Tuesday June 1st, 2010

Look for an official announcement Wednesday that Haile Gebrselassie, the fastest marathoner in history, will make his U.S. marathon debut in New York on Nov. 7. He plans to run with 1,200 school kids this week to celebrate National Running Day in New York, and his official announcement should follow.

The 37-year-old Ethiopian legend has run two half marathons in the Big Apple, most recently this spring, and has built an affinity for both the city and the New York Road Runners organization that stages the race. He hinted during a visit to New York last month that he might like to run the New York Marathon before his career ends, calling it "the top event" among international marathons.

Gebrselassie has won nine marathons, setting the world best for the distance two times. He ran two hours, four minutes, 26 seconds in 2007 and set the existing mark of 2:03:59 in 2008. He has set world records, since broken, for both 5,000 and 10,000 meters. He won the 10,000 meters at the Olympics in 1996 and 2000 and also won that event four times at the world outdoor championships before switching to the marathon distance. His world indoor championships include three titles at 3,000 meters and another at 1,500.

The commitment from Gebrselassie would be a huge coup for NYRR President Mary Wittenberg, who has been luring one of history's greatest distance runners for some time. Wittenberg attended the opening of Gebrselassie's hotel in Ethiopia last month and when Gebrselassie first signed on for the New York half-marathon in 2007, he recalled telling his Dutch agent Jos Hermans, who was negotiating his appearance fee, "Whatever happens with the money, if Mary is organizing it, we go."

Wittenberg also successfully snagged Britain's Paula Radcliffe after Radcliffe set the world best of 2:15:25 in 2003. The Brit has since run in New York four times, winning in 2004, 2007 and 2008.

• One of the oldest U.S. track and field records fell over the weekend, as high jumper Chaunte Howard-Lowe leapt 2.04 meters (6'8") to beat the 2.03 (6'7") set by Louise Ritter in 1988, the same season in which Ritter pulled a stunning upset by winning the Olympic gold medal in Seoul.

Lowe, who made three Olympic teams, won a silver medal at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki, becoming the first U.S. woman to earn a world medal in the event in more than 20 years. She had a child in 2007 and finished sixth at the Beijing Olympics the following year, clearing 6'6".

• It's been a banner season to date for Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, who are solidifying their hold at the top of the beach volleyball world. The 2008 Olympic champions won their third competition in four tournaments on the international circuit this past weekend, capturing the Myslowice Open in Poland. Rogers and Dalhausser needed just 36 minutes to topple Spain's Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera 21-15, 21-13 in the finals. They won tournaments in Brasilia and Rome earlier this season.

• Weightlifter Kendrick Farris set a new American record in the clean and jerk competition in the 85-kilometer class at the Pan Am Championships on Saturday in Guatemala. The entertaining Farris, 23, had the best snatch of the event with a lift of 159kg, one kilogram shy of his result at the 2008 Olympics, where he placed eighth. On his second clean and jerk, Farris broke his previous U.S. record of 202kg with his 203kg lift.

The heavily tattooed LSU-Shreveport student also produces videos and performs in stand-up comedy, which require considerably less heavy lifting.

• Fast-rising U.S. judoka Kayla Harrison captured her first career world cup title on Sunday when she won the 78-kilometer class at the Sao Paulo World Cup in Brazil. Harrison, 19, grabbed her third international medal of the season by toppling Canadian veteran Amy Cotton, Olympic silver medalist Yalennis Castillo of Cuba and hometown favorite Mayra Aguiar of Brazil.

Harrison has already enjoyed great domestic success, having been nationally ranked in seven weight divisions during her progression. The junior world champ in 2008 also won the U.S. Olympic trials in 2008, but could not compete in Beijing because the country failed to qualify a spot in her weight category. She is among a group of judo athletes training with former world champ Jimmy Pedro and Team Force in Wakefield, Mass.

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