5,000 meters
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Ethiopia, Kenya push back over decision to drop 5,000 from Diamond League

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The IAAF’s decision to drop the 5,000 meters from its Diamond League track and field series has been met with strong resistance from Ethiopia and Kenya, where one former world champion accused the sport’s governing body of trying to “kill long-distance running.”

The Ethiopian Athletics Federation has written to IAAF president Sebastian Coe asking the governing body to reconsider the change, which comes into effect from next year and was part of a larger overhaul of the series.

Athletics Kenya said it would also argue for the 5,000 to be restored and would ask African nations to come together in opposition to the IAAF’s decision at a meeting of the African track body next month.

The IAAF this week announced a plan to revamp the Diamond League from 2020, reducing the series to 12 meetings and a finals event. There will now be 24 disciplines at each meet — 12 for men and 12 for women.

The 5,000 meters was one of the disciplines to be cut, leaving the 3,000 as the longest race on the schedule.

“They want to kill long-distance running,” two-time 10,000-meter world champion Moses Tanui of Kenya said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Friday. “I think (the reason) is the dominance of our athletes in long distances.”

Ethiopia’s opposition came in a letter from track federation interim president Derartu Tulu. She wrote in Thursday’s letter addressed to Coe: “We totally disagree with the decisions made.”

Tulu, a two-time Olympic champion in the 10,000 meters, urged the IAAF to reconsider.

″(It’s) not fair to countries like ours who are very competitive in long-distance running, and these distances are our cultural sports and also our identity,” she wrote.

The Diamond League is the highest-profile athletics competition outside of the world championships and the Olympics. But its format underwent a yearlong review in an attempt to find a product that was more pleasing to television viewers and more engaging for fans.

The changes were aimed at creating “a faster-paced 90-minute television event” for each meet, the IAAF said. In an effort to find a more compact, TV-friendly format, the 5,000 meters was one of the events to lose out.

In a statement to the AP on Friday, the IAAF noted that last year only three regular-season Diamond League meetings opted to stage a 5,000-meter race for men, and only two put on a women’s 5,000. From next year, meets will still have the option of including a 5,000, just outside the 90-minute TV window.

“We made the decision to reduce the 5,000m distance to a 3,000m distance based on clear market feedback from the broadcasters and fans,” the IAAF said.

Both the Ethiopian and Kenyan federations also complained about a lack of consultation with them or their athletes before the IAAF announced the changes. The IAAF said it did receive feedback from distance runners.

Still, the 5,000 at the Diamond League gave Kenyan distance runners precious chances to earn a living in prize money as well as prepare for the worlds and the Olympics, Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said.

“That chance has been curtailed and therefore we are appealing to the IAAF to consider that position,” Tuwei said.

Carl Lewis looks back on LA ’84 and forward to 2028

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Summer 2019 will mark 35 years since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Carl Lewis, a man who spent much of his career racing the clock for world records, is still unable to believe how quickly time passes.

“It’s insane that it’s gone by that quick,” he says, chuckling. “I’m 57 and I don’t know when this happened.”

Lewis won four gold medals in Los Angeles, matching the feat Jesse Owens accomplished in 1936. For Lewis, it was the start of an exquisite Olympic career that included 10 medals (nine gold) and spanned four Games. Asked what he remembers most about L.A., Lewis reflected in a phone interview this week, “Honestly, this sounds weird, [but] I don’t remember a lot. The stress level was so high…There was no time to even stop and think about it.”

With four events on his program in L.A., a then-23-year-old Lewis started the Games with four straight days of competition, competing in the prelims and final of the 100m and long jump. On his first day off, he got a haircut. Then came the 200m final, one more day off, and two days of relay competition. At the end of it, Lewis had gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump.

Lewis thought then that he’d retire in his 20s. But he continued to run with the Santa Monica track club, and after winning two more gold medals at his second Olympics in 1988, and then another two in 1992, “there [were] all these guys younger than me. I finished ’92 and said, ‘I’m still running with them, still as fast as them, so let’s just keep running until I can’t anymore. Without them, there’s absolutely no way it could’ve happened.”

At age 35, he won a final gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta in his signature event, the long jump.

“I’m the luckiest Olympian ever,” Lewis says. “My first Games were in L.A., my hometown… And my last were in my home country.”

When he looks back at his Olympic accomplishments, Lewis says the first and the last medals he won are particularly memorable.

“To come back and do that [win long jump gold in Atlanta] at that age, that one really means a lot,” he says. “The reality is if I didn’t win the 100m in L.A., it all would’ve stopped…The most endearing one was the last one but the most important one without question was the first one.”

Lewis’ last competitive season was 1997. Before the Texas Relays that year, he was waiting at home for a floral delivery and told his teammates to leave for Austin without him. He’d catch up. “I ended up waiting for my plants…and then I thought, it’s time to retire if your plants are more important,” he says.

Lewis remains involved in track and field, now as a coach. After moving back to Texas in 2013, he started working as an assistant coach at the University of Houston, his alma mater.

Lewis never thought he would coach – he had too many other things he wanted to do outside of track. But after Leroy Burrell – a longtime friend, 1992 Olympic teammate and the head coach at Houston – approached him about it, he quickly saw an opportunity to grow sprinting talent at the collegiate level to help athletes reach their full potential.

Lewis says he sometimes feels even more emotionally invested watching his athletes than he did during his own competitions. “One thing was joy, this is pride,” he says. “I really feel happy that I’m helping someone else have that experience… I’ve had more emotions, high and low, coaching than I did [as an athlete].”

Lewis no longer runs – he was never much of a jogger, he says. Instead, he rides his bike around the neighborhood and even takes trapeze and aerial silks classes. When he isn’t coaching, he is a leader of the Perfect Method, a program designed to help athletes and coaches maximize performance. He’s also plenty busy keeping up with his granddaughter, Sapphire McKinley, who is two.

When Los Angeles hosts the Olympics for the third time in 2028, Lewis could be back at the Coliseum as a coach in the same place his Olympic story began 44 years earlier.

“That’s the interesting thing,” he says. “Back in that same stadium, trying to help someone do what I did.”

Lewis will be appearing on “Undeniable with Dan Patrick” on Wednesday night.

What to watch in Olympic sports this week

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The 2019 Nordic World Ski Championships extend into its second week of competition in Seefeld, Austria. The U.S.’ cross-country Olympic gold medalist, Jessie Diggins, is still in search of her first podium finish at this year’s event after picking up two medals at worlds in 2017.

Her best result at the event so far has been a fifth place finish with teammate Sadie Bjornsen in the women’s team sprint.

The men’s and women’s relays, the must-see races at worlds in cross-country, kick off with the women on Thursday, February 28. Watch live on TV or streaming with Olympic Channel at 7:00 a.m. ET. The men put their skis on the start line for the relay on Friday, March 1 at 7:15 a.m. ET, with live coverage on OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold. The race will also air on TV at 7:30 a.m. ET on Olympic Channel.

Another top event this week, the 2019 Bobsled and Skeleton World Championships begin on Friday, March 1 where reigning world champion, the U.S.’ Elana Meyers Taylor, returns to the track where she has finished on the podium five times in her career, including an Olympic bronze-medal finish at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Last November in the Whistler chute, Meyers Taylor posted a first-place finish in her event at the North American Cup. Riding along for the majority of this season with Meyers Taylor has been rookie brakewoman Lake Kwaza, but in the final World Cup event of the season this past week, Meyers Taylor reunited with her 2018 Olympic teammate Lauren Gibbs for a second place finish in Calgary.

The women’s bobsled competition begins on Saturday, March 2 at 2:30 p.m. ET. Watch live on TV or streaming on Olympic Channel.

The World Cup tour for Alpine ski racing resumes this weekend with speed events for both the men and women. Both tours will compete in downhill and Super-G, but in separate locations. The men’s tour heads to Kvitfjell, Norway while the women’s tour makes camp in Sochi, Russia.

The men’s downhill opens competition on Friday, March 1 at 5:00 a.m. ET. Stream the event live on OlympicChannel.com or with an NBC Sports Gold Snow Pass.

World Cup gymnasts descend on Greensboro, North Carolina on Saturday, March 2 for the American Cup All-Around event. Coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. ET live on TV and streaming with Olympic Channel, and shifts to NBC at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Check out the full schedule of Olympic sport events on TV and streaming this week on NBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel, OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold.   

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP — Kvitfjell, Norway; Sochi, Russia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 5:00 a.m. Men’s Downhill Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 2:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 a.m. Men’s Downhill Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 1:00 a.m. Women’s Super-G* NBCSN
2:30 a.m. Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
5 a.m. Men’s Super-G Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. Women’s Super-G* NBCSN

*Same-day and next day delay

JUNIOR ALPINE SKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Val di Fassa, Italy

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 3:30 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
8:00 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) OlympicChannel.com
Tuesday 3:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com
8:00 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) OlympicChannel.com

BOBSLED AND SKELETON WORLD CUP — Calgary, Alberta

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 12:30 a.m. Four-Man Bobsled (Run 2)* NBCSN

*Encore presentation

BOBSLED AND SKELETON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Whistler, British Columbia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 8:00 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 1 OlympicChannel.com
9:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 2 OlympicChannel.com
10:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 1* Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 2* Olympic Channel
Saturday 2:30 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Run 1 Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
4:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Run 2 Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
8:00 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 3 OlympicChannel.com
9:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Final Run OlympicChannel.com
10:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Run 3* Olympic Channel
11:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Final Run* Olympic Channel
Sunday 2:30 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Run 3 Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
4:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Final Run Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
5:30 p.m. Two-Man Bobsled: Final Run* NBCSN
7:00 p.m. Team Event Olympic Channel OlympicChannel.com
11:00 p.m. Women’s Bobsled: Final Run* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

FREESTYLE SKIING WORLD CUP — Shimao Lotus Mountain, China; Shymbulak, Kazakhstan

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 12:30 a.m. Aerials Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
2:30 a.m. Moguls OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:00 p.m. Moguls* Olympic Channel
Sunday 12:30 a.m. Team Aerials Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
2:30 a.m. Dual Moguls OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Dual Moguls* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

NASTIA LIUKIN CUP, AMERICAN CUP GYMNASTICS — Greensboro, North Carolina

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 7:00 p.m. Nastia Liukin Cup Gymnastics Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
Saturday 11:30 a.m. American Cup Gymnastics Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
1:00 p.m. American Cup Gymnastics NBC NBC
11:00 p.m. Nastia Liukin Cup Gymnastics* NBCSN

*Next-day delay

LUGE WORLD CUP — Sochi, Russia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 11:00 p.m. Men’s Singles (Run 2)* NBCSN

*Encore presentation

NORDIC WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS — Seefeld, Austria

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 10km Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:15 a.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Team Final OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 10km* NBCSN
2:00 p.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Team Final* Olympic Channel
Wednesday 8:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 15km Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:15 a.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Final Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Thursday 1:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 15km* NBCSN
2:00 a.m. Ski Jumping: Women’s NH Final* NBCSN
5:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: NH Ski Jumping Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 4x5km Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
9:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: Indiv. 10km Cross-Country Ski Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Friday 7:15 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 4x10km Relay OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 4x10km Relay* Olympic Channel
10:00 a.m. Ski Jumping: Men’s NH Final Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 5:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: NH Team Ski Jumping OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:00 a.m. Nordic Combined: NH Team Ski Jumping* Olympic Channel
6:15 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 30km OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:30 a.m. Cross-Country: Women’s 30km* Olympic Channel
8:30 a.m. Nordic Combined: 4x5km Cross-Country Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. Ski Jumping: Mixed Team Event OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
1:00 p.m. Ski Jumping: Mixed Team Event* Olympic Channel
Sunday 7:00 a.m. Cross-Country: Men’s 50km Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold

*Same-day and next day delay

SNOWBOARDING WORLD CUP — Baqueira Beret, Spain

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 7:30 a.m. Snowboard Cross OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold

WORLD ALLROUND SPEED SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS — Calgary, Alberta

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 2:00 p.m. Day 1 NBC Sports Gold
10:00 p.m. Day 1* Olympic Channel
Sunday 2:00 p.m. Day 2 NBC Sports Gold
10:00 p.m. Day 2* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

TOKYO MARATHON — Tokyo, Japan

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 7:00 p.m. From Tokyo, Japan Olympic Channel Olympic Channel

TRACK CYCLING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Pruszkow, Poland

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Day 1 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 p.m. Day 1* Olympic Channel
Thursday 12:30 p.m. Day 2 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 p.m. Day 2* Olympic Channel
Friday 12:30 p.m. Day 3 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
9:30 p.m. Day 3* Olympic Channel
Saturday 11:00 a.m. Day 4 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:00 p.m. Day 4* Olympic Channel
Sunday 6:00 a.m. Day 5 (Semifinals) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. Day 5 (Finals) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
3:00 p.m. From Pruszkow, Poland* NBCSN

*Same-day delay