Polina Edmunds wanted another Olympic run. The coronavirus pandemic stopped it.

Polina Edmunds
Getty Images

Olympic figure skater Polina Edmunds finally got past a years-long injury battle. She anticipated graduating from Santa Clara University this past spring, and then, for the first time in four and a half years, resuming her skating career full throttle in a bid to qualify for her second Olympic team in 2022.

Then the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Edmunds, while forced off the ice for months due to rink closures, did earn her communications degree but called off the comeback in June. She became one of the few, if any other, U.S. Olympians to retire from competition because of the pandemic.

“If things were different with the last six months and coronavirus never happened, then I think I definitely would be in full training mode right now. I was very focused for the 2022 Games,” Edmunds said on the What Fulfills You? podcast published on July 15.

She expanded in more podcast interviews over the summer and autumn and in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“Now the landscape has completely changed,” Edmunds said on the Beyond the Rink podcast published Monday. “I have opportunities that I can take outside of skating that I don’t need to wait for, if I want to take them right now. I also know that with my plan of competing constantly this year, that’s out of the picture now because of Covid. That doesn’t really set me up well for later skating if I’m not practicing competing because that’s the one thing I needed to work on. If I can’t be doing that this year, then it doesn’t really feel like there’s a point for me. So that’s why I decided.”

Edmunds, the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at age 15 (placing ninth), said she was flying high in early 2016 before a foot injury dropped her to absolute bottom.

She had just taken silver at the U.S. Championships for the second time in three years, after a brilliant short program. She was to compete at the world championships for a third straight year, seeking to improve on eighth-place finishes from 2014 and 2015.

But a bone bruise in her right foot, her landing foot for jumps, crept up. She withdrew from worlds in Boston and missed competition for more than a year and a half. She returned for the 2017-18 Olympic season, but withdrew from the January 2018 Nationals after a seventh-place short program, citing the injury.

Determined to skate at full strength, she took 10 months off the ice. Edmunds also didn’t run or do any other activities that could harm that navicular bone. She hiked and took up SoulCycle instead, while continuing classes at Santa Clara, where she was part of the Delta Gamma sorority.

“I had this huge comeback plan,” Edmunds said on the Bleav: When Your Sport Ends podcast published last week.

That plan was on track. Edmunds, out of competition practice after another year-and-a-half break, did not qualify for the January 2020 U.S. Championships, but said she got all of her jumps back, including a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination.

“I really felt super unstable competing when I tried to last year, so I knew this season was going to be all about putting myself out there constantly to get used to the feeling of competing again,” she said. “I had this new identity of being an actual woman on the ice and having more fluid, beautiful lines, rather than me when I was a little more awkward at 16.”

Edmunds wanted to compete all summer, putting herself in pressure situations, even in smaller events, to prepare her nerves for vying for a 2022 Olympic spot.

In March, rinks closed. Edmunds was forced off the ice into June, and in-person competition events were gone. Her mom and longtime coach, Nina, brought up the option of stopping.

“At first, it just felt unreal to even think about dropping skating because it had always been this huge part of my identity,” said Edmunds, who started skating at age 2 and competing around 6 or 7 and was profiled by The New York Times at 11. “But then as I started talking it out with more of my family and more of my friends, it was really emotional. Every time I talked about it, I would start to cry, just because I couldn’t fathom the idea of stopping.

“If you don’t enjoy the journey, then it’s not worth it. You can’t only enjoy the end goal, because you don’t know if you’re going to even get that end goal.”

Edmunds leaned on a university degree, which many Olympians don’t have at the end of athletic careers in their 20s. Though entering the work force now is difficult, she could put her skills to use while staying connected to the sport. She has skating seminars scheduled this month and hopes to perform in shows once they resume.

Edmunds, who wants to get into sports broadcasting, also created her own website — Polpowered.com. She started a podcast, “tapping into the slippery slope of the figure skating world.” She draws from her own experiences in discussing sensitive topics, including politics within the sport and body image.

Edmunds, at 22, is satisfied with her skating career. But she will miss the international competition, traveling and interacting with athletes from around the world.

“When I stopped, I felt kind of in limbo, and it didn’t feel like a lot of my days mattered or counted to anything, because I didn’t have that same structure,” she said. “Learning how to manage that and throw my energy into other opportunities and work, that was a struggle, but now I feel like I’m really going with the flow. I don’t miss the hardships of training anymore.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed in the final miles, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in an unprecedented 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

“I was planning to go through it [the halfway mark] 60:50, 60:40,” Kipchoge said. “My legs were running actually very fast. I thought, let me just try to run two hours flat, but all in all, I am happy with the performance.

“We went too fast [in the first half]. It takes energy from the muscles. … There’s still more in my legs [to possibly lower the record again].”

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history for somebody who ran one prior marathon in 2:34:01. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48. D’Amato, who went nearly a decade between competitive races after college, owns the American record of 2:19:12 and now also the 10th-best time in U.S. history.

“Today wasn’t my best day ever, but it was the best I could do today,” she said in a text message, according to Race Results Weekly, adding that she briefly stopped and walked late in the race.

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago.

The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, clocking 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

Kipchoge grew up on a farm in Kapsabet in Kenya’s Rift Valley, often hauling by bike several gallons of the family’s milk to sell at the local market. Raised by a nursery school teacher, he ran more than three miles to and from school. He saved for five months to get his first pair of running shoes.

At 18, he upset legends Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele to win the 2003 World 5000m title on the track. He won Olympic 5000m medals (bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008), then moved to the marathon after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team on the track.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup

The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final