London Marathon is Sifan Hassan’s nervous debut, Mo Farah’s emotional farewell

Sifan Hassan London Marathon

Sunday’s London Marathon may mark the beginning of one track legend’s marathon career. It will likely be the end for another.

Sifan Hassan, a 30-year-old, Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman, makes her 26.2-mile debut, less than two years after winning Olympic 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze in an unprecedented track triple.

Hassan said in announcing her marathon entry in February that she plans to return to the track after London, but how Sunday goes will play into whether she enters a fall marathon or even the Olympic marathon in 2024.

She has no time goal Sunday, but had the courage Friday to tell a press conference that she is scared of the distance, doesn’t know whether she will finish the race and has been nervous for the last month.

“Sometimes I wake up like, why the hell [did] I decide to run a marathon?” said Hassan, who has kept her track training during the build-up. “I am actually in better shape for 5000m, 10,000m right now. I don’t know marathon. Maybe I’m also in good shape for that.”

Hassan faces two road-racing giants on Sunday: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei, who in 2019 lowered the marathon world record to 2:14:04, and Peres Jepchirchir, who in a nine-month span in 2021 and 2022 became the only person to win the Olympic, Boston and New York City Marathons in a career.

Neither Kosgei nor Jepchirchir ran a fall 2022 marathon due to injury. so London is the first 26.2-mile race for both in more than a year.

The field also includes two Ethiopian track greats: Almaz Ayana, the 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion, and Genzebe Dibaba, the 1500m world record holder (3:50.07). Ayana, 31, and Dibaba, 32, went one-two in October’s Amsterdam Marathon in their 26.2-mile debuts.

The two fastest American women in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato, signed up for London over the winter but withdrew last month with minor injuries.

Sunday’s men’s field doesn’t have quite the star power as the women’s race, nor of last Monday’s Boston Marathon, where Eliud Kipchoge placed sixth in his first outing since lowering his world record to 2:01:09 last September.

London does have the next four fastest men in history — headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, who is 40 years old and last broke 2:05 in 2019, when he ran a personal-best 2:01:41 to win Berlin.

A bigger favorite is Kelvin Kiptum, a 23-year-old Kenyan who won the Valencia Marathon in December in 2:01:53 to become the third-fastest man in history.

Kiptum and other ascending runners may be a threat to the 38-year-old Kipchoge’s chances of making Kenya’s three-man Olympic marathon team, which is expected to be named after spring 2024 marathons.

One man who has said he will not compete at the Paris Games is 40-year-old Brit Mo Farah, who swept the Olympic 5000m and 10,000m in 2012 and 2016. After a failed Tokyo Olympic bid, Farah has repeatedly hinted at retirement due to his body breaking down.

He took another step in Thursday’s press conference, saying that London will be his last marathon. Farah previously announced the end of his track career, then withdrew before last October’s London Marathon four days before the race with a right hip injury.

Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, including the three fastest times in history for a Brit (2:05:11, 2:05:39, 2:06:21). But he hasn’t run a marathon since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

“As long as I stay injury-free and can do the work, then I will continue, but my body is not allowing me,” he said. “After the race, there might be a bit of tears.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Adeline Gray, mom to twins, makes wrestling worlds team; Jordan Burroughs defeated

Adeline Gray

Adeline Gray, a six-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist, returned from having twins last July to make the U.S. wrestling team for September’s world championships.

Gray, 32, swept 19-year-old Kennedy Blades in a best-of-three series for the 76kg spot at Saturday’s Final X, the event that determines most of the world team across men’s and women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman. On April 29, Blades earned a 10-point mercy-rule win over Gray at the U.S. Open in Gray’s first competition since childbirth.

“It’s like every three weeks it’s a little bit more used to my body,” Gray, who returned to training in January while recovering from an ab separation from the pregnancy, said last month after winning a tournament to qualify for Final X. “There’s pieces of wrestling that you have to put together. It’s just going to take me a little bit of time.”

Every active male U.S. Olympic gold medalist also made the world team except for Jordan Burroughs, who was ousted by Chance Marsteller 8-3 in their third and deciding 79kg match. Burroughs. who won the opening match in the best-of-three series, saw his streak of world championship teams end at nine, dating to his first full freestyle season in 2011.

Burroughs, 34, earned a medal at all of those world championships, including six golds, plus his 2012 Olympic gold, to break the record for most global titles for a U.S. wrestler.

Burroughs has competed in the non-Olympic 79kg division since missing the Tokyo Olympic team in his familiar 74kg class. Now, Burroughs must move back to an Olympic weight ahead of the April Olympic Trials, where he may have to dethrone four-time world champion Kyle Dake to make the team for Paris.

Olympic champs who made the world team: Kyle Snyder (who made it when J’den Cox forfeited due to injury), Gable Steveson (who swept Mason Parris) and David Taylor (who swept Aaron Brooks).

Gray was the most decorated woman to qualify Saturday. Tokyo Olympic champion Tamyra Mensah-Stock announced her retirement from wrestling last month to join the WWE. Rio Olympic champion Helen Maroulis was granted a delay for her series with Xochitl Mota-Pettis for medical reasons.

Past moms to make world teams include Hall of Famers Tricia Saunders and Kristie Davis, who both won multiple world titles as moms. Saunders and Davis competed before women’s wrestling was added to the Olympics in 2004.

A USA Wrestling spokesperson could not think of a mom who has made an Olympic team, but couldn’t say for sure, when asked in April. At next April’s Olympic Trials, Gray can achieve the feat while also bidding to break the record for oldest female U.S. Olympic wrestler by nearly three years.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Iga Swiatek wins third French Open title, fourth Grand Slam, but this final was not easy


Iga Swiatek won her third French Open title and her fourth Grand Slam overall, pushed to a third set in a major final for the first time.

Swiatek, a 22-year-old Pole, outlasted unseeded Czech Karolina Muchova 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 on Saturday at Roland Garros. Muchova tested Swiatek, the only singles player in the Open Era to win their first seven major final sets. She became the first player to take a set off Swiatek in the tournament.

Swiatek looked en route to another major final sweep, up 3-0 in the second set. She then committed 11 unforced errors (versus four winners) over the rest of the set as Muchova rallied back (with 10 winners versus 11 unforced errors).

Muchova then won the first eight points of the third set. Swiatek, under the most pressure of her career on the sport’s biggest stages, passed the test. The players exchanged breaks of serve, and Muchova had another break point for a chance to serve for the championship, but Swiatek fended her off.

“After so many ups and downs, I kind of stopped thinking about the score,” Swiatek said. “I wanted to use my intuition more because I knew that I can play a little bit better if I’m going to get a little bit more loosened up.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

No woman lower than the 14th seed has beaten both world Nos. 1 and 2 at a Grand Slam since the WTA rankings began in 1975. Muchova, ranked 43rd, nearly pulled it off.

“The feeling is a little bitter because I felt it was very close,” she said. “But overall, I mean, to call myself Grand Slam finalist, it’s amazing achievement.”

The French Open finishes Sunday with the men’s final. Novak Djokovic faces Casper Ruud, eyeing a 23rd major title to break his tie with Rafael Nadal for the men’s singles record. NBC,, the NBC Sports app and Peacock air live coverage at 9 a.m. ET.

Go back to the fall 2020 French Open. Swiatek, a 54th-ranked teen, won the tournament without dropping a set for her first tour-level title.

Since, she climbed to the top of the rankings (and has stayed there for 62 weeks running), tied the longest WTA win streak in 32 years (37 matches in a row in 2022) and won majors on clay and hard courts.

She beat challengers from different categories in major finals: a Slam champ (Sofia Kenin), a teen phenom (Coco Gauff), an emerged rival (Ons Jabeur) and now an unseeded (because of injuries)-but-dangerous veteran in Muchova. Swiatek is the youngest woman to reach four major titles since Serena Williams in 2002.

Yet this French Open began with talk of a Big Three in women’s tennis rather than singular dominance. Since last year’s French Open, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and Russian-born Kazakh Elena Rybakina both won their first major and beat Swiatek multiple times.

Swiatek faced neither in Paris but still called it “a pretty stressful tournament,” noting a right thing injury that forced her to retire during her last match before the tournament.

Sabalenka was stunned by Muchova in Thursday’s semifinals, the erratic serving and nerves of her past reappearing. Rybakina had to withdraw earlier in the tournament due to illness.

Next up: the grass court season and Wimbledon, where Swiatek hasn’t made it past the fourth round in three tries. She did win the 2018 junior title at the All England Club. but Sabalenka and Rybakina have had more recent success there.

If Swiatek can lift the Venus Rosewater Dish, she will be an Australian Open shy of a career Grand Slam. Her chances of adding an Olympic gold medal to that collection are very high, given Roland Garros hosts tennis at the 2024 Paris Games.

“I’m not setting these crazy records or goals for myself,” she said. “I know that keeping it cool is the best way to do it for me.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!