Norah Jeruto, after missing Olympics, wins track worlds steeplechase in No. 3 time ever

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Kazakhstan’s Norah Jeruto could only watch the Tokyo Olympic 3000m steeplechase. Able to run for her new country this year, she left no doubt who is the world’s top steepler on Wednesday night.

Jeruto won the world championships gold medal in Eugene, Oregon, in 8 minutes, 53.02 seconds, the third-fastest time in history. She distanced Ethiopian silver and bronze medalists Werkuha Getachew and Mekidas Abebe coming off the last water jump.

“At the start line I was afraid of my friends from Ethiopia,” Jeruto said, according to World Athletics. “They are also champions like me, so I was scared of them.”

Americans were sixth (Olympic silver medalist Courtney Frerichs), eighth (2019 World champion Emma Coburn) and 12th (Courtney Wayment).

Jeruto, 26, was the world’s fastest steepler last year but could not compete at the Olympics while in the process of switching her nationality from Kenya to Kazakhstan. Before the switch, Jeruto was the world’s second-fastest steepler in 2018 and fourth-fastest in 2019.

Jeruto, who still trains in Kenya, had to wait three years since she last represented Kenya to be able to compete for Kazakhstan.

Now, she’s the first Kazakh athlete to win a world outdoor track and field title.

“It’s the first thing I’ve done for my country,” she said while wrapped in a Kazakhstan flag. “I want to tell them spasibo [thank you].”

Worlds continue Thursday featuring the 200m finals for men (Noah LylesErriyon Knighton) and women (Shelly-Ann Fraser-PryceElaine Thompson-HerahShericka Jackson).

TRACK WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule | Results | U.S. Roster | Key Events

In the night’s other final, China’s Feng Bin upset the last two Olympic women’s discus champions — Croatian Sandra Perkovic, who took silver, and Tokyo gold medalist American Valarie Allman, who earned bronze. Allman became the first U.S. woman to win a world championships discus medal. On Her Turf has more on the women’s discus final here.

Including Jeruto and Feng, the last 14 gold medals at these worlds went to athletes from 14 different nations: the U.S., Jamaica, Ethiopia, Qatar, Venezuela, Belgium, Morocco, Kenya, Slovenia, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil and now Kazakhstan and China.

Olympic champion and world record holder Sydney McLaughlin cruised to the eighth-fastest 400m hurdles time in history (52.17, which would have been a world record up until three years ago) to lead the qualifiers into Friday’s final. Half of the field is American, also including defending champion Dalilah Muhammad.

Caster Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion competing in her first worlds since 2017, was eliminated in the 5000m in 13th place in her heat. Semenya, who was not expected to make the final, moved up to the 5000m last year after a World Athletics rule was instituted capping testosterone levels in women’s events between 400m and the mile. On Her Turf has more on Semenya here.

Ethiopians Letesenbet Gidey (who won the 10,000m on Saturday) and Gudaf Tsegay (silver in the 1500m on Monday) won the 5000m heats. Sifan Hassan, who won the 5000m and 10,000m at the Olympics, was third in her heat to advance to Saturday’s final.

American Michael Norman was the fastest qualifier into Friday’s men’s 400m final, which will not include Olympic champion Steven Gardiner of the Bahamas (injured) or Diamond League champion Michael Cherry, the American who was eliminated in Wednesday’s semifinals.

No Americans made Friday’s women’s 400m final or Thursday’s men’s 800m semis.

Most notably, Donavan Brazier was seventh in his first-round heat, ending his world title defense. Brazier, who missed the Olympic team while racing on a broken tibia last summer, raced while injured again this summer and plans to get Achilles surgery on the opposite foot next week.

“I came into it with the expectation to be competitive, and I couldn’t even do that today, so it’s extremely disappointing to say the absolute least,” Brazier told Lewis Johnson on USA Network. “I don’t like disappointing America, but that’s how it feels right now.”

Brit Max Burgin, the world’s fastest 800m man this year, withdrew before the heats with an unspecified injury.

Also Wednesday, Fred Kerley‘s agent said that the world 100m champion will not take part in the 4x100m relay later this week due to a quad injury suffered in the 200m semis.

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Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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