Ryan Hall leads best-ever elite field at L.A. Marathon

January, 27, 2015
Jan 27
Ryan HallAP Photo/Elise AmendolaRyan Hall is the biggest name in a fast field for the Los Angeles Marathon.
The American elite field at the 2015 Asics L.A. Marathon will be the largest in 30 year history of the race as the hosts of the 2015 United States Track and Field Marathon Championships. Athletes also will test the course and the city as part of their own preparation for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February 2016, also to be held in Los Angeles.

“This is shaping up to be one of the most competitive fields in the history of the marathon,” LA Marathon CEO Tracey Russell said. “On both a national and international level, the breadth of talent is at an all-time high to set the stage for a historic race.”

Ryan Hall, the fastest American marathoner in history with his 2:04:58 at the windy 2011 Boston Marathon, was the first elite athlete announced for the year’s race. He will be joined by his wife Sara Hall, making her marathon debut.

After his 2:17:43 debut at the Chicago Marathon, Northern Arizona Elite runner Matt Llano looks to rebound in his second crack at the 26.2 mile distance. He will run the 2015 Houston Half Marathon in preparation for the race. His 61:47 personal best in the half marathon was set there last year.

“There's a big learning curve with a race that long, and even though I received advice from some of the world's top marathoners before Chicago, there's something to be said for lessons that resonate better through experience,” Llano told ESPN.com. “I've been channeling those lessons I learned in Chicago to optimize my training and set myself up for achieving the goals I have for 2015.”

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ICYMI: Lindsey Vonn on her record win

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20

Lindsey Vonn joined "SportsCenter" to discuss becoming the women's World Cup record holder for race wins at 63, boyfriend Tiger Woods surprising her at the event and her successful comeback from injury:


Six more reasons to be envious of Gracie Gold

January, 12, 2015
Jan 12

Gracie Gold is the defending champion entering next week’s U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but that’s somehow not why she’s the envy of hordes of teenage girls across the country.

Not even close.

Over the weekend, Gold hung out on Catalina Island with her girlfriends Lorde, Jaime King, the sisters from Haim and Taylor Swift. Perhaps you’ve heard of them?

The ladies saw the sights, ate ice cream and generally looked to being having a much better time than you did doing whatever it was you were doing with your non-famous friends.

Gold and Swift, of course, go way back. Or at least all the way back to April when they publicly documented their night baking cookies and making funny faces together. As friends do.

Which U.S. city will win the 2024 bid race? We preview the candidates

January, 8, 2015
Jan 8
Marty WalshAP Photo/Steven SenneBoston Mayor Marty Walsh was part of a recent event held to generate interest in a 2024 Olympics bid for the city.
DENVER -- When the leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee meet Thursday, they'll be deciding on more than a city to put in the running to host the 2024 Summer Games. They'll be picking a partner that will help shape their future.

Leaders from Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington made presentations last month and will not be present while the 15 USOC board members debate the pros and cons of each offering at their meeting inside the terminal at Denver International Airport.

The board is expected to make a decision at this meeting, and when it's over, the USOC's mission will become a broader one. Yes, the No. 1 focus is giving athletes resources to get to the medal stand. But an Olympic bid is also a chance to evaluate the USOC's work in shoring up international relations, and that may quickly overshadow everything else.

The decision the USOC members are making is about more than weather, cool new venues and a catchy slogan. It's about showing international leaders they understand the International Olympic Committee's vision, including the new direction IOC president Thomas Bach pointed toward in his batch of reforms called "Agenda 2020," which is supposed to make the Olympics a more sleek, flexible and, in the best-case scenario, less-expensive endeavor.

The USOC asked all the cities to keep costs down, use facilities that were already in place and only build infrastructure the city would use even if it weren't hosting an Olympics. They all responded by presenting operating budgets under $5 billion and stressed frugality (in comparison to past Olympics, at least) in their presentations.

"It's an extraordinary partnership," said Robert Fasulo, an international sports consultant who served as chief of international relations for the USOC. "The USOC has to be confident they have the right people, who are sharing their vision and the IOC's vision, and sharing their goals and understand the importance of this."

Here's a look at the four cities and key leaders behind each proposal:


The city's leadership team is spearheaded by construction magnate John Fish -- not a flashy name outside of New England, but a well-connected businessman with experience in getting projects done. Boston has a plan that would lean on the cadre of colleges and universities in the metro area. It has some of the best sports tradition in the country, including the internationally renowned Boston Marathon. It also has a history of not delivering well on big projects -- see, The Big Dig. Question: How to ensure local harmony when you were the only city that had protesters on site of the USOC meeting where the presentations were made?

Los Angeles

Superagent Casey Wasserman is the big name here, though by some accounts, mayor Eric Garcetti made the biggest splash at the presentation. Los Angeles is trying for its third Olympics and ran its campaign that way. But will that message come off as, "We've Got Experience" or "Been There, Done That?" More than a quarter of the USOC board members have deep ties to Los Angeles, as does former chairman Peter Ueberroth, whose success in revitalizing the Olympic movement at the 1984 Games in L.A. still holds currency in the minds of some in the movement. Questions: Would a refurbished L.A. Coliseum still be a viable centerpiece, and how does Stan Kroenke's freshly publicized proposal to build an NFL stadium play into all of this?

San Francisco

Giants president Larry Baer has been out front in the quest to bring the Olympics to San Francisco. There are many who dream of placing the crown jewel of sporting events in this city. But politics and protests are unpredictable here. High tech and high style is San Francisco's pitch. Some dream of boat races running under the Golden Gate Bridge and golf at Pebble Beach. Others see dollar signs -- lots of them -- and hours on buses for an Olympics that, by necessity, would be sprawling. Question: For a city that unexpectedly dropped out of the domestic campaign for 2016 because of an imploded stadium deal, is it OK to be unsure of where opening ceremonies are and where track and field events will be held?

Washington, D.C.

One headliner is former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who commissioned a study that called for changes at the USOC after its last bout of turmoil a few years ago. Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is another big name. USOC leaders have long talked about finding ways to get the federal government more involved despite its ban on direct funding. Some believe the IOC wants to be a worldwide player more than just three weeks every two years, and what better place to do that than a city where the news cycle never ends? Question: Are Olympic leaders comfortable partnering with a city that has been historically harsh on them and would keep a steady glare on them for years?

Shawn Johnson, Jamie Anderson bond on 'Celebrity Apprentice'

January, 6, 2015
Jan 6

In a word full of “crazies,” aka Brandi Glanville, Kenya Moore, Kate Gosselin and Terrell Owens, gymnast Shawn Johnson and snowboarder Jamie Anderson are just doing their best to stay sane. The Olympic gold medalists, who are starring on the current season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” have clearly bonded in the midst of the chaos around them.

Me and @jamieanderson staying strong amongst all these crazies #weliketohavefun #celebapprentice

Una foto publicada por Shawn Johnson (@shawnjohnson) el

Despite getting into a fight this week with Vivica A. Fox about her menstrual cycle (SERIOUSLY), Johnson seems to be one of the more stable contestants on the show. But it’s early. And one thing about reality television is clear -- it can make anyone lose their mind.

Please stick together, Shawn and Jamie. You need each other! If it worked out for Katniss and Peeta in the “The Hunger Games,” it can definitely work with Donald Trump.

Bradley Wiggins to race Paris-Roubaix with Sky, then focus on Olympics

January, 5, 2015
Jan 5
Bradley WigginsDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesBradley Wiggins is committed to one more road race before eyeing more Olympic gold in 2016.
MILAN (VN) -- Olympic gold medalist and 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins will end his road cycling career with Sky at Paris-Roubaix on April 12 and switch to track racing ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“Everyone knows what this team means to me so I’m really pleased to extend my contract until the end of April 2015,” the 34-year-old Englishman said in a Sky press release Monday morning.

“I’ve been with Team Sky from the start. I’ve had some amazing experiences during that time and I hope there are a few more to come.”

Wiggins brought Sky 23 wins since he joined the team for its debut in 2010. In 2012, he reached a new high by winning stage races Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné en route to his Tour de France title. He went on to claim gold in the London Olympics time trial a week after winning the Tour.

In 2014, Wiggins won the Amgen Tour of California and focused on the Paris-Roubaix cobbled classic instead of the grand tours’ high mountain passes. He placed ninth and said afterwards he would return in 2015 to try to win again.

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L.A. Marathon director prepping for 2016 Olympic trials, possible 2024 bid

December, 23, 2014
LA MarathonAP Photo/Reed SaxonL.A.'s marathon course could act as a showcase for a possible 2024 Summer Olympics bid.
As Los Angeles begins work on a potential bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, Asics L.A. Marathon CEO Tracey Russell and other organizers are already preparing for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon on Feb. 16, 2016.

The course design for the trials has not been finalized, but may be revealed by the March 15 running of the 2015 LA Marathon. It is expected to be a criterium-style course with a two-mile first loop and then four six-mile loops run central to downtown Los Angeles.

“We originally wanted to do a course that would emulate [the 2016 Olympic course in Rio de Janiero], but as of a few months ago they did not have anything finalized,” Russell said during a recent conversation with ESPN.com. “We debated waiting for them or moving forward. With a major city like Los Angeles, we wanted to get all of the necessary approvals with plenty of time for athletes to come in and run some of the course.”

United States Track and Field and L.A. Marathon organizers decided to move forward and design a course that appeals to athletes, spectators and television. The course will feature Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where Joan Benoit Samuelson won the first women’s Olympic marathon in 1984.

“It’s being designed where we can showcase our runners and showcase our city,” Russell said.

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espnW's Impact 25: Olympians on the list

December, 18, 2014
Becky HammonBarry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images
Becky Hammon, former Olympian and WNBA star, broke new ground with the San Antonio Spurs earlier this year as the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history. It is why she tops espnW's annual Impact 25.

Click here to see the other Olympic athletes who made the list.

Meyers Taylor, Humphries on verge of history

December, 18, 2014
Kaillie Humphries, Elana Meyers TaylorJeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press/AP Images; Mike Groll/AP ImagesKaillie Humphries and Elana Meyers Taylor are set to compete in four-man bobsled this weekend in Calgary.
Katharin Dewey showed Elana Meyers Taylor and Kaillie Humphries the possibilities, decades before either was born.

Dewey started bobsledding in the mid-1930s, a woman competing against men before new safety rules prevented that from happening. It probably was no coincidence those rules were amended soon after Dewey outdrove all-male sleds at Lake Placid, New York for the national championship in 1940.

Her torch is now passed.

Meyers Taylor and Humphries will make history at Calgary, Alberta on Saturday, when they compete against men on bobsledding's top circuit, the World Cup tour. Meyers Taylor will drive a sled for the U.S. with three men along for the ride. Humphries will do the same for Canada.

[+] EnlargeElana Meyers
Leon Neal/AFP/Getty ImagesThis is the first World Cup season that bobsled's international governing body has defined what was called four-man bobsledding as gender neutral.
"This is my passion," said Humphries, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in women's bobsledding, where only two are in a sled. "It's what I love to do. I do this to be the best I can be. I don't do it to prove anything to anybody."

Still, that's exactly what will happen this weekend.

Neither Meyers Taylor nor Humphries is expected to win any four-person race this season. That's not an indictment of their skill; they're considered the best two women's drivers in the world, strong, speedy, explosive and powerful, the perfect mix for bobsledding. But since both will be driving the No. 3 sleds for their respective countries, they won't have the best equipment or pushers.

They'll get leftovers.

"The biggest thing is just proving that women can drive four-man sleds," Meyers Taylor said. "It's baffling to me that it's not just assumed. We're driving a sled. We do that. I don't know why it's such a big deal."

She knows exactly why it's a big deal.

This is the first season that bobsled's international governing body has defined what was called four-man bobsledding as gender neutral. Officially, the sport is still classified as four-man, though some are now calling it four-person in deference to Meyers Taylor and Humphries being part of the tour.

Rules allowing the coed sled were changed this fall, so it was a mad scramble for Humphries and Meyers Taylor -- the top two drivers, respectively, in both the women's World Cup standings and in the women's race at the Sochi Olympics last winter -- just to qualify for World Cup. To be certified for the top series, they needed to compete in five races on three tracks in a two-year span.

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Even Ashley Wagner is flipping out over Taylor Swift mystery man

November, 21, 2014

Ashley Wagner is a two-time U.S. figure skating champion, an Olympic medalist and a meme sensation, but it turns out she’s somehow really just like the rest of us normals.

On Friday morning, Wagner tweeted on the most important topic of our time, or at least of the hour. And by that I mean she gave a shout-out to the guy in Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” video. Obvs. And it probably reads exactly like something you saw your college roommate post on Facebook.

Ohhhh HEYYYYYY, indeed. Ashley Wagner: Woman of the people.

See something entertaining on social media that you think deserves to be shared? Let me know on Twitter, @darcymaine_espn.

Raisman, Wozniacki join fight against sexual assault

November, 18, 2014

Caroline Wozniacki and Aly Raisman teamed up with SB Nation and a handful of other professional athletes for a public service announcement called “It’s On Us.” Released on Monday, the spot urges viewers to help do their part to stop sexual assault. It’s the latest in a string of clips for the campaign, which has been publicly backed by President Barack Obama, and joins other entities like the SEC, the Oregon athletic department and the U.S. Military Academy that have also produced videos.

Now let’s just hope all these influential people and institutions can actually help get this crucial message across.

See something entertaining on social media that you think deserves to be shared? Let me know on Twitter, @darcymaine_espn.

Runners face 'hazardous' conditions in Beijing

October, 20, 2014
Beijing MarathonThe Yomiuri Shimbun/AP ImagesSome of the estimated 30,000 participants at the Beijing International Marathon weekend donned masks during the race.

Runners competed in this past weekend's Beijing Marathon despite "hazardous" conditions, according to multiple reports.

Runner's World reported that an estimated 30,000 people were expected to participate in Sunday's half marathon and marathon events, but some of the runners dropped out early or wore masks during the race.

One of those runners who dropped out mid-race was Chas Pope. He posted before and after pictures of his mask vis Twitter:

For more details around the Beijing race conditions, check out Competitor.com.

Beijing International MarathonReutersThe United States embassy in Beijing described the city conditions on its website as "hazardous."

Pistorius sentencing expected Tuesday

October, 20, 2014
Oscar PistoriusThemba Hadebe/AFP/Getty ImagesOscar Pistorius faces up to 15 years in prison after he was found guilty of culpable homicide.

STELLENBOSCH, South Africa -- Oscar Pistorius will finally learn his fate Tuesday when a judge is expected to announce the Olympic runner's sentence for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius could be sentenced to years in prison, or he could be given a suspended sentence and a fine and receive no jail time for shooting Steenkamp multiple times through a toilet cubicle door in his home.

More than seven months after Pistorius' trial started, Judge Thokozile Masipa will announce what punishment she has decided on after finding him guilty of culpable homicide, which is comparable to manslaughter, but acquitting him of murder.

Prosecutors have demanded at least 10 years in prison for the double-amputee athlete. His defense lawyers have suggested that three years of correctional supervision, with periods of house arrest and community service, would be appropriate.

Pistorius testified during his murder trial that he mistook Steenkamp for a dangerous nighttime intruder about to come out of the cubicle and attack him when he shot four times through the door with his 9 mm pistol. Judge Masipa last month ruled that Pistorius did not intend to kill Steenkamp, but he acted negligently and with excessive force in the Valentine's Day 2013 killing.

He was also convicted of unlawfully firing a gun in a restaurant weeks before Steenkamp's death. That normally carries a fine for a first offense, but has a maximum of five years in prison.

Masipa has a wide range of options available to her at the climax of the trial because there is no minimum sentence for culpable homicide.

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Who wants to host the 2024 Summer Games? Anyone?

October, 20, 2014
Marty WalshAP Photo/Steven SenneBoston Mayor Marty Walsh was part of a recent event held to generate interest in a 2024 Olympics bid for the city.
LONDON -- Rejected time and again for the 2022 Winter Olympics, the IOC will soon be seeking suitors for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

It will be hoping to attract a competitive, high-profile field to show there are cities that want to host the games rather than shun them.

Even before Oslo became the fourth city to drop out of the race for the 2022 Games, the International Olympic Committee had started reviewing its bidding system to make it more appealing and less expensive for future host cities.

Making the process more flexible -- allowing cities to tailor a bid to their own needs from the start rather than adhere to strict IOC requirements -- is central to IOC President Thomas Bach's "Olympic Agenda 2020" reform package.

Recommendations are being finalized this week at an IOC executive board meeting in Montreux, Switzerland.

Potential bidders for 2024 are waiting to see exactly what changes are being made. The new rules will be put to a vote at a special IOC assembly in Monaco from Dec. 8-9.

Bids will need to be submitted next year. The host city will be chosen in 2017. A look at some potential 2024 candidates:

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ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson discusses the testimony of a psychologist who called Oscar Pistorius a "broken man" as the Olympic runner's sentencing hearing began Monday: