Usain Bolt looking for a fresh start in Rome

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World record sprinter Usain Bolt is hoping for a fresh start to the season in Rome this week after a disappointing showing in the Cayman Islands, where, despite winning, he ran only 10.09 seconds in the 100m; his slowest time in the finals of an event since joining the senior circuit.

“I did have a bad performance but we went back to the drawing board and worked out everything. We figured out what went wrong. I’m confident now,” Bolt told the Daily Record on Tuesday. “It’s a long season. Last season started badly also, so I’m just going to keep working.”

Bolt’s season has also been slowed by a mild hamstring strain that kept him out of his home meet in Kingston. He was replaced in the race by top rival Tyson Gay, who went on to run a world’s best for the season, winning in 9.86 seconds.

“My hamstring is much, much better now,” Bolt explained. “I’m training hard and hopefully everything this season will continue to be good… I’m looking forward to going out there and doing my best.”

Bolt is aiming for his third straight win in Rome, after taking the title in 9.91 seconds in 2011, and 9.76 seconds after a similarly slow start to last season, which ended with three more golds at the Olympics.

The six-time gold medalist top competition this week will be Athens gold and London bronze medalist Justin Gatlin, who ran a wind-aided 9.88 seconds last weekend in Oregon at the Prefontaine Classic, and Gatlin’s American teammate Mike Rodgers, who came in at 9.94 seconds in the same race.

“I never worry about one athlete,” Bolt said. “The big championship is always the big thing or me. He’s done a lot this season already but for me it’s when you show up and show that you’re the best at the big championships and that’s what I do, so I’m not really worried.”

Katie Ledecky wins by 28 seconds on 21st birthday to close NCAAs

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Katie Ledecky capped her second NCAA Championships with a win by 28 seconds in the 1,650-yard freestyle on her 21st birthday Saturday.

Last year, Ledecky lapped all but one swimmer through 1,000 yards of the 1650 final and won by 21.19 seconds.

Earlier this week, Ledecky anchored Stanford to an 800 freestyle relay title and won the 500 free by a record margin of more than eight seconds.

Then on Friday, teammate Ella Eastin beat Ledecky by 3.69 seconds in the 400 individual medley, an event that Ledecky never swims on the major international level. Eastin broke Ledecky’s NCAA record by 1.93 seconds.

Ledecky hasn’t discussed with Stanford whether she will return for her junior season or turn pro, according to the school.

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Mikaela Shiffrin wins final slalom for best career season (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin won her 12th World Cup race this season and seventh slalom, both personal bests, at the World Cup Finals in Are, Sweden, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, who clinched her second World Cup overall title and fifth slalom season title before the last races of the campaign this weekend, prevailed by 1.58 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener. PyeongChang gold medalist Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was third.

“The slalom has always been really close to my heart,” said Shiffrin, who won the last two slaloms this season after a shocking fourth-place finish in PyeongChang. “To finish with a run like that was super special.”

Full results are here.

Shiffrin matched Lindsey Vonn‘s American record for World Cup wins in one season — 12 — with one more race Sunday. Only Swiss Vreni Schneider has more women’s World Cup wins in a single campaign with 14.

Shiffrin, who turned 23 on Tuesday, also moved into solo fifth place on the women’s World Cup wins list with 43, including 23 victories in the last two seasons.

If Shiffrin keeps it up, she can move into the top three next season, though Lindsey Vonn‘s record 82 is a ways off.

“I’m not thinking about that so much,” Shiffrin said. “It’s way too soon to set that as my goal.”

Shiffrin is also three World Cup slalom wins shy of the record 35 held by retired Austrian Marlies Schild, whom Shiffrin supplanted as the world’s top slalom skier in 2013.

The World Cup Finals conclude Sunday with the women’s giant slalom. Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will air live coverage of the second run at 7:30 a.m. ET.

“After today I’m really looking forward to going to the start one more time this season and hammering down,” Shiffrin said.

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