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No Semenya at Stockholm DL after gender ruling

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South Africa’s Caster Semenya won a gold medal at the Diamond League’s Doha meeting on May 3 © AFP/File / Karim JAAFAR

PARIS, France, May 16Double Olympic champion Caster Semenya, who lost her appeal over a controversial gender ruling, will not race at this month’s Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, the organisers told AFP on Thursday.

The South African, 28, who won gold in Rio in 2016 and London four years earlier will not lineup for the 800m after winning her most recent appearance over the distance in Doha on May 3.

Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera Wambui, who are among the star female athletes affected by the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) ruling this month and who completed the Olympic podium in Brazil will also not feature in Sweden.

Wambui told AFP on Thursday her future was uncertain due to the IAAF’s decision.

Semenya’s case has provoked a furious debate across sport around the globe about gender and “hyperandrogenic” athletes, those with “differences of sexual development” (DSD).

The decision on May 1 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland, means female athletes with elevated testosterone will have to take suppressive treatment if they wish to compete as women in certain events.

South Africa’s government on Monday said it would lodge an appeal against the IAAF’s decision which came into operation on May 8 and applies to distances from 400m to a mile, and includes the heptathlon.

“The onus is on the athletes to ensure they do not agree to attend meetings or put themselves forward for events they are not eligible to compete in,” Stockholm meeting director Jan Kowalski said.

“If they do compete in events for which they are not eligible, then – consistent with the approach taken in any case of athlete ineligibility – their results may be disqualified and any medals, points, or prize money forfeited,” Kowalski added.

That leaves world bronze medallist Ajee Wilson from the US as the highest ranked runner in the women’s 800m in Stockholm.

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Fun runner Thuo’s 2:59 marathon challenge to benefit vulnerable families

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By ELIAS MAKORI

David Thuo has achieved what most of Kenya’s elite runners haven’t: Running all but one of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) races.

With six big city marathons making up the circuit, Thuo, has completed five — in Boston, New York, London, Chicago and Berlin.

The Wilson Airport-based aircraft engineer was to complete his collection of WMM medals in Tokyo last March, but the race in Japan’s capital was called off as the coronavirus reared its ugly head.

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He still has Tokyo in his cross hairs, a befitting celebration of 20 years of fun running and fitness by the engineer.

On Monday, Thuo will take on a different challenge: To run the marathon in under three hours.
Never mind that his personal best over the 42-kilometre distance is already a sub-three hour time (2:38 in last year’s Berlin Marathon), the 43-year-old father of three’s challenge will have the extra drive of raising funds for charity.

Benefit over 20 families

Dubbed the “Kahara Madaraka Day Sub-3 Challenge Attempt,” Thuo’s initiative might not be as grand as Eliud Kipchoge’s Ineos 1:59 Challenge, but it will benefit over 20 vulnerable families.

“We have run many times for charities abroad, and I thought it would be important for us to direct this energy to helping out in Kenya to help families that have, for instance, been unable to pay rent due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the much-travelled Thuo explained on Sunday as he prepared for today’s challenge.

Raising resources

“Some friends and family members have pledged Sh500 per kilometre for each of the 42.2 kilometres if I run the tough route in under three hours, and half of that amount if I miss the mark,” he adds.

“Others have pledged Sh500 for each kilometre run under four minutes, but only if I hit the sub-three mark.”

Already, Thuo, who trains with his wife Ann, has raised rent for a few families up to next month.

Monday’s challenge, to be run at Ngong, is aimed at raising resources to help the over 20 families in need under the “Adopt a family initiative.”

“This initiative is headed by a committee made up of runners but welcomes all well-wishers to support,” he appeals.

“Identify needy cases around you, share with committee for evaluation…”

The challenge will start at 6am at Kahara, Ngong, which Thuo describes as “a beautiful, undulating and tough training route which is the Nairobi equivalent of Iten and Kaptagat and has produced many world record holders.”

He prefers the area also because it’s not too populates and enhances social distancing.

“Running a marathon under three hours is a great achievement for any recreational runner, and the few who have achieved this feat have done so at altitudes near sea level,” he explains.

Thuo’s challenge will be streamed live from 6am on his Fitness with David page, with further details on how to contribute to the cause found on www.davidthuo.com.

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No travel, no problem for Winny Kosgey as she targets virtual race

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By BERNARD ROTICH

On Sunday, a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station, the first time a crewed US spacecraft has performed the feat in nearly a decade.

The “Soft capture,” the moment when the spacecraft makes first contact and starts latching with the target vehicle, occurred at 10:16 am Eastern Time (5.16pm Kenyan time).

Carrying two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnkhen and Doug Hurley, the mission marked a huge milestone in space travel.

Back on earth, and right here in the North Rift, man will celebrate another major milestone, this time in sport, not space travel.

Under normal circumstances, Winny Kosgey, an upcoming distance runner, would have been in Ottawa, Canada, for a 10-kilometre run.

But with the coronavirus having disrupted global sports programmes and airline travel, Kosgey was among scores of sportspeople who couldn’t travel to their destinations of competition.

However, she will still run the Ottawa 10km race, and has the possibility of bagging prize money.

Thanks to technology, organisers of the race have elected to have it run, virtually.

With virtual competitions slowly becoming the enforced vogue, Kosgey will most certainly break new ground for Kenyan sport when she competes on Tuesday.

Virtual running seems to be the way forward now for athletes as they wait for the virus to be contained.

Last weekend’s cancellation of the Boston Marathon, the first time it its 124-year history, drove further affinity to virtual running.

Nation Sport on Sunday caught up with Kosgey who trains in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

Her quick thinking directed her to the internet where she managed to register for the reorganised race, and she has been preparing for the last few weeks.

Promoting social distancing

The virtual race requires an athlete to compete alone at his or her own pace, adhering to social distancing regulations provided by the government and Ministry of Health.

She said she has been promoting social distancing in sport, and, at the same time, competing to raise money for charity for a children’s hospital in Canada.

She will be running alone, with her husband a freelancer journalist Justin Lagat, and her daughter, Berylynn Jerotich, monitoring her progress from a trailing car.

“The race is to promote social distancing and it’s only my family who will be able to see me running.

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“I don’t expect anybody to cheer me while running,” said Kosgey, who names world marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei as her mentor.

After the race, she will be able to transfer data from her Garmin watch to her phone by paring to upload to a Garmin Connect App, before relaying the Garmin file to Sportstats, another App which compiles results.

The window for the race started on May 15 and will run until September 7 before the results are combined and final tally produced and a winner declared.

According to Kosgey, it’s a tricky affair to run alone and the high altitude will also be a challenge for the East African athletes compared to those who run in low altitude like Europe and Asia.

“I have done good training and I will be targeting to run a pace of three minutes and 30 seconds per kilometre, targeting 34 minutes in the race.

“But the problem with virtual running is that the altitude varies. Those of us at the high altitude will be record slower time compared to those who are in Europe and Asia,” added Kosgei.

Last year, Kosgey competed in the Family Bank Half Marathon in Eldoret where she emerged 15th before improving her performance at the Standard Chartered 10-kilometre race in Nairobi where she managed sixth place.

Kosgey said that her plan was to compete in Eldoret City Marathon which was also cancelled due to the virus leaving her with no option other than just to train to keep fit.

Embrace the technology

“I was in good shape this year and I was eagerly waiting to participate in the Eldoret City Marathon which I had high hopes of doing well. The virus stalled my plans and we just have to wait to be contained,” she said.

World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge says virtual run is the way to go during these hard times and athletes should embrace the technology because of the changing times.

“Things are really moving fast and technology is taking shape in the sport and virtual running is the only way to go as we wait for the virus to be contained,” Kipchoge said.

Two weeks ago, Kipchoge teamed up with half marathon record holder Geoffrey Kamworor and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s game rangers for a feel of the Lewa Safari Marathon route ahead of the June 27 virtual race prompted by cancellation of the actual race.

With additional reporting by AFP

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Footballer makes protest by taking a knee in Bundesliga

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By AFP

BERLIN

Marcus Thuram joined an array of sporting personalities in protesting racism in the United States when he took a knee after scoring for Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Thuram’s gesture echoed past protests by National Football League players in the US in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The issue has surged back into the headlines following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Thuram’s gesture was the second protest in the Bundesliga this weekend.

The 22-year-old French striker continued his recent hot form with two goals as Borussia Moenchengladbach beat visiting Union Berlin 4-1.

Because of social distancing rules, goal celebrations were muted but after Thuram headed his team’s second goal just before half time he took the opportunity to make a solitary statement, kneeling and bowing his head.

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At half time, his club tweeted a photo with the caption: “No explanation needed.”

After the game, Gladbach coach Marco Rose said Thuram had his backing.

“Marcus has made the point. He has set an example against racism that we all support,” Rose said.

Thuram, whose father, French World Cup winner Lilian runs the Education against Racism foundation in Paris, was the latest show of solidarity with the current protests sweeping the United States.

In the Bundesliga on Saturday, Schalke’s US midfielder Weston McKennie wore an armband against Werder Bremen bearing the words “Justice for George”.

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on to long feels good!!!” he tweeted.

On Saturday, in the United States, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said there “remains an urgent need for action” as violent protests rocked the country.

“The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel,” Goodell said. “As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league.”

Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown returned to his native Georgia to lead a peaceful protest match in Atlanta

“I drove 15 hours to get to Georgia, my community,” Brown said. “Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don’t exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community.”

NBA star LeBron James was among those who contrasted pictures of police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck with the kneeling protests of former NFL star Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

Kaepernick, who was ostracized by the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem in protest against racial injustice, has launched a fund to pay for legal representation for protesters who need it.

Serena Williams tweeted a video by Nike, which also sponsors Kaepernick, picking out the line: “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America.”

Two-time Grand Slam tennis champion Naomi Osaka posted pictures of protests from Minneapolis on her Instagram account.

“Just because it isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at all,” wrote Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and whose father is Haitian.

“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on too long feels good!!!” the 22-year-old tweeted.

On Instagram, rising US tennis star Coco Gauff, a 16-year-old African American, showed the faces of black Americans who died in recent years at the hands of authorities or white fellow citizens.

“Am I next?” Gauff asked.

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