Stephen Nedoroscik wins U.S.’ first pommel horse world title

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Stephen Nedoroscik did what no American has before him: win a world title on pommel horse.

The 22-year-old gymnast’s accomplishment on Saturday night in Kitakyushu, Japan, was notable for several reasons:

Of the six men’s artistic gymnastics events, the U.S. has long been weakest on pommel horse. Its only previous world medals on the apparatus are Kurt Thomas‘ silver in 1979 and Sasha Artemev‘s 2006 bronze.

Nedoroscik’s win came in a pommel horse final that, somewhat shockingly, included two Americans.

The U.S. last won a men’s world title in any event 10 years ago when Danell Leyva topped the parallel bars podium.

This was Nedoroscik’s first world championships and the biggest meet of his career to date.

Perhaps most significant, he wasn’t wearing the trademark goggles he has worn at every competition since receiving them during in a Secret Santa gift exchange his freshman year at Penn State.

He forgot them, Nedoroscik told media in Kitakyushu.

“I’m kind of in shock now,” Nedoroscik said, according to the Associated Press. “I’m so proud of what I did, all the odds were against me coming here. I’ve always thought a gold medal would be possible for me. I’ve always had confidence in myself.”

As the penultimate athlete to go in the final, Nedoroscik scored 15.266 points; he had the highest execution at 8.766.

China’s Weng Hao and Japan’s Kazuma Kaya tied for silver, earning 14.9 points.

Kaya earned the Olympic bronze medal this summer in Tokyo. The Olympic gold and silver medalists, Great Britain’s Max Whitlock and Lee Chih-kai of Chinese Taipei, did not compete at worlds.

U.S. Olympian Alec Yoder was fifth with a score of 14.766, losing a tiebreaker to Kazakhstan’s Nariman Kurbanov.

Yoder was selected to the Olympic team over Nedoroscik for a sole specialist spot this summer; he was sixth in Tokyo.

Both Americans scored higher in qualification on Wednesday when Nedoscik’s 15.366 was second and Yoder’s 15.3 third. Weng qualified in first with 15.6 points.

Olympic all-around silver medalist and vault world champion Rebecca Andrade of Brazil was arguably the most successful gymnast in Saturday’s finals.

The 22-year-old had the top score on vault with a two-vault 14.966 average for her first world title. Italian Asia D’Amato was second and all-around world champion Angelina Melnikova of Russia third.

Later in the night, Andrade was second on uneven bars, beating China’s Luo Rui in the tiebreaker. Luo’s teammate Wei Xiaoyuan won gold with 0.1 advantage.

Italy earned three men’s medals in the remaining two finals.

Nicola Bartolini won floor exercise for his country’s first world title on the apparatus, followed by Kazuki Minami of Japan and Finland’s Emil Soravuo. It was the first world medal for all three.

China’s Lan Xingyu won still rings. Marco Lodadio of Italy took silver for his third consecutive world medal in the event. Teammate Salvatore Maresca and Russian Grigory Klimentev tied for bronze; they had the same difficulty and execution scores.

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Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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