Usain Bolt

Video: Usain Bolt wins Paris 200 meters in world-leading time

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Usain Bolt took back the world lead from Tyson Gay in the 200 meters, winning in 19.73 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Paris on Saturday night.

Gay was not in the field at Stade de France, nor was Olympic silver medalist Yohan Blake.

Still, anything less than a world-leading time from Bolt would have thrown more doubt over his favorite status as August’s world championships draw closer. Gay ran a 19.74 to win U.S. nationals in June and owns the two fastest 100-meter times in the world this season.

Bolt benefited from running in lane six Saturday, having Jamaican teammate and Olympic bronze medalist Warren Weir (second in 19.92) to pace off of in lane seven. Still, Bolt admitted he didn’t run the turn as well as he would have liked in a post-race interview on French TV.

Bolt also confirmed after the race he will compete in London’s Olympic Stadium on July 26-27, a Diamond League meet being dubbed the Anniversary Games one year after the Olympics.

Gay, Blake and Bolt are not expected to race against one another until the world championships. Blake may not race at the world championships at all, having withdrawn from Jamaican trials last month due to injury.

Videos: Bolt shows off DJ, dance, soccer skills in Paris

Other highlights from Paris:

Women’s 100: Two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (10.92) held off Nigerian Blessing Okagbare (10.93), both running season’s bests with a slight headwind. Okagbare was going for a rare feat over seven days after winning a 200 in Birmingham, England, on Sunday and a long jump in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday.

The Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure (11.01), Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste (11.10) and U.S. champion English Gardner (11.13) rounded out the top five. Gardner had run a 10.85 to win nationals and a 10.96 to win the NCAA title for Oregon in June.

Baptiste still owns the world lead in 10.83, but this was a positive performance from Fraser-Pryce, who looks to be in the driver’s seat heading toward worlds.

Men’s 110 hurdles: Olympic champion Aries Merritt erased any concerns over his third-place finish at nationals by winning in 13.09, a season’s best for the world-record holder by .14.

Merritt’s teammates at worlds, David Oliver (13.13), Ryan Wilson (13.15) and Jason Richardson (13.22), were third, sixth and seventh, respectively. 2008 Olympic champion Dayron Robles, who won’t run at worlds due to a dispute with Cuba’s federation, was ninth (last place) in 13.40.

Men’s 400: Grenada’s Kirani James (43.96) ran his second-ever sub-44 race to win over American rival LaShawn Merritt (44.09) in another battle of the last two Olympic champions.

James now owns the two fastest times of the season, pairing the 43.96 with a 44.02, while Merritt set a season’s best with the 44.09. James, 20, is the only non-American to go sub-44. Michael Johnson has done it a record 22 times.

It should be a two-man show at worlds. Nobody else has run within six tenths of a second of James and Merritt this year, according to IAAF.

Notes: Ethiopian triple Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba — the Baby-Faced Destroyer — won the women’s 5,000 in a world-leading 14:23.68, beating a field that included her sister Genzebe. … British Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford injured his hamstring, the same body part that took him out at 2011 worlds. “Looks like bad news people. The old injury strikes. Hamstring pull,” he tweeted.

Meet the college student going on Twitter date with Lolo Jones

U.S. Figure Skating Championships pairs preview

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 02: Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea of the United States react after completing their routine in the Pairs Free Skate on Day 6 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016 at TD Garden on April 2, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The U.S. pairs field opened up when Alexa Scimeca and Christopher Knierim, the top American team internationally in recent seasons, pulled out of the national championships due to Scimeca’s September stomach surgery that kept them out all fall.

“Without Scimeca and Knierim, I don’t think the United States has a team that can challenge for the top six, or some moments, even the top 10 in the world,” NBC Olympics analyst Johnny Weir said. “Scimeca and Knierim are, far and away, the best team in the United States.”

The remaining field this week is led by Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea, who upset Scimeca and Knierim for last year’s national title.

Kayne and O’Shea followed that up with the exact same finishes in the fall Grand Prix series as a year ago, opening up a question of whether they can repeat in Kansas City. Kayne’s knee injury hasn’t helped matters.

Enter Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, who missed all of last season due to Denney’s knee surgery. They were looking strong until their most recent lower-level event in December, where they were fourth and finished behind another American pair, Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc.

Regardless of the two pairs that advance from the U.S. championships to the world championships in two months, it’s clear the U.S. is still lacking consistency in its weakest of the four disciplines.

None of the contending pairs after Kayne and O’Shea and Denney and Frazier have spent two full season together.

“Breakups, makeups, partner changes, coaching changes,” Weir said. “There’s a very high divorce rate within the pairs community of the United States compared to the rest of the world, where teams stick it out through thick and thin. As soon as the going gets tough for the U.S. pairs, they break up.”

Thursday
Pairs short program — 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Saturday
Pairs free skate; free dance — 3-6 p.m. ET, NBC

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule

Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea
Ages: 23/25
Hometown: Ellenton, Fla.
2016 U.S. champions
13th at 2016 World Championships

Kayne and O’Shea fell to the No. 2 U.S. pair at last year’s worlds, behind Scimeca and Knierim, who were ninth. In the fall, they had the third-best total score among U.S. pairs, nearly 20 points behind Denney and Frazier.

Johnny Weir’s Take: They haven’t had the most successful international season. They are coming in as defending national champions, which is a huge amount of pressure.

Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier
Ages: 21/24
Hometown: Canton, Mich.
2015 U.S. silver medalists
2014, 2016 Skate America silver medalists

Denney and Frazier came back after a full season off and repeated their best senior international result, a second place at Skate America in October. Their total was a full 16 points better than the next-best U.S pair this season. Denney and Frazier were 2013 World junior champions but hope to better their only senior worlds finish, 12th in 2015.

Tara Lipinski’s Take: Obviously, in American pairs, we haven’t been the strongest in the world. But if you’re going to look at who’s holding us up right now, it’s Denney and Frazier.

Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran
Ages: 26/26
Hometown: Montreal
2016 U.S. bronze medalists
Castelli: 2013, 2014 U.S. champion with Simon Shnapir

Castelli, a 2014 Olympian and team event bronze medalist with Shnapir, paired with Tran two years ago, but their first full season wasn’t until 2015-16. They finished sixth at the 2015 U.S. Championships and earned bronze last year, just missing the two-pair world championships team.

Tara Lipinski’s Take: Last year, I was so excited when they were such a new pair. So much to learn and getting to know each other. Marissa, looking back at her Olympic experience, I think she’s such a firecracker. I think she’s meant to be a competitive, winning pairs skater. You hope that this matchup can be right.

Deanna Stellato/Nathan Bartholomay
Ages: 33/27
Hometown: Ellenton, Fla.
Stellato: 2000 World junior silver medalist (singles)
Bartholomay: 12th at 2014 Olympics with Felicia Zhang

It’s not often in pairs where the woman is six years older than the man, but this team is truly unique. Stellato was the 2000 World junior silver medalist but ended her singles career as a teen due to injuries. After more than a decade away from competition, she joined the 2014 Olympian Bartholomay before this season. The duo has the fifth-highest score this season of the pairs in the U.S. Championships field.

Johnny Weir’s Take: Deanna was one of my favorite skaters when I was little. We traveled together on the Junior Grand Prix, and I always loved watching her. Having seen a couple of small video clips of them, I’m excited to see how they develop and how they perform underneath the bright lights. She has a very wonderful, experienced partner.

Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc
Ages: 21/26
Hometown: Euless, Texas
Cain: 2011 U.S. junior champion with Joshua Reagan

Cain and LeDuc may be the hottest team going into nationals. They outscored Denney and Frazier at a lower-level event last month with their best score in three lower-level events this season.

MORE: Olympic pairs champions skip 2016-17 season

Jamaica bobsled team crowdfunds for new coach

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 14:  Winston Watts of Jamaica pilots a run during a Men's Two-Man Bobsleigh training session on day 7 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Sanki Sliding Center on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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The Jamaica bobsled team is asking for $60,000 to hire a coach through a crowdfunding campaign.

The Jamaicans hope to qualify men’s and women’s bobsled teams for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which will mark the 30-year anniversary of their Olympic debut in Calgary, which inspired the 1993 Disney film “Cool Runnings.”

“We have the talent, the discipline and the determination, needed to contend in the 2018 Winter Olympics,” was written on the crowdfunding page. “With a coach on staff we believe we can not only contend for a medal, but also bring a medal home, and commemorate this outstanding achievement.”

The Jamaicans can attempt next season to qualify for the Olympics. It will not be easy. Jamaica has zero World Cup results this season, a best finish on the lower-level North American Cup of seventh and was briefly stranded in Canada.

Jamaica bobsled returned to the Olympics in Sochi, for the first time in 12 years, and was the last of 29 finishers in the two-man race.

That driver, Winston Watt, turned 49 years old in December and is no longer competing with the Jamaican program.

The new Jamaican program athletes include Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, a 2014 U.S. Olympic driver, and Michael Blair, a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers in 1998.

The Jamaicans recently had a coach, hiring U.S. Olympian and coach Todd Hays in July 2014.

MORE: Bobsled, luge, skeleton season broadcast schedule