Eliud Kipchoge leads Kenya Olympic marathon team; Mary Keitany left off

Eliud Kipchoge
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World-record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei headline the six-runner Kenya Olympic marathon team, one so strong that Mary Keitany, the third-fastest woman in history, was left off.

The rest of the team: Lawrence Cherono (reigning Boston and Chicago Marathon winner), Amos Kipruto (world bronze medalist), Vivian Cheruiyot (2018 London Marathon winner and Olympic 5000m champion) and Ruth Chepngetich (world champion).

Kipchoge will try to become the first repeat Olympic marathon champion since West Germany’s Waldemar Cierpinski in 1980 and only the second man or woman to win multiple marathons at fully attended Games after Ethiopian legend Abebe Bikila in 1960 and 1964.

Kipchoge won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He’s undefeated since the start of 2014 at 26.2-mile races. He lowered the world record from 2:02:57 to 2:01:39 in Berlin in 2018, and on Oct. 12 ran 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible event. Kipchoge takes on the second-fastest marathoner in history, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, in the London Marathon on April 26.

A day after Kipchoge’s sub-two-hour feat, Kosgei took 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record, clocking 2:14:04 to win the Chicago Marathon.

Kipchoge and Cherono are the two fastest Kenyan marathoners since the start of 2018. Kipruto, second to Kipchoge at the 2018 Berlin Marathon, is the 28th fastest, though he was the top Kenyan at last year’s world championships, which lacked most of the world’s best.

Cheruiyot is one of Kenya’s greatest track runners with four world titles between the 5000m and 10,000m. She was second to Kosgei at the 2019 London Marathon and is the sixth-fastest Kenyan woman since the start of 2018.

Chepngetich had a brilliant 2019, winning the January Dubai Marathon in the then-third-fastest time ever and then taking a brutally hot world championships marathon by 63 seconds.

Keitany, 38, likely sees the end of her Olympic career. She owns the fastest marathon run without male pacers, a 2:17:01 from the 2017 London Marathon. She owns seven combined titles between the London and New York City Marathons and was fifth and second in those races last year. Keitany had accepted a spot in April’s Boston Marathon but as of last week was sidelined by a back injury and not part of the announced elite field.

Keitany, fourth at the London Olympics, was also left off the 2016 Olympic team.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and reportedly said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together.”

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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