Usain Bolt

Video: Usain Bolt anchors relay win; Diamond League recap

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Usain Bolt wrapped up the London Anniversary Games with a no-doubt-about-it anchor leg on the 4×100-meter relay at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday.

Bolt and his Racers Track Club won the event in 37.75 seconds, easily beating France (38.45). The 4×100 world record set by Bolt and Jamaica at the 2012 Olympics is 36.84. This was Bolt’s first appearance at the Olympic Stadium since his triple gold performance at the 2012 Games.

An All-Star team of Americans Mike RodgersWallace SpearmonTony McQuay and St. Kitts and Nevis’ Kim Collins could have given Bolt’s Racers quartet problems, but they botched the last handoff from Collins to McQuay.

Bolt was the star attraction, even in a team event. His teammates — Mario ForsytheKemar Bailey-Cole and Warren Weir — all wore yellow jerseys. Bolt was in a blue and red Puma uniform.

He took the orange baton from Weir for the final straight and breezed to win, keeping his eye on the clock the whole time. Mo Farah could be seen in the background watching Bolt cross the finish.

“I wanted to run a fast time to see where we’re at,” Bolt told the BBC, adding this foursome will pretty much be the Jamaican relay team in Moscow (though Forsythe didn’t make the Jamaican team in an individual event).

Bolt now goes into worlds with the fastest time in the world in the 100 (if you take out Tyson Gay) and the 200. His Jamaican team in the 4×100, even without the injured Yohan Blake, will fight with the U.S., without Gay, for gold as well.

“It wasn’t perfect early in the season, but it’s coming together at the right time,” Bolt said.

Complete results

Women’s 100 meters: It was a strange afternoon in what was the deepest sprint field of the second day of the meet.

Reigning world champion Carmelita Jeter withdrew from the final with a quad injury, according to Flotrack, after running a season’s best 10.93 in her heat.

Jeter missed the U.S. championships in June due to a quad injury. With worlds just two weeks away, this is a situation to monitor.

Two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce put up a very smooth world-leading 10.77 in her heat. But Fraser-Pryce was never a factor in the final, running a 10.94 for fourth place.

The winner of the final was Nigerian Blessing Okagbare, who broke Glory Alozie‘s 14-year-old African record in her heat (10.86) and again in the final (10.79).

Okagbare is also ranked fourth in the world this year in both the 200 and the long jump.

The fastest American on Saturday was a woman who didn’t make the world championships team — Barbara Pierre. Pierre matched her personal-best 10.85 in the final, the same time English Gardner clocked to win nationals in June.

Gardner, meanwhile, finished seventh and last in the final in 11.08 after going 11.10 in her heat. She’s yet to run sub-11 outside the U.S. this year and, at this point, can’t be considered a medal favorite in Moscow.

Women’s 100-meter hurdles: Olympic champion Sally Pearson notched a season’s best 12.65, while Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis came in fourth in 13.08. Both are coming off injuries.

Pearson, returning from two hamstring tears, crossed the finish line, bent down to the track, grinned and gave a thumbs-up.

That shows how tough the last few months have been, given the season’s best was merely .02 under her time in Ostrava, Czech Republic, last month and well slower than her personal best of 12.28.

“It still wasn’t perfect,” Pearson told the BBC. “Not 100 percent, but i’m happy with it. … Jess, I was nervous of her in the warm-up. You don’t know what she’s going to do. She’s a freak.”

Pearson is still nearly four tenths behind world leader and U.S. and NCAA champion Brianna Rollins, who skipped a potential race against Pearson in Monaco earlier this month.

Ennis, still not a definite for worlds due to an Achilles injury, was well off her personal best of 12.54 set at the Olympics and disappointed with her time Saturday.

“This was very nerve-racking,” said Ennis, who received a rousing ovation in introductions from the packed Olympic Stadium. “Having this injury, not been able to prepare as best as I could have.”

Ennis, who later placed last in the long jump, said she would talk with coach Toni Minichiello about her next move before worlds. Minichiello said on the BBC that Ennis needs at least one more race before heading to Moscow to potentially enter the heptathlon.

“We’ll take another two, three days after this to take a look how the injury reacts,” Minichiello said.

Women’s 200 meters: Olympic champion Allyson Felix had to work to cross the finish first in 22.41, edging fellow American Shalonda Solomon (22.50) in a shallow field.

“Final preparations,” said Felix, who ran her last race before worlds, which begin Aug. 10. “Last year was a long year. I’m taking it slow this year. A little more work to do.”

Felix, who won world bronze in 2011, is ranked seventh in the world this year at 22.36. The world leaders are Fraser-Pryce (22.13) and Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast (22.24), both of whom chose to only run the 100 at the Anniversary Games.

Felix was beaten at the U.S. championships by Kimberlyn Duncan (22.35), who was also not in the field Saturday.

Men’s 3,000 meters: Mo Farah is now three for three on Saturdays at London’s Olympic Stadium.

Farah, who won Olympic gold at the same track on the second and third Saturdays of the 2012 Games, prevailed with ease in the non-Olympic distance in 7:36.85. Nobody was within five seconds.

“Coming here, I felt really emotional about it,” Farah told the BBC. “It was close in noise to the Olympics.”

The Somali-born, Oregon-trained Farah will attempt to repeat his Olympic 5,000-10,000 double in Moscow. He’s already set the British record in the 1,500 meters this season.

Farah heads back to St. Moritz, Switzerland, for more high-altitude training Sunday.

Men’s 110-meter hurdles: Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt hit the fifth hurdle with his trail leg and ran through the sixth hurdle but told the BBC he’s not injured.

“I was able to catch myself because of my cat-like reflexes,” he joked.

American David Oliver, who owns the world lead of 13.03 and was second at nationals, went on to win in 13.20.

Merritt, third at nationals behind Ryan Wilson and Oliver, went under 13 seconds eight times last year, including that world-record run of 12.80. He has yet to go under 13 this year, opening up the gold-medal picture a little bit going into worlds.

Notable: Brit favorite Christine Ohuruogu did one better than she did at the Olympics, winning the women’s 400 in 50 flat, a season’s best, over the top two from the U.S. championships, Francena McCorory (50.13) and Natasha Hastings (50.68). Reigning world champion Amantle Montsho, not in the field, remains the world leader at 49.33. Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross did not make the U.S. team for the world championships. … Olympic silver medalist and U.S. champion Michael Tinsley won the 400 hurdles in 47.98. Tinsley is the only man to go under 48 seconds this year, and he’s now done it twice. He’s the favorite in Moscow. …. Two-time reigning Olympic champion and three-time reigning world champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand won the women’s shot put with a world-leading throw of 20.90 meters. Adams, who originally won silver in London but was upgraded to gold after the Belarusian champion failed drug tests, is the only woman to throw farther than 20.24 this year.

Video: Inside Usain Bolt’s training

Chinese pair holds on for first world title

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Chinese pair Sui Wenjing and Han Cong needed a personal-best score by nearly five points to avoid a silver medal for a third straight year.

They delivered.

Sui and Han beat Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot by 1.76 points at the world championships in Helsinki on Thursday.

They tallied the highest short-program and free-skate scores, including 150.83 in the free Thursday, despite Sui falling on a triple Salchow. Their previous best free skate was 144.28 points.

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov earned bronze as the top three after the short program stayed that way after the free skate.

Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who had been seeking the first pairs three-peat in 39 years, finished seventh.

Americans Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim finished 10th in their second competition this season after she came back from three abdominal surgeries last summer and fall.

“I am not as confident as I was before I got sick, but I think that’s 100 percent normal when you’re off the ice for so long and you have to re-learn things and start from the bottom,” Scimeca Knierim said. “I’ve only been back at my elite level for a month or two, so I think it’s OK that my confidence is a little shaken. I’m confident that my confidence will grow.”

U.S. champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier were 20th in the short program, failing to qualify for the free skate.

Based on those results, the U.S. earned one entry for pairs at the PyeongChang Winter Games, according to NBC Sports research in Helsinki. The only time that fewer than two U.S. pairs competed at the Winter Olympics was at the first Winter Games in Chamonix, France, in 1924.

Just about every star pairs team dealt with serious injury problems this season.

Sui and Han missed the autumn season due to Sui’s right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring, after they squandered the 2016 World Championships short program lead.

They returned at the Four Continents Championships in February and posted then-personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

Savchenko, who earned her 10th career worlds medal, and Massot won both of their fall Grand Prix events but missed the Grand Prix Final after she tore an ankle ligament.

Tarasova needed 10 stitches in her left leg after slicing it on Morozov’s skate in a Wednesday practice accident, hours before the short program. Their bronze medal meant Russia avoided a three-year world pairs medal drought. Soviet and Russian pairs have never missed the worlds podium three straight years since their run of dominance started in the 1960s.

Russians Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, the only Sochi medalists competing together at worlds, missed the fall season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury. They finished fifth on Thursday.

Duhamel and Radford suffered more recent injuries. Duhamel said after the free skate she may have a stress fracture in her left foot, according to the Associated Press. Radford suffered a hip injury in the week before worlds that led to thoughts of withdrawing.

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MORE: Playing the Beatles, North Korean skaters aim for Olympics in South Korea

Pairs Results
Gold: Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 232.06
Silver: Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 230.30
Bronze: Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 219.03
10. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Christopher Knierim (USA) — 202.37
20. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 56.23

Playing The Beatles, North Korean skaters aim for Olympics in South Korea

AP
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HELSINKI (AP) — North Korea’s figure skaters are aiming for the Olympics — and they’re using The Beatles.

Ryom Tae Ok and her partner Kim Ju Sik impressed observers by finishing 15th of 28 pairs at the world championships on Thursday. That’s the latest step on a road to next year’s Olympics, which would mean a politically tricky journey to South Korea.

Skating to The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and music by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Ryom and Kim soared above expectations in only their third major competition outside their homeland.

Star-struck Ryom said the competition was “very difficult” because she wasn’t used to the large crowd, in comments translated by a team official following Wednesday’s short program. Kim said he was “excited because this is a big competition.”

The pair gave away little more than basic personal data. They’ve skated together for two years and train in the capital Pyongyang. Skating isn’t very popular there, but they’d like to change that, they said.

Asked how they’d feel about competing at the Olympics, Kim said he and Ryom are keen to take part in “a big competition,” but didn’t say how he’d feel about visiting South Korea. A North Korean team official led the pair following a question about how they chose The Beatles’ music. Foreign cultural influence is tightly restricted by the North Korean government.

To qualify for the Olympics, Ryom and Kim will need a good performance in September to take one of four places on offer for pairs at a competition in Germany.

North Korea has a patchy record at the Winter Olympics – it won speed skating medals in 1964 and 1992, but didn’t send any athletes to the Sochi Games in 2014.

When they have gone to the Olympics, North Korean figure skaters have failed to impress. The last time the country sent a pair to the Olympics in 2006, they placed 20th and last in the short program, then withdrew.

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VIDEO: Russian pairs skater slices leg on partner’s skate