Olympic pairs’ figure skating champions will not return to competition

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Germans Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, the 2018 Olympic pairs’ figure skating champions who haven’t competed in three years, will not return to competition, according to Savchenko’s social media.

“This was an extremely difficult decision and I’m still fighting myself,” was posted on the 37-year-old, five-time Olympian’s account. “I really love the adrenaline of competitions, pushing myself over the limit and daily practice. I personally was hoping to continue our career, but unfortunately some parts of the team are missing! To add, the current Pandemic has made everything a little bit harder.”

Ukraine-born Savchenko and France-born Massot rallied from fourth place after the PyeongChang Olympic short program to take gold with a world record free skate score. They followed that with the world title a month later.

It marked Savchenko’s 11th world medal — tying the female record held by Norwegian singles legend Sonja Henie — and sixth world title — tying Soviet Alexander Zaitsev for second on the all-time pairs’ list, four behind Irina Rodnina.

Later in spring 2018, they announced an indefinite break from competition. Savchenko had daughter Amilia in September 2019. Massot coached and moved back to France.

Since PyeongChang, China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, the Olympic silver medalists, succeeded the Germans as the world’s top team while battling injuries. But at last month’s worlds, Russians Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov jumped from third after the short to become the youngest pairs’ world champions since Katia Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov in 1989.

Gordeeva and Grinkov remain the last pair to win multiple Olympic titles (1988 and 1994). Rodnina and Zaitsev were the last pair to repeat as Olympic champs (1976 and 1980), marking the longest active stretch since back-to-back golds of any of the four disciplines.

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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

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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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