HERE’S THE LATEST in the aches, pains & eligibility departments:
It will be a bit of a wait to see him wearing Team USA colors, but discus thrower Niklas Arrhenius has been granted a nationality switch from Sweden to the U.S.. The switch took place on March 24, but the former BYU star (PR 217-3/66.22) will not be eligible for U.S. teams until August 26, 2022, just before his 40th birthday.
Randall Cunningham fractured his tibia in winning the ’17 NCAA high jump title for USC, but he hasn’t competed since. His coach/father, former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, says that he is still rehabbing and the Olympic postponement “gives him time to heal up a little bit more and get adjusted to jumping again.”
In May, 2-time U.S. 5000 ranker Vanessa Fraser had surgery to correct Achilles problems along with bone spurs on both feet.
With Wisconsin slamming the door on the NCAA’s offer of another spring of eligibility, two Badger stars, both former NCAA champs, have turned pro: Aussie 1500 man Oliver Hoare and 5000 runner Alicia Monson.
At 13 months, Emily Infeld is celebrating her longest healthy stretch since her college days, but says “I’m taking a break now to heal some compensation on my right side.” she expects to be back training “in a month or two.”
NCAA 5000 champ Dani Jones will bypass her remaining eligibility at Colorado to turn pro.
High jumper Chaunté Lowe is cancer free and training, she reports. “I feel great. I’m to the point where I’m running times that I haven’t run in years. I’m able to lift weights that I haven’t lifted in a long time. I’m starting to feel like myself.”
After losing ’19 to bone spur surgery on a toe, LaShawn Merritt is back training. “It’s recovered,” he says. “I’m training. I had a great base training this season, and then this happened.”
Sandi Morris says she did not vault in the Ultimate Garden Clash because of a minor knee injury.
Clayton Murphy had a minor injury that sidelined him from running in March. He is planning to move back to Ohio this summer to work again with his college coach, Lee LaBadie.
After suffering for a year with Achilles pain, Allie Ostrander says that she took advantage of the postponed Olympic year to fix things: “I got a PRP injection which I hope will help me finally run pain free and restore balance to my stride. It was difficult to make the decision to voluntarily undergo a procedure that will take me out of running for 6 weeks.”
Three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein—still No. 3 on the all-time U.S. 5000 list, and No. 4 in the marathon—has retired at 37. His farewell race, it turns out, was the Olympic Trials Marathon, in which he DNFed.
Decathlete Garrett Scantling, 4th in the ’16 Trials, has returned to the sport after a failed attempt to catch on in the NFL, and is back training with Georgia coach Petros Kyprianou.
Olympic Trials marathon winner Aliphine Tuliamuk says she planned to start a family at the end of ’20, but with the postponement of the Olympics, will now wait a year.
Provisional suspensions for whereabouts failures have been handed out to a pair of World-Ranked U.S. women’s 200 stars, Deajah Stevens and Gabby Thomas. Said Thomas, “I am confident that at least one of these missed tests is not valid and that I will be completely cleared.”
On The International Front
Mariya Abakumova, the Russian who won the ’11 World javelin gold before losing it to a positive test, has completed her 4-year ban and says she is ready to compete again. She still needs to pay back her outstanding prize money, however.
One athlete who was happy with the Tokyo postponement was Polish javelinist Maria Andrejczyk, 4th in Rio. She hurt her Achilles early this year, so she says, “When the information came that the Olympics was postponed, I was delighted.” She also missed ’17 with shoulder surgery and also had a case of cancer in ’18 (from which she has since recovered).
Yohann Diniz, the ’17 World champ in the 50K walk, says he won’t be competing at all this season to prepare for ’21.
World shot champ Lijiao Gong is recovering from a knee injury.
Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi, a 9-time World Ranker, has recovered from a bout with COVID-19: “I am sure we have recovered because when the virus is in you, you feel it. I am much better now.”
4-time NYC Marathon champ Mary Keitany, 38, is still wrestling with a hip injury from a year ago. She is resting until it recovers, while she concentrates on working on the family farm.
Faith Kipyegon says she is now recovered from the hip injury she suffered at the ’19 Worlds in finishing 2nd in the 1500.
Olympic 400H silver medalist Bonface Mucheru says he has recovered from the tendon injury that has held him back since ’17. The Kenyan star is back training.
Albert Rop of Bahrain, the Asian 5000 record holder (12:51.96), has been banned for two years for whereabouts failures.
Former Georgia decathlete Karl-Robert Saluri (PR 8137) has retired at age 26. “Athletics is not a possibility anymore, as it doesn’t pay for anything,” said the Estonian. He is now looking for coaching work in the U.S.
Christina Schwanitz is able to do squats for the first time in four years. The ’15 World shot champion has had a radioactive substance injected into her knee to bring down inflammation.
Two-time shot world champ David Storl says the Olympic postponement works for him, as he is returning from a back injury. “I could only really start preparing again in December. And it is simply better if you have more than twelve months to prepare for the Olympic Games than if you did that within 6 months.”
Kenyan Daniel Wanjiru, winner of the ’17 London Marathon has been provisionally suspended for a biological passport violation.
Hammer queen Anita Włodarczyk again had surgery on her knee and has decided instead of retiring after ’20 (plan A) that she might continue through ’22. “This is my plan,” she says. “We’ll see what comes out of it.”
China’s Guowei Zhang, the ’15 WC silver medalist in the high jump, has retired at age 28.
4 years—Valentina Galimova (Russia, marathon), Bralon Taplin (Grenada, 400);
2 years—Albert Rop (Bahrain, 5000). □