Thomas Röhler the latest Rio Olympic track and field champion to miss Tokyo

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DARMSTADT, Germany — Germany’s Thomas Röhler ruled himself out of defending his Olympic javelin title because of a back injury Monday.

Röhler was injured in training and has barely competed this year. He managed one foul throw at the German championships this month before withdrawing from the competition.

“I need to listen to my body now because I want to keep doing my sport for another couple of years at the top level,” the 2018 European champion said on the German Athletics Association website. “By taking part in the Olympic Games I would be risking too much because of this back injury.”

Röhler threw 90.3 meters to win the Olympic gold medal in 2016 ahead of the then-world champion Julius Yego of Kenya. Another German thrower, Johannes Vetter, is considered a contender for the gold medal in Tokyo. The qualifying round in men’s javelin is Aug. 4 and the final is Aug. 7.

Most of the Rio Olympic men’s track and field champions will not be defending their titles in Tokyo.

The list of absentees includes Usain Bolt (100m and 200m, retired), David Rudisha (800m), Mo Farah (5000m and 10,000m), Kerron Clement (400m hurdles), Conseslus Kipruto (3000m steeplechase), Derek Drouin (high jump), Jeff Henderson (long jump), Christian Taylor (triple jump), Dilshod Nazarov (hammer, doping ban), Ashton Eaton (decathlon, retired) and Wang Zhen (20km racewalk).

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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