Mariama Jamanka, Olympic bobsled champion, retires

Mariama Jamanka

German bobsled driver Mariama Jamanka, who won gold and silver at the last two Winter Olympics, announced her retirement on Wednesday.

Jamanka, 31, is leaving competitive sport to take up studies in Berlin, according to German press agency DPA.

She wrote on Instagram that in sliding she experienced highs she never expected and lows that most couldn’t imagine.

In 2018, Jamanka and push athlete Lisa Buckwitz won Olympic gold by seven hundredths of a second, combining times from four runs, over Americans Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs.

It marked the first women’s bobsled medal for Germany, the traditional world power in the sport, since 2006 and the start of a new era following the retirements of Cathleen Martini and Sandra Kiriasis earlier in that Olympic cycle.

Jamanka had never before won a World Cup race, but it was just the start of her success. She won the world championships and the World Cup season title the next year.

This year, she and Alexandra Burghardt took two-woman silver at the Olympics behind countrywomen Laura Nolte and Deborah Levi.

Born to a Gambian father and German mother, Jamanka was a hammer and discus thrower when a coach suggested she try bobsled in 2013. She initially studied YouTube videos to learn the nuances of each track.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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

Lucas Braathen

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

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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