Semyon Varlamov

Russian politician says goalie Semyon Varlamov’s arrest meant to weaken Olympic team

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A senior Russian politician says Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov‘s arrest over domestic violence charges is motivated by the U.S. attempting to weaken Russia’s hockey team for the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

“I’m confident of Semyon’s innocence,” State Duma deputy Igor Ananskikh said, according to R-Sport. “I think it is sports and political move, as Varlamov is a candidate for the Russian national team. The main goal is to suspend him from training and games so that he loses practice and misses the Olympics.”

Ananskikh elaborated, according to Voice of Russia.

“The situation is really strange, given that the Sochi Olympics will take place soon and Varlamov is a candidate to become part of our national hockey team which we do count on. What about presumption of innocence? It’s not normal at all. Varlamov will fall out of the training process which will have an impact on his readiness before the Olympics in Sochi. The first thing that comes to my mind is that it is an effort to weaken our national team.”

Varlamov has been the top Russian goalie in the NHL this season and could start for the team at the Sochi Games. The U.S. plays Russia on the second Saturday of the Olympics.

ProHockeyTalk has the details on Varlamov turning himself in after charges of second-degree kidnapping and third-degree assault.

Varlamov’s father told R-Sport that no crime was committed.

UPDATE: Russian hockey executive director Valery Fesyuk had this to say, according to a Russian report translated by Yahoo!:

“This is an unpleasant situation. We can only hope that everything is resolved positively. … It would have been better not to have these types on news at all with less than 100 days before the start of the Games, to the success of which we are investing all our resources.”

Martin Brodeur picks Canada’s Olympic goalies

Usain Bolt wins in injury return, last race before Olympics

Usain Bolt
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Usain Bolt won his first race since suffering a strained hamstring, and his last race before the Olympics, clocking 19.89 to win a 200m in London on Friday night.

Watch the race here. Full meet results are here.

“I’m getting there, I’m not fully in shape, I need more work, but over time I’ll be fine,” Bolt said on the BBC. “I don’t think I executed well. … The key thing is I came out injury-free.”

Bolt ran hard through the line, appearing to grimace in his final several strides after coming around the turn with a small lead. He prevailed over Panama’s Alonso Edward (20.04) and Great Britain’s Adam Gemili (20.07), but the field didn’t include any of Bolt’s biggest perceived Olympic threats.

Bolt last raced three weeks ago, qualifying for the Jamaican Olympic Trials 100m final. He pulled out before the final with the hamstring injury but was still placed on the Olympic team in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay via medical exemption.

He goes into the Olympics (the 100m final is Aug. 14) ranked Nos. 4 and 5 in the world this year in the 100m and 200m but very arguably still the favorite in both races.

In 2012, Bolt was defeated by countryman Yohan Blake in the Jamaican Olympic Trials 100m and 200m, then beat Blake in both races in London.

In 2015, American Justin Gatlin entered the world championships as the world No. 1 in the 100m and 200m. Again, Bolt won both races.

This year’s rankings:
100m
1. Justin Gatlin (USA) — 9.80
2. Trayvon Bromell (USA) — 9.84
3. Jimmy Vicaut (FRA) — 9.86
4. Usain Bolt (JAM) — 9.88

200m
1. LaShawn Merritt (USA) — 19.74
2. Justin Gatlin (USA) — 19.75
3. Ameer Webb (USA) — 19.85
4. Miguel Francis (ANT) — 19.88
5. Usain Bolt (JAM) — 19.89

Earlier Friday, American Keni Harrison broke the 100m hurdles world record, two weeks after failing to make the Olympic team.

The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller ran the fastest women’s 400m in the world this year, a personal-best 49.55, cementing her status as the biggest threat to Allyson Felix in the Olympics.

Felix, who won the Olympic Trials in 49.68, was not in Friday’s race. Felix won the 2015 World Championships in 49.26, with Miller taking silver in 49.67.

Vicaut won the men’s 100m in 10.02 seconds, with a slight tailwind, against a lackluster field.

Vicaut came into this meet as an Olympic medal contender, one of three men to go sub-9.90 multiple times this year, but leaves it with his medal chances slightly lower.

MORE: Details on the U.S. Olympic team, largest of any nation in Rio

Keni Harrison breaks 100m hurdles world record after missing Olympic team

Keni Harrison
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Keni Harrison broke a 28-year-old world record in the 100m hurdles on Friday, two weeks after she failed to make the U.S. Olympic team.

Harrison, 23, clocked 12.20 seconds at a meet in London, beating the old mark by .01. Watch the race here.

In 1988, Bulgaria’s Yordanka Donkova clocked 12.21.

“Not making the Olympic team I was truly upset, and I wanted to come out here and do what I know I could have done,” Harrison said on the BBC. “I was coming out here with a vengeance to show these girls what I have.”

Harrison, who on May 28 broke the American record with a 12.24-second win at the Prefontaine Classic, was sixth at the Olympic Trials on July 8, when the top three made the team for Rio.

The three women who beat Harrison at Trials finished second, third and fourth on Friday — Brianna RollinsKristi Castlin and Nia Ali.

MORE: Details on the U.S. Olympic team, largest of any nation in Rio