running my own race.”

Cherono finished in 2:07:57, the fastest winning time in Boston since Geoffrey Mutai’s 2:03:02 set a course record and a world best. Desisa slowed up, grimacing in agony, and finished 2 seconds behind.

Worknesh Degefa won the women’s race in 2:23:31 after pulling away from the pack in the outer suburbs and running alone for more than 20 miles.

“This is going to change my life,” she said Tuesday. “This marathon throws me onto the world stage. Winning the Boston Marathon is everything.”

A year after dealing with some of the foulest weather New England has to offer – temperatures in the mid-30s, an icy rain and near-gale headwinds – organizers lucked into a pretty nice day. Temperatures were in the high 50s at the start, and the rain held off until late in the afternoon.

That led to some new challenges.

Forecasts of cold and rain forced the Boston Athletic Association to prepare again for the worst, and heavy rains and lightning overnight led organizers to delay some of the buses shuttling runners out to the start. An early-morning military march was delayed for 90 minutes, but had the lightning continued the whole race could have been canceled.

Para athletes and others with imperfect contact with the ground were offered a deferment; not a single one took it, race director Dave McGillivray said.

The skies remained clear for the entire elite race and a light rain began falling mid-afternoon. But instead of the hypothermia that had been feared from anticipated cold weather – extra heaters were ordered for the medical tents – temperatures soared into the low 70s and doctors were dealing with exertion heat stroke.

One runner had a core body temperature of 109 degrees, medical coordinator Chris Troyanos said. A total of 2,217 runners needed medical attention on the course or at the finish line; 103 people were transported to hospitals and 13 were admitted overnight.

All were expected to be released Tuesday, Troyanos said.

McGillivray said the changing forecasts put pressure on organizers that last year’s dreadful – but predictable – weather did not.

“It was a moving target all week long,” he said. “But pressure is a privilege. And the B.A.A. team is at its best when we are challenged.”

Brooke Raboutou is first U.S. Olympic sport climbing qualifier

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Brooke Raboutou, 18, became the first American to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in sport climbing by reaching Tuesday’s combined final at the world championships in Hachioji, Japan, USA Climbing confirmed.

She qualified ninth into that final.

Raboutou, the daughter of two world-class climbers who has competed since age 7, became the seventh American across all sports to qualify for the 2020 Olympics after three open-water swimmers, two modern pentathletes and a triathlete.

Olympic sport climbing will feature one set of medals per gender, the event combining three disciplines: lead, speed and bouldering.

From Tokyo 2020: Speed climbing pits two climbers against each other, both climbing a fixed route on a 15-meter wall at a 95-degree angle. Winning times are generally between five and eight seconds. In bouldering, climbers scale a number of fixed routes on a four-meter wall in a specified time without safety ropes. In lead climbing, athletes attempt to climb as high as possible on a wall measuring over 15 meters in height within a fixed time with safety ropes.

A nation can qualify up to two athletes per gender into Olympic sport climbing.

The sport debuted at the Youth Olympics in 2018 in Buenos Aires, but no Americans were entered.

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Danielle Williams cemented as world No. 1 hurdler in Birmingham

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The 100m hurdles has been one of the U.S.’ deepest events the last several years, but Jamaican Danielle Williams looks like the favorite at the world championships in early October.

Williams, who owns the world’s fastest time this year, easily beat world-record holder Kendra Harrison and Olympic champion Brianna McNeal at a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Sunday.

Williams crossed in 12.46 seconds despite hitting her knee on one hurdle, but still two tenths clear of Harrison, whose world record is 12.20. It marked Harrison’s first loss in nine meets this year and the first time a non-American has ever beaten her at a Diamond League stop.

It looked like Williams wouldn’t make it to worlds in Doha when she false started out of the Jamaican Championships. But the final was soon after strangely canceled, and Jamaican media reported last week that Williams, the 2015 World champion who failed to make the Rio Olympics, is eligible to be chosen next month by the federation.

The U.S. had at least the two fastest women in the world each of the previous six years. Then Williams re-emerged with a Jamaican record 12.32 on July 20.

The meet airs Monday on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA at 4 p.m. ET and NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET. The Diamond League moves to Paris on Saturday.

In other events Sunday, Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo overtook Brit Dina Asher-Smith and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 200m in 22.24. Miller-Uibo extended her unbeaten streak to two years across all distances.

It appears Miller-Uibo will not be racing the 200m at worlds, given it overlaps with the 400m. She ranks third in the world this year at the shorter distance, trailing Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, who clocked 22.00 on June 23 but was not in Sunday’s field. Miller-Uibo has ranked No. 1 at 400m four straight years.

Yohan Blake won the 100m in 10.07 seconds, holding off Brit Adam Gemili, who had the same time with a 2 meter/second tailwind. Blake, the second-fastest man in history with a personal best of 9.69, hasn’t been the same since suffering a series of leg injuries starting in 2013.

Sunday’s field lacked the world championships favorites — Americans Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin, who clocked 9.81 and 9.87 on June 30.

Surprise U.S. champion Teahna Daniels placed third in her Diamond League 100m debut, clocking 11.24 seconds. The field lacked world championships favorites Thompson and Fraser-Pryce, who each ran 10.73 at the Jamaican Championships on June 21.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won an 800m that lacked all three Rio Olympic medalists, who are barred from racing the event due to the IAAF’s new testosterone cap in middle distances. Wilson’s time, 2:00.76, was far off her 2019 world-leading time of 1:57.72 among eligible women.

Olympic and world heptathlon champion Nafi Thiam broke the Belgian long jump record twice, winning with a 6.86-meter leap. That ranks ninth in the world this year. The field lacked the last two Olympic champions, Americans Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese.

A meeting of the last two Olympic pole vault champs went to Rio gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, who cleared 4.75 meters in swirling wind. London 2012 champ Jenn Suhr was third but remains No. 1 in the world this year with a 4.91-meter clearance from March 30.

Croatian Sandra Perkovic, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic discus champion, lost her third straight Diamond League meet to start the season as she returns from injury. Perkovic, who placed third behind winner Cuban Yaimé Pérez, had not lost in back-to-back meets since returning from a six-month doping ban in 2011, according to Tilastopaja.org.

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