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Boston, London Marathons rescheduled due to coronavirus

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The Boston Marathon has been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14 due to the coronavirus. Three hours later, London Marathon organizers announced their race was moved from April 26 to Oct. 4.

“It’s an expectation and a hope right now is that this date will get us to a safer place in relation to the spread of the coronavirus,” Boston mayor Marty Walsh said, while discouraging anyone from trying to run the course on April 20. “It’s a date that the BAA [Boston Athletic Association] can make work for their runners.

“We want to make sure that we keep people safe.”

Walsh said there was no discussion of holding the Boston Marathon on the original date without spectators, but there were talks of possibly holding the race with a limited number of runners before the decision to instead postpone.

“That’s not the Boston Marathon,” he said. “We’re an inclusive marathon.”

It’s one of the most significant alterations to the world’s oldest annual marathon, which has been contested for 123 straight years. In 1918, the last year of World War I, the marathon was still held on Patriots’ Day but as a 10-man military relay race.

The original 2020 Boston elite fields included two-time U.S. Olympian Des Linden, the 2018 Boston winner who was fourth at the Feb. 29 Olympic Trials, where the top three earned Olympic spots. Linden has not announced whether she will remain in the field for the rescheduled Boston Marathon.

London is the world’s other major spring marathon. Its fields for the originally scheduled April race were headlined by the two fastest men in history — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.

“The world is in an unprecedented situation grappling with a global pandemic of COVID-19, and public health is everyone’s priority,” London Marathon director Hugh Brasher said in a statement.

Many global half marathons and marathons have been canceled due to the coronavirus. On March 1, the Tokyo Marathon (a World Marathon Major like Boston and London) was restricted to elite runners without the usual mass-participation race.

The new Boston Marathon date is 13 days before the Berlin Marathon, another World Marathon Major. Sept. 14 will be treated as a local holiday like the usual April date, Walsh said.

“You have a chance to run an historic, once-in-a-lifetime race in September, and I hope that all the runners and people embrace it,” Walsh said. “We’ve shown before that no matter what the challenge is to our marathon and to our city, we are Boston strong. And that’s what we will be again this year in the face of this crisis.”

The fall major marathon schedule

Boston — Sept. 14
Berlin — Sept. 27
London — Oct. 4
Chicago — Oct. 11
New York City — Nov. 1

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Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, provisionally banned

Salwa Eid Naser
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Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion of Bahrain, was provisionally suspended for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser, 22, said in an Instagram live video. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”

Naser said “the missed tests” came before last autumn’s world championships, where she ran the third-fastest time in history (48.14 seconds) and the fastest in 34 years.

“This year I have not been drug tested,” she said. “We are still talking about the ones of last season before the world championships.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases for track and field, did not announce whether Naser’s gold medal could be stripped.

“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image, but it has happened,” she said. “It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”

Naser, the 2017 World silver medalist, upset Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas for the world title in Doha on Oct. 3.

The only women who have run faster than Naser, who was born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Nigeria to a Nigerian mother who sprinted and a Bahraini father, were dubious — East German Marita Koch (47.60) and Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99).

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs,” Naser said. “I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

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When Laurie Hernandez winked at the Olympics

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Blink, and you may have missed one of the social-media-sensation moments of the Rio Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez, then 16, was the youngest woman on the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. She was about to start arguably the most important floor exercise routine of her life.

So, she winked.

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense,” she wrote in her 2017 book, “I Got This,” a nod to what she told herself before her balance beam routine earlier that night. “So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment.”

The U.S., on its fourth and final rotation, already had the team gold all but locked up. Knowing she was nervous, Hernandez’s teammates confirmed to her that they were a few points ahead.

Then Hernandez heard the beep, and it was time to go. She was in the view of an out-of-bounds judge at the Rio Olympic Arena.

“Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink,” she wrote. “Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone [Biles] and Aly [Raisman] compete in their all-around finals and she said, ‘Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.’ I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, ‘Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.’ That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Hernandez, a New Jersey native, finished the Olympics with a team gold and balance beam silver.

She took more than two years off before making a comeback in earnest last year, announcing she planned to return to competition this spring under new coaches in California. Now that’s on hold given the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

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