Paralympics: Kendall Gretsch wins biathlon gold after triathlon gold; Ukraine sweeps


Kendall Gretsch won a Paralympic biathlon gold medal in China on Tuesday, just over six months after winning a Paralympic triathlon gold medal in Tokyo.

Gretsch, 29, won the 10km sitting biathlon event, edging countrywoman Oksana Masters by 8.7 seconds despite having one shooting miss to Masters’ none over 20 shots.

Four years ago, Gretsch won the first U.S. gold of the PyeongChang Paralympics, marking the first U.S. women’s biathlon medal of any color at the Olympics or Paralympics. She later added a cross-country skiing title at those Games, two years after taking up Nordic skiing.

In her first event at this year’s Games, she took bronze while Masters won the first U.S. gold last Saturday.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, it would not include Gretsch’s classification. Still wanting to compete at a Games, she became a biathlete and cross-country skier. Gretsch’s triathlon classification was added for the Tokyo Games.

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Masters now has three medals in three Nordic skiing races at the Paralympics, with the opportunity for four more medals to break two major U.S. records.

Masters owns 13 career Paralympic medals among four sports between the Summer and Winter Games. Masters has gone a perfect 30 for 30 in shooting in her two biathlon races, in addition to a cross-country skiing silver medal.

Like Gretsch, Masters won gold at the Summer Games six months ago. Two in cycling.

It’s her winter medals — now 10 — that are the focus for history this week.

Masters is halfway to the record for most medals for an American at a single Winter Paralympics AND halfway to matching the most career Winter Paralympic medals in U.S. history. Gretsch can also get to a record-tying six medals at these Games if she earns a medal in her last three individual events, plus on a relay.

If Masters wins a medal in all of her individual remaining biathlon and cross-country events the rest of this week, plus a cross-country relay, she will hold both records by herself.

Fellow Nordic skier Dan Cnossen broke the U.S. record for medals at a single Winter Paralympics four years ago, taking six between biathlon and cross-country skiing. Masters won five in 2018, competing weeks after suffering a broken elbow.

The career U.S. medals record is shared by Alpine skiers Sarah Billmeier and Sarah Will, who each competed in four Paralympics from 1992-2002 and earned 13 medals out of a possible 16. Alpine skiing has four events per classification at the Games.

Gretsch, Masters and Cnossen have more medal opportunities because they compete in two sports. Alpine skiing is the only current Winter Paralympic sport other than biathlon and cross-country skiing with more than two medal events per classification.

The overall record for most Winter Paralympic medals is held by Norwegian Ragnhild Myklebust, who from 1988-2002 earned 27 medals (22 gold) across cross-country skiing, biathlon and ice sledge speed racing, which is no longer on the program.

Later Tuesday, Ukraine posted its second and third biathlon medals sweeps of the Games.

“I am happy, but you know the situation in Ukraine,” bronze medalist Dmytro Suiarko said, according to the Olympic Information Service. “Very hard concentration is needed in biathlon, and I missed twice [shooting] because yesterday my house where I live, it was bombed and destroyed.”

Ukraine, which ranked in the top four in total medals at each of the last four Winter Paralympics, ranks second at these Games with 17 medals, trailing China, which has 27 medals. Before these Games, China had one Winter Paralympic medal in history versus 1,229 Summer Paralympic medals.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included a quote from Masters calling Gretsch the “queen of biathlon.” Masters was referring to bronze medalist Anja Wicker of Germany.

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon

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

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