Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt lacking competition in 200-meter final Saturday; preview

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Usain Bolt dropped a starting block on his foot this week, but it’s going to take plenty more than that to worry him in the 200-meter final Saturday.

Bolt, aiming for triple gold at the World Championships, won his first round and semifinal of the 200 meters in Luzhniki Stadium on Friday. The Jamaican is a huge favorite to take his third straight world title in the 200 on Saturday (12:05 p.m. Eastern Time, NBC).

“My foot is feeling better,” Bolt told Reuters. “It was sore, but we’ve been working on it for four days.”

World Track and Field Championships broadcast schedule

Bolt has been more dominant in the 200 than the 100 during his illustrious career. He hasn’t lost the event at an Olympics or worlds since taking silver behind Tyson Gay at the 2007 World Championships when he was 21 years old.

The only time a competitor at an Olympics or worlds final lost by less than three tenths of a second since came in London, where Yohan Blake won silver .12 of a second behind Bolt.

This year’s final is missing the Olympic silver medalist Blake and reigning world silver and bronze medalists Walter Dix and Christophe Lemaitre, all due to injuries. U.S. champion Tyson Gay is also absent after failing drug tests, and Justin Gatlin, the silver medalist in the 100 in Moscow, isn’t running the 200.

Bolt was given a copy of the famous lightning bolt photo from Sunday’s 100-meter final by the BBC after winning his semifinal in 20.12.

“This is my 200 meters, means the world to me, so I’m ready to go,” Bolt told NBC Sports reporter Lewis Johnson on Universal Sports.

That leaves Jamaican Warren Weir, who won bronze in London, as the silver medal favorite. Weir is the third fastest man this year behind Bolt and Gay at 19.79 seconds, though he was beaten by American Curtis Mitchell in his semifinal.

“I delivered when I needed to,” Mitchell, who ran a personal best 19.97, told Johnson on Universal Sports. “Right now I’m going to build off this and hopefully carry the U.S. in the 200 meters the next six or seven years.”

Mitchell is in the medal discussion, but it could be a Jamaican sweep with Bolt, Weir and Nickel Ashmeade. Also watch South African Anaso Jobodwana, 21, who was .01 behind Bolt in their semifinal with a personal best 20.13. Brit Adam Gemili, 19, ran back-to-back personal bests in the first round and the semifinals.

If Bolt wins a medal of any color in the 200, he will pass Michael Johnson for the second most career medals by a man at the World Championships with nine. If he wins another medal in the 4×100 relay Sunday, he will match Carl Lewis for the most. If he wins gold in both events, he will also tie Lewis for the most golds won by a man with eight.

Final Field
1. Curtis Mitchell (USA) 19.97
2. Adam Gemili (GBR) 19.98
3. Nickel Ashmeade (JAM) 20.00
4. Usain Bolt (JAM) 20.12
5. Anaso Jobodwana (RSA) 20.13
5. Churandy Martina (NED) 20.13
7. Warren Weir (JAM) 20.20
8. Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (NOR) 20.33

Video: Mary Cain, 17, impresses at worlds 

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross win World Series of Beach Volleyball

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Rio bronze medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross bounced back from an Olympic upset to win the biggest annual tournament in the U.S. on Sunday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross captured the Asics World Series of Beach Volleyball title in Long Beach, Calif., for the second time in three years. They beat Spanish pair Liliana Fernández and Elsa Baquerizo 21-16, 21-16 in the final.

“We love those girls so much, they are dear friends of ours,” Walsh Jennings said. “We wanted to beat them down.”

Absent from Long Beach were Olympic gold medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and silver medalists Ágatha and Bárbara of Brazil.

Walsh Jennings and Ross, who lost to Ágatha and Bárbara in the Olympic semifinals, dropped a total of two sets in seven undefeated matches this past week.

They earned their fifth international title of the year after winning none in 2015, last season shortened by Walsh Jennings’ fifth right shoulder surgery.

In the men’s final, Brazil’s No. 2 pair, Pedro and Evandro, beat top U.S. pair Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena 19-21, 21-17, 15-9.

Olympic champions Alison and Bruno of Brazil did not compete in Long Beach.

The beach volleyball season continues with the FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto in two weeks.

MORE: Tough for Misty May-Treanor to watch Kerri Walsh Jennings in Rio

Monica Puig’s unlikely Olympic tennis gold reminded her of ‘Miracle’ scene

Monica Puig
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NEW YORK (AP) — Monica Puig gazed out at her fellow Puerto Ricans jamming the parade route, and in their eyes she saw hope.

They hailed her with “a sense of satisfaction,” she recalled Saturday, “and a sense of belief that things are going to get better.”

Throughout her stunning run to the Olympic tennis gold medal, Puig embraced the symbolism of each upset victory. An economic crisis is devastating the island of her birth, and she appreciated that if she could prove the impossible is possible, that message would reverberate far beyond sports.

“If Puerto Rico channels that same energy and belief that things will get better and working for the better of the island, the better of the community, things will improve,” Puig said four days after the U.S. territory honored its Olympic team and, above all, its first gold medalist.

“I really hope I gave them a lot of confidence moving forward,” she added, “that things will actually get better.”

The world’s 34th-ranked women’s tennis player met with a roomful of reporters Saturday, exactly two weeks after she beat Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber in three sets in the final in Rio de Janeiro. Poised and philosophical in ways that bely her age, the 22-year-old realizes some people deem her gold medal “a fluke.”

After all, Puig has never made it past the round of 16 at a major. And at the U.S. Open, which starts Monday, she’s never advanced beyond the second round. Puig is already bracing herself for the reality that her run at Flushing Meadows could fall well short of what took place in Rio.

“I’m 22 years old. There’s still a long way for me to go, a long stretch of career,” she said. “If anything happens, any kind of slip-up, it’s not really going to be a big deal, because I have a process and I have a long-term view of where I want to go.”

Which isn’t to say she expects a slip-up.

“I know that the Olympics wasn’t a fluke for me, because I have worked very hard to get to where I am,” Puig said. “I know the hours and the tears and the sweat and everything that’s been put into my practices. It’s been very difficult for me.

“But that moment, nobody will be able to take away.”

Even she considers that Olympic moment to be like something out of a movie script. When spectators chanted “Si se puede!” (“Yes you can!” in Spanish) during the final against the second-ranked Kerber, Puig flashed back to a scene from the film “Miracle” about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

With fans roaring “U-S-A!” coach Herb Brooks tells his players: “Listen to them. That’s what you’ve done.” As Puig said Saturday, “I needed to listen to the crowd.”

Her gold might not have been quite as unlikely as the Miracle on Ice, but it wasn’t too far off. The night after her victory, Puig slept with the medal on her nightstand, waking up every few hours to make sure it was real. She still feels the need to check up on it during the day.

“I see the videos and I’m like, ‘Did this really just happen?'” Puig said.

When they showed the clip of her medal ceremony when she was honored in Puerto Rico, she started crying again. Through it all, she insisted Saturday, she felt she kept her focus, knowing the U.S. Open was looming.

After Rio, Puig spent some time with her family in Miami, where she lives. Then it was on to the island “where the big party was waiting.” It’s been hard to squeeze in sleep and alone time and practice — all the things she needs to recover from one big event and prepare for another.

Puig faces 60th-ranked Zheng Saisai, who upset Agnieszka Radwanska at the Olympics, in the first round Monday. She originally wasn’t seeded at Flushing Meadows, which meant she could have faced a top player in her opening match, but she moved up to the final seed when Sloane Stephens withdrew because of an injury Friday.

It’s the first time Puig has been seeded at a major, and in what was a breakthrough season even before her golden moment, she’s starting to grow comfortable with those sorts of roles.

“I feel like I finally understand what I’m doing when it comes to tennis,” she said.

MORE: U.S. goes one-two in Olympic mixed doubles