Abby Steiner crushes NCAA 200m record, runs epic 4x400m relay leg

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EUGENE, Ore. — Kentucky junior Abby Steiner set a college record in the 200m and the fastest time in the world this year at the NCAA Track and Field Championships on a soggy Saturday at Hayward Field.

Steiner was focused until the finish, when she raised her arms and smiled broadly. Her time of 21.80 seconds bested LSU sophomore Favour Ofili’s NCAA record of 21.96 set this year. Ofili was second behind Steiner.

“We just took what’s happened this whole season as learning experiences. Every race is an opportunity to learn from it, and fix certain parts of my 200. So I think it all came together at the right moment,” said Steiner, who overtook Olympic silver medalist Christine Mboma (21.87) as the 2022 world leader.

About 45 minutes after the 200m final, Steiner ran a 48.92 split on her 4x400m leg, going from fourth to first as Kentucky went on to win the relay.

Steiner missed last year’s Olympic Trials, reportedly due to an Achilles injury, but now goes into the USATF Outdoor Championships in two weeks favored to make the three-woman 200m team for the world championships in July. Both meets are also in Eugene.

Julien Alfred of Texas won the 100m, finishing in 11.014 seconds and just narrowly holding off Oregon’s Kemba Nelson in 11.020. Alfred set the college record in the indoor 60m earlier this year. Steiner was third in 11.08.

Florida won the women’s team title with 54 points, a day after the Gators claimed the men’s championship. Florida’s women also won the NCAA indoor team title.

Gators sophomore Talitha Diggs, daughter of four-time Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs, won the 400m in a personal best 49.99.

BYU’s Kristie Schoffield also ran a personal-best 2:01.09 in the 800m, raising her hands to her mouth in surprise when she saw her time. She postponed a television interview to go hug her mother in the stands.

Ole Miss sophomore Sintayehu Vissa won the 1500m in 4:09.42. BYU senior Courtney Wayment built a big lead and won the steeplechase in 9:16 flat, a new college and meet record.

“The plan was to rely on my fitness and then all the things that I have done to get to this moment.” said Wayment, who shaved eight seconds off the college record. “If anyone is going to come with me, then I’ll just put my foot on the gas a little bit more.”

LSU’s Alia Armstrong was the first to hit the first hurdle and went on to win the 100m hurdles in 12.57, holding off a late surge from USC’s Jasmine Jones. Britton Wilson of Arkansas won the 400m hurdles in 53.86.

North Carolina State’s Katelyn Tuohy defended her title in the 5000m, winning in 15:18.39.

“My last 100 meters was so hard, I was practically crawling it in,” Tuohy said. “But I was fortunate enough to have a big enough gap before then so I was able to hold on.”

Texas won the 4x100m relay in 42.42.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record was the product of pain, rain

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When Eliud Kipchoge broke the marathon world record in Berlin on Sunday, he began his celebration near the finish line by doing the same thing he did upon breaking the record in Berlin four years earlier.

He hugged longtime coach Patrick Sang.

The embrace was brief. Not much was said. They shook hands, Kipchoge appeared to stop his watch and Sang wiped his pupil’s sweaty face off with a towel. Kipchoge continued on his congratulatory tour.

“It felt good,” Sang said by phone from his native Kenya on Thursday. “I told him, ‘I’m proud of you and what you have achieved today.'”

Later, they met again and reflected together on the 2:01:09 performance, chopping 30 seconds off his world record in 2018 in the German capital.

“I mentioned to him that probably it was slightly a little bit too fast in the beginning, in the first half,” Sang said of Kipchoge going out in 59 minutes, 51 seconds for the first 13.1 miles (a sub-two-hour pace he did not maintain in the final miles). “But he said he felt good.

“Besides that, I think it was just to appreciate the effort that he put in in training. Sometimes, if you don’t acknowledge that, then it looks like you’re only looking at the performance. We looked at the sacrifice.”

Sang thought about the abnormally wet season in southwestern Kenya, where Kipchoge logs his daily miles more than a mile above sea level.

“Sometimes he had to run in the rain,” said Sang, the 1992 Olympic 3000m steeplechase silver medalist. “Those are small things you reflect and say, it’s worth sacrificing sometimes. Taking the pain training, and it pays off.”

When Sang analyzes his athletes, he looks beyond times. He studies their faces.

The way Kipchoge carried himself in the months leading into Berlin — running at 6 a.m. “rain or shine,” Sang said — reminded the coach of the runner’s sunny disposition in the summer of 2019. On Oct. 12 of that year, Kipchoge clocked 1:59:40 in the Austrian capital in a non-record-eligible event (rather than a traditional race) to become the first person to cover 26.2 miles on foot in less than two hours.

Sang said he does not discuss time goals with his students — “Putting specific targets puts pressure on the athlete, and you can easily go the wrong direction,” he said.

In looking back on the race, there is some wonder whether Kipchoge’s plan was to see how long he could keep a pace of sub-two hours. Sang refused to speculate, but he was not surprised to see Kipchoge hit the halfway point 61 seconds faster than the pacers’ prescribed 60:50 at 13.1 miles.

“Having gone two hours in Monza [2:00:25 in a sub-two-hour attempt in 2017], having run the unofficial 1:59 and so many times 2:01, 2:02, 2:03, the potential was written all over,” Sang said. “So I mean, to think any differently would be really under underrating the potential. Of course, then adding on top of that the aspect of the mental strength. He has a unique one.”

Kipchoge slowed in the second half, but not significantly. He started out averaging about 2 minutes, 50 seconds per kilometer (equivalent to 13.2 miles per hour). He came down to 2:57 per kilometer near the end.

Regret is not in Kipchoge’s nature. We may never know the extent of his sub-two thoughts on Sunday. Sang noted that Kipchoge, whose marathon career began a decade ago after he failed to make the London Olympic team on the track, does not dwell on the past.

“If you talk to him now, he probably is telling you about tomorrow,” Sang joked.

The future is what is intriguing about Kipchoge. Approaching 38 years old, he continues to improve beyond peak age for almost every elite marathoner. Can Kipchoge go even faster? It would likely require a return next year to Berlin, whose pancake-flat roads produced the last eight men’s marathon world records. But Kipchoge also wants to run, and win, another prestigious fall marathon in New York City.

Sang can see the appeal of both options in 2023 and leaves the decision to Kipchoge and his management team.

‘If we can find the motivation for him, or he finds it within himself, that he believes he can still run for some time, for a cause, for a reason … I think the guy can still even do better than what he did in Berlin,” Sang said. “We are learning a lot about the possibilities of good performance at an advanced age. It’s an inspiration and should be an inspiration for anybody at any level.”

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