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!

Faith Kipyegon smashes women’s 1500m world record in Florence


Kenyan Faith Kipyegon smashed the women’s 1500m world record, clocking 3 minutes, 49.11 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy, on Friday.

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic champion and two-time world champion, took 96 hundredths of a second off Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba‘s world record from 2015. Kipyegon began the day as the second-fastest woman in history at 3:50.37.

The 29-year-old was already the most decorated female miler in history, the only one with four global 1500m titles. Her Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2021 were separated by a 22-month maternity leave from competition (that included 12 months without running).

Kipyegon was the eighth of nine children growing on a farm in the Kenyan Rift Valley. She was a soccer player at age 14 when she lined up for a one-kilometer run in PE class, according to World Athletics.

“I won that race by 20 meters,” Kipyegon said, according to World Athletics in 2016. “It is only then I knew I could run fast and be a good athlete.”

In 2010, a barefooted Kipyegon placed fourth in the world cross country championships junior race as, at age 16, the youngest finisher in the top 21. The next year, she won it. The year after that, she made her Olympic debut at age 18. By 2015, Jenny Simpson, arguably the best American miler in history, had a nickname for her: “The Sniper,” for her ability to run people down in the final lap.

After the pacers dropped out, Kipyegon ran the last lap on Friday in 58.87 seconds.

Next year, Kipyegon can become the second person to win the same individual Olympic track race three times, joining Usain Bolt. She said last year that she may shift to the 5000m after the 2024 Paris Games, according to Olympics.com.

Also in Florence, world champion Fred Kerley extended a year-plus win streak in the men’s 100m, prevailing in 9.94 seconds over Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala (10.04) and American Trayvon Bromell (10.09).

Full meet results are here.

Earlier, Dutchwoman Femke Bol won the 400m hurdles in 52.43 seconds, the fastest time ever recorded this early in a year. Bol, the Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist, is the world’s fastest this year by eight tenths of a second. World record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has yet to race this outdoor season and could bypass the 400m hurdles entirely for the flat 400m.

Erriyon Knighton, a 19-year-old American, took the 200m in 19.89 seconds to rank third in the world this year. Knighton may be the favorite at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships given Noah Lyles, who won the 2022 World title in an American record 19.31, has a bye into August’s worlds as defending champion.

World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 13.04 seconds. Holloway, the world’s fastest man this year at 13.01, outsprinted Devon Allen, the world’s fastest man in 2022, in two Diamond League head-to-heads this week.

Spain’s Mohamed Katir won the 5000m in 12:52.09, edging Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha by three hundredths. Woody Kincaid (12:54.40) and Joe Klecker (12:55.16) ran personal bests to move into Nos. 3 and 4 on the U.S. all-time list behind Grant Fisher and Bernard Lagat.

Olympic champion Valarie Allman won the discus in her first matchup with China’s Feng Bin since Feng won the world title last July. Allman, who has the world’s top nine throws this year, prevailed with a 65.96-meter toss, five centimeters farther than Feng.

Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won a pole vault that included the top five women from last August’s worlds. Moon cleared 4.71 meters and has the world’s top clearance this season of 4.81.

American JuVaughn Harrison earned his second Diamond League high jump win this season by clearing 2.32 meters, just as he did in Doha last month.

Italian Larissa Iapichino was the surprise long jump winner, going 6.79 meters. She beat a field that included Olympic and world champion Malaika Mihambo of Germany, who was fifth. Jamaican Ackelia Smith, a University of Texas sophomore, remains best in the world this year at 7.08 meters.

The Diamond League season continues with a meet in Paris next Friday, live on Peacock. McLaughlin-Levrone is scheduled to make her outdoor season debut in the flat 400m, an event she is also expected to contest at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. If McLaughlin-Levrone finishes in the top three at USATF Outdoors, she will choose either the 400m or the 400m hurdles to race at August’s world championships, her coach said last month.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

1 Comment

At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw