Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix, Justin Gatlin headline Shanghai Diamond League; preview

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The second Diamond League meet of the season has a tough act to follow after the opener in Doha produced several memorable events.

Last week, Diamond League records were set in the men’s high jump and women’s 3000m, among seven world-leading performances in the Qatar capital.

The circuit moves to Shanghai for the second of 14 meets Sunday, headlined by Olympic champions Allyson FelixShelly-Ann Fraser-PryceJustin Gatlin and Renaud Lavillenie, who broke the indoor pole vault world record in February.

Universal Sports will have live coverage beginning at 8 a.m. ET Sunday. The full schedule and entry lists can be found here. Here’s the schedule of events Sunday (all times Eastern):

6 a.m. — Women’s long jump
6:10 — Women’s discus
6:25 — Men’s shot put
6:45  – Women’s high jump
7:45 — Men’s pole vault
8:04 — Men’s 400m hurdles
8:13 — Women’s 1500m
8:26 — Men’s 100m
8:27 — Men’s triple jump
8:30 — Men’s javelin
8:36 — Women’s 400m
8:46 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
9:06 — Men’s 800m
9:17 — Women’s 200m
9:26 — Men’s 5000m
9:50 — Men’s 110m hurdles

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s shot put

The field includes the reigning World Championships gold and silver medalists, German David Storl and American Ryan Whiting, the two-time reigning Olympic champion Pole Tomasz Majewski and the 2014 world leader, American Christian Cantwell.

Cantwell missed much of last season due to injury, but he may well be the favorite given he has three of the four best throws this season, including one of 21.85m, which would have won last year’s World Championship.

Men’s 100m

The reigning world silver medalist Gatlin is the man to watch here after he clocked 10.02 seconds into a massive 3.5 m/s headwind in Tokyo last Sunday.

Gatlin’s goal over the next two seasons is to break Tyson Gay‘s American record of 9.69. Gatlin’s personal best is 9.79. He’ll be pushed in Shanghai by world bronze medalist Nesta Carter of Jamaica and American Mike Rodgers. Expect the winner to set a new world-leading time for 2014, if the wind is legal, given the best so far is 9.98.

Women’s 400m

This is Felix’s third attempt at a season debut after she pulled out of meets in Kingston, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands. Felix, who tore her right hamstring in the 200m final at the 2013 World Championships, has said she’s going to run more 400m races this year, so finally opening with a one-lap event is fitting.

She’ll take on the woman who clipped her for 2011 World Championships gold, Botswana’s Amantle Montsho, and the 2014 World Indoor champion, American Francena McCorory.

The Olympic 200m champion Felix switched from the 400m to the 100m as her complementary event after losing to Montsho by .03 in 2011, but she said last year she’s favoring the 400m over the 100m in this Olympic cycle. This could be her first step toward Rio in that respect.

Women’s 200m

The triple 2013 world champion Fraser-Pryce is running her second straight Diamond League meet after taking a 100m in Doha last week. She’s using this non-Olympic, non-World Outdoor Championship year to put more work into the 200m.

The Jamaican already won a 200m in Kingston on May 3 in 22.53, but the world leader is American Joanna Atkins at 22.27. Atkins is not in the field in Shanghai, but U.S. champion Kimberlyn Duncan is. Duncan also has a 22.53 this year, but she was beaten by Fraser-Pryce in Kingston.

Also watch out for two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, who hasn’t run the 200m since it was revealed she failed a drug test last year. World bronze medalist Blessing Okagbare and U.S. 100m champion English Gardner are also in the field.

Men’s 110m hurdles

This is the finale at Shanghai Stadium, and for good reason as it is the most popular track event in China since Liu Xiang‘s Olympic title in 2004. Liu is not in the field. Very little has been seen of the Chinese megastar since he hobbled out of the Olympics with an Achilles injury for the second straight Games.

Instead, this race was supposed to feature Olympic champion and world record holder Aries Merritt against the man who previously held both titles, Cuban Dayron Robles. But Merritt pulled out of the meet due to health issues this week.

Robles’ world record from 2008 is 12.87 seconds, but he hasn’t bettered 13.10 in nearly three years. The winner is more likely to be one of the 2013 World Championships medalists — David OliverRyan Wilson or Sergey Shubenkov.

Yohan Blake wants to try a different sport after sprinting

Ted Ligety recovers for fifth place in return from torn ACL

SOELDEN, AUSTRIA - OCTOBER 23: Ted Ligety of USA in action during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Men's Giant Slalom on October 23, 2016 in Soelden, Austria (Photo by Alain Grosclaude/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
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SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — For once, Ted Ligety could live with finishing fifth in an event he had won four times in the previous five years.

At least he’s back racing again.

The Olympic and world giant slalom champion returned to the Alpine skiing World Cup on Sunday, nine months after tearing the ACL in his right knee in a training accident.

In 14th place and 1.49 seconds off the lead after the opening run, Ligety vastly improved in the second and climbed nine spots in the traditional first race of the season on a mountain glacier in the Austrian Alps.

“I am not here to get 10th place. Even though that wouldn’t be a horrible result for the first time back, I like to be challenging for a podium,” Ligety told The Associated Press between runs.

He came 1.65 behind the dominant winner, Alexis Pinturault of France, but the result made him smile.

“I’m definitely happy with fifth place to start it off with,” Ligety said. “In the second run I charged a little harder. I skied well, for sure. I definitely felt a little bit more confident than in the first run where I was on the conservative side.”

The knee injury occurred in Germany in January. By that time, “my season was already messed up from smaller injuries, anyway” as he dealt with back and hip ailments.

After his season got off to a strong start by winning in Soelden and coming runner-up in a super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in early December, the physical troubles took their toll and he failed to finish most races.

The training crash then caused the first season-ending injury in his 13-year-old career.

“During the first couple of weeks, watching races on the couch was less than fun, and a couple of weeks later watching races on the spinning bike was even less fun,” Ligety said. “But it makes you hungry to race again, too.”

The American called himself “lucky that there was no more damage” because “an ACL is a pretty straight forward thing” which many skiers have to deal with in their careers.

“You’re more likely to win an Olympic gold medal in skiing if you have had an ACL so I am joining a better statistical group now,” he joked.

Physically fit again but with less training on snow than usual, Ligety returned to the mountain in Austria where he won a record five times in total, most recently a year ago for the last of his 25 World Cup victories.

“My knee doesn’t bother me at all skiing, it’s just about finding that next high speed gear. I am not there yet but I am happy to race.”

Usually an all-round competitor, Ligety will first try to regain his old strength in GS before getting other disciplines back onto his schedule.

He planned to do some super-G races but could well stay away from what used to be his strongest discipline when he entered the World Cup in 2003 — the slalom. This summer, he trained in that discipline only for one day.

“The last couple of years, slalom has not been such a good return on investment for me so I’m not really putting too much into that,” he said. “I’ll ski some slaloms if it works out schedule-wise and training-wise.”

Though his chances to win an overall World Cup title one day are decreasing, the 32-year-old double Olympic champion has enough ambitions left.

“Like every year, the giant slalom globe is the big goal,” said Ligety, who won the prize for the best skier in the discipline five times. “Obviously this year I don’t have the same awesome prep period and miles as I would normally. The world champs (in Switzerland in February) is coming up also and it would be nice to defend the GS title again.”


Gracie Gold details weight issues in figure skating after Skate America struggles

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Gracie Gold said she has struggled with weight issues this whole year and in recent seasons in reported comments after she finished fifth at Skate America on Saturday.

“You don’t often see — there aren’t that many — you just don’t see overweight figure skaters for a reason,” Gold said, according to USA Today. “It’s just something I’ve struggled with this whole year and in previous seasons. It’s just difficult when you’re trying to do the difficult triple jumps. It’s something that I am addressing, but it’s obviously not where it should be for this caliber of competition.

“It’s just not what’s required for this sport. It’s a lean body sport, and it’s just not what I have currently.”

Gold fell once in her Skate America short program and twice in her free skate en route to her lowest Grand Prix finish (excluding Grand Prix Finals) since her debut at 2012 Skate Canada.

Gold also finished sixth out of six skaters in her first competition this season, the free-skate-only Japan Open on Oct. 1.

Gold was fourth at the world championships in April, falling from first after the short program. The U.S. champion was still dealing with that “worlds depression” in the summer, even considering skipping the fall Grand Prix season.

Her next scheduled competition is in three weeks at Trophée de France in Paris, which she won last season.

“We just need to adjust my physical shape and mental shape and see if the program can be salvaged for the rest of the year,” Gold said, according to

MORE: Full figure skating season broadcast schedule