Eliud Kipchoge’s historic streak ends, and what comes next, from the eyes of his coach

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Patrick Sang, who has coached Eliud Kipchoge since 2002, offered a final few words of encouragement to his pupil before Sunday’s London Marathon.

Let’s go and make history.

Sang said that Kipchoge, the greatest marathoner of all time, was prepared as he put a six-year, 10-marathon win streak at stake in St. James’s Park. The 35-year-old Kipchoge was bidding for a record-breaking fifth title for a runner in London’s 40-year history.

“I was really confident that all was going to be at par with what he had done before,” Sang said by phone on Tuesday, after flying back to Kenya.

Kipchoge finished eighth in 2:06:49. Ethiopian Shura Kitata won in 2:05:42.

Kipchoge won London in 2019 in a course record of 2:02:37, seven months after lowering the world record to 2:01:39 in Berlin.

But this was a very different London Marathon. It was not held on the traditional course hugging the River Thames, but with 19 loops around the park. The weather didn’t help, either — hovering around 50 degrees with wind and rain.

“We went to the competition prepared,” Sang said, “but the weather conditions were a bit too much.”

Sang watched the race broadcast. He noted that an impatient Kipchoge requested pacers to speed up after about 12 miles.

“The pacers said they got the message, but I think the reaction was not visible,” Sang said with a laugh. “They said they really suffered with the winds and the rains and the cold.”

Later, Kipchoge missed one of his drink bottles. The leading group remained at nine men through 21 miles. Then Kipchoge dropped in the 24th mile, afterwards citing an ear blockage followed by hip cramping.

“He felt like the hip area was not coordinating well, and the leg movement was not bouncing,” Sang said. “He was saying he was trying to communicate with the legs to bounce, but the coordination was not there.”

Sang and other friends spent time with Kipchoge in his hotel room later Sunday — “just to uplift his spirits, but you could see he was somewhat down,” Sang said. Kipchoge said he had never experienced that kind of ear problem before.

“The first lesson is to know that I am also human and can be beaten,” Kipchoge said in a video interview Tuesday. “The second is I’m now able to implement what disappointment is.”

As Sang saw what he called “the emotional effect” on Kipchoge, he was reminded of his student’s last defeat of this size. In 2012, Kipchoge placed seventh in the Kenyan Olympic Trials 5000m, missing the team for the London Games and leading to his victorious marathon debut the following spring.

“The feeling of not accomplishing something that you really look forward to,” Sang said. “You can see that he’s still passionate about doing a lot in the sport. You can see the spirit of going farther is still there.”

Kipchoge, who even in defeat presented his usual calm and philosophical demeanor (amid shivers while enveloped in a heavy coat), has never been in the business of comparing himself to others. The withdrawal of Kipchoge’s biggest threat, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, two days before the race did not affect the Kenyan great.

“The focus has never been on beating an individual,” Sang said, “but the higher the competition, you can see the higher the motivation to perform at his best.”

Kipchoge and Sang both flew out of London earlier this week. Sang went back to Kenya. Kipchoge jetted to the Netherlands to see a specialist for the ear blockage, then said Tuesday that he was given a clean bill of health.

He plans to race London again and is expected to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo next summer, aiming to become the second-oldest men’s marathon gold medalist in history, according to Olympedia.org.

No matter what happens, Kipchoge distanced himself from the other greatest marathoners in history these last seven years. Former world-record holders Haile Gebrselassie and Abebe Bikila each had six-marathon win streaks.

“Each generation gives us something to remember,” Sang said. “We had a generation of Abebe Bikila. We had a generation of Haile. Now we have the generation of Eliud. All these athletes gave us beautiful competitions, things to look forward to and took the sport to the highest level of their generation.

“[Kipchoge] has been an inspiration beyond our sport. We hope that, after overcoming this setback, he will continue for the next few more years to inspire us and give us beautiful performances.”

MORE: With major marathons canceled, Emily Sisson chose a virtual one

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USA Boxing to skip world championships

USA Boxing
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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too. The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred.

USA Boxing said that Russian and Belarusian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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Mikaela Shiffrin ties world Alpine skiing championships medals record

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Mikaela Shiffrin took silver behind Italian Marta Bassino in the super-G for her 12th world Alpine skiing championships medal, tying the modern individual record.

Bassino edged Shiffrin by 11 hundredths of a second in Meribel, France, for her second world title after sharing parallel gold in 2021.

“That was the best run I can do on this track,” Shiffrin told Austrian broadcaster ORF. “I had one turn … coming off the [final] pitch where I almost lost it all.

“I’m so happy with my run.”

Austrian Cornelia Huetter and Norwegian Kajsa Vickhoff Lie tied for bronze, 33 hundredths back in a discipline where five different women won this season’s five World Cup races.

Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami, the reigning Olympic and world champ, led at the last intermediate split but lost 44 hundredths to Bassino in the final 18 seconds of the course and ended up sixth.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

With her 12th world medal, the 27-year-old Shiffrin tied Kjetil Andre Aamodt, a Norwegian star of the 1990s and 2000s, for the most in individual events since World War II. Aamodt earned his 12th and final medal in his 27th world championships race. Shiffrin matched him in her 15th worlds start.

Swede Anja Pärson holds the overall record of 13 modern medals. She won two in the team event.

Shiffrin has six gold medals, one shy of that modern record.

Shiffrin, the greatest slalom skier in history, is selective when it comes to the speed events of downhill and super-G. She has never raced the downhill at worlds and will not enter Saturday’s race.

In the super-G, she now has a world championships medal of every color and is one of two skiers in history to make the super-G podium at three consecutive worlds. The other is Austrian legend Hermann Maier.

“I’m emotional because I don’t really feel like I should be winning a medal in super-G right now,” said Shiffrin, who had a win and a seventh place in two World Cup super-G starts this season and was sixth in the super-G run of Monday’s combined. “There are so many women who are strong and fast.”

Shiffrin rebounded from Monday’s first race of worlds, where she was in line for combined gold before losing her balance with five gates left and straddling the third-to-last gate in her slalom run. That snapped her streak of a medal in 10 consecutive world championships races dating to 2015.

After Wednesday’s race, Shiffrin called the past 48 hours “stressful.” She shed tears in the live ORF interview soon after her run, then later clarified that she misunderstood what the interviewer said in German.

“The last two or four weeks, well, really the last year, but especially in the last few weeks, I must have answered 100 questions about this world championships and basically if I’m worried that it’s going to be the same as what the Olympics was last year, if I’m worried about the disappointment, if I’m afraid of it,” Shiffrin, whose best individual Olympic finish last year was ninth, with three DNFs, said in a later press conference when asked about the ORF interview. “I was like, ‘I survived the Olympics, so I’m not afraid that it’s going to kill me if I don’t win a medal this world championships.’ That’s what I’ve been saying, but for sure, you get asked the same thing again and again. It’s so hard to keep the balance in your mind to answer this question and still be positive and still think I can do this. I can ski my best. I can make it to the finish. And then after the combined, I was like, you have got to be kidding me. My DNF rate now in my entire career, over 50 percent of it is at Olympics or world championships. Like, c’mon. It’s almost funny. And it’s only funny because I was able to win a medal today. The pressure’s not off, but there’s for sure a little bit of relief.”

Worlds continue with the men’s super-G on Thursday. Shiffrin’s next race is expected to be the giant slalom on Feb. 16.

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