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Kosuke Hagino, star Japanese swimmer, to miss world championships

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Kosuke Hagino, Japan’s lone active Olympic swimming champion, will miss July’s world championships. He withdrew before April’s national championships, citing a lack of desire to compete, and is not at this week’s Japan Open.

Swimswam.com reported earlier that Hagino was missing from the entry lists for the Japan Open, the 2020 Olympic host nation’s last qualifier for swimming worlds.

“Kosuke Hagino will not be competing at the World Championships this year,” a rep from Hagino’s management agency said in an email Friday. “He is taking some time off and will be preparing for next year.”

Hagino, 24, won the sport’s decathlon, the 400m individual medley at the Rio Games. Last summer, Hagino took silver and bronze in the individual medleys at the Pan Pacific Championships, seeing American rival Chase Kalisz sweep the events, just as Kalisz did at the 2017 Worlds.

A large banner in a Tokyo transportation hub displayed the faces of Kalisz, Hagino and another Japanese star, Daiya Seto, promoting their rivalry in the 400m IM before Pan Pacs in the capital city. It was warranted.

Hagino was arguably the world’s best all-around swimmer in 2014 and 2015, after beating Michael Phelps at 2014 Pan Pacs.

Though Hagino missed the 2015 Worlds with a broken right elbow suffered in a bike accident, he rebounded for the 400m IM gold in Rio, topping Kalisz by seven tenths of a second in an Asian record 4:06.05. Hagino hasn’t swum within four seconds of that time since, according to FINA.

“I’ve been unable to achieve the results I had hoped for since the 2017 season,” Hagino said in a March 15 statement, according to media translations. “As the gap between my targets and reality has widened, it has become harder for me to maintain my motivation.

“I have accepted the fact that I am in no condition to focus on the sport, and thus I have made the decision.”

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MORE: Japanese swimming star has leukemia

World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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Daniel Romanchuk’s ascent to marathon stardom accelerated at University of Illinois

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The rise of Daniel Romanchuk has been one of the major stories of this Paralympic cycle. The wheelchair racer was eliminated in the first round of all five of his races in Rio.

But now, he’s the world’s best marathoner with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, a world-record holder on the track and already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Romanchuk, born with spina bifida, was profiled by NBC Sports Chicago as part of a series of NBC Sports Regional Networks pieces published this week — marking 150 days until the Tokyo Olympics and six months until the Tokyo Paralympics.

NBC RSN Olympic and Paralympic Profiles
NBC Sports Bay Area

Abbey Weitzeil (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Boston
Margaret Bertasi (Rowing) — LINK
Abbey D’Agostino Cooper (Track and Field) — LINK

NBC Sports Chicago
Ryan Murphy (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Northwest
Galen Rupp (Marathon) — LINK
Mariel Zagunis (Fencing) — LINK

NBC Sports Philadelphia
Vashti Cunningham (Track and Field) — LINK
Julie Ertz (Soccer) — LINK

NBC Sports Washington
Katie Ledecky (Swimming) — LINK
Kyle Snyder (Wrestling) — LINK

Romanchuk, 21, swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon titles in 2019. He attributes that success to his native Baltimore and his training residence of the University of Illinois.

At age 2, he was enrolled in Baltimore’s Bennett Blazers, an adaptive sports program for children with physical disabilities. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist who dominated women’s wheelchair marathons, planted her athletic roots there.

“Their motto is to teach kids they can before they’re told they can’t,” Romanchuk said.

Things really blossomed for Romanchuk after he moved from Baltimore to the University of Illinois. Illinois was designated a U.S. Paralympic training site in 2014 and has produced McFadden, Jean Driscoll and other U.S. Paralympic stars.

“Without this program, I certainly would not be where I am,” Romanchuk said. “It’s a very unique combination of coaching and teammates.”

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MORE: Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch for 2020 Tokyo Games