updated 8:22 AM UTC, Oct 17, 2019

French happy with extra homework

France back rower Gregory Alldritt says the squad have taken full advantage of their extra time off to study their World Cup quarter-final opponents Wales in even greater depth, but have yet to uncover a new reason why they keep losing to them.

With their final pool game against England cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis, France will have had two weeks to prepare for Sunday’s showdown in the southern Japanese city of Oita.

“We’ve had more time than expected to study our opponents and to work,” Alldritt told reporters on Wednesday. “We will have had two weeks without a match but we had high-intensity training sessions at the end of last week and on Monday.

“We tried to replicate match conditions so as to get the best out of it. It wouldn’t be correct to say we’ve had too much time before this match. I’d be more inclined to say that we’ve had enough time. I hope we’ll be ready for this weekend.

Alldritt made his debut as a late replacement against Wales in the infamous Paris Six Nations game in February when his side blew a 16-0 lead to lose 24-19.

Sunday will be his 11th cap and he said he is still struggling to believe he is in Japan playing in a World Cup and not only that, but that his mobility and work-rate mean he has become the starting number eight ahead of the mighty Louis Picamoles.

“It probably still hasn’t sunk in what a journey I’ve been on,” he said. “Perhaps it will once the tournament is over when I see my family and friends. Two years ago I was playing in a reserves final in Federale 1 (for Auch in the French third division).”

Everyone in the French squad is painfully aware of their recent record against the Welsh - one win in their last eight matches - and Alldritt says there is no secret formula behind Warren Gatland’s team’s success.

“Every time we talk about Wales we say the same thing – this team have a clinical game, they do things simply but very well,” he said. “They never give up, they always maintain the same intensity for 80 minutes in big games.

“They also have good players in the back-row who can really impose their intensity. Justin Tipuric is the brains of that team towards the end of a match. He never gets tired.

“We’re not afraid, but we are wary.”

IOC plan to move Tokyo Olympic marathon to Hokkaido due to heat concerns

The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday announced a plan to move the marathon and race walking at Tokyo 2020 to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido from originally planned courses in the capital due to worries about heat.

The IOC’s statement said that it is planning to move the events to Sapporo, which will mean “significantly lower temperatures for the athletes during the Olympic Games.”

“Athletes’ health and well-being are always at the heart of our concerns,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

“The Olympic Games are the platform where athletes can give ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ performances, and these measures ensure they have the conditions to give their best.”

However, Tokyo 2020 organisers appeared to think the move was just a proposal and that further discussions would be had at their coordination commission meeting planned for the end of this month.

“Working closely with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will discuss this matter with the concerned parties at the upcoming IOC Coordination Commission meetings,” a Tokyo 2020 statement said.

The head of the International Association of Athletics Federations Sebastian Coe said his organisation will be working with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 on any new plan.

“(We) will continue to work with the IOC and Tokyo 2020 on the proposal to move the road events to Sapporo,” Coe said in a statement.

“Giving athletes the best platform for their performances within the environment they are in is central to all major events.”

Organisers had been looking for ways to protect athletes and spectators from Tokyo’s sweltering temperatures expected during next year’s Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Tokyo held a test marathon in September, featuring tents equipped with mist machines for spectators. Officials had also been planning to hold longer-distance races during cooler hours, but questions had persisted over whether such steps were enough.

Suffocating humidity and high temperatures at the recent world championship marathon in Doha proved gruelling despite a midnight start.

It was still 29.09 Celsius with 48.6% humidity at the start of the marathon and nearly a third of the 70 starters failed to reach the finish line, fuelling debate over athletes’ welfare.

Temperatures in Tokyo during July and August, when the city hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games, commonly exceed 30 degrees Celsius, with high humidity adding to the discomfort.

Sapporo’s temperatures during the period are as much as five to six degrees centigrade cooler during the day than in Tokyo, the IOC said.

The city will also host some Olympic soccer matches.

However, Kyodo News reported officials describing the move as coming “out of the blue.”

“We have practical experience with running big competitions such as the Hokkaido Marathon, but will that know-how translate to the Olympics?” a Sapporo official was quoted as saying by Kyodo.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics will run from July 24 - Aug. 9.

Kosgei among 11 nominees for female athlete of the year

Kenya’s marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgei was one of 11 nominees for the IAAF female athlete of the year, athletics’ governing body announced on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Kosgei finished the Chicago Marathon in two hours, 14 minutes and four seconds on Sunday to shatter Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old world record of 2:15:25, which the Briton had set in London.

American Dalilah Muhammad, who earlier this month broke her own world record to win the women’s 400 metres hurdles title at the world championships with a time of 52.16 seconds, was also nominated for the global honour.

Muhammad, 29, the 2016 Olympic champion, crossed the finish line 0.04 seconds faster than her previous world record which was set in July.

Other world champions included were Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech (3000 metres steeplechase) and Hellen Obiri (5,000 metres), Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (100m and 4x100m) and Briton Katarina Johnson-Thompson (heptathlon).

Sifan Hassan, Mariya Lasitskene, Malaika Mihambo, Salwa Eid Naser and Yulimar Rojas completed the list.

A three-way voting process will determine the finalists, with fans eligible to vote online on the IAAF’s social media platforms up to Nov. 5.

The male nominees were announced on Monday.

Athletes of the year will be announced at the World Athletics Awards in November.

Tiger to tell his 'definitive story' in memoir

Tiger Woods will write a memoir billed by the publishers as a “candid and intimate narrative of an outsize American life”.

A publication date was not given for “Back”, which is the first account from 15-times major winner Woods, 43, and is being written with the full cooperation of his friends, family and inner circle.

“This book is my definitive story. It’s in my words and expresses my thoughts. It describes how I feel and what’s happened in my life,” Woods said in a statement from HarperCollins Publishers on Tuesday.

“I’ve been working at it steadily, and I’m looking forward to continuing the process and creating a book that people will want to read.”

A child golfing prodigy, Woods went on to dominate the sport and has long since cemented his place as the greatest player of his generation and arguably of all time.

Since Woods turned professional in 1996 he has virtually redefined the game.

Not only did he usher in an era of multi-million dollar endorsements and lucrative appearance money, but his Afro-American-Asian background spread the sport to an audience far beyond its traditional image of male, white and middle-class.

Woods later went through a highly-public divorce in 2010 after revelations of his marital infidelities convinced him to take a self-imposed hiatus from professional golf, a DUI arrest in 2017 and multiple knee and back surgeries that convinced many his best days were behind him.

Yet Woods made a stirring return to the top of the sporting world in April when he triumphed at this year’s Masters for his first major victory in nearly 11 years.

Hamilton sees F1 title race going on beyond Mexico

Lewis Hamilton expects he will have to wait beyond Mexico, the next race on the calendar and one that could be a struggle for his Mercedes team, to secure his sixth Formula One world championship.

After finishing third in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, with his lead over team mate and now sole rival Valtteri Bottas reduced to 64 points, the Briton is finally in a position to wrap up the title.

Hamilton assured reporters he was in no hurry, however.

“For me, it’s never been a case of always wanting to rush things,” he said.

“I think Mexico is generally our worst race of the year because of the way our car is set up and it’s going to be a tough one for us. The last few have been pretty shocking, even though we’ve won the title there.

“I don’t anticipate it (the decider) will be Mexico. I think we will be battling for a good few races.”

Hamilton won his 2017 and 2018 titles at Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, which returned to the calendar in 2015 for the first time in 23 years.

There is no real doubt about who will be champion, just a case of when.

“Lewis will win it. Doesn’t matter which race. I don’t think it matters for him, does it? It wouldn’t matter to me,” said Ferrari’s four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel, second on Sunday.

With four races remaining, there are 104 points to be won when the extra point available for fastest lap is taken into consideration.

After Mexico on Oct. 27 it will be 78 and then, following Texas a weekend later, 52.

Hamilton needs to score 14 points more than Bottas in Mexico but he has done that only once this season — in Hungary when he won and the Finn was eighth.

Mercedes, who clinched the constructors’ title for the sixth year in a row on Sunday, have had eight one-two finishes in 17 races.

Hamilton and Bottas finished fourth and fifth in Mexico last year. In 2017, the champion was ninth while his team mate was second but in 2016 the Briton won in Mexico City.

The team’s worst race of 2019 so far was Germany, with Hamilton ninth and Bottas a non-finisher.

While Bottas celebrated his third victory of the season on Sunday, he is up against a man who has scored for 29 races in a row and been on the podium in all but three this year.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has won in Mexico for the past two years and Ferrari are also expected to be strong, so the maths would favour Texas as a more likely title-decider from the North American double-header.

Hamilton clinched his 2015 title in Austin.

“I’m hoping for a better weekend but I think it’s going to be very hard to beat the Ferraris with those long straights,” the Briton said of Mexico.

“We have no hope of getting by on those straights, that’s for sure but even if you look at the others, the McLarens are picking up some serious speeds on the straights, so are the Red Bulls so I think it will be a tricky one.”

Kipchoge, 10 others nominated for male athlete of year

Kenyan Eluid Kipchoge, who on Saturday became the first man to run a marathon in less than two hours, is one of 11 nominees for the IAAF male athlete of the year, athletics’ governing body said on Monday.

Kipchoge, who finished a special marathon in Vienna in one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds that will not be recognised for world record purposes, also was nominated for his London Marathon course record.

Ten winners from the recent world athletics championships in Doha also are under consideration for the global honour: Americans Donovan Brazier (800m), Christian Coleman (100m), Sam Kendricks (pole vault), Noah Lyles (200m), Christian Taylor (triple jump).

Also, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei (10,000m, world cross country title), Kenya’s Timothy Cheruyiot (1,500m), Bahamas’ Steven Gardiner (400m), Sweden’s Daniel Stahl (discus) and Norway’s Karsten Warholm (400m hurdles).

Female nominees will be announced on Tuesday.

Fans may vote online on the IAAF’s social media platforms.

Athletes of the year will be announced live on stage at the World Athletics Awards 2019 in November.

American Gauff wins first WTA title at age 15

American teenage sensation Coco Gauff became the youngest player to win a WTA title in 15 years as she beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the Linz Open final on Sunday.

The 15-year-old Gauff, who started the season ranked well outside the world’s top 600, beat Latvia’s Ostapenko 6-3 1-6 6-2 in a topsy-turvy contest.

She becomes the youngest WTA singles title holder since Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic claimed her maiden crown in Tashkent at the age of 15 in 2004.

Gauff raced to a 5-0 lead in the final set before Ostapenko rediscovered her rhythm to save two match points and hold on for 5-1.

Ostapenko went on to break Gauff at love to make it 5-2 but the American held her nerve to seal victory on her third match point.

It concludes a remarkable week for Gauff, who went from failing to win her qualifier to entering the main draw as a lucky loser.

Gauff made her opportunity count by beating Stefanie Vogele, Kateryna Kozlova, top seed Kiki Bertens and Andrea Petkovic to reach the final.

“I’m still overwhelmed and shocked,” Gauff told reporters. “I guess it’s crazy to say it’s my first WTA title.

“This was definitely not on the calendar at the beginning of the year, because I didn’t think I’d have a chance to get in, and now I’m the champion, so it’s crazy.

“My dad told me when I got in, before the first main-draw match ‘You can’t lose twice in the same tournament!’ I’m sure he never thought it would come this far, to being the champion, but I guess he was right.”

Gauff, whose popularity soared at Wimbledon when she beat Venus Williams on her way to the fourth round, is projected to move inside the top 75 in the WTA rankings on Monday.

Kosgei shatters Radcliffe's world record, Cherono wins men's race

Kenyan Brigid Kosgei broke Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record but former Alberto Salazar coached athletes, including Mo Farah, were never a factor in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Kosgei set a blistering pace from the start to run two hours, 14 minutes, four seconds and shatter Radcliffe’s previous record of 2:15:25 which the Briton set in London in April 2003.

“They (spectators) were cheering, cheering and I got more energy to keep faster,” said Kosgei, the defending Chicago champion who also won this year’s London Marathon.

Radcliffe witnessed the fall of her record.

“We always knew the time would come when the record would be broken,” said Radcliffe. “When I saw how fast Brigid was running in the first half of the race, I knew she had a good chance of getting the record.

“I’ve always said 17 is my lucky number and it was exactly 17 years ago to the day that I set my first world record here in Chicago.”

Kosgei’s record came a day after Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to run a marathon in under two hours but the mark, in Vienna, will not count for record purposes.

Ethiopians Ababel Yeshaneh and Gelete Burka finished more than six minutes behind Kosgei.

FARAH EIGHTH

Kenyan Lawrence Cherono sprinted past Ethiopian Dejene Debela to win the men’s race in two hours, five minutes, 45 seconds but British defending champion Farah placed eighth in 2:09.58 and previous winner Galen Rupp failed to finish.

The time was Farah’s slowest in a marathon by more than a minute. He was not available for comment.

Both Farah and Rupp were formerly coached by the now-banned Salazar as was American Jordan Hasay, one of the women’s favourites who also did not finish.

Rupp suffered a calf strain about the sixth mile and he was forced to drop out near the 23rd mile, his management company said in a statement.

Hasay felt a sharp pain in her hamstring after two miles, stretched and tried to continue, but was unable to, the statement added.

The race was the first for the three since Salazar was banned from the sport for four years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct”.

Salazar has said he plans to appeal against the ruling.

Debela was a second behind Cherono and fellow Ethiopian Asefa Mengstu took third in 2:05:48.

“Towards the end I felt like I could kick forwards, I still had enough energy to sprint and it’s amazing,” Cherono said.

“I am so happy. It’s my second major marathon and to come only a few months after Boston is brilliant.”

American Daniel Romanchuk overwhelmed the men’s wheelchair field to defend his title in an unofficial 1:30:26.

The 21-year-old finished more than three minutes ahead of British runner-up David Weir.

Swiss Manuela Schar also retained her title, the 34-year-old winning the women’s wheelchair race in an unofficial 1:41:08.

Former champion Tatyana McFadden took second in 1:45:22.

Kipchoge's marathon landmark could push faster times in Chicago, director says

Eliud Kipchoge’s sub two-hour marathon could push runners to set faster times in Sunday’s Chicago marathon, race director Carey Pinkowski said on Saturday.

“It sets a mindset for the athletes; they start thinking about fast and going faster, so maybe we’ll see some of that influencing them tomorrow,” Pinkowski told reporters.

Kenyan Kipchoge made athletics history in Vienna on Saturday when he became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours, clocking one hour 59.40 seconds.

Pinkowski said he would “have loved to have seen him here against Mo Farah and some of the athletes” in Chicago, adding that he hoped the 34-year-old Kipchoge, the 2016 Olympic champion, would one day return to the race where he claimed his first World Marathon Major in 2014.

“These one-off events, you know, it’s a moment in time and it would be great to see him,” said Pinkowski. “I can’t criticize the effort –- they have perfect conditions and perfect pace and everything came together.

“Hopefully we’ll get him back –- hopefully we’ll get him back here.”

Briton Farah is the defending champion in Chicago and Sunday’s race will also include 2017 winner Galen Rupp of the United States.

Yulo claims Philippines' first-ever gold at worlds

Carlos Edriel Yulo became the first ever Filipino gymnast to win a gold medal at the world championships, edging Israel’s Artem Dolgopyat in the floor exercise final in Stuttgart on Saturday.

Yulo, the youngest competitor in this year’s event at 19, consistently posted controlled landings to post an impressive score of 15.300 points - 0.1 more than second-placed Dolgopyat.

Raising the degree of difficulty from 6.2 to 6.5 paid dividends for Yulo as he outperformed Dolgopyat, who came into the final as the top qualifier.

“Last year, I was looking at my medal and I was like, ‘I will get the gold medal next year,’” Yulo said.

“(Looking at it now) It’s ridiculous. I don’t really know. I didn’t expect to win this medal. I’m very happy right now.”

China’s Xiao Ruoteng followed a disappointing fourth-place finish in Friday’s all-around final by claiming the bronze medal.

Tokyo-based Yulo improved on last year’s bronze medal, which made him the first Filipino ever to occupy a podium spot at the championships.

Yulo is enjoying a memorable week in Stuttgart, having punched his ticket for next year’s Tokyo Olympics with an 18th-place finish in the all-around qualifying.

Little over two hours after Yulo tasted glory, Ibrahim Colak struck gold in the rings final to hand Turkey their first-ever medal at the championships.

Colak earned a 14.933 to hold off a spirited challenge from Italy’s Marco Lodadio, who finished just 0.033 of a point behind.

“I’m so happy for this. I don’t know what can I say but I did,” Colak said. “Also, I have tickets for the Olympic Games now. This is will be the first time for me.”

France’s Samir Ait Said took the bronze medal, three years after he suffered a horrific leg break at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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