Track and field athletes can apply for money through new fund

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Track and field athletes who have lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic can apply for financial support through a new fund.

Hicham El Guerrouj, the 2004 Olympic 1500m and 5000m champion and mile world-record holder, brought the idea to World Athletics. That organization, along with the International Athletics Foundation (IAF), established a $500,000 fund. Additional money could be raised.

Applications can be submitted through continental track and field associations, such as the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC).

“I am in constant contact with athletes around the world, and I know that many are experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the shutdown of most international sports competition in the last two months,” World Athletics president Seb Coe said in a press release. “Our professional athletes rely on prize money as part of their income, and we’re mindful that our competition season, on both the track and road, is being severely impacted by the pandemic. We are hopeful that we will be able to stage at least some competition later this year, but in the meantime we will also endeavor, through this fund and additional monies we intend to seek through the friends of our sport, to help as many athletes as possible.”

Meets into June on the sport’s top professional circuit, the Diamond League, have been postponed.

A June 11 Diamond League stop in Oslo has been reorganized with fewer events and fewer athletes with no fans. It was renamed from the Bislett Games to the Impossible Games.

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MORE: Seb Coe: Track and field athletes need 6-7 weeks of specific training to return

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”