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.

Suhr among Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year finalists

Olympic pairs champions take indefinite break

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Aljona Savchenko, the Olympic pairs champion with Bruno Massot, said they are taking an indefinite break from competition, according to German press agency DPA.

Savchenko and Massot will perform in ice shows next fall and winter, which could preclude them from competing in major events like the Grand Prix season (late October to early December) and the European Championships in January.

The German pair followed their title in PyeongChang with a world title last month, breaking a four-year-old world-record score and winning by the largest margin (20.31 points) in pairs at an Olympics or worlds since the 6.0 system was replaced 14 years ago.

Savchenko, 34 and a five-time Olympian, became the oldest Olympic pairs gold medalist. She then claimed her 11th world medal — tying the female record held by Norwegian singles legend Sonja Henie — and sixth world title — tying Soviet Alexander Zaitsev for second on the all-time pairs list, four behind Irina Rodnina.

The French-born Massot, 29, competed in his first Olympics in PyeongChang and earned his first world title. Savchenko’s previous five world titles came with now-retired Robin Szolkowy.

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Andre De Grasse’s return headlines Drake Relays on NBC Sports

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Andre De Grasse believes he could have entered the Drake Relays as the world champion in the 100m and 200m. Instead, he watched those finals last August. One from his hotel room. The other on replay on social media.

De Grasse, the Rio Olympic 100m bronze medalist and 200m silver medalist, will race for the first time in nine months at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday as part of NBC Sports’ weekend track and field coverage.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold will air live coverage of the Drake Relays and Penn Relays.

Friday
Penn Relays: 5-6 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday
Penn Relays: 12:30-3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold
Drake Relays: 3-5 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

The Canadian De Grasse is the Drake Relays headliner, racing for the first time since suffering a grade 2 right hamstring strain four days before last year’s worlds in London.

De Grasse faces a Drake field that includes six other men who have broken 10 seconds, but of them only U.S. Olympian Mike Rodgers (9.85) has a better personal best than De Grasse’s 9.91 from the Rio Olympic final.

Rodgers, a decade older than De Grasse, hasn’t broken 10 seconds in his last 28 wind-legal races, according to Tilastopaja.org.

The field is not of much concern for De Grasse.

“I’m not looking for a specific time or anything,” he said Monday. “Just looking to get my legs under me, get the rust off, see what I can do and go from there.”

De Grasse said in a recent CBC interview that he’s been training for five months since the injury. He remembers the thoughts as he watched the world championships, starting with Usain Bolt‘s relegation to bronze in his last individual race won by Justin Gatlin‘s late surge.

“I knew that it could have been anybody’s race; [silver medalist Christian] Coleman could have won, Bolt could have won or Gatlin,” De Grasse said Monday. “When I watched it, I was surprised because usually Bolt would usually catch [up to win]. Coleman was out in front. You couldn’t really see where Gatlin was. Usually, Bolt would come back at the end. It looked like, for sure, that would happen. It looked like from my view that Coleman won. When I saw the replay, Gatlin kind of just snuck in there. … I was definitely surprised of the outcome. … I wish I could have been in it, but there’s going to be more opportunities for me.”

(De Grasse said he has not recently spoken with Bolt or “anybody in track in a while.” Last July, De Grasse’s coach was quoted saying that his sprinter was “booted out” of a race per Bolt’s wishes, which De Grasse later denied in a report, calling Bolt a legend.)

Gatlin’s winning time was 9.92 seconds into a .8 meters/second headwind. De Grasse failed to break 10 seconds in all five of his wind-legal 100m races last season, but he did run 9.69 with a mammoth 4.8 meters/second tailwind a month and a half before worlds.

Then came the world 200m final five days later. De Grasse said he had never heard of surprise winner Ramil Guliyev of Turkey. Guliyev won in 20.09, the slowest Olympic or world gold-medal time since 2003.

“I ran against all of those guys before and felt like I was capable of winning a race like that if I wasn’t injured,” De Grasse said. “To be honest, I had never heard of most of those guys in the 200m final except for I think a couple of guys, Wayde van Niekerk and [Nethaneel] Mitchell-Blake from Great Britain.”

De Grasse’s goals this season include breaking the Canadian 100m record of 9.84 (shared by Bruny Surin and Donovan Bailey, the latter’s time a then-world record at the 1996 Olympics). He would like to lower his 200m personal best of 19.80 from Rio.

He wants to win a Diamond League trophy for being the best man over 100m or 200m through the season. The 100m remains his preferred distance (“That’s the glory event.”).

De Grasse said he plans to race most of the Diamond League schedule, starting with the first two meets in Doha and Shanghai the next two weeks. De Grasse and Coleman are slated for a head-to-head at a Diamond League meet in London in July.

No matter what De Grasse does this season, he does not believe he can wrestle the mantle of world’s fastest man from Gatlin or Coleman.

“You can’t say off this year that you’re the fastest man in the world,” De Grasse said, noting it’s the only year in the quadrennium without a global championships. “You’ve got to wait until next year to do that.”

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