Usain Bolt

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

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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

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Wagner, Asada, Hanyu headline NHK Trophy in Japan; Grand Prix Final berths on the line

Ashley Wagner
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Three-time U.S. national champion Ashley Wagner looks to qualify for her fourth consecutive Grand Prix Final at this weekend’s NHK Trophy in Nagano, Japan. A medal of any color should be good enough to get her to Barcelona, but she faces a tough field.

Japan’s Mao Asada returned to competition this season and is poised to qualify for the most elite competition since the Sochi Olympics (where she finished sixth) and 2014 World Championships (which she won). Finishing on the podium would earn a berth to the final for Asada. Also in the field are Americans Mirai Nagasu and Courtney Hicks, Japan’s Satoko Miyahara, and one of Russia’s darlings from last season, Anna Pogorilaya.

Olympic champion and last year’s Grand Prix Final winner Yuzuru Hanyu, surely to be the overwhelming crowd favorite in the men’s field, will look to improve his short program results from his other Grand Prix appearance. At Skate Canada, two of his three jumping passes recceived zero points. He rallied in the free skate, finishing second behind Canada’s Patrick Chan. Chan is essentially a lock for the final, while a top three finish would seal the deal for Hanyu.

MORE: Javier Fernandez qualifies for second straight home Grand Prix Final

Other men in the hunt for Grand Prix Final berths competing in Nagano include China’s Jin Boyang and Russia’s Maxim Kovtun, who also need podium finishes to lock up spots in Barcelona. Jin’s and Kovtun’s finishes will likely dictate whether or not American Max Aaron qualifies to the final. More on that process here. No U.S. man has qualified since Jeremy Abbott did it in 2011.

MORE: Jason Brown withdraws from NHK Trophy

Reigining U.S. pairs champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim can make the Grand Prix Final with a medal in Japan.

The U.S. is sending three ice dance couples to Japan, of which two have a shot at qualifying for Barcelona. Siblings and Sochi Olympians Maia and Alex Shibutani can finish in any 1-2 combination with Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue allowing for both duos to qualify for the final. Madison Chock and Evan Bates, U.S. ice dance champions, already qualified. will stream for subscribers live coverage of men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance short programs and free skates. NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Men’s short program — Friday, 2:10 a.m. ET (start order here)
Women’s short program — Friday, 5:05 a.m. ET (start order here)
Men’s free skate — Saturday, 2:30 a.m. ET
Women’s free skate — Saturday, 5:35 a.m. ET

Inside the #RoadtoRio photo shoots

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NBC Olympics
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Bringing together over 100 Summer Olympians and Olympic hopefuls with puppies, samba dancers and supermodels, NBC Olympics and the United States Olympic Committee partnered for an extensive five-day media summit in West Hollywood, Ca. The athletes took part in photo shoots, interviews and video segments all in preparation for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over the course of the summit, participants shared behind-the-scenes moments on social media using the #RoadtoRio hashtag. NBC Olympics also launched its official Snapchat account, with the username NBCOlympics. Here are some of the highlights:

Olympians fell in puppy love:


Then got a crash course in Brazil’s signature dance, the samba:


A photobooth with props let the athletes–and even Bob Costas–show off their silly sides:


Olympic fans like Alessandra Ambrosio and Flula dropped by:


In between shoots, athletes from different sports mingled:


The faux-Rio beach was the perfect set:


But these Olympic stars needed only a simple white backdrop to shine:

Wait who is the Olympian here! Linnéa stealing the show at the @nbcolympics #roadtorio

A photo posted by Alysia Montaño (@alysiamontano) on


Follow NBC Olympics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat (username NBCOlympics).


MORE: ‘Race’ film poster unveiled