Usain Bolt, Warren Weir

Usain Bolt dominates 200 meters for another world championship (video)

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Usain Bolt made it look easy in making more history, winning the 200 meters in 19.66 seconds at the World Championships on Saturday.

Bolt, 26, became the first man to win three world titles in the 200 and remained undefeated over the distance at major international championships since his first Olympic gold in the event in 2008.

Bolt breezed past medal threat Adam Gemili of Great Britain on the turn and then slowed on the final straight so much so that silver medalist Warren Weir cut into Bolt’s winning margin. Weir was never a threat of passing Bolt in the final meters, though.

“I said that I want to be remembered like (Muhammad) Ali, Pele and the greats,” Bolt said, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. “This is another step towards that.”

Bolt’s winning time was by far his slowest at an Olympic or worlds final. His world record is 19.19, set at the 2009 World Championships. His slowest previous final was the 2011 worlds, where he won in 19.40 seconds.

Weir, the Olympic bronze medalist, won silver, matching his personal best of 19.79 seconds. American Curtis Mitchell earned bronze in 20.04, his first major international medal. (full results below)

“I just had to use all heart coming down the straight,” Mitchell told NBC Sports reporter Lewis Johnson. “For me to come out here and get a medal, it’s unbelievable.”

The final lacked the reigning Olympic silver medalist, the injured Yohan Blake, the defending world silver and bronze medalists, the injured Walter Dix and Christophe Lemaitre, as well as Americans Tyson Gay (failed drug tests) and Justin Gatlin (opted out of the 200 at nationals).

Bolt celebrated by taking a photographer’s camera and appearing to snap photos, just as he did at the 2012 Olympics. He and Weir danced to Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” according to The Associated Press. Bolt also wished good luck to each of his other seven competitors before the final.

The Jamaican now owns nine career world medals, second among men only to Carl Lewis‘ 10. His seven career world golds only trail Lewis and Michael Johnson (both have eight) among men.

The 19.66 matched Bolt’s 10th fastest time ever and Johnson’s first world record set in 1996, before Johnson reset it with a 19.32 in the Olympic final. Johnson is commentating for the BBC in Moscow this week.

Bolt can match both of those records as part of Jamaica’s 4×100 relay team on the final day of worlds Sunday. Jamaica hasn’t lost the 4×100 relay at a worlds or Olympics since 2007.

“I never get tired of shouldering the expectations of millions,” Bolt said, according to the Gleaner. “It keeps me going, I welcome it.”

Results
Gold: Usain Bolt (JAM) 19.66

Silver: Warren Weir (JAM) 19.79
Bronze: Curtis Mitchell (USA) 20.04
4. Nickel Ashmeade (JAM) 20.05
5. Adam Gemili (GBR) 20.08
6. Anaso Jobodwana (RSA) 20.14
7. Churandy Martina (NED) 20.35
8. Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (NOR) 20.37

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Ragan Smith delivers in first U.S. championship title win

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Ragan Smith embraced the role of heavy favorite coming into the U.S. gymnastics championships.

Thrust into the spotlight for the first time in her career, the 17-year-old hardly appeared intimidated by the stage. Smith pulled away from the field to claim her first national title Sunday, posting a score of 115.250, more than three points clear of Jordan Chiles in second place and Riley McCusker in third.

Smith opened up a 1.3-point lead over McCusker in the opening round Friday but admitted afterward she wasn’t particularly impressed by her own performance. She was considerably sharper less than 48 hours later, her 57.850 total in the finals was the best in the 16-woman all-around field by nearly two points.

Smith is one of the few holdovers from the 2016 Olympic cycle, serving as an alternate for the “Final Five” team that won half of the available medals in Rio de Janeiro last fall. Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Madison Kocian and Laurie Hernandez are taking breaks or have moved on, leaving Smith as the standard bearer for new national team coordinator Valeri Liukin.

The program appears to be in solid hands. Smith ditched “The Addams Family” themed floor routine she used last year for something a little more mature. It’s not the only part of her gymnastics that has grown up. Smith finished first on floor and beam and tied for third on bars.

Smith will be in the mix for the all-around title at the world championships in Montreal, where she’ll have a chance to extend the U.S.’s dominance. An American woman has won the world or Olympic title each of the last six years. Barring injury, Smith should be right there.

Liukin said he wasn’t alarmed following an uneven performance by the field in preliminaries, calling it a positive step for a group lacking in experience. The gymnastics were markedly improved in the finals.

Chiles slipped by McCusker into second thanks to a fabulous save on beam in which she turned a near disaster into something decidedly artful.

Chiles was in the middle of “wolf turn” (basically spinning on one foot while in a crouch on a 4-inch wide piece of wood) when she nearly fell over. Instead she rose to her feet, kept rotating, and went right into the next part of her routine as if it was planned all along.

Chiles’ steadiness gives Liukin another option as he tries to put together the rest of the four-woman team that will join Smith in Montreal. McCusker, only recently recovered from foot and wrist injuries, tried to keep the heat on Smith but stepped out of bounds following the last tumbling pass on her floor routine. McCusker finished first on bars — her legs practically magnetized together as she went from bar to bar — to win the event with ease.

Ashton Locklear, like Smith an alternate last summer, wound up second on bars with a watered down routine as he makes her way back from her own injury issues and should have time to install upgrades before Montreal.

Whoever heads to Canada in October will go with the usual expectations for what has become the sport’s most dominant program.

MORE: Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles says being back in the gym is “OK” (video)

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Simone Biles has competed in the six previous U.S. National Championships, winning the last four, but in Anaheim this year, she’s watching from the sidelines. Biles won four gold medals (team, all-around, vault and floor) and one bronze (on beam) last summer at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

This week she revealed she has returned to the gym to prepare for a yet to be determined event, in her return to competition.

When asked how she’s been doing in the gym by NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce, Biles responded with her signature smile accompanied by an endearingly bashful eye roll, “the beginning is…OK.”

MORE: Danell Leyva on why he’s retiring

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