USATF Indoors: Heather MacLean stuns in 1500m, leads world championships qualifiers

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Heather MacLean was the surprise winner of the 1500m, the marquee event of the first day of the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships in Spokane, Washington, on Saturday.

MacLean, who was eliminated in the 1500m heats at the Tokyo Olympics, handed Olympic Trials winner Elle Purrier St. Pierre her first domestic defeat at the distance since 2019, according to World Athletics.

MacLean clocked 4:06.09, edging Josette Norris by four hundredths. Purrier St. Pierre was third, one hundredth behind Norris, missing the world championships team in the event.

In most cases, the top two finishers per event at USATF Indoors are in line to make the world championships team, provided they have met the international qualifying standard time or mark. World indoors are in Belgrade, Serbia, from March 18-20.

Purrier St. Pierre can still make the team in the 3000m on Sunday.

USATF Indoors: Full Results

Purrier St. Pierre had her breakthrough indoors two years ago, breaking the American indoor record in the mile. The biennial world indoor championships that year were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other notable winners Saturday included Olympic silver medalist Chris Nilsen (pole vault), Cole Hocker (3000m) and JuVaughn Harrison (high jump).

USATF Indoors conclude Sunday, highlighted by the men’s 60m with world-record holder Christian Coleman, plus Olympic gold medalists Ryan Crouser (shot put) and Katie Nageotte (pole vault). Coverage airs live on CNBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock from 5-7 p.m. ET.

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

Lucas Braathen
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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.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

Sifan Hassan
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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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