LaShawn Merritt

LaShawn Merritt crushes Kirani James for world title in 400 meters (video)

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LaShawn Merritt turned one of the most anticipated head-to-head showdowns at the World Championships into a rout.

The American blasted past reigning world and Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada in the 400-meter final Tuesday, winning in 43.74 seconds. The two were expected to battle closely for gold, but James was behind after 300 meters and appeared to tighten up on the final straightaway, never challenging.

“I put the pedal to the metal,” Merritt, who watched some of his previous races in preparation Monday night, told Universal Sports. “I knew it was going to take a 43-second race, and that’s what I was ready for mentally and physically. I told my coach, ‘We’re going to have to run a little bit tonight.'”

American Tony McQuay took silver in 44.40, one of six runners to beat the fading James (44.99). Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic earned bronze in 44.52 to follow up his Olympic silver medal.

World Track and Field Championships broadcast schedule

Merritt, 27 and the 2008 Olympic champion, set a personal best by .01 of a second and became the third man to win multiple world titles in the event, joining fellow Americans Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner. He failed to advance out of the heats at the London Olympics, beset by injury.

“I wanted to come back on this big stage, this world stage and put a great race together,” said Merritt, who mouthed “I’m back” to cameras after winning. “That’s what I did.”

James, 20, was more than one second slower than his fastest time of this season and his Olympic-winning time.

“I just died,” James told Universal Sports. “That doesn’t usually happen. I’m not quite sure what happened.”

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Diggins, Randall win historic gold medal for U.S. in cross-country

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The long, long wait is over.

Team USA ended their 42-year Olympic medal drought in cross-country skiing Wednesday and they made American cross-country history in the process.

Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall became the first American cross-country skiers to capture a gold medal by winning the women’s team sprint at the Alpensia Cross-Country Centre in PyeongChang, South Korea. Sweden captured silver and Norway took home bronze.

Diggins and Randall are the first American women to win an Olympic medal and join Bill Koch as the only American cross-country skiers to earn an Olympic medal.

The Americans advanced to the finals courtesy of their first place finish in the semifinals, beating Sweden and OAR in the process.

Diggins out-sprinted both the gold and silver medalists of the individual sprint (Stina Nilsson and Maiken Falla, respectively) in the final stretch to take the gold.

Results

Gold: Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins (USA)

Silver: Charlotte Kalla and Stina Nilsson (SWE)

Bronze: Marit Bjoergen and Maiken Falla (NOR)

Click here for a full recap of Team USA’s historic run

Czech Republic advance to medal round with shootout win vs. United States

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Petr Loukal scored the lone shootout goal as the Czech Republic defeated the United States and advance to the medal round.

Jan Kolar and Tomas Kundratek scored in regulation, while Pavel Francouz made 18 saves and stopped all five shootout attempts.

Ryan Donato scored his tournament-leading fifth goal, and Jim Slater added a shorthanded goal as the Olympics come to an end for the United States.