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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Karen Chen breaks U.S. Champs scoring record; Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold trail

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KANSAS CITY — A skater broke the U.S. Championships women’s short program scoring record Thursday night, but it wasn’t Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold.

Karen Chen, a 17-year-old former junior star who struggled the last two years, tallied 72.82 points at the Sprint Center to lead going into Saturday’s free skate (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian, is second, .87 of a point behind.

That leaves Wagner and Gold, who combined to win the last five U.S. titles, in third and fifth, respectively.

This is concerning for Wagner (1.88 behind Chen) and Gold (7.97 behind) given U.S. Figure Skating can send three women to worlds in two months. That selection will be made this weekend, primarily — but not totally — based off U.S. Championships results.

Tessa Hong is in fourth place, but at 14 years old is too young for senior worlds.

Full results are here.

Though Wagner and Gold are usually higher placed, the biggest surprise was Chen.

“My body’s still trembling right now,” she said, two hours after her performance.

Chen skated a clean program Thursday, rare for her in the last couple of seasons. Chen burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old two years ago, finishing third at nationals behind Wagner and Gold.

She was too young to be selected for the 2015 Worlds team. Little has been heard from Chen since.

She dropped to eighth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and came into Kansas City as the seventh-ranked U.S. woman this season. Struggling to find comfortable boots — a common skater problem — has plagued her. She went through 14 pairs in a four-month stretch.

“Everyone has doubts, and I certainly do as well,” said Chen, who choreographed her short program. “But I just kept pushing and telling myself that I’m gaining more experience, I’m learning about everything in the process and I’m just going to keep getting better.”

Wagner bounced back from her last outing — her worst Grand Prix finish in 25 career starts — with a decent program. She needed to save a double Axel near the end of her short. The 2016 World silver medalist was the pre-event favorite.

“People do not understand how difficult of a position I am in,” said Wagner, a 25-year-old bidding to become the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 90 years. “It might seem like I’m on top of the world, or second from being top of the world, but this is a very tough position to be in. It’s mentally been weighing on my shoulders all season. To be able to come out and show people I am a fighter, I’m really proud of that.”

Gold needed to show a fighting spirit given her well-publicized disaster of a fall season. And she did. Her only miss in the short program was doubling a planned triple flip.

“I can feel a huge improvement as a skater. I think everyone can see it,” Gold said. “I have made comebacks before. This doesn’t feel like a major comeback in some ways, because I felt pretty solid. … A long program is worth a lot of points, and I can certainly deliver some good long programs. I kind of feel like I’m due for a good one.”

If Gold doesn’t improve in the free skate, she could be left off the worlds team for the first time in her senior career. However, Gold believes her strong credentials in recent seasons merit consideration.

“We’ve seen different controversies where people aren’t on the [nationals] podium, and they’re still selected for events,” Gold said. “Michelle Kwan has not gone to nationals and been selected for an Olympic team [in 2006]. I believe that I deserve to be on the world team, but I’m not on the selection committee. Of course, every athlete feels like they should be on the world team.”

Earlier Thursday, the pairs short program produced surprise leaders.

The U.S. Championships continue Friday with the short dance and men’s short program. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss wants Russia out of PyeongChang

Women’s Short Program
1. Karen Chen — 72.82
2. Mirai Nagasu — 71.95
3. Ashley Wagner — 70.94
4. Tessa Hong — 65.02
5. Gracie Gold — 64.85

 

Gwen Jorgensen pregnant, to sit out 2017 triathlon season

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: USA's Gwen Jorgensen followed by Switzerland's Nicola Spirig Hug (L) compete in the running portion of the women's triathlon at Fort Copacabana during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.(Photo by Jeff Pachoud-Pool/Getty Images)
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Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen is pregnant and will not compete this year.

“Just kind of take this year a little bit easier,” Jorgensen said in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The baby is due Aug. 3, according to Jorgensen’s social media.

Jorgensen, 30, became the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion in Rio after going in as the heavy favorite. She has said for months that she planned to take time off to have a baby before returning to defend her Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist, is reportedly expecting a child in May.

In Jorgensen and Spirig’s absences, the top triathletes going into the season are defending world champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, U.S. Olympians Katie Zaferes and Sarah True and Britons Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.

Jorgensen’s last competition was the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, when she finished 14th in her first running race longer than 10 miles.

The World Triathlon Series kicks off in Abu Dhabi the first weekend of March.

MORE: Triathlon federation boss wants Olympic races shortened