Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt learns Russian (video)

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Usain Bolt won’t have too much competition at the world championships in Moscow next month, so he’s taking on a new challenge: learning Russian.

In the above Puma video, he inserts a language learning tape cassette following a workout — where, of course, he’s wearing a Puma shirt — and begins repeating Russian phrases.

There are the generic — “My name is Usain” and “I am from Jamaica” — and the slightly more interesting — “My favorite color is gold,” “Have the other guys crossed the line yet?” and “Can you please hold my medals for a moment?”

The world track and field championships run Aug. 10-18. Bolt is favored to win back the 100-meter world title that he lost to compatriot Yohan Blake after false-starting out of the 2011 final. Blake and American record holder Tyson Gay will miss worlds due to injury and a failed drug test, respectively.

That leaves 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Justin Gatlin as the only man who has even a slight chance of beating Bolt. Gatlin did hand Bolt a loss in Rome in the spring, but Bolt has since run faster than Gatlin’s best time this year.

Bolt is an even more overwhelming favorite in the 200 given Gatlin isn’t running that event.

On Monday, Bolt responded to Mo Farah’s challenge to a race, but that would surely have to wait until after worlds, if it happens at all.

Track worlds medals unveiled (photo)

Mikaela Shiffrin wins Aspen World Cup slalom

Mikaela Shiffrin
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With a slalom win today in Aspen, Colo., Mikaela Shiffrin broke some of the barriers she had been chasing.

En route to her fourth consecutive slalom World Cup title – which would tie the record for the most with Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider from 1992-95 – she became the first female skier to win four World Cup slalom races in a row since Austria’s Marlies Schild did it in the 2011-12 season.

In addition, Shiffrin became the first female skier from the U.S. to win a slalom World Cup race in Aspen. And she’s now tied with France’s Perrine Pelen for sixth overall with total slalom World Cup victories.

“I was pissed after I made that ridiculous mistake yesterday,” Shiffrin said to media, referencing yesterday’s giant slalom crash. Both her and Lindsey Vonn crashed and did not finish in Aspen’s giant slalom. “I tried to use that anger today.”

Shiffrin called the mistake a “brainfart” and Vonn dismissed it because “giant slalom isn’t [her] strongest event.”

Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova was second behind Shiffrin, followed by Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter.

By finishing behind Shiffrin in Aspen, Zuzulova extends her slalom World Cup podium finish streak to four.

Hansdotter has the second-most second place World Cup slalom finishes at 13 total, including today’s race. Only Pernilla Wiberg, of Sweden, has more with a total of 14.

MORE: Shiffrin, Vonn discuss friendship and rivalry

Fencing great Valentina Vezzali fails to qualify for Rio 2016

Mario Monti, Valentina Vezzali
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TURIN, Italy (AP) – Six-time Olympic champion fencer Valentina Vezzali has failed to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.

The 41-year-old Vezzali was eliminated in the second round of the foil event at the Trofeo Inalpi meet Saturday, while Italian teammate Arianna Errigo reached the semifinals and gained the necessary points to qualify.

Vezzali won at least one gold at the last five Olympics in either individual or team foil. She has a total of nine Olympic medals and 25 at world championships.

Her second son was born in 2013, the year in which she also became a member of Italy’s parliament.

Vezzali told the Gazzetta dello Sport this week that “I had another son and it was really difficult to come back. … I don’t think I have anything else to prove.”

MORE: Hanyu, Miyahara win NHK; Wagner into Grand Prix Final