The Long Hall
SUNDAY'S LONDON MARATHON had perhaps the most accomplished men's field ever. The featured runners included Kenya's Martin Lel, who won a sprint to the finish for his second London title in three years (in 2:07:41); defending champion Felix Limo, who was in the dash at the end and placed third; world-record holder Paul Tergat (sixth); and reigning New York City Marathon champ Marilson Gomes dos Santos (eighth), plus 2004 Olympic champ Stefano Baldini, former world-record holder Khalid Khannouchi and former half-marathon-record holder Haile Gebrselassie.
But for all the big names, the race will be remembered most for the performance of a neophyte—Ryan Hall, a 24-year-old from Big Bear Lake, Calif., who finished seventh in 2:08:24. It was the fastest time ever for both a U.S. runner making his marathon debut and an American-born marathoner. (Khannouchi, a native Moroccan who became a U.S. citizen in 2000, holds the U.S. record of 2:05:38.) "I'm surprised that it took me so long to figure it out," said Hall (above), who was the 2005 NCAA 5,000-meters champion at Stanford. "[The marathon is] the perfect event for me."
Until a year ago he had never raced more than 7 1/2 miles. When he entered his first half-marathon in January, he broke the U.S. record with a blistering 59:43 in Houston. Hall blew away 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi, one of Hall's training partners, in that race, but few figured he would stay with the elite runners in London. As Hall told the San Francisco Chronicle before the race, "I'm not going to do anything stupid to chase them."
April 29, 2007
Briefly on Sunday, everybody was chasing Hall. He took the lead at mile 21 and stayed near the front before fading down the stretch. (Keflezighi withdrew at mile 10 with a blister.) Next for Hall are the Olympic trials in November. "I really want to take a swing at a medal," he said. "My best shot is going to be in the marathon."
By federal prosecutors, bribery charges against Harvey McDougle Jr., the Toledo running back accused last month of participating in a point-shaving scheme. According to an FBI affidavit McDougle, 22, accepted cash and gifts, including a car, from a Michigan gambler in exchange for helping to line up players who would affect the outcomes of Toledo football and basketball games. (McDougle told the FBI that he received items of value but never changed the way he played.) Prosecutors said McDougle could be charged again in the future. "This is just a procedural matter," said a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney in Detroit. "The investigation continues."
At age 25, Croatia's Janica Kostelic, the most successful female Alpine skier in Olympic history. Kostelic (below) won four Olympic gold medals, was a three-time World Cup overall champion and is one of only three women to win events in all five Alpine disciplines. But in recent years she has battled injuries and illness; she has undergone 10 knee operations and three years ago took a six-month break because of a thyroid condition. "I have suffered so many injuries and pain and don't want to go through this again," said Kostelic, who also wants to devote more time to a beauty parlor she recently opened in Croatia.
At Shea Stadium, a Mets fan who allegedly shone a high-powered flashlight into the eyes of Braves players during Atlanta's win over New York last Friday. In the bottom of the eighth Frank Martinez, 40, was ejected from his seat behind home plate after Braves shortstop Edgar Renteria complained to umpires that Martinez was flashing a light in his eyes. Martinez, a former exterminator, was charged with reckless endangerment and interference with a professional sporting event; he pleaded not guilty and faces a year in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted.
Into the suburban Detroit house of Pistons guard Flip Murray, three shots, by what Murray told police were two masked gunmen. Upon returning home from a club in the early morning of April 16, Murray said, he went inside to use the bathroom but left his front door open so a friend who had followed in her car could enter the house. Murray said he then heard the woman screaming and ran to find the two gunmen in the doorway. Murray said he slammed the door, and one of the men fired three shots. Two hit the door and a third came through a window. Neither Murray nor his friend was injured. As of Monday, police were still investigating.
At age 61 of heart failure, George Webster, who in 1969 was voted by Michigan State fans as the best athlete in school history. He played roverback, which allowed him to line up at any spot on the field, and was a two-time All-America. A first-round pick of the Houston Oilers in 1967, Webster was the AFL Rookie of the Year and played 10 more seasons. Though plagued by injuries, which eventually cost him partial use of a hand, foot, knee and ankle, he did not qualify for total disability pay from the NFL. Webster sued the league, and the case ultimately went before the Supreme Court, where he lost. "He's in peace," former Spartans teammate Bob Apisa told the Lansing State Journal. "He's in a place where he doesn't have to suffer anymore."
At age 75 of a heart attack, Parry O'Brien (left), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the shot put. In 1951, as a USC sophomore, he was struggling to surpass 55 feet but then altered his form in a way that revolutionized the shot: He faced the back of the circle and thus turned his body 180 degrees when making his put instead of just rocking from one leg to the other. (The move was dubbed the O'Brien Glide.) The next year with a throw of 57' 1 1/4", he won gold at the Helsinki Games, a feat he repeated at the 1956 Melbourne Games. He twice graced the cover of SI.
In a car accident at age 73, Pulitzer Prize--winning author David Halberstam. Though he made his name covering wars and politics and, ultimately, as a historian, his first love was sports. The same relentless reporting and sensitive storytelling that made The Best and the Brightest (1972) the definitive account of the origins of the Vietnam war also made his seven sports books culturally significant as well as best sellers. Halberstam wrote with heart and facility about all sports. While probably best known for his baseball books (including Summer of '49 and October 1964), his chronicle of the Portland Trail Blazers' 1979--80 season, The Breaks of the Game, is still considered by many as the best book ever written about the NBA. In December 1991 Halberstam profiled Michael Jordan in SI's Sportsman of the Year issue, and two of his works—including his 2005 study of Bill Belichick, The Education of a Coach—were excerpted in the magazine. He will be missed around here.
They Said It
Devil Rays manager, after most of his players came down with a flulike bug:
"We have to really go to the fist bump today as opposed to the traditional handshake because that's a more sanitary way of showing gratitude or appreciation."
18 Seconds that Flames goalie Jamie McLennan played in Game 5 of Calgary's first-round series against Detroit.
22 Penalty minutes assessed to McLennan in Game 5 for slashing Detroit's Johan Franzen. The next day McLennan was suspended for five games by the NHL.
100 Career home runs by the Pirates' Jason Bay, the sixth Canadian-born player to hit that many in the majors.
127 Career ejections for Braves manager Bobby Cox after being tossed twice last week.
131 Career ejections for Hall of Fame manager John McGraw, the major league record.
5 Consecutive times that Rafael Nadal has beaten the world's No. 1 player, Roger Federer, on clay following his victory in Monte Carlo on Sunday.
0 Goals conceded in their first three games by the New York Red Bulls, the second team in MLS history to open the season with three shutouts.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Eight St. Louis police officers were suspended last week for using 2006 World Series tickets they had seized from scalpers.