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.

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Karen Chen breaks U.S. Champs scoring record; Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold trail

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KANSAS CITY — A skater broke the U.S. Championships women’s short program scoring record Thursday night, but it wasn’t Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold.

Karen Chen, a 17-year-old former junior star who struggled the last two years, tallied 72.82 points at the Sprint Center to lead going into Saturday’s free skate (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian, is second, .87 of a point behind.

That leaves Wagner and Gold, who combined to win the last five U.S. titles, in third and fifth, respectively.

This is concerning for Wagner (1.88 behind Chen) and Gold (7.97 behind) given U.S. Figure Skating can send three women to worlds in two months. That selection will be made this weekend, primarily — but not totally — based off U.S. Championships results.

Tessa Hong is in fourth place, but at 14 years old is too young for senior worlds.

Full results are here.

Though Wagner and Gold are usually higher placed, the biggest surprise was Chen.

“My body’s still trembling right now,” she said, two hours after her performance.

Chen skated a clean program Thursday, rare for her in the last couple of seasons. Chen burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old two years ago, finishing third at nationals behind Wagner and Gold.

She was too young to be selected for the 2015 Worlds team. Little has been heard from Chen since.

She dropped to eighth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and came into Kansas City as the seventh-ranked U.S. woman this season. Struggling to find comfortable boots — a common skater problem — has plagued her. She went through 14 pairs in a four-month stretch.

“Everyone has doubts, and I certainly do as well,” said Chen, who choreographed her short program. “But I just kept pushing and telling myself that I’m gaining more experience, I’m learning about everything in the process and I’m just going to keep getting better.”

Wagner bounced back from her last outing — her worst Grand Prix finish in 25 career starts — with a decent program. She needed to save a double Axel near the end of her short. The 2016 World silver medalist was the pre-event favorite.

“People do not understand how difficult of a position I am in,” said Wagner, a 25-year-old bidding to become the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 90 years. “It might seem like I’m on top of the world, or second from being top of the world, but this is a very tough position to be in. It’s mentally been weighing on my shoulders all season. To be able to come out and show people I am a fighter, I’m really proud of that.”

Gold needed to show a fighting spirit given her well-publicized disaster of a fall season. And she did. Her only miss in the short program was doubling a planned triple flip.

“I can feel a huge improvement as a skater. I think everyone can see it,” Gold said. “I have made comebacks before. This doesn’t feel like a major comeback in some ways, because I felt pretty solid. … A long program is worth a lot of points, and I can certainly deliver some good long programs. I kind of feel like I’m due for a good one.”

If Gold doesn’t improve in the free skate, she could be left off the worlds team for the first time in her senior career. However, Gold believes her strong credentials in recent seasons merit consideration.

“We’ve seen different controversies where people aren’t on the [nationals] podium, and they’re still selected for events,” Gold said. “Michelle Kwan has not gone to nationals and been selected for an Olympic team [in 2006]. I believe that I deserve to be on the world team, but I’m not on the selection committee. Of course, every athlete feels like they should be on the world team.”

Earlier Thursday, the pairs short program produced surprise leaders.

The U.S. Championships continue Friday with the short dance and men’s short program. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss wants Russia out of PyeongChang

Women’s Short Program
1. Karen Chen — 72.82
2. Mirai Nagasu — 71.95
3. Ashley Wagner — 70.94
4. Tessa Hong — 65.02
5. Gracie Gold — 64.85

 

Gwen Jorgensen pregnant, to sit out 2017 triathlon season

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: USA's Gwen Jorgensen followed by Switzerland's Nicola Spirig Hug (L) compete in the running portion of the women's triathlon at Fort Copacabana during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.(Photo by Jeff Pachoud-Pool/Getty Images)
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Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen is pregnant and will not compete this year.

“Just kind of take this year a little bit easier,” Jorgensen said in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The baby is due Aug. 3, according to Jorgensen’s social media.

Jorgensen, 30, became the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion in Rio after going in as the heavy favorite. She has said for months that she planned to take time off to have a baby before returning to defend her Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist, is reportedly expecting a child in May.

In Jorgensen and Spirig’s absences, the top triathletes going into the season are defending world champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, U.S. Olympians Katie Zaferes and Sarah True and Britons Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.

Jorgensen’s last competition was the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, when she finished 14th in her first running race longer than 10 miles.

The World Triathlon Series kicks off in Abu Dhabi the first weekend of March.

MORE: Triathlon federation boss wants Olympic races shortened