Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt wins 100 meters at rainy World Track and Field Championships

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Usain Bolt weathered steady rain and Justin Gatlin to take back the world title in the 100 meters on Sunday, crossing the finish as lightning reportedly struck in Moscow.

Bolt, the six-time Olympic champion, won in 9.77 seconds with a slight headwind, his slowest time ever in a major championship final but his fastest time this year. Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, took silver in 9.85 seconds. Jamaican Nesta Carter earned bronze in 9.95 seconds (scroll down for full results).

Gatlin was better than Bolt in the early going, no surprise, but Bolt took control around 50 meters and ran hard through the finish for the clear win. He and Gatlin, who have traded words in the media, shook hands after.

Bolt was his usual playful self in the introductions, making hand gestures like he was holding a fake umbrella at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, site of the 1980 Olympic Games.

Bolt’s margin of victory, .08, marked his closest 100 final at a worlds or Olympics.

Bolt, 26, won the 2008 Olympics in 9.69 seconds (.20 margin), then a world record, the 2009 worlds in 9.58 seconds (.13 margin), a world record, and the 2012 Olympics in 9.63 seconds (.12 margin), an Olympic record. He was disqualified from the 2011 worlds final after a false start.

The event was missing the American record holder, Tyson Gay, out after failing drug tests in the spring. Also absent was Olympic silver medalist Yohan Blake, suffering from a hamstring injury.

That left Gatlin, who beat Bolt in a race in Rome in June, as the only man who could possibly challenge Bolt. Bolt had looked quite beatable early in the season and wasn’t too impressive in his first round and semifinal races, either.

But as we’ve seen for years, the Jamaican knows how to turn it on in major finals. Here are his comments to NBC after the race:

Bolt next takes on the 200 meters with heats and semifinals Friday and the final Saturday. He’s the two-time defending world champion in the event and an even bigger favorite there than he was in the 100.

Bolt’s biggest competition in the 200 is another Jamaican, Olympic bronze medalist Warren Weir. Again, Gay and Blake would have been medal contenders there. Gatlin is not entered in the 200.

If Bolt wins three golds in Moscow (100, 200, 4×100 relay), he will tie Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson with the most career world titles by a man with eight. If he wins three medals of any color, he will tie Lewis for most world medals won by a man (10).

Men’s 100 Final
Gold: Usain Bolt (JAM) 9.77
Silver: Justin Gatlin (USA) 9.85
Bronze: Nesta Carter (JAM) 9.95
4. Kemar Bailey-Cole (JAM) 9.98
5. Nickel Ashmeade (JAM) 9.98
6. Mike Rodgers (USA) 10.04
7. Christophe Lemaitre (FRA) 10.06
8. James Dasaolu (GBR) 10.21

Track worlds broadcast schedule

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Ragan Smith, after watching in Rio, leads P&G Championships

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Ragan Smith could do nothing more than watch in Rio as the Final Five dominated. The roles reversed at the P&G Championships on Friday night.

Smith, a Rio Olympic alternate, easily topped the all-around standings on the first of two nights of competition that will determine national champions.

Oh, and Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez were among those in the Honda Center crowd in Anaheim.

It’s the beginning of a new era for U.S. women’s gymnastics. None of the Rio Olympians are competing this weekend, but all five could come back for a Tokyo 2020 run.

For now, the spotlight is on Smith.

“It’s kind of nice, like, having a new generation coming up,” Smith, who is coached by 1992 Olympic bronze medalist Kim Zmeskal Burdette, said on NBCSN. “I think it’s a little less pressure, but I still kind of feel like it’s the same because I had no idea what was going to happen last year.”

The 17-year-old Texan leads by 1.3 points over Riley McCusker going into the final day Sunday (7 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app). Full scores are here. A four-woman team for October’s world championships will be named after a camp later this summer.

Smith overcame minor flaws on her first routine — uneven bars — and more significant ones on her next — balance beam. A solid floor exercise and vault gave her a first-day lead six tenths shy of Biles’ average margin from 2013 through 2016.

The second- and third-highest scores Friday actually came from the earlier junior division. With no team event at this year’s worlds, senior depth is less necessary.

Smith, after just missing the Rio Olympic team in her first year as a senior gymnast, won the AT&T American Cup on March 4 despite a beam fall. That made her the favorite this week.

The rest of the field — with no Olympians for the first time since 2008 — could not keep pace Friday. Smith’s top challengers coming in were McCusker and Morgan Hurd.

McCusker, who shares a coach with Hernandez, reeled back some difficulty. She was on crutches with a cast on her wrist in early July.

Hurd, a first-year senior who competes in glasses, took two out-of-bounds steps and sat down on back-to-back floor exercise passes.

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Simone Biles says she’s back in the gym (video)

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Simone Biles is back in the gym.

In between giggles, Biles said she returned to the gym two weeks ago in an NBCSN interview at the P&G Championships in Anaheim on Friday night.

“I actually started, like, two Fridays ago,” Biles said. “I’m weak. But I’m coming back. I’m just doing conditioning and basics right now.”

Biles last competed at the Rio Olympics, winning five medals, including four golds, for the greatest single-Games medal haul by a female gymnast in nearly three decades. That came after Biles swept every U.S. and world all-around title in that four-year Olympic cycle.

The 20-year-old said late last year and early this year that she planned to return to training in late 2017 or early 2018 with an eye on Tokyo 2020.

“It’s OK to sit out one [year],” Biles said. “I can’t imagine being out on the floor now.”

Biles has not set a return to competition. Her longtime coach, Aimee Boorman, moved from Texas to Florida after Rio.

If Biles makes the Tokyo 2020 team, she can attempt to become the first woman to repeat as Olympic all-around champion since the late Czech Věra Čáslavská in 1964 and 1968.

Gabby Douglas attempted this feat in Rio but did not qualify for the all-around final.

Douglas said earlier this month that she has not decided whether she will return to competition.

Aly Raisman said in September that she plans to return to training after taking 2017 off. Laurie Hernandez said she hopes to go for 2020 but has not set a return to training.

Madison Kocian is the lone member of the Olympic team who has competed since Rio, but it wasn’t on the elite stage. The Texan did a full freshman season for UCLA with a torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff in her shoulder.

Kocian said in June that she has not decided if she will return to elite gymnastics.

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P&G CHAMPS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
TV Schedule | Final Five Updates