Eliud Kipchoge returns with airport marathon win

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge rebounded to win a specially held marathon at an airport, six months after the worst marathon of his unmatched career.

Kipchoge clocked 2:04:30 at Twente Airport in the Netherlands in an elite-only race that lacked the Kenyan’s top rivals on Sunday.

“It is mission accomplished,” Kipchoge said. “The race was really perfect. The NN Mission Marathon was a real test before Tokyo. It was so good a marathon happened a few months before the Olympics to test our fitness.”

The time is well off Kipchoge’s world record of 2:01:39 from the 2018 Berlin Marathon, and it’s the ninth-best time of his career. But it also would have been a fast enough time for Kipchoge to win his usual spring marathon, London, three of the last four years.

That includes the 2020 London Marathon, which was moved to Oct. 4 and shifted to a looped course due to the coronavirus pandemic. There, Kipchoge lost for the first time in seven years, ending a streak of 10 consecutive wins over 26.2 miles.

Kipchoge was eighth in that chilly race in 2:06:49 (67 seconds behind the winner), later citing a blockage in his right ear and leg and hip cramping.

His focus now shifts to the Olympic marathon in Sapporo on Aug. 8. Kipchoge, 36, will try to become the first runner to repeat as Olympic marathon champion in 41 years.

Kipchoge made the move to the marathon from the track after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic team. He has won 12 of his 14 marathons, plus run the only sub-two-hour marathon in history in a non-record-eligible event.

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

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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

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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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