Jenny Simpson

Jenny Simpson leads silver night for U.S. at worlds; Mary Cain 10th in 1,500-meter final (video)

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Jenny Simpson won one of three silver medals for the U.S. at the World Track and Field Championships on Thursday in a 1,500-meter final where 17-year-old Mary Cain finished a respectable 10th.

The 1,500 was the key event for American fans on Thursday’s schedule at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Simpson, 26, came in as the defending world champion. Cain impressed in becoming the youngest woman ever to make the 1,500 final at the World Championships.

Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi, who competed for Ethiopia at the 2012 Olympics, entered as the favorite and won in 4 minutes, 2.67 seconds. Simpson led for most of the race until Aregawi passed her with about 300 meters left. The Colorado native held on for silver in 4:02.99. Kenyan Hellen Obiri earned bronze in 4:03.86.

“We can do another round,” Simpson told NBC Sports reporter Lewis Johnson on Universal Sports. “I’m ready for a fourth round. … I was so tired at the end because I led so much of it. I tried so hard to catch Aregawi. … That’s the hardest I’ve ever run (trying to catch her) in my life.”

Cain completed an impressive season that saw her become the youngest woman to make the U.S. team at a world championships. In the final, she was in last place going into the final lap and looked to be losing ground on the pack. But she summoned energy to finish 10th out of 12 in 4:07.19, the third fastest time of her life.

“They (my coaches) said there was no pressure, but I think I could have medaled,” said Cain, who watched the 2012 baseball drama “Trouble with the Curve” before her race, according to Universal Sports. “I’m definitely a little upset, but I’ve got to rally, get out of this funk.”

Cain said it was her last race of the season. She will head back to Bronxville (N.Y.) High School to begin her senior year.

“I think I’ve matured on the world scene,” she said. “It makes me a lot more motivated to be here two years from now.”

The final was delayed eight minutes by the men’s high jump, where Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko took three attempts at a world record after winning gold but couldn’t beat Javier Sotomayor‘s all-time best from 20 years ago.

The U.S. won silver medals in both 400-meter hurdles races. Michael Tinsley repeated his Olympic silver in the closest men’s 400 hurdles finish in worlds history. He was outleaned by Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon by .01 of a second.

The women’s 400 hurdles saw the largest margin of victory in the event’s worlds history. The Czech Republic’s Zuzana Hejnova won in 52.83. while silver and bronze went to Americans Dalilah Muhammad (54.09) and 2011 world champion Lashinda Demus (54.27).

Allyson Felix and Usain Bolt will be star attractions Friday in Moscow. Felix advanced to the finals of the 200, an event where she holds three world titles and an Olympic title. She’ll face off with 100-meter champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at 1:15 p.m. Eastern time (Universal Sports).

Bolt will run the heats of the 200 in the morning and the semifinals in the evening in Moscow (11:40 a.m. ET), his first action since winning the 100 on Sunday.

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Kerri Walsh Jennings’ next partner is a familiar one

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Kerri Walsh Jennings is slated to play with with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh this summer, after she and Olympic bronze medal teammate April Ross split last month.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion with Misty May-Treanor before that bronze in Rio, and Branagh, who made the Beijing Games quarterfinals with Elaine Youngs, are entered in an FIVB World Tour event in Croatia the last week of June.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are both 38 years old and briefly paired in 2010 when May-Treanor was uncertain about making a run for the London Olympics. When May-Treanor told Walsh Jennings she was all-in for London, Walsh Jennings split from Branagh.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are hoping to play together through the World Tour Finals in late August, according to Volleyball Magazine.

That includes the world championships in Vienna, Austria, in late July and early August.

It’s not known if they will have the combined ranking points to earn an outright worlds spot. They could also receive a wild card for worlds. Entries will be announced next month.

Walsh Jennings, a mother of three, has said she hopes to play in the 2020 Olympics at age 41, when she will be older than any previous Olympic beach or indoor volleyball player, according to Olympic historians.

Branagh returned to competition this year after a one-year break to have her second child. She has played few international events since 2012 and last won internationally in 2010 (with Walsh Jennings).

Ross, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist and 2009 World champion, is now partnered with Lauren Fendrick, who played with Brooke Sweat in Rio. Ross, 34, said she will figure out her long-term partner plans for Tokyo 2020 after this season.

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Catching up with Ross Powers

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Ross Powers, now 38 years old and 15 years removed from his Olympic snowboarding title, is still out with halfpipe riders on the snow five days per week.

The difference now is that Powers is coaching. He runs the snowboarding program at Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, where he graduated from in 1997.

Powers spoke with OlympicTalk before last season, reflecting on 20 years of snowboarding in the Olympics, Shaun White and how he likes coaching.

OlympicTalk: The PyeongChang Winter Games will mark 20 years since snowboarding’s debut in Nagano. What was it like competing in the first Olympic halfpipe?

Powers (who won bronze in Nagano at age 19): It seemed kind of like a regular World Cup. We were up in the mountains. At the time, it was a really good halfpipe, but we ended up competing in some bad weather, some rain. I didn’t realize until I left Japan and got home how big the Olympics were. But looking back, it was a special time. And I really learned from the ’98 Olympics, like if I get this chance again, I’m going to go there, I’m going to do it all. I’m going to go to Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, watch as many events as I can and just make the most out of the Games.

OlympicTalk: The Nagano halfpipe was about half the size of today’s superpipes (394 feet long with 11 1/2-foot walls vs. 590 feet with 22-foot walls in Sochi). Could today’s snowboarders compete with you guys back in 1998?

Powers: It was so different. At the time, I want to say it was the biggest pipe we rode, but compared to today’s standards, it’s small. The weather was tricky. I think a lot of those guys [today] could ride it, but it’s so much different than today’s halfpipe for sure.

OlympicTalk: In 2002, when you led a U.S. men’s halfpipe medal sweep, the rider who just missed the Olympic team was a 15-year-old Shaun White. What do you remember about him?

Powers: You kind of knew he was going to be the next guy. Where he took our sport and certain tricks. One thing that really impressed me about him is he’ll train really hard for an event, show up, even if the conditions are bad, he’s planned this trick he wants to do, and he’ll try it no matter what. Most of the time he’ll give it a go and land it. That actually hurt him in Russia [White attempted but couldn’t perfect the YOLO Flip 1440 in Sochi] because he probably could have stepped down a notch, gotten a medal and maybe even won the event.

OlympicTalk: Did Shaun ever beat you before you retired?

Powers: I had my run from 1998, ’99, ’00, ’01, all those times that I was doing really well. I tried to make the 2006 Olympics in Italy. I was the alternate, so I just missed that. He was definitely beating me up through those times.

OlympicTalk: Did you travel to the Torino Olympics as an alternate?

Powers: I did, yeah. I traveled over there and actually watched my buddy [Seth] Wescott win the gold in boarder cross. That night, he was like, you should try boarder cross. That kind of got me into doing that my next few years after that.

[Editor’s Note: Powers almost made the 2010 Olympic team in snowboard cross, even finishing third in a December 2009 World Cup.]

OlympicTalk: Which is tougher, coaching or competing?

Powers: I would say it is tougher coaching than competing. You just have so many responsibilities and so much work. The nice thing about coaching, though, compared to competing, is you can kind of push yourself and have fun [riding] on certain days but then also sit back and really work with the athletes on all other days. So when you’re feeling it, you can push yourself. So it’s not like an athlete, where you have to push yourself.

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