London Marathon: Kelvin Kiptum just misses world record, Sifan Hassan adds to legend

Kelvin Kiptum

Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum won the London Marathon with the second-fastest time in history, minutes after Sifan Hassan won the women’s race to add to her legendary distance-running career.

Kiptum won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 25 seconds after surging just before 19 miles. Only Eliud Kipchoge‘s world record of 2:01:09 from last September’s Berlin Marathon is faster.

Kiptum, 23, also won his marathon debut in Valencia, Spain, in December in 2:01:53 to become, at the time, the third-fastest man in history.

On Sunday, he supplanted Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele as second fastest in history, broke Kipchoge’s course record of 2:02:37 from 2019 and distanced runner-up Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya by 2 minutes, 58 seconds.

Kiptum was on pace for a finish in the 2:03s before his late surge. He covered the second half in 59:45.

Mo Farah, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion at 5000m and 10,000m, was ninth in what he said would be his final marathon. Fellow 40-year-old Bekele appeared to drop out between 25km and 30km.

MORE: London Marathon Results

Hassan, an Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman, won a sprint finish in 2:18:33 on a rainy morning. Ethiopian Alemu Megertu was four seconds behind, followed another second later by Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya.

World record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya limped out after less than a mile after saying she dealt with a hamstring injury about two weeks ago.

Hassan has arguably unprecedented range: major titles at 1500m (2019 Worlds), 5000m (Tokyo Olympics), 10,000m (2019 Worlds and Tokyo Olympics) and the marathon. She is also the world record holder in the mile at 4:12.33.

She prevailed after spending her last month of training while fasting during Ramadan and developing a left hip injury one week ago. She stopped to stretch that left leg multiple times about 12 miles into the race. Hassan also said she was in better 5000m/10,000m shape and was so scared of the 26.2-mile distance that she cried Sunday morning.

“I never thought I would finish,” Hassan said after winning. “I don’t need to become the greatest. I’m fine the way I am.”

Hassan repeated in the lead-up that she planned to return to the track for August’s world championships in Budapest but could run a marathon in the fall or even at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

None of the top U.S. Olympic hopefuls raced London. Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato, who each last year broke the American record, entered London and then withdrew last month with minor injuries.

The next major marathon is at August’s worlds in Budapest.

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At the French Open, a Ukrainian mom makes her comeback

Elina Svitolina French Open

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, once the world’s third-ranked tennis player, is into the French Open third round in her first major tournament since childbirth.

Svitolina, 28, swept 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, then beat Australian qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 32 at Roland Garros. She next plays 56th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova, who took out the top French player, fifth seed Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 on her ninth match point.

Svitolina’s husband, French player Gael Monfils, finished his first-round five-set win after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She watched that match on a computer before going to sleep ahead of her 11 a.m. start Wednesday.

“This morning, he told me, ‘I’m coming to your match, so make it worth it,'” she joked on Tennis Channel. “I was like, OK, no pressure.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here now. He should be resting.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Svitolina made at least one major quarterfinal every year from 2017 through 2021, including the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019. She married Monfils one week before the Tokyo Olympics, then won a singles bronze medal.

Svitolina played her last match before maternity leave on March 24, 2022, one month after Russia invaded her country. She gave birth to daughter Skai on Oct. 15.

Svitolina returned to competition in April. Last week, she won the tournament preceding the French Open, sweeping Blinkova to improve to 17-3 in her career in finals. She’s playing on a protected ranking of 27th after her year absence and, now, on a seven-match win streak.

“It was always in my head the plan to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” she said. “I’m as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.”

Svitolina said she’s motivated by goals to attain before she retires from the sport and to help Ukraine, such as donating her prize money from last week’s title in Strasbourg.

“These moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war, and now maybe they don’t have the opportunity,” she said. “But these moments that can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themselves as much as they can in this horrible situation.”

Svitolina was born in Odesa and has lived in Kharkiv, two cities that have been attacked by Russia.

“I talk a lot with my friends, with my family back in Ukraine, and it’s a horrible thing, but they are used to it now,” she said. “They are used to the alarms that are on. As soon as they hear something, they go to the bomb shelters. Sleepless nights. You know, it’s a terrible thing, but they tell me that now it’s a part of their life, which is very, very sad.”

Svitolina noted that she plays with a flag next to her name — unlike the Russians and Belarusians, who are allowed to play as neutral athletes.

“When I step on the court, I just try to think about the fighting spirit that all of us Ukrainians have and how Ukrainians are fighting for their values, for their freedom in Ukraine,” she said, “and me, I’m fighting here on my own front line.”

Svitolina said that she’s noticed “a lot of rubbish” concerning how tennis is reacting to the war.

“We have to focus on what the main point of what is going on,” she said. “Ukrainian people need help and need support. We are focusing on so many things like empty words, empty things that are not helping the situation, not helping anything.

“I want to invite everyone to focus on helping Ukrainians. That’s the main point of this, to help kids, to help women who lost their husbands because they are at the war, and they are fighting for Ukraine.

“You can donate. Couple of dollars might help and save lives. Or donate your time to something to help people.”

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Marcell Jacobs still sidelined, misses another race with Fred Kerley

Marcell Jacobs

Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy will miss another scheduled clash with world 100m champion Fred Kerley, withdrawing from Friday’s Diamond League meet in Florence.

Jacobs, 28, has not recovered from the nerve pain that forced him out of last Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, according to Italy’s track and field federation.

In his absence, Kerley’s top competition will be fellow American Trayvon Bromell, the world bronze medalist, and Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, the world’s fastest man this year at 9.84 seconds. Kerley beat both of them in Rabat.

The Florence Diamond League airs live on Peacock on Friday from 2-4 p.m. ET.

Jacobs has withdrawn from six scheduled head-to-heads with Kerley dating to May 2022 due to a series of health issues since that surprise gold in Tokyo.

Kerley, primarily a 400m sprinter until the Tokyo Olympic year, became the world’s fastest man in Jacobs’ absence. He ran a personal best 9.76 seconds, the world’s best time of 2022, at last June’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Then he led a U.S. sweep of the medals at July’s worlds.

Jacobs’ next scheduled race is a 100m at the Paris Diamond League on June 9. Kerley is not in that field, but world 200m champion Noah Lyles is.

The last time the reigning Olympic and world men’s 100m champions met in a 100m was the 2012 London Olympic final between Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. From 2013 to 2017, Bolt held both titles, then retired in 2017 while remaining reigning Olympic champion until Jacobs’ win in Tokyo, where Kerley took silver.

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