Margaret Abbott became U.S.’ first female Olympic champion without knowing it

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When the Olympics were reborn in 1896, after 15 centuries, none of the 176 participants were women.

The 1900 Paris Games included the first female competitors. There were croquet players and yachtswomen, even athletes in ballooning.

Three women won Olympic titles, including one American: 24-year-old golfer Margaret Abbott.

Abbott’s story was told often in 2016, when golf returned to the Olympic program after a 112-year hiatus. She was technically the reigning champion, as only men’s golf events were held at the 1904 St. Louis Games.

Back in 1900, Abbott, who was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, and raised in Chicago, was in Paris for art. She studied under Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin.

She took part in a nine-hole competition that, at the time, wasn’t labeled as an Olympic event. She won — with a score of 47 — and earned a porcelain bowl rather than a gold medal. (Most of the prizes for events in 1900 were not medals. Also, the men’s golf tournament was 36 holes.)

Her mother, Mary, also played (tying for seventh), making them (still) the only American mother and daughter to compete in the same Olympic event.

But the Abbotts, and many more athletes in Paris, thought they were competing in sideshow events to the Paris Exposition, more commonly known as the World’s Fair. (Other competitions at those Games, which spanned from May to October, included tug of war, fire fighting and pigeon shooting.)

Confirmation of golf as a 1900 Olympic event didn’t come until after Abbott’s death in 1955.

Abbott was a forgotten pioneering sports figure until historian Paula Welch came along. Welch, the first University of Florida women’s basketball coach, researched Abbott on and off for a decade. She eventually found a photo and tracked down her family.

“[Abbott] was not necessarily thinking about being the first, nor was she thinking about being a pioneer, but she was,” Welch told Golf Channel before the Rio Olympics.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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