Dawn Harper Nelson calls off retirement after one year off

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Former Olympic 100m hurdles champion Dawn Harper Nelson says she will make a comeback after one year of retirement.

Harper Nelson won Olympic gold in 2008, overtaking Lolo Jones after her U.S. teammate clipped a hurdle near the end of the race. She also won Olympic silver in 2012, barely losing to Australia’s Sally Pearson in a thrilling final in which she set her personal best of 12.37 seconds.

In world championship finals, Harper Nelson took bronze in 2011 and took silver in 2017, again losing a close finish to Pearson in London’s Olympic Stadium.

Harper Nelson announced early in the 2018 season that she would retire at the end of the year. She knew she was pregnant for the last three races of the year and gave birth to her first child April 10.

FINALE: Harper Nelson reflects at final U.S. championships

But she had doubts all along about leaving the track.

“I wondered, would I miss it?” Harper Nelson told NBC Olympic Talk’s Nick Zaccardi. “Would I still want to do it? Then throughout my pregnancy, I still obviously had that pull. I trained during the whole nine months, but it was for two reasons. One was, it was literally the best I would feel all day, just with the changes in my body and stuff I was going through. The next one was if you just so happen to want to run, you cannot take nine months off. That’s just not an option. So I trained.”

She has remained available for drug testing through the year and talked about post-pregnancy competition with two-time Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand, who was pregnant with her second child while Harper Nelson was pregnant.

But Harper Nelson was discouraged early on in her post-pregnancy training.

“That initial burst of speed to get off the line, it just was lacking,” Harper Nelson said. “I really had a moment where I sat down and kind of cried. I was thinking, do you ever really get that back? Is it possible? You’ve seen other ladies Nia (Ali), Allyson (Felix), Shelly-Ann (Fraser-Pryce), at world championships, they ran great. But you always find that moment, but is it different for me? Will my body not be the body that wants to come back? We slowly just gradually did things, resistance, mini plyos and gradually got myself back.”

She got encouragement, though, in speaking with her medical advisors: “My physio, he said, ‘Dawn, this is pretty much the best your body has felt in a long time because you allowed your body to rest.'”

Her husband, Alonzo Nelson, will be her coach while she trains on her high school track in East St. Louis, Ill.

Her comeback is likely only for one year: “I really do feel like this would probably be it because we want more kids.”

The competition in the 100m hurdles has only gotten stronger over the years. Harper Nelson’s fastest time of 2018 was 12.75 seconds, trailing 21 hurdlers internationally and seven U.S. athletes. Even when she took silver in the 2017 world championships, her season’s best of 12.63 seconds trailed six U.S. hurdlers. Kendra Harrison set the world record of 12.20 seconds in 2016.

Harper Nelson says she’s up for the challenge.

“In the 100m hurdles, we hold the definition of the hardest team to make,” Harper Nelson said. “From 2008 to now, it’s been different ladies that have lined up. The constant has been me and Sally [Pearson]. No one gives you anything. Everyone is out here hungry. It’s literally been the life that I’ve lived for the 12 years of my career. … All I’ve known is you put up or shut up. So I’m definitely OK with that. I really don’t want it any other way.”

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed in the final miles, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in an unprecedented 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

“I was planning to go through it [the halfway mark] 60:50, 60:40,” Kipchoge said. “My legs were running actually very fast. I thought, let me just try to run two hours flat, but all in all, I am happy with the performance.

“We went too fast [in the first half]. It takes energy from the muscles. … There’s still more in my legs [to possibly lower the record again].”

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history for somebody who ran one prior marathon in 2:34:01. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48. D’Amato, who went nearly a decade between competitive races after college, owns the American record of 2:19:12 and now also the 10th-best time in U.S. history.

“Today wasn’t my best day ever, but it was the best I could do today,” she said in a text message, according to Race Results Weekly, adding that she briefly stopped and walked late in the race.

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago.

The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, clocking 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

Kipchoge grew up on a farm in Kapsabet in Kenya’s Rift Valley, often hauling by bike several gallons of the family’s milk to sell at the local market. Raised by a nursery school teacher, he ran more than three miles to and from school. He saved for five months to get his first pair of running shoes.

At 18, he upset legends Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele to win the 2003 World 5000m title on the track. He won Olympic 5000m medals (bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008), then moved to the marathon after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team on the track.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final