Emma Coburn wins Olympic Trials, extending record reign amid absence of distance stars

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Steeplechaser Emma Coburn extended the longest reign in U.S. track and field at an Olympic Trials otherwise marked by the fading of the old guard, especially in women’s distance running.

Coburn, who earned a medal of every color among the 2016 Olympics, 2017 Worlds and 2019 Worlds, won the 3000m steeple in 9:09.41 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, on Thursday night. She qualified for a third Olympics by winning a seventh consecutive U.S. title, the best active streak in the sport, and is joined by Courtney Frerichs and Val Constien.

“It’s 10 years of having a target on your back,” said Coburn, who won her first national title in 2011, “but it’s a challenge that I like to rise up to.”

Coburn’s mom, Annie, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in December 2019 that spread to her liver and lungs. Annie is doing well now, has completed 22 rounds of chemotherapy, with more to come, and is in Eugene this week.

“To share this with her and have her be well, it’s more special than winning today and going to Tokyo,” Coburn told Lewis Johnson on NBC, adding later, “She has surpassed all of her doctor’s expectations. She’s a little miracle. She’s a little Energizer Bunny. You wouldn’t know she’s sick. You wouldn’t know that, internally, her body is going through major crisis.”

Frerichs took second to Coburn on Thursday, just as she did at the 2017 Worlds in a historic U.S. one-two. Constien chopped 7.19 seconds off her personal best for third after Leah Falland tripped and fell after clearing a barrier with just under two laps left. In Tokyo, they take on powerful Kenya, led by world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech.

In Rio, Coburn won the U.S.’ first Olympic steeple medal since 1984 (a bronze).

The U.S.’ top finishers from Rio in other women’s distance events failed to qualify for Tokyo — Jenny Simpson was 10th in the 1500m on Monday, Shelby Houlihan missed Trials due to a doping ban that she disputes and Molly Huddle didn’t enter Trials after hip and hamstring pain. None of the marathoners from 2016 made it back, either. The 800m final is still to come.

Olympic Trials continue Friday with men’s finals in the steeple and discus, plus semifinals in the women’s 200m and 800m and men’s 400m hurdles and 1500m.

TRACK AND FIELD TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule

In Thursday’s other final, Jessica Ramsey won the women’s shot put with a personal-best 20.12-meter throw. She now ranks second in the world in this Olympic cycle, trailing two-time world champion Gong Lijao of China.

“I was counted out,” said Ramsey, who was 19th at the 2016 Olympic Trials and 12th at the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships. “I always tell myself I’m No. 1 in everything that I do, and I am a 20-meter thrower.”

Ramsey, who added nearly three feet to her career best, is joined on the Olympic team by 2016 Olympian Raven Saunders and Adelaide Aquilla.

Rio gold medalist Michelle Carter watched the competition from the stands after a June 3 surgery to remove a benign right ankle tumor.

In qualifying action, the most accomplished athlete to fail to advance was 2013 World silver medalist Brenda Martinez in the 800m. Raevyn Rogers and Ajeé Wilson, the 2019 World silver and bronze medalists, and 19-year-old phenom Athing Mu won heats to reach Friday’s semis.

Sean Burrell, who two weeks ago broke the 37-year-old world U20 record in the 400m hurdles, crashed over the eighth hurdle. Burrell was seeded second after winning the NCAA title in that record time at Hayward Field. World silver medalist Rai Benjamin won his heat to make Friday’s semis. Olympic gold medalist Kerron Clement, in scantly racing the last two years, did not meet the qualifying time to enter Trials.

Allyson Felix, who already made the team in the 400m, qualified 10th fastest into Friday’s 200m semis. Felix said her legs were “a little rusty.” Gabby Thomas, who made the 4x100m relay pool, ran the world’s top time since the start of 2020 — a personal-best 21.98.

The 18-year-old Hobbs Kessler won his 1500m heat to reach Friday’s semis, joining Rio Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz.

Kessler, who broke Alan Webb‘s high school 1500m record last month and turned professional this week, could become the second-youngest U.S. Olympic 1500m runner ever after Jim Ryun in 1964.

Rio silver medalist Paul Chelimo won his heat to make Sunday’s 5000m final. Also advancing: Woody Kincaid and Grant Fisher, who went one-two in the 10,000m last Friday.

Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese, the last two Olympic long jump champions, made Saturday’s final.

The 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris were among the 12 qualifiers into Saturday’s pole vault final.

The world’s top three women’s hammer throwers — DeAnna Price, Brooke Andersen and Gwendolyn Berry — were among 12 qualifiers into Saturday’s final.

ON HER TURF: Gwendolyn Berry dons ‘Activist Athlete’ shirt

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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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.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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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.

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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