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

Mikaela Shiffrin wins Aspen World Cup slalom

Leave a comment

With a slalom win today in Aspen, Colo., Mikaela Shiffrin broke some of the barriers she had been chasing.

“I don’t know if the stars will ever align like that again,” Shiffrin said in a media conference after being told she won with the biggest margin of victory in the history of women’s slalom since 1968: 3.07 seconds. “I don’t think [my competitors] are going to let me get away with three seconds ever again.”

En route to her fourth consecutive slalom World Cup title – which would tie the record for the most with Switzerland’s Vreni Schneider from 1992-95 – she became the first female skier to win four World Cup slalom races in a row since Austria’s Marlies Schild did it in the 2011-12 season.

In addition, Shiffrin became the first female skier from the U.S. to win a slalom World Cup race in Aspen. And she’s now tied with France’s Perrine Pelen for sixth overall with total slalom World Cup victories.

“I was pissed after I made that ridiculous mistake yesterday,” Shiffrin said to media, referencing yesterday’s giant slalom crash. Both her and Lindsey Vonn crashed and did not finish in Aspen’s giant slalom. “I tried to use that anger today.”

Shiffrin called the mistake a “brainfart” and Vonn dismissed it because “giant slalom isn’t [her] strongest event.”

But, Shiffrin added that she already has her mind set on tomorrow, where she races slalom again, on NBC at 3 p.m. ET. The complete of the Olympic sports schedule is here.

“I just as quickly have to go back and settle in,” she said. “Tomorrow is a new race. I have to find a different motivation and try to take the same mentality and keep fighting.”

Slovakia’s Veronika Velez Zuzulova was second behind Shiffrin, followed by Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter.

By finishing behind Shiffrin in Aspen, Zuzulova extends her slalom World Cup podium finish streak to four.

Hansdotter has the second-most second place World Cup slalom finishes at 13 total, including today’s race. Only Pernilla Wiberg, of Sweden, has more with a total of 14.

MORE: Shiffrin, Vonn discuss friendship and rivalry

Fencing great Valentina Vezzali fails to qualify for Rio 2016

Mario Monti, Valentina Vezzali
Leave a comment

TURIN, Italy (AP) – Six-time Olympic champion fencer Valentina Vezzali has failed to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.

The 41-year-old Vezzali was eliminated in the second round of the foil event at the Trofeo Inalpi meet Saturday, while Italian teammate Arianna Errigo reached the semifinals and gained the necessary points to qualify.

Vezzali won at least one gold at the last five Olympics in either individual or team foil. She has a total of nine Olympic medals and 25 at world championships.

Her second son was born in 2013, the year in which she also became a member of Italy’s parliament.

Vezzali told the Gazzetta dello Sport this week that “I had another son and it was really difficult to come back. … I don’t think I have anything else to prove.”

MORE: Hanyu, Miyahara win NHK; Wagner into Grand Prix Final