Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt completes triple gold worlds; U.S. doesn’t win gold medal count for first time since 1983

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Usain Bolt anchored the Jamaican 4×100-meter relay to gold in the final event of the World Track and Field Championships on Sunday, his third title of the meet that matched him with three of the greatest U.S. sprinters of all time.

Bolt took the baton close to even with American Justin Gatlin, but the U.S.’ final exchange was not as clean as Jamaica’s. Bolt opened up daylight quickly and held on to win in 37.36 seconds. Jamaica has won the 4×100 at five straight major international championships dating to the 2008 Olympics.

“I wasn’t really worried about Justin,” Bolt said, according to The Associated Press. “I knew if he got the baton in front of me, I could catch him. So it was just going out there to run as fast as possible.”

The U.S. got silver in 37.66. Great Britain crossed third but was disqualified for a pass out of the exchange zone, elevating Canada to bronze.

Bolt went three for three in gold medals (100, 200, 4×100) for the fourth time at a worlds or Olympics in his career. He now owns eight career World Championships gold medals, tying the record also held by Allyson FelixMichael Johnson and Carl Lewis.

Bolt also won his 10th career World Championships medal of any color, matching him with Lewis for the most by a man. Only Jamaican-turned-Slovenian Merlene Ottey has won more (14). Bolt said at the London Olympics he lost all respect for Lewis, who has criticized Jamaica’s drug-testing program.

“I’ll continue dominating,” Bolt said, according to the AP. I’ll continue to work hard. For me, my aim is to continue hard into the greatness thing.”

Bolt celebrated the 4×100 relay victory by flashing a smile after crossing the finish line, flipping the golden baton, taking off his Puma spikes, throwing them into the Moscow crowd and performing a barefoot dance on the track.

“I’m not even sure which country it’s from,” Bolt said, according to the AP. “It just went along with the music, so I did it.”

The U.S. finished the nine-day meet with the most overall medals (25 to Russia’s 17) but did not lead (or co-lead) the gold medal count for the first time at a worlds since the first edition in 1983.

Russia won seven golds, and the U.S. took six, its lowest total since 2001.

Jamaica also won the women’s 4×100 relay in 41.29 seconds on Sunday. The U.S., slowed by a poor relay exchange from Alexandria Anderson to third leg English Gardner, crossed second in 42.75, .03 of a second behind France. France was disqualified about three horus later, handing silver to the U.S. and bronze to Great Britain. Jamaican anchor Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce became the second woman to win three golds at a single worlds, joining Felix.

Thanks to Bolt and Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica swept the six sprint events for the first time.

Also Sunday, American Matthew Centrowitz won silver in the 1,500 meters. Will Claye and Christian Taylor went three-four in the triple jump, and Brenda Martinez and Alysia Montano went three-four in the 800 meters. 

The U.S. won a medal in the women’s 800 for the first time, and it became the first nation to ever win a medal in all four middle distance races.

Ashton Eaton, Brianne Theisen-Eaton dine on McDonald’s, get free Krispy Kreme

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