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Kipchoge ‘fulfills legacy’ winning second consecutive Olympic marathon

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World record-holder Eliud Kipchoge became the third man in history to successfully defend the Olympic marathon title as he delivered a masterclass in running to win the men’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Sunday.

The Kenyan runner, competing in his fourth Olympics, crossed the finish line in Sapporo Odori Park in a time of two hours eight minutes and 38 seconds. His winning margin of 1:20 was the widest in an Olympic marathon since Frank Shorter’s win in 1972.

“In Rio, he waited until the 36th kilometre to break away. Yesterday, his decisive move came in the 31st. By the 38th, the Kenyan more closely resembled a solitary figure out on a morning training run than a man leading the Olympic marathon,” the World Athletics described the Kenyan’s feat in its new report. He’d built a lead of more than one minute by that point, with no other runner within view.

“I think I have fulfilled the legacy by winning the marathon for the second time, back-to-back. I hope now to help inspire the next generation,” said Kipchoge, who joined 1960 and 1964 champion Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia and East German Waldemar Cierpinski, the winner in Montreal in 1976 and Moscow in 1980, as a back-to-back winner.

“It means a lot for me, especially at this time. It was really hard last year, with the Olympic Games postponed. I am happy for the local organising committee who made this race happen. It is a sign that shows the world we are heading in the right direction – we are on the right transition to a normal life.”

Kipchoge, won bronze in Athens in 2004 and silver in Beijing 2008 in the 5000m before his marathon gold in Rio in 2016.

But this addition to his collection is Kenya’s fifth medal in the men’s Olympic marathon since the Games in Beijing in 2008.

Like Saturday’s women’s race, the pace was conservative and cautious throughout, with a large group of nearly 50 runners going through the opening five kilometres in 15:17 and ten in 30:53, on pace for a modest 2:10:19 finish. Kipchoge was at or near the front throughout, taking turns in the lead with Colombian Jeison Alexander Suarez and Daniel do Nascimento of Brazil who seemed to enjoy the opportunity of leading a pack that included the greatest marathoner of all-time.

Little changed at 15 kilometres (46:03) where 2016 bronze medallist Galen Rupp of the US and Kipchoge’s teammate Lawrence Cherono were also chipping in with the pacing duties.

The field was beginning to spread out by the time Stephen Mokoka of South Africa reached the halfway point in 1:05:13, with 23 runners still within three seconds of the lead. At the head of the pack, Kipchoge was the picture of calm and cool, and was playful too, as he exchanged a fist bump with Brazil’s Daniel do Nascimento as they continued to take turns at the front.

The first big break came in the 27th kilometre when the lead pack was reduced to 12, but with Kipchoge still firmly dictating the proceedings. Rupp was still there, along with Belgian Bashir Abdi and Dutchman Abdi Nageeye, Kipchoge’s teammates Cherono and Kipruto, and Alphonce Felix Simbu of Tanzania.

By 30km (1:32:31) the pack further dwindled to eight, but that apparently wasn’t to Kipchoge’s liking. Less than a kilometre later, he injected a surge that quickly created considerable daylight between him and the remaining chase pack. He then began to pour it on, building a 27-second lead through 35 kilometres (1:46:59). He extended it to more than a minute five kilometres later. The only company he had in the waning moments were the substantial crowds that turned out to watch the race.

Behind him, Cherono, Ayad Lamdassem of Spain, and training partners Abdi and Nageeye battled it out for the remaining two podium spots. Nageeye won that battle, crossing the line in 2:09:58, two seconds clear of Abdi.

“I said so many times I wanted a top three, but I never made it. So today I was just focusing. Focus, focus, focus,” said Nageeye, who finished 11th in Rio. “When I reached 39km I just knew (I would win a medal). I was feeling really easy with three kilometres to go. I knew I had just nine minutes to run. It is unbelievable.”

“I always believed in myself,” he continued. “I was a nomad, I packed my bags and trained in France, America, Ethiopia, Kenya. To stand on the podium with Eliud Kipchoge, the greatest of all time – It is amazing.”

Abdi too was a believer. Without Nageeye, he said, it would be unlikely that he’d finish on the podium.

Of the 106 runners who started, 76 finished.



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Himasha’s ban extended to six years

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Himasha’s doping violation

by Reemus Fernando

The Appeals Committee of the Sri Lanka Anti-Doping Agency that heard sprinter Himasha Eshan’s appeal against his suspension, has decided to extend the ban against the former national 100 metres champion to six years.

SLADA has informed the athlete that the Appeals Committee had decided to extend the ban to six years after the appeal hearing conducted on November 3.

According to the letter sent by SLADA, Himasha will now be banned till 25th October 2027 which effectively closes the former national 100 metres record holder’s chances of competing for Sri Lanka again.

The 28-year-old was tested positive for a banned substance during a random test conducted by SLADA on October 26, 2021. The Disciplinary Committee of SLADA first banned him for four years from October 26, 2021 to October 25, 2025. That ban has now been extended by two years.It was the second time that the South Asian Games medallist has been found positive for a banned substance and he is also the only Sri Lankan athlete to be tested positive twice.

He was first found positive for a banned substances when he was 17 years old. He was slapped with a two year ban which was reduced considering his young age. The World Anti-Doping Agency introduced four years bans for first time offences in 2013. According to Anti Doping authorities any reduced terms are added to the suspension when an athlete is found positive for the second time.

This time Himasha was tested positive during a random test conducted by SLADA on October 26, 2021. The Anti-Doping authorities collected Himasha’s urine samples at the Army quarters at Narahenpita. He was involved in several impressive performances including a wind assisted 10.29 seconds feat to win the men’s 100 metres during the Army Athletics Championships which was held around that time.

Once the fastest man in the South Asian region, Himasha was coached by Chaminda Perera. He won the gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games and set a South Asian regional record of 10.22 seconds in 2019. He was also part of Sri Lanka’s 4×100 metres team that established the current national record in the 4×100 metres relay.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Al Nassr knocked out of Saudi Super Cup

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr were knocked of the Saudi Super Cup on Thursday after a 3-1 semifinal loss to Al Ittihad in Riyadh.The 37-year-old Portugal international, five-times Ballon D’Or winner, had a couple of chances to score but was well shackled by the Al Ittihad defence for most of the match.

Anderson Talisca’s goal for Al Nassr in the 67th minute was not enough to turn around the deficit from two first-half goals for Al Ittihad from Romarinho and Abderrazak Hamdallah.

Muhannad Al-Shanqeeti added the third three minutes into stoppage time.Al Nassr next travel to Al Fateh in the Saudi Pro League on Feb. 3.

(ESPN)

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Karen Khachanov to reach final of Australian Open 2023

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Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas has another chance to land his first Grand Slam title after reaching the Australian Open final by beating Russian Karen Khachanov in the Melbourne last four.Third seed Tsitsipas, 24, won 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 against Khachanov, who was going for a maiden major final.Tsitsipas lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final and might have the chance to avenge that loss.

Serbia’s Djokovic plays American Tommy Paul in Friday’s other semi-final.Tsitsipas, who will become the world number one if he wins the title, eventually booked his place after recovering from Khachanov saving two match points in the third-set tie-break.

Another tight forehand saw a third chance disappear in what proved to be the final game, before he regained his composure to convert his fourth when a first serve was batted long by the 18th seed. Asked what he was thinking when the match went into a fourth set, Tsitsipas said: “I thought about how hard I’ve worked to get to this position.

“But if you stick around, dedicate yourself even more, and concentrate even more in the important moments it pays off.”

Nine-time champion Djokovic is the favourite to face Tsitsipas and takes on the unseeded Paul, who is competing in his first major semi-final, at 08:30 GMT on Friday.

The 35-year-old former world number one has won in Melbourne every time he has reached the last four and is aiming for a record-extending 10th title which would equal Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 major men’s titles. At a tournament with a hard-court surface on which he thrives, and in a city where he is warmly backed by its large Greek population, Tsitsipas has long appeared destined for success at the Australian Open.

The towering youngster announced his arrival there with a famous 2019 win over defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round, only for a captivating run to be ended when he was crushed by Rafael Nadal in his first semi-final appearance.

Long-time rival Daniil Medvedev ended his dreams at the last-four stage in both 2021 and 2022, with another Russian – this time, the powerful Khachanov – standing in his way this time.

Backed by a vocal crowd who waved Greek flags after virtually all of his winning points, Tsitsipas started confidently against a player who he had beaten in all of their five previous encounters.

Khachanov could not cope with Tsitsipas’ pounding ground-strokes and dynamic athleticism as the world number four moved two sets ahead.

When Tsitsipas broke early in the third set and moved into a 5-4 lead which left him serving for the match, few on Rod Laver Arena expected anything other than a straight-set win.However, nerves kicked in for Tsitsipas, who suddenly looked unsure with his ground-strokes, and Khachanov cut loose to extend the contest.

After a bathroom break before the fourth set, Tsitsipas returned free of the weight of expectation and broke Khachanov’s serve at the first opportunity.Dominant service games from that point ensured there would be no repeat of the previous set as he finally reached the final of what he calls his “home” Grand Slam event.

“I feel blessed for the fact I’m able to play tennis at this level and for many years I’ve wanted to put Greek tennis on the map – Maria [Sakkari] and I have done that, I think,” Tsitsipas said.

“Coming from a small country like Greece I feel so grateful I get support like this.

“I never thought I would be treated so well here so I’m extremely happy I’m in the final now – let’s see what happens.”

(BBC Sports)

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