Jessica Calalang, Brian Johnson end skating partnership as he retires

FIGURE SKATING: JAN 06 US Figure Skating Championships
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Pairs’ figure skaters Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson announced the end of their partnership on social media Sunday, with Johnson then announcing his retirement from the sport in a subsequent post.

Calalang, 27, and Johnson, 26, earned the silver medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships each of the past three seasons, though never competed at a world championships or Winter Olympics.

“The last 4 years have been the filled with so many unforgettable moments,” their joint Instagram post read. “Between our growing years as a team, our Free Skate performance at the 2020 U.S. Championships, the Covid-19 season, the USADA nightmare & everything else…we stuck by each other’s side every second of everyday.”

Calalang and Johnson teamed up leading into the 2018-19 season following mediocre careers with Zack Sidhu and Chelsea Liu, respectively.

After finishing fifth in their debut season together, the Irvine, California, based team had the highest scoring free skate at the 2020 U.S. Championships, elevating them to the silver medal. Set to compete at the 2020 World Championships, it was canceled days before the start when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

The 2020-2021 season was highlighted by the cancelation of many competitions due to the pandemic, but they did win the virtual ISP Points Challenge and finish second at the domestic Skate America and U.S. Championships, both times to training mates Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier. After once again making the world team, Calalang and Johnson had to withdraw when they learned she tested positive for 4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid (4-CPA) in January, the “USADA nightmare” mentioned in their statement.

Calalang fought to clear her name and had a breakthrough that summer when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency determined that chlorphenesin, a non-prohibited substance found in certain shampoos and lotions, can metabolize into 4-CPA. Turned out it was Calalang’s makeup that caused her to test positive. She was finally cleared by both USADA and the World Anti-Doping Agency on Sept. 30, in time to finish fourth at Finlandia Trophy and fifth at Skate America in October for a solid start to the Olympic season.

They wrapped the season with a third consecutive U.S. silver medal, this time to Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc, but both Cain-Gribble/LeDuc and Knierim/Frazier (who did not compete at the U.S. Championships after Frazier tested positive for Covid) were named to the Olympic and world teams ahead of them.

“I realize that many people will be shocked by this, but I feel the need to move on with life,” Johnson included in his retirement post. “Skating has been a wonderful, thrilling, emotional, and heartbreaking experience and is a time that I will reminisce upon with smiles and gratification.”

Of note, both skaters apologized to each other.

While he wrote to Calalang that he was sorry he could not go on, she included the below in a tribute to Johnson:

“Brian, I am so sorry for everything that caused you any sort of hurt. You didn’t deserve any of it. I am sorry that it didn’t go the way we wanted it to.”

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Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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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
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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