Vashti, Randall Cunningham bid for Olympic sibling history may be more likely in 2021

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It appeared Vashti Cunningham and her older brother, Randall II, were very hopeful to become the first brother-sister duo to make a U.S. Olympic track and field team in 32 years.

Vashti, who made the Rio Olympic high jump team at age 18, won her first U.S. outdoor title in 2017. Randall, as a USC senior, cleared a personal-best 2.29 meters at the 2018 NCAA Indoor Championships, a height that would rank fourth among Americans outdoors that year.

Randall would win the NCAA title with that clearance, but he also fractured a tibia planting on a jump at the meet. It required surgery. He hasn’t competed since, according to World Athletics.

Vashti continued her ascent by earning bronze at the 2019 World Championships.

Then the Tokyo Olympics were postponed to 2021.

“Mixed emotions,” said the siblings’ father, retired NFL All-Pro quarterback Randall Cunningham, who also coaches Vashti. “On the one hand, I’m thinking, we’re prepared and ready to go. Vashti’s ready. On the other hand, with my son Randall II coming back, it gives him time to heal up a little bit more and get adjusted to jumping again.”

Vashti and her father spoke from Las Vegas with Mike Tirico on “Lunch Talk Live” on Monday.

The Cunninghams could become the first brother-sister pair to make a U.S. Olympic track and field team since the 1980s — notable pairs Al Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Carl Lewis and Carol Lewis — according to Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

Also in the 1980s: The elder Cunningham finished his high jump career in high school, clearing 6 feet, 10 inches, to stay in shape for football. That’s about three inches taller than Vashti’s personal best and eight inches shorter than his son’s best.

“I don’t compare to my kids,” he said. “I was OK. I wouldn’t have gotten a scholarship for track and field. They train a lot harder than I did back then.”

Vashti trains and competes in unique fashion. She participates sparingly on the Diamond League circuit and about 10 times per year total.

“We’re trying to preserve her,” her dad said. “I’m not trying to burn her out as a young kid. She’s only 22 years old.”

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s road back through destruction, death

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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