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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Early Start For Atlanta Marathon

NEW YORK -- Track's world leaders have bowed to the concerns of runners and doctors and will start the men's marathon at this summer's Olympics in the morning, according to the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Word that plans to run the marathon in the heat of an Atlanta afternoon were about to be altered came unexpectedly from USOC president LeRoy Walker.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Walker said he had just emerged from a meeting in Atlanta where an IAAF vice president had presented a memo that the federation was ready to change the marathon start to the morning.

Officials of the IAAF, the international federation for the sport, said no final decision has been made, but they made it clear the federation was leaning toward a change.

Federation president Primo Nebiolo was viewed as the prime stumbling block in the move, having said repeatedly that the organization was aware of health concerns but wanted to honor tradition.

At the IAAF's headquarters in Monte Carlo, general secretary Istvan Gyulai said no final decision would be made until the federation's council meeting March 24-25 in Cape Town.

But Gyulai clearly indicated the IAAF was considering changing the marathon from the 6:30 p.m. start, when it could finish in the main stadium just before closing ceremonies, to the relative cool of a Georgia morning.

"Though we believe this Olympic tradition is very important, in no way does the IAAF want to jeopardize the health of the athletes. We are listening to medical advice," he said.

Since Atlanta was awarded the Games in 1990, runners have expressed concern about the timing of the marathon, traditionally the last medal of the Olympics.

Doctors have added concerns about race dangers on a typical Atlanta afternoon, with temperatures around 32 degrees Celsius and high humidity.

Walker also said the IAAF "was giving very favorable considerations to making changes that would permit" American sprinter Michael Johnson, who was named the USOC's Sportsman of the Year on Wednesday, to bid for unprecedented gold medals in the men's 200 and 400 meters.

Skier Picabo Street was honored as the 1995 Sportswoman by the USOC.