With major marathons canceled, Emily Sisson chose a virtual one

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When Emily Sisson stepped off the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials course on Feb. 29, she would not have predicted the wait would be eight months until her next race.

Even more unusual: Sisson will contest her next marathon as a solo runner.

She’s a headliner among the elites signed up for the Virtual New York City Marathon, where runners can cover a distance of their choice any time and any place between Oct. 17 and Nov. 1. The in-person five-borough event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sisson, a 28-year-old based in Arizona, plans to run exactly 26.2 miles for the virtual competition with no prize money (Sisson is sponsored by New Balance, which is a New York Road Runners partner). She said last week that she was still deciding on her route.

“It’s hard to find somewhere where I can get 26.2 miles without having to stop for traffic,” she said.

Sisson originally planned to race the in-person New York City Marathon. When it was canceled in June, she was left in a foreign state — training without any competitions on the horizon. She was eager once told about the virtual option.

“Obviously, a virtual race can’t completely replace the New York City Marathon,” she said. “But it’s something to put on my schedule, to work towards and train for right now.

“That’s the reward for working really hard.”

Sisson, after her marathon debut in London in April 2019, spent last fall and winter with Leap Day circled. She flew to Atlanta among the contenders to make the three-woman U.S. Olympic marathon team. Many tapped her the overall favorite.

But her legs felt off early on the hilly course, Sisson shared on the Ali on the Run podcast in April. Tightness crept up around mile 11. She looked at the elites around her. Laura Thweatt was bounding. Des Linden was floating.

Sisson’s quads were taking a beating. She was dropped around mile 20 and, by mile 22, stepped off the course and into the arms of her husband, Shane Quinn.

“It sounds dramatic, but that was probably the most disappointing race I’ve had in my career,” she said last week. “I’ve never had to drop out of a race before. I’ve also never blown up like that in a race before. Take that back, I fainted once. I’ve never had a race where I performed so far off where my fitness level was.”

Sisson implemented the plan B that coach Ray Treacy discussed the night before. If your chances of finishing top three are done, pull the rip cord and save your legs for the 10,000m at the track trials in June.

Sisson’s legs were “destroyed.” She took three weeks off from running, consulting with a chiropractor while weighing the risk of that long of a rest. She also knew that the Olympics were under threat of postponement, which eventually was announced on March 24, three and a half weeks after the marathon trials.

The U.S. Olympic marathon team of Aliphine TuliamukMolly Seidel and Sally Kipyego is expected to remain in place for next year. The track trials are now in June 2021. Sisson will race this virtual 26.2 miles, then will probably focus on the 10,000m. Her unfinished business in the marathon — the in-person variety — will be on the agenda after the Tokyo Games.

Sisson will set at least one personal best this year. Her virtual marathon will be her longest-ever solo run, though Quinn will likely ride a bike alongside her. She will put on headphones and probably listen to music.

“It’s hard hitting pause on a low,” Sisson said, reflecting on the Atlanta trials. “It’s nice to have something else right now.”

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Sisson ran her first marathon in London in 2018. Her first marathon was in London in 2019.

MORE: Kipchoge, Bekele headline London Marathon elite fields

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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