Stellar women’s field takes aim at New York City Marathon record on Sunday

Stellar women’s field takes aim at New York City Marathon record on Sunday
Sharon Lokedi, of Kenya, wins the women's division of the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, 2022. The New York City Marathon women’s record, which has stood for 20 years, could go down Sunday with one of the strongest fields assembled in the history of the race. (File/AP )
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Updated 04 November 2023
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Stellar women’s field takes aim at New York City Marathon record on Sunday

Stellar women’s field takes aim at New York City Marathon record on Sunday
  • All will be aiming for the $50,000 bonus if they can beat the NYC event record of 2:22:31 set by Margaret Okayo in 2003
  • The temperatures on Sunday are expected in the high 50s, considerably better for the 50,000 runners expected to start the race

NEW YORK: The New York City Marathon women’s record, which has stood for 20 years, could go down Sunday with one of the strongest fields assembled in the history of the race.

Reigning champion Sharon Lokedi looks to defend her title against a stellar group of female runners that includes Boston Marathon champion Hellen Obiri, Olympic gold medalist and 2021 New York champion Peres Jepchirchir and former marathon world-record holder Brigid Kosgei.

“It was very life-changing,” Lokedi said of winning last year. “Very excited to be back here again.”

She’ll have some added support from her mother, who flew to New York from Kenya and will be waiting at the finish line in Central Park.

All will be aiming for the $50,000 bonus if they can beat the NYC event record of 2:22:31 set by Margaret Okayo in 2003. Obiri won the Boston Marathon in April, lowering her personal best to 2:21:38.

“The field will be very strong when I’m together with them,” Kosgei said.

Lokedi won in her marathon debut last year, taking the New York laurel wreath crown in 2:23.23. She pulled away in the final two miles of the race, winning in unseasonably warm temperatures in the 70s. It was one of the hottest days in race history since the marathon was moved to November in 1986.

The temperatures on Sunday are expected in the high 50s, considerably better for the 50,000 runners expected to start the race.

“I’m happy it will be cooler,” Lokedi said.

The four Kenyans all have a chance to win the race. There likely won’t be many American runners in contention because the US Olympic marathon trials are three months away. Kellyn Taylor and Molly Huddle are the top US runners in the race, returning after giving birth to daughters in 2022. Huddle finished third at the 2016 NYC Marathon in her debut at the distance.

“We’ve got a really strong group,” Taylor said. “When I look at the people seeded ahead of me, I’m like ‘holy moly.’ Their accolades are light years ahead of mine. But that’s the beauty of New York is that you can put all of that aside and anything can happen on that day.”

The current women’s world record is 2:11:53, set by Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia at the Berlin Marathon in September.

While the men’s field may not have the star power of the women’s side, there’s still a lot of intrigue. Defending champion Evans Chebet and two-time winner Geoffrey Kamworor pulled out of the race a few weeks ago, leaving it more wide open.

World Championship medalists Maru Teferi of Israel and Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia could win the race, along with 2021 New York Marathon champion Albert Korir. There’s also marathon newcomer Edward Cheserek, who moved to the US in 2010 and won 17 NCAA titles in his college career.

Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola also hopes to improve on his consecutive fourth-place finishes in in 2018-19. He placed third in the 2022 Toyko Marathon and the London Marathon this year. He’s seeking is first major marathon victory.

TICKET TO PARIS

The New York City Marathon serves as the US Paralympic Trials, with up to four wheelchair racers set to become the first athletes across all sports to make the team for the 2024 Paris Games.

The top two Americans in the men’s and women’s NYC Marathon will qualify, provided they also record a minimum qualifying time since last October and are ranked high enough.

Susannah Scaroni has already posted that time and ranking.

“It would mean a lot. So much gratitude,” she said. “Would love to make the team in one of those two slots Sunday. It would be incredible to know I’m going to the Paralympics.”

Daniel Romanchuk is an eight-time major winner, most recently in Boston in 2022. He has consistently been the top American in majors, only surpassed by Swiss Marcel Hug, who has dominated the sport.

EXTRA PROTECTION

The New York Police Department will implement heightened security measures for the marathon.

“As tensions rise around the globe, there is a growing concern over the impact it will have here at home,” said NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban. “There are currently no credible or specific threats to the marathon or to our city. But having said that, we will still implement a comprehensive security plan.”

There have been numerous protests in New York City since the start of the Israel-Hamas war last month.


Liberty Global to acquire Formula E from Warner Bros. Discovery

Liberty Global to acquire Formula E from Warner Bros. Discovery
Updated 19 June 2024
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Liberty Global to acquire Formula E from Warner Bros. Discovery

Liberty Global to acquire Formula E from Warner Bros. Discovery
  • The deal will give the company a controlling interest in the world’s leading electric motorsport series
  • Announcement follows unveiling of the Season 11 race calendar which features races in Miami, Jakarta and double-headers in Monaco and Shanghai

LONDON: Formula E has announced that Liberty Global is to acquire shares currently held by Warner Bros. Discovery in the all-electric racing series.

The acquisition will bring Liberty Global’s total share ownership in the series to 65 percent, giving the company a controlling interest in the world’s fastest-growing motorsport.

Formula E is the only FIA-sanctioned all-electric world motor racing championship, the world’s No.1 environmental, social and governance sport, and the first net-zero carbon sport from inception.

“First of all I’d like to offer my thanks to Warner Bros. Discovery for the support and guidance they’ve provided Formula E over the past nine years,” Jeff Dodds, Formula E CEO said.

“Liberty Global have a proven track record of building and growing businesses and their investment in us comes at the perfect time as we plan for a period of exponential growth. Having personally known and worked alongside the Liberty leadership team for over a decade, I’m thrilled to be able to further benefit from their expertise and their resources. This is a powerful vindication of the huge potential of our sport.”

In its 10th season of all-electric city racing, Formula E boasts one of the best and most diverse sporting calendars in the world, with 16 races in iconic city locations across four continents.

Now, with almost 400 million fans around the world, 11 teams and 22 world-class drivers on the grid, Formula E has become a destination for the best motorsport talent on the planet, including racing teams Jaguar TCS Racing, TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team and NEOM McLaren Formula E Team.

At the recent Monaco E-Prix, Formula E revealed its new car for Season 11, the GEN3 EVO, capable of accelerating to 60mph in an incredible 1.82 seconds — around 30 percent faster than a current Formula 1 car.

Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, said: “We’re excited to take a controlling interest in Formula E, a business we first invested in nearly 10 years ago. Formula E has massive potential for further growth while integrating the most advanced sustainability standards in sports. The investment continues our approach of disciplined capital rotation across our Ventures portfolio and our strategy of making long-term investments in highly attractive businesses.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, with closing expected before year end.


Bellator Champions Series returns with two title fights in September

Bellator Champions Series returns with two title fights in September
Updated 19 June 2024
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Bellator Champions Series returns with two title fights in September

Bellator Champions Series returns with two title fights in September
  • Undefeated Usman Nurmagomedov to defend lightweight title against Alexander Shabbily in San Diego on Sept. 7
  • Middleweight championship on the line when undefeated Johnny Eblen takes on Fabian Edwards in London on Sept. 14

NEW YORK: Bellator Champions Series will return in September with two straight weeks of global action, headlined by two Bellator World Championship bouts.

First up, on Saturday, Sept. 7, Bellator Champions Series San Diego will feature a Lightweight World Championship main event. Usman Nurmagomedov (17-0, 1 NC) will attempt to retain both his undefeated run and his 155-pound title when he locks horns with Alexander Shabliy (23-3), a man who has not been beaten in eight years.

One week later on Saturday, Sept. 14, the Bellator Middleweight World Championship is on the line in the main event of Bellator Champions Series London, when undefeated Johnny Eblen (15-0) will once again face off against England’s Fabian Edwards (13-3).

Last year, Bellator was bought by the PIF-backed Professional Fighters League.

“September is set to be a huge month for Bellator Champions Series, and we’re continuing to step up our game to deliver incredible cards that we know the MMA community across the globe will love,” said Peter Murray, PFL CEO.

“Both San Diego and London are massive markets for us, and we’re confident we’ll put on a show that the fans in attendance, and those watching around the world on Max and DAZN, deserve.

“Our world-class roster has allowed us to hold two cards in two weeks, and you’re going to see that, as we announce more fights and events, the future is incredibly bright for PFL and Bellator. It’s going to be a September to remember, see you there.”

Additional contests for both cards will be announced shortly.

Usman Nurmagomedov vs. Alexander Shabliy

Originally set to take place at Bellator Champions Series Paris in May, this Lightweight World Championship fight has been highly anticipated ever since it was first mooted. At just 26 years of age, Usman Nurmagomedov has proven he is one of the sport’s most dominant champions. He is undefeated in seven fights with Bellator and has captured a world title in a division many consider the toughest in the sport. Dethroning former Lightweight World Champion Patricky Pitbull, the Khabib Nurmagomedov protege defended his title against MMA legend Benson Henderson en route to this matchup on September 7. A striking specialist who has gone 8-0 under the Bellator banner, Alexander Shabliy has also defeated the upper echelons of the 155-pound division, including the aforementioned Pitbull and Tofiq Musayev, and impressively scored a second-round knockout against former Bellator Lightweight Champion Brent Primus.

Johnny Eblen vs. Fabian Edwards

A rematch from 2023, Johnny Eblen and Fabian Edwards took each other to the limit during their first encounter in Dublin at Bellator 299, where Eblen finished the fight via TKO in the third round and emotions flew high in the immediate aftermath. Since then, the American Top Team standout has gone on to pick up a win over Impa Kasanganay at PFL vs. Bellator: Champs vs. Champs for the Middleweight Super Belt, while Edwards bounced back with a unanimous victory against Canada’s Aaron Jeffery this past March at Bellator Champions Series Belfast to earn his rematch.

The 2024 Bellator Champions Series schedule is as follows:

Saturday, June 22 — Bellator Champions Series Dublin — 3Arena

Saturday, Sept. 7 — Bellator Champions Series San Diego — Pechanga Arena San Diego

Saturday, Sept. 14 — Bellator Champions Series London — OVO Arena Wembley

Saturday, Oct. 12 — Bellator Champions Series Chicago — Wintrust Arena

Saturday, Nov. 16 — Bellator Champions Series Paris — ADIDAS Arena

Tuesday, Dec. 31 — Bellator Champions Series — TBD


Confident Americans open Super Eight playoffs against South Africa in T20 World Cup

Confident Americans open Super Eight playoffs against South Africa in T20 World Cup
Updated 19 June 2024
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Confident Americans open Super Eight playoffs against South Africa in T20 World Cup

Confident Americans open Super Eight playoffs against South Africa in T20 World Cup
  • The US qualified for the second round after its Group A wins over Canada and Pakistan
  • The US face a tough opponent in South Africa, who have won all four of their group games

NORTH SOUND: The United States opens the Super Eight playoffs against South Africa at cricket’s Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday with American captain Aaron Jones sounding more confident than ever.
A win over 2022 runner-up Pakistan in the group stage, helping to raise the profile of cricket in the US, might do that to a team skipper.
“To be honest with you, a lot of people don’t really pay much attention to US cricket,” said Jones.
“Probably the whole world don’t already know how much talent we have here . . . but definitely I think that on any given day, once we play proper cricket, we believe that we can beat any team in the world for sure.”
The US qualified for the second round after its Group A wins over Canada and Pakistan, with favorite India also advancing from that group.
The eight teams are divided into two groups with defending champion England and co-host West Indies the other teams bracketed with the USand South Africa. The other group has unbeaten Australia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India — those teams either topped their groups or finished as runner-up in the original 20-team tournament.
The USfaces a tough opponent in South Africa, which won all four of its group games. But the Americans can take heart from the fact that South African batters struggled in their last two low-scoring matches against weaker opponents Bangladesh — when the Proteas won by four runs, and Nepal, who they beat by one run.
Despite all the mystery surrounding low-scoring drop-in pitches in New York and the wet weather in Florida, the US sent shockwaves in the cricketing world with its back-to-back wins against Canada and Pakistan in Dallas before losing to India on a tricky wicket in New York.
The rain gods also helped the US — the tournament co-hosts received a crucial one point from its rain-abandoned group game against Ireland that knocked Pakistan out of the tournament. It was the first time that Pakistan, the 2009 champions, had not qualified for the playoffs in eight versions of the tournament.
The other Super Eight match Wednesday has co-hosts West Indies playing England at Gros Islet, St. Lucia. On Thursday, Afghanistan plays India at Bridgetown, Barbados and Australia takes on Bangladesh at North Sound, Antigua to complete the first round of playoff matches.
All matches in the Super Eight round are being played in the West Indies, and later the semifinals and final. The championship match in the month-long tournament is set for June 29 at the century-old Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados.
The Americans are longshots to be there, but don’t count them out.
Not many Americans knew they had a cricket team before Jones hit the headlines with his blistering score of 95 runs in the opening game against Canada that also featured 10 big sixes.
But admiration for the US team grew more, not only in America but also around the cricketing world after it defeated Pakistan in a super over at Dallas.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve been speaking about playing in the World Cup, playing more games against the full-member nations and stuff like that,” Jones said.
“Obviously qualifying for the Super Eights is really good . . . not only for us but the fans around America as well. We really appreciate them, and for the younger generation in America.”


Kane Williamson steps down as New Zealand captain

Kane Williamson steps down as New Zealand captain
Updated 19 June 2024
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Kane Williamson steps down as New Zealand captain

Kane Williamson steps down as New Zealand captain
  • Williamson has turned down a central contract for the 2024/25 season, relinquishing the captaincy of the Twenty20 and one-day teams
  • Williamson: Playing for New Zealand is something I treasure and my desire to give back to the team remains undiminished

WELLINGTON: Kane Williamson has stepped down as captain of New Zealand’s white-ball teams, the Black Caps said Wednesday, days after they crashed out in the group stage of the T20 World Cup.

Williamson has turned down a central contract for the 2024/25 season, relinquishing the captaincy of the Twenty20 and one-day teams. He will still, however, play international cricket.

It leaves the 33-year-old star batsman able to accept offers to play in lucrative overseas competitions.

“Pursuing an overseas opportunity during the New Zealand summer means I’m unable to accept a central contract offer,” he said in a statement.

He can still play for New Zealand, with the Black Caps scheduled to play Test matches against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, India and England later this year.

Williamson said his decision to turn down a central contract and give up the limited-overs captaincy should not be interpreted as a sign he was losing interest in international cricket.

“Playing for New Zealand is something I treasure and my desire to give back to the team remains undiminished,” he said.

Williamson had skippered New Zealand in all three formats until he gave up the Test captaincy to fast bowler Tim Southee in late 2022.

Since making his debut in 2010, Williamson has played 100 Tests, 165 one-day internationals and 93 T20 games for New Zealand.


Baseball legend Willie Mays, all-around great of America’s pastime, dead at 93

Baseball legend Willie Mays, all-around great of America’s pastime, dead at 93
Updated 19 June 2024
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Baseball legend Willie Mays, all-around great of America’s pastime, dead at 93

Baseball legend Willie Mays, all-around great of America’s pastime, dead at 93
  • Willie Mays was the epitome of what came to be known as a ‘five-tool player’
  • He was exceptional at hitting for average, hitting for power, fielding, throwing and baserunning

 

Mays was the epitome of what came to be known as a “five-tool player” — meaning he was exceptional at hitting for average, hitting for power, fielding, throwing and baserunning

His snag of a fly ball in the 1954 World Series, sprinting with his back toward home plate some 460 feet away, is known simply as The Catch

Mays was ranked second on The Sporting News’ 1998 list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players — behind Babe Ruth and ahead of Ty Cobb

REUTERS: Willie Mays, the Hall of Fame centerfielder whose all-around skills made him one of greatest baseball players of all time, died on Tuesday at the age of 93, Major League Baseball announced.

Mays, who brought an explosive exuberance to the game in his peak years, died of heart failure, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Mays played 23 seasons for the New York Giants, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets, from 1951 through 1973.

In his prime, he could do it all on the baseball field. Mays was the epitome of what came to be known as a “five-tool player” — meaning he was exceptional at hitting for average, hitting for power, fielding, throwing and baserunning.

But Mays’ talent was only part of what made him a superstar. He also played with a verve and passion that were discernible even to spectators in the cheap seats. He was known for playing stickball with kids on the streets of Harlem, near the former Polo Grounds where he played.

In the real games, fans delighted when Mays would sprint with such speed and fury that he would run out from under his hat as he stole a base or chased down a flyball to deep centerfield.

His snag of a fly ball in the 1954 World Series, sprinting with his back toward home plate some 460 feet away, is known simply as The Catch.

“He could do everything and do it better than anyone else, (and) with a joyous grace,” wrote New York Times sports columnist Arthur Daley.

Mays, known as “The Say Hey Kid” because of his standard greeting, was ranked second on The Sporting News’ 1998 list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players — behind Babe Ruth and ahead of Ty Cobb.

Baseball-Reference.com ranks him fifth all time using the modern statistic Wins Above Replacement, which measures a player’s overall value, behind Ruth, pitchers Walter Johnson and Cy Young, and his godson Barry Bonds.

Mays was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979, his first year of eligibility, won the Most Valuable Player award twice and was named to the all-star team 24 times, a record shared only with Hank Aaron and Stan Musial.

When he retired, Mays held third place on the all-time home run list with 660, behind Aaron at 755 and Ruth with 714. He was also the first ballplayer to hit 300 homers and steal 300 bases.

Willie Howard Mays Jr. was born in the gritty steel town of Westfield, Alabama, on May 6, 1931, during the segregation era and was inspired early to play ball by his father and an uncle, he said.

“My uncle would say every day, ‘You’re going to be a baseball player. You’re going to be a baseball player, and we’re gonna see to that,’” he said. “At 10, I was playing against 18-year-old guys. At 15, I was playing professional ball with the Birmingham Black Barons, so I really came very quickly in all sports.”

Mays joined the New York Giants of the National League early in the 1951 season, four years after Jackie Robinson had integrated Major League Baseball. He failed to get a hit in his first 12 trips to the plate before smacking his first, a home run off future Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn.

Mays went on to win Rookie of the Year honors in 1951 with a .274 average, helping the Giants come from 13 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers before his team won the pennant on a legendary home run by Bobby Thomson. Mays, then 20 years old, was on deck when Thomson hit his home run, later telling reporters he was so nervous he prayed he would not come to bat.

Mays missed most of the 1952 season and all of 1953 while serving in the US Army during the Korean War, spending much of his service time playing for the Army baseball team.

He returned to the Giants in 1954 and won the first of his two Most Valuable Player awards as he paced the Giants to a four-game World Series sweep of the Cleveland Indians. In the first game of that series, Mays pulled off The Catch, which remains one of the most memorable plays in baseball history.

At New York’s Polo Grounds, the Indians’ Vic Wertz hit a shot to deep centerfield. Mays turned, sprinted toward the wall, made a graceful over-the-shoulder catch and then immediately whirled around and made a perfect throw that kept two Cleveland baserunners from advancing.

“I was a guy, when I first came up, I believed I could catch any ball that stayed in the ballpark,” Mays told an interviewer years later. “I guess I was kind of a cocky kid, knowing that if the ball went up, I could catch it.”

In 1958, the Giants moved to San Francisco, where Mays was not quite so beloved. Fans crowding into tiny Seals Stadium, the Giants’ first home, instead embraced rookie sensations Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey as their own.

“Mays never was to San Francisco what he was to New York,” wrote sportswriter Dick Young. “When the Giants moved to California, the San Francisco fans saw Mays as ‘of’ New York.”

The Giants moved into cavernous and windy Candlestick Park in 1960, robbing Mays of many home runs that would have gone out in a more typical ballpark.

But Mays still possessed extraordinary skills and in 1962, carried the Giants to another playoff win over the Dodgers and into the World Series.

The series was a seven-game spellbinder won by the New York Yankees when Bobby Richardson speared a line drive for the final out of the game with Mays on second base, representing what would have been the winning run.

By the late 1960s, Mays was slowing down. In May 1972, he was traded to the New York Mets and made a final World Series appearance in 1973, his last season, when the Mets lost to the Oakland Athletics in seven games. He retired later that year.

In his book “Willie’s Time,” baseball writer and historian Charles Einstein wrote:

“The lights were hot and the cameras rolled and you knew Willie was there because you heard that laugh. Came The Automatic Question: ‘Who was the greatest player you ever saw?’ His answer was prompt enough: ‘I thought I was.’ There was merriment in his eyes as he looked around the room. ‘I hope I didn’t say that wrong.’”