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 Blake may not race at the world championships at all, having withdrawn from Jamaican trials last month due to injury.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

Italian curler roars after hitting shot to qualify for Olympics (video)

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Forgive Amos Mosaner for shouting, for he clinched Italy’s first Olympic curling qualification.

Mosaner’s double takeout in an extra end put Italy past Denmark 6-5 in the last-chance Olympic qualification tournament in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on Sunday.

He rushed down the ice after that last stone, tossed his broom aside, pumped his fist and roared into a group hug with teammates.

Skip Joël Retornaz returns to the Olympics after a 12-year absence. He skipped Italy’s team at the 2006 Olympics, where they earned an automatic berth as host nation.

“This has such a different taste,” the 34-year-old Retornaz said, according to World Curling. “Earning the right on the ice feels great. It feels like a dream for me.”

Denmark later did make the Olympic field as the last nation, beating the Czechs for the spot.

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MORE: List of Russia Olympic medals stripped; new Sochi medal standings

The Pyeongchang Olympic curling fields:

Men
Canada
Sweden
U.S.
Japan
Switzerland
Great Britain
Norway
Italy
Denmark
South Korea

Women
Canada
Russia
Switzerland
Great Britain
U.S.
Sweden
Japan
China
Denmark
South Korea

Mixed Doubles
China
Canada
Russia
U.S.
Switzerland
Norway
Finland
South Korea

Russia says its athletes want to compete at Pyeongchang Olympics

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russian athletes are overwhelmingly in favor of competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Games despite a ban on the national team, the country’s Olympic committee said Monday.

Sofia Velikaya said the Russian Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission, which she chairs, has heard from “all the athletes in all sports” on the Olympic program, with a majority in favor of competing.

Velikaya said no athletes have told the ROC they would rather boycott.

“At the current moment, everyone’s training and everyone’s hoping to take part in the Olympics,” Velikaya said.

The International Olympic Committee last week barred the Russian team from Pyeongchang because of doping offenses at the Sochi Olympics, but is allowing Russians to compete under a neutral flag as “Olympic Athletes from Russia.”

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the government won’t stand in their way.

ROC spokesman Konstantin Vybornov said teams from biathlon and snowboard had recorded videos affirming their desire to compete, while the men’s hockey team has written “a collective letter.”

Some Russian hardliners believe it is shameful for athletes to compete at the Olympics without their national flag. But Velikaya defended the athletes, saying everyone watching will know who is from Russia.

“The choice of competing at the Olympics is strictly individual,” Velikaya said. “I call on Russian society to treat athletes’ decisions with understanding and respect.”

With the IOC due to send out invitations to individual Russians over the next two months, Velikaya said Russian sports officials would put together lists of their preferred teams.

Those rosters, she said, would stop the IOC from inviting “numbers five and six” in the Russian team while leaving out genuine medal contenders.

Russia is pushing back against some IOC conditions, however, backing appeals by Russian athletes banned for doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Velikaya also said her commission will ask the IOC to remove a condition stopping athletes from being invited to Pyeongchang if they have been suspended for doping in the past.

That affects a few athletes with earlier offenses unconnected to the Sochi Olympics, including biathletes banned for using the blood-booster EPO and speed skating world champion Denis Yuskov, who was suspended in 2008 after testing positive for marijuana.

Forcing the Russians to compete as neutral athletes puts the IOC in the uncomfortable position of regulating how they celebrate.

The Russian flag won’t be flown at medal ceremonies, but what happens if a Russian winner accepts a flag or a gift from a spectator for a victory lap? Can Russian athletes fly the flag from their windows in the athletes village?

Those are on a list of questions Vybornov said Russia will ask of the IOC.

“A figure skater wins, let’s say, and they throw her a teddy bear in Russian uniform onto the ice,” Vybornov said. “She picks it up. Can she do that? Or is that an offense?”

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