Tyson Gay wins U.S. 100m title with world’s best 9.75

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Last year it was Justin Gatlin beating Tyson Gay to the tape at nationals, and then again in London, when Gatlin finished third to Gay’s close fourth.

But on Friday night those roles were reversed in Des Moines, as Gay burned down the track in 9.75 seconds to beat his own 2013 worlds best and clock the tenth fastest time in 100m history.

“That went good,” Gay told reporters, smiling wide. “I was a little bit sluggish in the second round. I think the heat got to me a little bit. But I tried to put it together in the finals… it still worked out okay.”

Gay actually ran 9.75 in the semis as well, but that time was officially wind-aided. Still, the 2007 world champ was impressed by his performance, surging to catch Gatlin from behind after getting a bad jump out of the starting blocks.

“I’m feeling a lot better. I feel a lot stronger. My finish is a lot stronger. I have a good base under my belt. My coach says don’t run fast in the semis, you can come back in the finals, so I felt confidence in him saying that. That gave me a little confidence going into the finals even though I was a little tired.”

Meanwhile, Gatlin clocked a dangerously fast 9.89 Friday, 0.05 faster than when he beat Bolt in Rome only a few weeks ago, despite the fact that Gatlin was dealing with a mild hamstring strain in Iowa. Charles Silmon, a 21-year-old world junior silver medalist from TCU finished third in 9.98.

All three are likely threats for the finals in Moscow, where they’ll face world record holder Usain Bolt, who took the Jamaican 100m title in a breezy 9.94 mere minutes after Gay won in Des Moines, and against defending world champ Yohan Blake, who sat out nationals to rest a hamstring injury.

“I know it’s going to sound really patriotic, but it’s not about one person,” Gatlin said. “It’s about a team collectively. That’s what [the Jamaicans] have done these past few years, they’ve worked as a team.”

Yuzuru Hanyu opens Olympic season with record score

Yuzuru Hanyu
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A sore knee didn’t hold Yuzuru Hanyu back. A record score to open his Olympic season.

The Olympic and world champion from Japan hit a pair of quadruple jumps in his short program at the Autumn Classic, a lower-level event in Montreal.

He was rewarded with 112.72 points, the highest short program score recorded under the 13-year-old judging system. Video is here.

It looked like a home competition for Hanyu.

Upon finishing, he bowed toward one set of bleachers (maybe a dozen rows) at the Sportsplexe Pierrefonds. More than two dozen Japanese flags made it hard to see most of the faces.

He bettered Javier Fernández, a two-time world champion and training partner, by 11.52 points. Fernández also landed two quadruple jumps to tally 101.2.

Full scores will be here upon the conclusion of the short program. The free skate is Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A live stream is here.

Hanyu now owns the three highest short program scores under the 13-year-old system. The other two were set in the 2015-16 season.

Showdowns like Hanyu-Fernández are usually reserved for, at the earliest, the Grand Prix series in late October and November.

Hanyu and Fernández are very familiar with each other, having shared a coach in Canadian Brian Orser, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, since 2012. They train in Toronto.

In that time, Hanyu became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic title (and the second teen from any nation to do it). He followed it up with world titles later in 2014 and this year.

Fernández achieved unfathomable success for a Spanish skater — world titles in 2015 and 2016, overtaking Hanyu in the free skate both times.

In PyeongChang, Hanyu can become the first man to repeat as Olympic champion since Dick Button in 1952. Fernández can become the third Spaniard to earn a Winter Olympic medal of any color in any sport, and the first since 1992.

The figure skating season continues next week with Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, the final Olympic qualifying competition. North Korea could clinch its first spots in any sport for the Olympics in the pairs event.

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USOC letter assures Olympians about South Korea security

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The U.S. Olympic Committee’s security chief sent a letter to potential Winter Olympians saying there are no indications that recent developments between the U.S. and North Korea have compromised security in South Korea.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press shortly after it was sent Friday, makes no suggestion that the U.S. is considering skipping the PyeongChang Winter Games for security reasons.

But Chief Security Officer Nicole Deal does write that provocations that have been volleyed between the United States and North Korea are likely to persist for the foreseeable future, and “should not be dismissed as insignificant nor feared as precursors of an inevitable conflict.”

The letter comes at the end of a week in which France’s sports minister suggested the country’s athletes would stay home if security could not be guaranteed.

The International Olympic Committee, trying to calm concerns, reiterated that in conversations with high-level officials in China and South Korea, none have expressed doubt about the Winter Games proceeding as scheduled, next February.

The USOC also sent out a public statement Friday from CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We will continue to work with our State Department and local organizers to ensure that our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe,” he said.

The letter, sent to athletes, national governing bodies and other Olympic leaders in the United States, said the USOC’s security division is operating as “business as usual for our security planning and preparations.”

Deal writes that the USOC is reviewing crisis management plans that address a range of potential scenarios “to ensure our athletes, and our entire delegation, are safe.”

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