Tyreek Hill eyes Olympics; qualifying for U.S. trials is difficult enough

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Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill said he’s serious about trying to qualify for the U.S. Olympic track and field team after Super Bowl LIV, but it would be very difficult for him to qualify for the Olympic trials, let alone get to Tokyo.

“Hopefully after this season, if I’m healthy and my mind is still in the right place, I really want to try to qualify for some Olympic teams,” Hill said at Super Bowl media day in Miami on Wednesday. “Even go to Penn Relays [in April], give that a try. Get a few guys off the [football] team put a relay together and show these track guys, hey, football guys, hey, we used to do this back in high school, man. We still got it. I just want to have fun with it.”

Hill was asked in a follow-up if he was serious about the Olympics and looked into it.

“Yeah, I have,” he said. “I have. I have.”

Hill was a world-class sprinter in high school. He ran the 200m in 20.14 seconds at age 18, ranking him sixth in the U.S. in 2012. If he ran that time between now and June 7, Hill would qualify for June’s U.S. Olympic Trials.

But asking him to get near his personal best, seven years removed from his sprint days and after the longest NFL season of his career, is a leap.

Hill easily qualified for Olympic trials in 2012 (the automatic qualifying time was 20.55), and 20.14 would have made the Olympic team at trials. But Hill did not race trials. He ran junior nationals and the world junior championships instead.

Hill also noted Wednesday that he broke 10 seconds in the 100m in high school. While that is true, it came with a 5.0 meter/second tailwind, which is 2.5 times the maximum tailwind for record purposes. His true 100m personal best is 10.19 seconds.

But none of those old races count if Hill wants to race at June’s Olympic trials. He must post a qualifying time between now and June 7. In the 100m, the automatic qualifying time is 10.05 seconds. In the 200m, it’s 20.24.

USA Track and Field could invite more men to either field if it deems not enough automatically qualified. Any extra invitees would be taken in order of the fastest time in the qualifying window. Hill would not get special treatment as an NFL star.

NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon, a four-time Olympic sprint medalist who has coached NFL Draft prospects for the combine’s 40-yard dash, called Hill’s chances of qualifing for the trials “a long shot.”

“I think Tyreek is the fastest man in the NFL, but you’re not going from an entire NFL season to being an Olympic qualifier in the 100m,” Boldon tweeted. “NFL season wreaks havoc on a body. NFL season that extends through the playoffs to the Super Bowl makes it even worse.”

The only Olympians to compete in the NFL before and after their Olympics were running back Herschel Walker in bobsled (Albertville 1992) and New England Patriots safety Nate Ebner in rugby (Rio 2016).

However, former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best qualified to race the 100m for Saint Lucia in Rio. Best, though, had been doing sprint training for more than one year before the Olympics (and had not played in the NFL in four years due to concussions).

If he’s serious, Hill has four months to qualify for trials in the U.S., which has a tougher 100m standard than what Best ran to qualify for Saint Lucia (10.16 seconds). Saint Lucia had no other Olympic-caliber sprinters.

Hill would also have to make major lifestyle changes.

“But the thing is, I weigh like 195 [pounds] right now. Back in high school, when I ran a 9.9, I was like 175,” he said. “If I do it, it would be me changing my whole diet, changing everything that I’ve been doing to get to this point where I am now.”

MORE: Coronavirus wreaks havoc with sport schedules, including Olympic qualifiers

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Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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