Jason Brown

‘Starstruck’ Jason Brown relishes fame

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Does Jason Brown know how popular he’s become? Yes, he’s checked YouTube.

Brown, 19, took second at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships two weeks ago and is the youngest U.S. men’s Olympic singles skater since 1976.

He rocketed to fan favorite status with his Riverdance style free skate Jan. 12, which has more than 2.7 million views on YouTube.

“The most hits that I’ve ever gotten before this was 8,000,” he said in a media teleconference Wednesday. “I would freak out if there was more than 100 people.”

The reception of the sudden and well-earned attention drips off his gushy, bubbly personality.

“It is so beyond everything I ever imagined,” Brown said. “I can’t even put to words how blown away, I don’t even know what to say. It’s so shocking. I don’t even know where to start.”

Brown said he returned to his Colorado training center the day after the U.S. Championships. You might not believe the scene.

“Half the lights are off,” Brown said. “I was the only one at the rink.”

On the ice, nothing has changed for Brown. He’s preparing for the first of what he hopes is three Olympics in Sochi and hoping to improve on his performance at the U.S. Championships.

“I am still the same person before I left for nationals,” he said. “I’m that crazy guy with long hair who loves to skate and loves to perform.”

He’s taken the motto, “Reschedule. Don’t delete,” in adjusting to increased requests for his time and camera crews at his rink.

“I’m not used to the spotlight,” said Brown, whose ponytail has a Twitter account with a few hundred followers. “But I’m really enjoying it.”

He’s asked advice of Olympic coaches and skaters, including Emily and Sarah Hughes, of how to deal with his first major senior international competition in Sochi.

He said he’d relish the chance to pick 1984 Olympic champion Scott Hamilton‘s brain and was told 1948 and 1952 Olympic champion Dick Button was one of the 2.7 million viewers of his YouTube skate.

“That is like oh my gosh,” Brown said. “I don’t even know how to express how crazy cool that is.”

He regrets passing up the chance to meet two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan last year.

“I get really, really starstruck around people,” he said, mentioning his mom urged him to approach Kwan. “I can’t do it. I can’t do it. I can’t do it. [Kwan] left without me even asking for a picture. I was so scared.”

He’s even in awe of his peers. He called a November experience in Paris sharing warm-up ice and a podium with gold-medal favorites Patrick Chan of Canada and Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan surreal.

It came one month after Brown, the reigning world junior silver medalist, was second after the short program in his senior Grand Prix series debut at Skate America. Brown tumbled to fifth after being a little too excited in his free skate then.

It meant the world to rebound in Paris and beat everyone except Chan and Hanyu.

“To be in the press conference after that with those two guys, it really proved that [Skate America] wasn’t a fluke,” Brown said. “It made me believe that anything is possible.”

Brown is unfettered by Sochi security issues, stating matter-of-factly that 16 family members are traveling to watch him.

“I’m going to be bouncing off the walls excited,” Brown said. “At the same time it is a competition, so I will get that focus, after the Opening Ceremony.”

So, does anything rattle Brown? He’s grown from throwing temper tantrums on the ice at 7 or 8 to turning to a psychologist in the rare times he’s upset now — as little as as once a month.

He’s trying to stay grounded and believes he can win a medal in Sochi. It’s not out of the question given the shaky depth of the men’s field.

His motivation? His coach’s first words to him after his dazzling free skate at the U.S. Championships.

“This was a little slow, that could have been better, that was two-footed,” Brown said. “For not even one second did I think that that was the best performance I’ve ever done.”

Russia taps Plushenko for Olympic record attempt

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