Kipchoge warming up for Olympics marathon in Netherlands race

FILE PHOTO: Athletics – London Marathon – London, Britain – October 4, 2020 Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge during the elite men’s race. Pool via REUTERS/Richard Heathcote

April 16, 2021

By Omar Mohammed

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, the Olympic marathon champion and world record holder, said he was looking forward to a beautiful race on Sunday in Enschede, the Netherlands, a run he sees as crucial preparation for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The race was originally scheduled to take place on April 11 in Hamburg but was postponed over COVID-19 restrictions, forcing the organisers to look for an alternative location.

It will be Kipchoge’s first outing since his surprise loss at the London marathon in October when he was eighth, more than five minutes slower than his world record of 2:01:39 and over a minute adrift of Ethiopian winner Shura Kitata.

“My goal is the same – to run a good race and a beautiful race,” he told reporters in a virtual news conference on Friday. “All of us will enjoy, we will test ourselves, the shape we will have on Sunday, but above is the beauty of the race.”

The event, closed to the public, will feature more than 50 elite athletes from at least 20 countries, said the organisers.

Among those competing on Sunday against Kipchoge will be 2012 Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda.

“Winning is important, specific time is important but I can’t say I want to aim for this time, I really want to run a beautiful race,” Kipchoge said.

Kipchoge also said it had been hard to cope with the restrictions on training resulting from the pandemic.

“COVID has destroyed everything, it has destabilised our training, our lives. Now we train with the small groups and we are competing without the fans,” he said.

“I have been in the sport for the last 17 years and trained with a crew and imagine one day you are being told to train alone,” Kipchoge added. “But all in all, we have overcome, we are nearly overcoming.”


Considered one of the sport’s greatest marathoners, the 36-year-old suffered his first defeat since 2013 in London.

Kipchoge, who up until the London marathon had won 10 straight races, said he had suffered from a blocked ear that affected his breathing and cramp in his hip.

While he told reporters he did not change any part of his training regime after the London race, the experience taught him how to run without fans, who have been forced to stay home from sports competitions due to the pandemic.

“I still continue with my training, I have the same coach, same management, same thinking and that’s why I am here again,” he said.

“We started to run without fans in London and this is the second leg of running without fans and that’s one way to learn and actually absorb and accept that we should move on because life cannot stop anymore.”

Overseas fans have already been barred from attending the Tokyo Games and organisers plan to decide this month on the maximum number of local fans permitted in venues.

The race in Enschede on Sunday, taking place at Twente airport, is crucial preparation for the Olympics marathon in August, said Kipchoge, the first man to run the distance in under two hours in an unofficial race.

Kipchoge will also for the first time use a biosensor to monitor his glucose levels during the race, a tool that he said will help him know when he can “fuel”.

“It’s good actually this race was organised, to help me and the rest of the people who will be qualifying for Tokyo,” he said.

(Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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100 days to go: 2021 Olympics a pinch-me moment for Abbey Gelmi

Hosting alongside some of the world’s best broadcasting talent for the Tokyo Olympics is a pinch me moment for Abbey Gelmi.

The Perth raised sports presenter will be front and centre as part of Seven’s Olympics coverage alongside the likes of Bruce McAvaney, Hamish McLachlan, Johanna Griggs, Basil Zempilas, Matt Shirvington and Edwina Bartholomew when the Games kick off on July 23.

With just 100 days to go, it’s a prestigious honour for the 31-year-old, Gelmi describing the atmosphere and excitement of the world’s biggest sporting competition as one big “reality TV” show.

Seven’s 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games team.
Camera IconSeven’s 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games team. Credit: 7 Network/7 Network

“It’s the ultimate reality TV, the Olympics — the highs, lows, big blows — it doesn’t matter who is competing people are competing for their dreams and it’s going to be really exciting to cover,” Gelmi told The West Australian.

Sport has always run thick in Gelmi’s veins, her grandfather Herb Elliot won gold and set a world record at the 1960 Olympics in Rome and she has spent many years re-watching his old tapes.

“What struck me about Pa was his dedication and his win at all costs approach to running and that’s what I really love about the Olympics,” she said.

“It doesn’t get much more dramatic than people getting one shot in four years or in this case five years, to have a go at their dreams.”

While this year’s Games won’t be without it’s logistical challenges, including potential banning of crowds and cheering, Gelmi says the broadcast will be more important than ever.

“When you speak to athletes, while yes, some of them like to vibe off a crowd they don’t need extra motivation to chase after something they’ve wanted their whole life,” she added.

Abbey Gelmi.
Camera IconAbbey Gelmi. Credit: Instagam

However, a small time difference between Australia and Tokyo, viewers will get to watch the best events in real time.

“I think the beauty of the time slot that means in real time these athletes will know that families in living rooms across the country that they are gathered cheering them on.”

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Australia hammered again 5-0, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson’s big Tokyo Olympics challenge

The fact that the Matildas have not played together in more than a year and had not met their new coach until gathering in camp in Europe before these two games are clearly mitigating factors.

However, this Matildas squad boasts many players who have been in the system for years and have faced tough opponents alongside each other before, so familiarity should not have been a problem for the likes of Emily Van Egmond, Alanna Kennedy, Caitlin Foord, Laura Alleway, Aivi Luik, Hayley Raso and Sam Kerr.

The Netherlands’ Stefanie van der Gragt (right) is hot on the heels of Australia’s Sam Kerr.Credit:Getty Images

It was never going to be easy taking on such high quality teams as Germany and the Netherlands so the outcome, in the circumstances, was predictable enough although few would have expected the Matildas to concede 10 goals in two games.

They will be better with the marauding Carpenter back in the side and Catley will add defensive experience to the rearguard.

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Rugby Sevens starTim Anstee places Wallaby debut ahead of Tokyo Olympics

“I think the Olympics is something that excites a lot of people. I dedicated four years to the sevens program and (Tokyo) was something we were building towards. Then COVID happened.

“Potentially, it’s something I would like to tick off.

“But at the same time, playing for the Wallabies is something I dreamed about as a kid. We will see how it plays out.”

Anstee may not be overly eager to return to the Australian Sevens fold but he’s cognisant the skills he’s developed are largely thanks to the all-encompassing nature of the seven-man game.

“In Sevens, you need quite a broad skill set,” he said.

“Sometimes, in 15s, if you’re not good at a certain skill, you can hide from it or get away from it.

“In Sevens, you’re going to get found out if you can’t catch and pass 15 metres, if you can’t clean out or you can’t make your one-on-one tackles.

“I think I’ve learned and developed a lot of parts of my game there and I’d like to think I’ve brought them into the 15 man game.”

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Candice Warner: Ex-ironwoman realises lifelong dream with Olympics job on Channel 7

Candice Warner’s Olympic moment has arrived, with the former champion Ironwoman joining Network Seven’s studio commentary team for the Tokyo Games.

“Sport is my first love and will always be a huge passion of mine,” Warner said.

“To be able to commentate the men and women’s triathlon and open water 10km marathon … I’m really thrilled.”

As a little nipper, Warner grew up wanting to be an Olympian.

“I never got that opportunity with my sport,” she said.

Candice Warner
Camera IconCandice Warner pictured at Coogee before her next role with Seven for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Sam Ruttyn Credit: News Corp Australia

“But to be part of the commentary team alongside some of those voices and (the source) of such great sporting quotes, it’s honestly a dream come true and I really am honoured.”

Warner predicts “great success” for the Australian team in Tokyo in part thanks to the way the country has handled the COVID crisis.

“A lot of our athletes haven’t been in the lockdowns that we’ve seen in America, Europe or England,” she said.

“The athletes have been able to prepare, to get to the pool, do their cycling and running, so I really feel that these Olympics, Australia will excel.”

Warner came to prominence at 14 as Australia’s youngest ever professional Ironwoman.

“I understand the stroke side of things; it’s very different to a stroke in the pool, whether it be breathing … or different kicking,” she said.

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Camera IconCandice Warner nee Falzon excelled as an ironwoman. Troy Snook Credit: News Corp Australia

“Also (I know) how important the feeds are. Over a 10 km open water swim, having those feeds, stopping for your gels, bringing on fluids and increasing your caffeine along the way – they’re the things that people want to know.

“‘What are these athletes doing? How can they keep going for so long? What training they’ve done in the lead up … or why do some athletes wear goggles and some don’t?

“Having swum competitively in the pool and in the ocean, I just have a really good understanding of that sport.”

Lewis Martin, head of Seven Network Sport, said Warner knows exactly what it takes to succeed in elite sport.

“Candice has emerged as a highly promising commentator,” Mr Martin said.

Candice Warner
Camera IconWarner has become a promising sports commentator. Sam Ruttyn Credit: News Corp Australia

“She will bring an insider’s understanding to our coverage of the triathlon and marathon swimming in Tokyo, joining an unrivalled Seven commentary team that includes some of Australia’s greatest Olympic heroes.”

Warner is especially excited about introducing Australia to new athletes and having her three little girls tune in from home.

“For my daughters to watch the Olympic Games and hear their mother call certain events will really be something else,” Warner said. “For them to see, ‘Okay, you have to work for something to be able to get it, you just don’t get handed things’.”

Just don’t expect Warner to turn to cricket commentary post-Olympics.

“The last thing David would want is his wife’s (commentary) on his performance,” she laughed.

“I don’t know how well any marriage would survive that!”

Olympics 100 days cover. 9/4/21
Camera IconOlympics 100 days cover. 9/4/21 Credit: News Corp Australia

DON’T miss our eight-page 100 days to go until the Tokyo Olympics liftout on Wednesday in News Corp Australia newspapers.

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Tokyo Olympics 2021: Australian rugby sevens team wants Wallabies star Sean McMahon for Games

He’s the trump card Dave Rennie wants on deck for the 2023 World Cup, but Tim Walsh is hoping to have Wallaby wrecking ball Sean McMahon on-hand for Australia’s Tokyo tilt.

With the Wallabies trying to win back the hearts and minds of Australians, Walsh believes the sevens team can win the public over like it did when his women’s side won gold at Rio and an explosion of women’s sports sprung as a result.

“You look at what it did for women in Australia by winning the gold medal. That didn’t just change rugby in Australia, it changed women’s sport,” Walsh said.

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Sean McMahon is in Walsh’s plans. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Sean McMahon is in Walsh’s plans. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

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North Korea dashes hopes for diplomatic gold at Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO — North Korea has decided not to participate in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games starting in July, scuttling any hope that the occasion will lead to a diplomatic breakthrough with the rogue state, as the Pyeongchang games did three years ago.

The sports ministry on its website gave a terse statement on withdrawing from the games: to protect its own athletes from the global public health crisis that is the coronavirus.

The impoverished state has been on edge over the outbreak since the early days. The border with neighboring China was shut down in January 2020, shortly after the virus began to spread. North Korea also imposed strict travel restrictions and quarantined suspected cases.

But the country is now working to resume trade with China as early as this month, fueling speculation that skipping the Olympics is more political — just like its decision to flaunt its thaw with South Korea at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018.

At the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang games, North and South Korean athletes marched together under a unification flag showing the Korean Peninsula in blue. The two Koreas also played for a joint team in women’s ice hockey, further signaling a thaw in bilateral relations.

Meanwhile, Kim Yo Jong, younger sister to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, captivated onlookers with her “smile diplomacy” throughout her Olympics-related travels.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with then-U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore in June 2018. The leaders met three times.

  © Reuters

Three years have passed since. The biggest political change was a presidential transition in the U.S.

Back in the autumn of 2017, with Donald Trump in the White House, North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile with enough range to reach the American mainland. The North subsequently declared itself a nuclear power, fueling tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The incident triggered military pressure not just from the U.S., but also from China, North Korea’s biggest trade partner. The North chose to return to the negotiating table at the Pyeongchang Olympics, laying the groundwork for later summits with South Korea and China. It held its first-ever bilateral summit with the U.S. later that year, a development that exceeded its own expectations.

But Pyongyang struggled to maintain that momentum. North Korea and the U.S. ultimately failed to reach an agreement on denuclearization over their three summits, and Trump, with whom Kim had built a rapport, left the White House this January. The succeeding administration of Joe Biden has slammed North Korea on human rights, one of the sorest spots for its leadership. No bilateral thaw is expected anytime soon.

North Korea also cannot count on any help that could help soften the American stance. South Korean President Moon Jae-in had helped broker the talks between Trump and Kim. But Pyongyang blames Moon for the summits’ failure, convinced that the South Korean leader pitched an excessively rosy scenario to both the North Korean and U.S. sides. The North Korean leadership has no faith in Moon at this time.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, bottom left, and North Korean official Kim Yo Jong, upper right, attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018. Kim is younger sister to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

  © KCNA via Kyodo

When Moon and Kim met in Pyongyang back in September 2018, the two Koreas had agreed to compete under a joint team in multiple events in the Tokyo Olympics. The leaders also discussed a joint bid to host the 2032 games. The North’s exit poured cold water on Moon’s ambitions to advance the dialogue with North Korea at the Tokyo Olympics.

The impact on Japan, meanwhile, could be significant — and not only because other countries might follow suit in dropping out of the Olympics for coronavirus-related reasons.

The games could have provided an opportunity for talks toward bringing closure to the long-standing issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals decades ago. Pyongyang had engaged in dialogue for a time but has stopped responding to Tokyo’s requests for talks, even behind closed doors.

The North has concluded that “the current Japanese government won’t voluntarily pursue better relations” as Tokyo did in the early 2000s under then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, according to a source familiar with the situation.

And while the Olympics could have offered North Korea — reportedly in dire economic straits — a chance to return to the international fold, it appears to have instead hunkered down for an extended showdown with the U.S. and Japan.

Pyongyang has in the past used the games to burnish its image. It has traditionally performed well in individual sports with weight classes, such as judo, wrestling, boxing and weightlifting.

Athletes enjoy favored treatment in North Korea, and medalists have received rewards from the government including money, cars and luxury apartments, depending on their results. It is not hard to imagine the disappointment they must feel at missing this rare chance to shine outside their country’s closed borders.

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Tokyo Olympics: Australian rugby’s gold medal defence takes blow, Ellia Green, Emma Tonegato, Chloe Dalton

Australia’s gold-medal sevens defence at Tokyo’s Olympics has taken a blow, with three of John Manenti’s best racing the clock to be fit for July’s Games.

Gold medal winners Emma Tonegato, Chloe Dalton and Ellia Green have all recently gone under the knife, with the former at biggest risk of missing the event.

Tonegato, who scored in Australia’s gold medal success over New Zealand in 2016 at Rio, required surgery on her left-shoulder following an accident at an internal trial.

“She’s going to be racing the clock,” head coach Manenti told

Australia’s gold medal winners Ellia Green (left) and Chloe Dalton (right) are racing the clock to be fit for their Olympic defence. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: AAP

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Alpine skiing: Shiffrin may tweak schedule ahead of Olympics

FILE PHOTO: Alpine Skiing – FIS Ski World Cup – Women’s Slalom – Are, Sweden – March 13, 2021 Mikaela Shiffrin of the U.S. in action with during the women’s slalom race TT News Agency via REUTERS/Pontus Lundahl/tt

March 19, 2021

(Reuters) – Mikaela Shiffrin said she may have to adjust her schedule to stay fit for next year’s winter Olympics in Beijing after missing the start of this season due to a back injury.

American Shiffrin is hoping to add to the two Olympic gold medals and a silver she won from Sochi and Pyeongchang in 2014 and 2018 but a niggling back problem means the 26-year-old’s focus is also on prolonging her career.

“We’re definitely going to take that into account going into next season, not only for the Olympics but just for my longevity in my career,” Shiffrin told reporters from Lenzerheide, where the World Cup Finals are taking place this week.

“Because, for sure, the Olympics is a target, but a bigger target would be to say, not only I can compete at the Olympics, but I can just compete regularly.”

Shiffrin, a triple World Cup overall champion, missed the season-opening giant slalom in October with a back problem and marked her return with a second-placed finish in a slalom in Finland in November before claiming four more world championship medals in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month.

“What I found this season is it’s taken a little while longer to get my back, or body as a whole, in ski specific conditioning shape to not feel sore constantly,” she said.

“After I got things back under control with a lot of therapy and rehab, it seems like it’s been quite manageable this season and I’m hoping that’s going to continue.

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I keep it under control… Hopefully, I’ll be able to manage preparation throughout the summer and roll through the Olympics without having to adjust the schedule.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Tokyo 2020: No international fans at Olympics and Paralympics

The Olympics are due to begin on 23 July and the Paralympics on 24 August

No international fans will be permitted at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, organisers say.

Japanese authorities told the Olympic and Paralympic committees it was “highly unlikely” that entry to the country could be guaranteed.

Organisers said the move would help ensure “a safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public”.

The Games are due to begin on 23 July.

The Paralympics follow the Olympics a month later, from 24 August.

Organiser said they had made the move to bar overseas spectators “to give clarity to ticket holders”, who will be refunded.

They added that the “challenging” Covid-19 situation in Japan and many other countries, global travel restrictions and emergence of variant strains of the virus had led to the decision.

Organisers postponed the Olympics by a year in March last year because of the growing spread of coronavirus across the world.

‘Difficult decisions need to be made’

It is the first time in the event’s history it has been postponed, with more than 11,000 athletes from around 200 countries scheduled to take part in 2020.

International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons said “difficult decisions” had to be made with safety the “top priority”.

“It goes without saying that in an ideal world we would prefer to have international spectators at the Games, allowing families, friends and fans to cheer on their loved ones and all athletes,” he said.

“But at the moment we must acknowledge that due to the global pandemic we are not living in an ideal world.”

The exclusion of international fans comes as another major financial blow to the Tokyo Games.

Costs for the Games have increased by $2.8bn (£2.1bn) because of measures needed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but organisers have consistently ruled out a delay.

Earlier this year, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga said the Games would be “safe and secure” and could serve as a “symbol of global solidarity”.

However, a poll at that time by national broadcaster NHK showed the majority of the Japanese general public oppose holding the Games in 2021, favouring a further delay or outright cancellation of the event.

Japan has also encountered problems unrelated to the pandemic, with the head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee Yoshiro Mori resigning after he was criticised for making “inappropriate” remarks about women.

The Tokyo Games’ creative chief then also resigned after suggesting a female comedian could appear as an “Olympig” at the opening ceremony.

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