Mo Farah, Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt returns to London Olympic Stadium; Diamond League preview

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They’re calling it the London Anniversary Games. This week’s Diamond League meet bears extra significance, the first world-class track and field competition held at London’s Olympic Stadium since the flame was extinguished last summer.

Several track and field stars are either injured or pretty much done for the season after failing to qualify for the world championships (Aug. 10-18, Moscow). Most of those still standing will compete in London on Friday or Saturday, including Usain Bolt, Allyson FelixMo Farah and Jessica Ennis.

Here’s a chronological rundown of key events to watch (coverage begins on Universal Sports on Friday, 3 p.m. ET):

Women’s 1,500 meters (Friday, 3:36 p.m. ET)

Mary Cain is the headliner here. Cain, 17, the sensation of the indoor season, makes her senior European debut in the event in which she qualified for worlds.

Cain made the U.S. team by finishing second in a tactical final at nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, in June to training partner Treniere Moser, who is running the 3,000 on Friday.

She has a great chance of winning this race given the highest-ranked woman (according to IAAF) in the field this year is No. 16 Mary Kuria of Kenya (4:03.56). Cain is No. 24 at 4:04.62.

Also in the field is American Morgan Uceny, who was the world No. 1 in 2011 but finished eighth at nationals.

Men’s 100 meters (Friday, 4:48 p.m. ET)

A lot has changed since Bolt last ran a 100, winning the Jamaican nationals on June 21 to qualify for worlds.

Now out of the picture are Olympic silver medalist Yohan Blake (injury), American record holder Tyson Gay (drug test) and former world record holder Asafa Powell (drug test).

The consensus is only one man is left to challenge Bolt in Moscow, if anybody, and that’s 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, who is not in this field in London.

However, there are two men in Friday’s 100 who have run faster than Bolt this year — countryman Nesta Carter and British upstart James Dasaolu.

Carter, a longtime partner on Jamaica’s 4×100 relay squad, is suddenly the active 2013 world leader with a 9.87, but he didn’t make the Jamaican team for the 100 at worlds. Dasaolu became the second fastest Brit ever (behind 1992 Olympic champion Linford Christie) when he ran a 9.91 at British nationals earlier this month.

Still, it would be surprising to see Bolt lose here, two weeks before the world championships. He may even have his eyes on Gay’s fastest time this year of 9.75, a time we may see expunged pending his drug-testing case.

Women’s 100-meter hurdles (Saturday, 9:11 a.m. ET)

American fans must get up bright and early to catch a glimpse of the biggest female track and field star of the 2012 Olympics — heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis.

Ennis has been battling an Achilles injury since the spring, putting major doubt into her status for not only this meet but also the world championships.

She appears ready to go after setting a personal best in the javelin at a low-key meet earlier this week. Ennis is also in the long jump field Saturday.

Another Olympic champion on the way back from injury is the London gold medalist in this event, Australian Sally Pearson. Pearson, like Ennis, has been set back since the spring. Her ailment has been a hamstring.

Dominant in 2011 and 2012, Pearson has been slow in a handful of meets over the last two months. Her season’s best — 12.67 — is well off her personal best (12.28) set at 2011 worlds and even farther behind the world leader for 2013, U.S. champion Brianna Rollins (12.26). Rollins pulled out of Monaco last week because she her managers didn’t want her to face Pearson before worlds, according to Australian reports.

Rollins is not in the field Saturday, but the third- and fourth-place finishers from U.S. nationals are — Nia Ali and Kellie Wells. They, along with Brit Tiffany Porter, will give Pearson more than enough competition.

Men’s 110-meter hurdles (Saturday, 11:07 a.m. ET)

This event has been one of the most exciting and star-studded of all of track and field for the last few years. We’ve seen the balance of power shift from China to Cuba to three different American men.

Saturday’s showdown will be overwhelmingly red, white and blue. In the field are 2013 U.S. champion Ryan Wilson, former American record holder David Oliver, 2011 world champion Jason Richardson and 2012 Olympic champion Aries Merritt

All four men are going to worlds, so this should be a nice Moscow preview. 2008 Olympic champion Dayron Robles was originally in this event, but as of Thursday afternoon was no longer on the entry list.

The top non-American here is another Cuban, Orlando Ortega, who ran a 13.08 in Eugene, Ore., in June. Only Oliver has run faster this year.

Women’s 100 meters (Saturday, 11:20 a.m. ET)

This sprint isn’t getting the pre-meet talk because it doesn’t include Bolt or a British star, but it just may be the best field of the competition. All the major players going into worlds are here.

From the U.S., there’s national and NCAA champion English Gardner and 2011 world champion Carmelita Jeter. They could both use impressive times here, given Gardner ran an 11.32 in her European pro debut earlier this month (after winning nationals in 10.85). Jeter hasn’t gone sub-11 since her quadriceps injury in Shanghai in May, which caused her to skip nationals in June.

The favorites lead with two-time reigning Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, who won in Paris on July 6 in 10.92 (into a slight headwind). There’s also world leader Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago. Baptiste has run a 10.83 this year but no other times sub-11. If Fraser-Pryce beats Baptiste here, there’s no doubt who the favorite is going into Moscow.

Notables: Felix takes on a field including Americans Shalonda Solomon, LaShauntea Moore and DeeDee Trotter in the women’s 200 (Saturday, 10:27 a.m. ET). … Farah, fresh off breaking the British 1,500 record last week, could very well break the nation’s 31-year-old record in the 3,000 meters (Saturday, 11:32 a.m. ET).

Usain Bolt: ‘I know I’m clean’

Wagner, Asada, Hanyu headline NHK Trophy in Japan; Grand Prix Final berths on the line

Ashley Wagner
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Three-time U.S. national champion Ashley Wagner looks to qualify for her fourth consecutive Grand Prix Final at this weekend’s NHK Trophy in Nagano, Japan. A medal of any color should be good enough to get her to Barcelona, but she faces a tough field.

Japan’s Mao Asada returned to competition this season and is poised to qualify for the most elite competition since the Sochi Olympics (where she finished sixth) and 2014 World Championships (which she won). Finishing on the podium would earn a berth to the final for Asada. Also in the field are Americans Mirai Nagasu and Courtney Hicks, Japan’s Satoko Miyahara, and one of Russia’s darlings from last season, Anna Pogorilaya.

Olympic champion and last year’s Grand Prix Final winner Yuzuru Hanyu, surely to be the overwhelming crowd favorite in the men’s field, will look to improve his short program results from his other Grand Prix appearance. At Skate Canada, two of his three jumping passes recceived zero points. He rallied in the free skate, finishing second behind Canada’s Patrick Chan. Chan is essentially a lock for the final, while a top three finish would seal the deal for Hanyu.

MORE: Javier Fernandez qualifies for second straight home Grand Prix Final

Other men in the hunt for Grand Prix Final berths competing in Nagano include China’s Jin Boyang and Russia’s Maxim Kovtun, who also need podium finishes to lock up spots in Barcelona. Jin’s and Kovtun’s finishes will likely dictate whether or not American Max Aaron qualifies to the final. More on that process here. No U.S. man has qualified since Jeremy Abbott did it in 2011.

MORE: Jason Brown withdraws from NHK Trophy

Reigining U.S. pairs champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim can make the Grand Prix Final with a medal in Japan.

The U.S. is sending three ice dance couples to Japan, of which two have a shot at qualifying for Barcelona. Siblings and Sochi Olympians Maia and Alex Shibutani can finish in any 1-2 combination with Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue allowing for both duos to qualify for the final. Madison Chock and Evan Bates, U.S. ice dance champions, already qualified. will stream for subscribers live coverage of men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance short programs and free skates. NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Men’s short program — Friday, 2:10 a.m. ET (start order here)
Women’s short program — Friday, 5:05 a.m. ET (start order here)
Men’s free skate — Saturday, 2:30 a.m. ET
Women’s free skate — Saturday, 5:35 a.m. ET

Inside the #RoadtoRio photo shoots

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NBC Olympics
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Bringing together over 100 Summer Olympians and Olympic hopefuls with puppies, samba dancers and supermodels, NBC Olympics and the United States Olympic Committee partnered for an extensive five-day media summit in West Hollywood, Ca. The athletes took part in photo shoots, interviews and video segments all in preparation for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over the course of the summit, participants shared behind-the-scenes moments on social media using the #RoadtoRio hashtag. NBC Olympics also launched its official Snapchat account, with the username NBCOlympics. Here are some of the highlights:

Olympians fell in puppy love:


Then got a crash course in Brazil’s signature dance, the samba:


A photobooth with props let the athletes–and even Bob Costas–show off their silly sides:


Olympic fans like Alessandra Ambrosio and Flula dropped by:


In between shoots, athletes from different sports mingled:


The faux-Rio beach was the perfect set:


But these Olympic stars needed only a simple white backdrop to shine:

Wait who is the Olympian here! Linnéa stealing the show at the @nbcolympics #roadtorio

A photo posted by Alysia Montaño (@alysiamontano) on


Follow NBC Olympics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat (username NBCOlympics).


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