Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt takes 100 meters in Brussels; Diamond League finale analysis, video

1 Comment

Usain Bolt completed his season with a 100-meter victory in a solid but not spectacular 9.80 seconds in the Diamond League finale in Brussels on Friday.

Bolt, whose pre-race antics were tame by his standards, held his finger to his mouth to hush the crowd. He got off to an average start, took a clear lead around the halfway point and beat American Mike Rodgers by one tenth of a second.

“If I had got the better start it would’ve been 9.70,” Bolt said, according to the BBC.

World bronze medalist Nesta Carter and world silver medalist Justin Gatlin took third and fourth, respectively, both in 9.94 seconds.

Gatlin handed Bolt his only loss of 2013 in June, but Bolt ramped up as the summer went on, while Gatlin stayed fairly level. Bolt’s season’s best was his 9.77 in the World Championship final.

“It’s my last race of the season, the time’s close to my season’s best, I’m happy,” Bolt said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Bolt said this was his last race of the season, but 2014 could be interesting. He could run in the Commonwealth Games for the first time, and his biggest rival, Yohan Blake, will return from a hamstring injury.

Who knows, he could also race British distance great Mo Farah for charity, act in a film and play for Manchester United.

“It was not the perfect season or the best of my career,” Bolt said, according to the BBC. “But the best thing is I finished on top and dominated.”

Other notes from the Diamond League finale:

Jamaican triple world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce posted another dominant performance, taking the 100 in 10.72 with a .3 tailwind. Fraser-Pryce came up .01 shy of her world-leading time for 2013 and .02 short of her career best. Next closest was American Alexandria Anderson in 10.97.

Jamaica Warren Weir won the 200 in 19.88, edging countryman Nickel Ashmeade (19.93) and American Walter Dix (20.12). Weir, 23, perhaps the heir apparent to Bolt in the 200, took silver to Bolt at worlds in a season’s best 19.79. Dix, the double 2011 world silver medalist, posted a season’s best while wearing a camouflage body suit as he continues to return from injury.

2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson came from behind to beat 2012 Olympic champion Sally Pearson in the 100 hurdles. Harper-Nelson celebrated a mildly surprising win in 12.48 over Pearson (12.63) with a cartwheel. It marked Harper-Nelson’s fastest time of the year.

Ethiopian Mohammed Aman posted perhaps the most impressive time on the track in winning the 800 in a season’s best time of 1:42.37. The world champion bettered surging world silver medalist Nick Symmonds with a time nearly one second faster than any other this year. Granted, world record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha has missed most of the season due to injury. The American Symmonds took second in 1:43.03, the second fastest time in the world this year.

American Ryan Whiting won the shot put with a throw of 21.45 meters. In a breakthrough season, Whiting won the overall Diamond League title, a silver medal at worlds and the four farthest throws in the world.

American Natasha Hastings upset a strong field in the 400 in 50.36. World gold and silver medalists Christine Ohurougu and Amantle Montsho, who were also in the field Friday, were one second faster than Hastings’ winning time Friday in Moscow.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon won the 400-meter hurdles in 48.32, his first race since winning the world title by .01 over American Michael Tinsley in Moscow. Gordon had won the world title in 47.69.

Ethiopian-turned-Swede Abeba Aregawi, the world champion, won her sixth Diamond League 1,500 of the season in 4:05.41. American Jenny Simpson, the world silver medalist, was among a handful of runners who fell in a pileup at the start of the final lap.

Americans Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat led at different parts of the final lap of the 5,000, but it was Ethiopian Yenew Alamirew who prevailed in 12:58.75. Lagat held on for second in 12:58.99, while Rupp was fifth in 13:01.37. Another American, steeplechaser Evan Jager, took eighth, setting a personal best by 12 seconds.

Usain Bolt plans to retire after 2016 Olympics

Follow @nzaccardi

U.S. men look to fill Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte void at swim worlds

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Michael Phelps retired and Ryan Lochte suspended, the superstars at the world swimming championships clearly lie on the women’s side.

But the men’s events will include world-record chasers, a stinging rivalry and, perhaps, the emergence of Phelps and Lochte’s successor as leading U.S. man.

Caeleb Dressel came through in Rio under arguably the most pressure of any swimmer, starting off the U.S. 4x100m freestyle relay team in his very first Olympic splash with a personal-best time.

Dressel, a 20-year-old who nearly quit swimming three years ago as the No. 1 recruit in the nation, has nine events to choose from at worlds in Budapest starting Sunday.

He qualified in four individual events — 50m and 100m butterflies and freestyles — and is eligible for all five relays (two mixed-gender).

In the last 15 years, only two U.S. men have raced in four individual events at a single Olympics or world championships — Phelps and Lochte.

Dressel is in the medal mix in all of his individual events, ranking No. 1 in the world this year in the 100m fly, No. 3 in the 50m free, No. 4 in the 100m free and No. 5 in the 50m fly. He is also almost guaranteed medals in any relays that he enters given the unmatched U.S. depth.

Dressel has never been to a worlds and raced just one individual event in Rio. He’s the potential breakout star on a U.S. team, surrounded by more proven names.

SWIMMING WORLDS: TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview | Event Schedule

Ryan Murphy, who swam for the same Jacksonville, Fla., club team as Dressel, swept the backstrokes in Rio and broke the 100m back world record leading off the medley relay. That dominance has not quite carried over so far in 2017. Murphy ranks third in the world in the 100m and 200m backs this year.

Chase Kalisz, a longtime Phelps training partner in Baltimore, has followed up his Rio Olympic 400m individual medley silver medal well this year. He chopped two seconds off his personal best in the 200m IM and goes into Budapest ranked No. 1 in the world in the 400m IM by nearly a half-second.

The U.S. boasts more medal threats including Nathan Adrian (sprint freestyles), Townley Haas (200m free), Cody Miller and Kevin Cordes (breaststrokes), but nobody is a clear favorite.

The surest bets are world-record holders Adam Peaty and Ippei Watanabe in the breaststrokes and Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri in the 1500m free. Paltrinieri could challenge a five-year-old world record held by Sun Yang.

Speaking of Sun, the mercurial Chinese superstar is set to renew his rivalry with Australian Mack Horton. In Rio, Horton memorably called Sun “a drug cheat,” in reference to Sun’s three-month suspension in 2014 for using a banned stimulant.

Horton then went out and beat Sun in the 400m freestyle, dethroning the Olympic and world champion. Horton and Sun could face off in four individual events in Budapest.

Key men’s finals:

Sunday, July 23
400m freestyle — Sun has been two seconds faster than Horton this year
4x100m freestyle relay — Olympic silver medalist France won’t defend world title; U.S. favored

Monday, July 24
100m breaststroke — Peaty has the eight fastest times ever and fastest by .95 this year

Tuesday, July 25
200m freestyle — Haas the only man within .64 of Sun in 2017
100m backstroke — Rio silver medalist Xu Jiayu was .01 shy of Murphy’s WR in April

Wednesday, July 26
200m butterfly — Japan and Hungary lead the post-Phelps-era world; Chad le Clos ranks 8th in 2017
800m freestyle — Italian Gabriele Detti fastest in 2017 by six seconds, but slower than Sun’s winning times in 2011, 2013, 2015

Thursday, July 27
200m individual medley — Phelps, Lochte won the last 12 Olympic/world titles
100m freestyle — Reigning Olympic and world champions’ absences open door for Adrian, Dressel

Friday, July 28
200m backstroke — U.S. won 14 of the last 15 Olympic/world titles, including Murphy in Rio
200m breaststroke — Watanabe broke WR in January; surprise Olympic champ Dmitriy Balandin ranks No. 127 this year
4x200m freestyle relay — U.S., without Lochte, Phelps, looks to take world title back from Great Britain

Saturday, July 29
50m freestyle — Reigning Olympic and world champions’ absences open door for Adrian, Dressel
100m butterfly — Joseph Schooling eyes Phelps’ WR, but Dressel ranks No. 1 in 2017

Sunday, July 30
400m individual medley — Kalisz ranks No. 1 in 2017, but time is .94 slower than Kosuke Hagino in Rio
1500m freestyle — Sun holds WR of 14:31 but hasn’t broken 14:55 since 2014
4x100m medley relay — Great Britain will lean on Peaty to challenge U.S.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Michael Phelps not itching to return like in 2013

Katie Ledecky eyes more history as women to star at swimming worlds

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The year after the Olympics isn’t always known for it, but there should be fireworks in the women’s events at the world swimming championships in Budapest next week.

Katie Ledecky could match Missy Franklin‘s record of six gold medals at a single worlds by swimming one more event than she did at the 2015 Worlds and 2016 Olympics. Judging by Ledecky’s times at the U.S. Championships last month, the rising Stanford sophomore is in her usual dominant form.

Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, swimming in front of her home fans, could try to equal Ledecky with four individual golds in backstrokes and individual medleys.

Swede Sarah Sjostrom could do the same in the 50m and 100m butterflies and freestyles, where world records are under threat.

Ledecky, Hosszu and Sjostrom are all bidding to become the first women to three-peat in an individual event at worlds.

Then there’s the return of the greatest rivalry in swimming. After their memorable Rio duel, King and Yulia Efimova rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year in all three breaststrokes.

Spain’s Mireia Belmonte and American Leah Smith have never won an individual world title, but they could be the busiest swimmers of all next week.

Belmonte could race 7,4000 total meters if she makes every event final. Smith could get up to 7,000 meters. Both would outdistance Ledecky and Hosszu in mileage.

SWIMMING WORLDS: TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview | Event Schedule

The women’s program could have been even more loaded if not for two notable absences. Australian Cate Campbell, the 100m freestyle world-record holder, is sitting out world champs.

Australia beat the U.S. in the 4x100m free relay at the 2015 Worlds and 2016 Olympics, but without Campbell, the Americans are about even with the Aussies. Ledecky’s bid for six golds could hang on this race on the opening night.

Ledecky also greatly benefits from Sjostrom’s decision to skip the 200m freestyle. In Rio, Sjostrom was the closest swimmer to Ledecky in her individual events, coming .35 shy in the 200m free while outsplitting Ledecky in the final 50 meters.

Key women’s finals:

Sunday, July 23
400m freestyle — Ledecky hasn’t lost a 400m free since the 2012 Olympic Trials
4x100m freestyle relay — Showdown with Campbell-less Australia crucial for Ledecky’s six-gold bid

Monday, July 24
100m butterfly — Sjostrom’s only competition is her world record of 55.48
200m individual medley — Nobody has been within a second of Hosszu this year

Tuesday, July 25
100m backstroke — Kylie Masse was .09 off the longest-standing women’s swimming world record at Canadian Champs
1500m freestyle — Ledecky is 25 seconds faster than anyone else this year
100m breaststroke — Efimova is .13 faster than King this year

Wednesday, July 26
200m freestyle — Ledecky’s toughest individual event made easier by Sjostrom’s absence

Thursday, July 27
200m butterfly — Olympic champ Belmonte eyes first world title; Nos. 2, 3, 4 from Rio absent
4x200m freestyle relay — China is strong, but Ledecky is the U.S.’ ace in the hole

Friday, July 28
100m freestyle — Heavy favorite Sjostrom .02 off the world record in June
200m breaststroke — Efimova is two seconds faster than second-ranked King this year

Saturday, July 29
200m backstroke — Kathleen Baker can inherit throne from retired Maya DiRado 
800m freestyle — Likely Ledecky’s sixth and final event, could match Franklin’s gold record

Sunday, July 30
50m freestyle — No. of sub-24-second times this year — Sjostrom: 6; Rest of World: 0
400m individual medley — Hosszu, after breaking WR by two seconds in Rio, slower this year
4x100m medley relay — U.S. should gap Australia, China on breaststroke leg

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Michael Phelps not itching to return like in 2013

*Correction: The integrity of a Lilly King quote attributed to Agence France-Presse in earlier version of this story has been called into question and was removed.