Shawn Morelli wins United States’ first medal of Tokyo Paralympics

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Shawn Morelli won the United States’ first medal of the Tokyo Paralympics Wednesday afternoon in track cycling.

In her Paralympic debut five years ago, Morelli also medaled on the first day of competition, though that time long jumper Lex Gillette’s silver had come earlier in the day; still, Morelli’s was the first U.S. gold that year.

Morelli won gold in two of her three events – track pursuit and road time trial – at the Rio 2016 Games and starts out a similar campaign in Tokyo by taking the silver medal in the individual pursuit C4.

Now 45 years old, Morelli had set a Paralympic record in Rio of 3:57.741, though that was smashed in this morning’s qualifying race by Australia’s Emily Petricola, who finished the 3000m race in a world-record time of 3:38.061. Morelli was second in qualifying in 3:46.842.

Two-time reigning world champion Petricola and Morelli went head to head for the gold medal, with Petricola becoming the clear winner of her career-first Paralympic race once she overlapped Morelli after nine of the anticipated 12 laps. Canadian Keely Shaw earned bronze in her race against Aussie Meg Lemon.

Commissioned into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant in 1996, Morelli served as an engineer officer in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was injured in the latter in 2007 when a roadside bomb detonated, leaving her with no vision in her left eye and severe damage to her spine and neck. She began cycling competitively in 2010 and has since won 16 world championship medals across road and track cycling, including 12 golds.

Another Australian cyclist, Paige Greco, won the first gold medal awarded in Tokyo in the women’s C1-3 category. American Clara Brown, the 2020 world champion, was fourth in that event.

The U.S. has six athletes in the evening’s swimming finals, including two-time Paralympic medalist Elizabeth Marks who earlier in the day set a Paralympic record of 33.16 seconds in the 50m freestyle S6.

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Eliud Kipchoge, two races shy of his target, to make Boston Marathon debut

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will race the Boston Marathon for the first time on April 17.

Kipchoge, who at September’s Berlin Marathon lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, has won four of the six annual major marathons — Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.

The 38-year-old Kenyan has never raced Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897, nor New York City but has repeated in recent years a desire to enter both of them.

Typically, he has run the London Marathon in the spring and the Berlin Marathon in the fall.

Kipchoge’s last race in the U.S. was the 2014 Chicago Marathon, his second of 10 consecutive marathon victories from 2014 through 2019.

He can become the first reigning men’s marathon world record holder to finish the Boston Marathon since South Korean Suh Yun-Bok set a world record of 2:25:39 in Boston in 1947, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2024 in Paris, Kipchoge is expected to race the Olympic marathon and bid to become the first person to win three gold medals in that event.

The Boston Marathon field also includes arguably the second- and third-best men in the world right now — Kipchoge’s Kenyan training partners Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto. Chebet won Boston and New York City this year. Kipruto won Boston last year and Chicago this year.

American Des Linden, who won Boston in 2018, headlines the women’s field.

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2024 Tour de France to end with Nice time trial due to Paris Olympics

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The 2024 Tour de France will end on the French Riviera instead of the French capital because of the Paris Olympics.

The finish of cycling’s marquee race leaves Paris for the first time since 1905.

Tour organizers said on Thursday the last stage of its 111th race will take place in the Mediterranean resort of Nice on July 21. Five days later, Paris opens the Olympics.

Because of security and logistical reasons, the French capital won’t have its traditional Tour finish on the Champs-Elysees. Parting with tradition of a sprint on the Champs-Elysees, the last stage will be an individual time trial along Nice’s famed Promenade des Anglais.

The start of the 2024 race, which will begin for the first time in Italy, was brought forward by one week, a customary change during an Olympic year. The Tour will start on June 29 in Florence.

Nice has hosted the Tour 37 times, including its start twice, in 1981 and in 2020. Two years ago, the start was delayed until Aug. 29 due to lockdowns and travels bans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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