Justin Gatlin

Mixed finishes for Allyson Felix, Justin Gatlin in Shanghai (video)

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Allyson Felix and Justin Gatlin produced differing results in their Diamond League season debuts in Shanghai on Sunday.

Felix finished fifth in a 400m race, her first competition since tearing her hamstring in the 200m final at the 2013 World Championships on Aug. 16.

Felix, the most decorated U.S. female track and field athlete with six Olympic medals and 10 World Championships medals, ran one lap in 50.81 seconds, a half-second behind winner Novlene Williams-Mills.

Felix has said she is focusing more on the 400m this year as a complementary event to her 200m specialty. Last May, she ran a 400m in 50.19. In 2011, when she also put emphasis on the 400m, Felix recorded her personal best of 49.59 in winning a world silver.

In the 100m, Gatlin posted a world-leading 9.92 seconds, dominating after 30 meters and dusting the field by two tenths with zero wind.

“I have much more left in the tank,” Gatlin said, according to The Associated Press. “I cruised at 9.92 with no wind. I felt I made it look easy.”

World bronze medalist Nesta Carter was second in 10.12, followed by American Mike Rodgers in 10.18.

Jamaican stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake have yet to debut at 100m this season but will chase Gatlin’s mark in races over the next month.

The Diamond League next moves to Eugene, Ore., for the Prefontaine Classic on May 31.

In other results Sunday, Nigerian Blessing Okagbare won the long jump and the 200m, two events she earned medals in last year’s World Championships.

In the 200m, Okagbare crossed first in 22.36 seconds. Jamaican world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce pulled out of the meet with a reported shin injury, and two-time Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown faded to fifth in 23.08.

Olympic champion and world record holder Renaud Lavillenie won the pole vault with a top clearance of 5.92 meters.

China’s Xie Wenjun shocked the 110m hurdles field to win in a personal best 13.23. Xie defeated all three 2013 World Championships medalists and the 2008 Olympic champion, with 2004 Olympic champion and Chinese superstar Liu Xiang smiling in the stands.

World champion David Oliver was third in 13.28. Beijing Olympic champion Dayron Robles was sixth in 13.48.

Beijing Olympic silver medalist Christian Cantwell continued his spectacular early season shot put form with a winning 21.73m throw. Cantwell, who missed much of last season due to injury, has four of the top six throws this year.

Olympic and world silver medalist Michael Tinsley emerged after the final hurdle to win the 400m hurdles in 48.77. World champion Jehue Gordon was sixth in 49.56.

Abeba Aregawi pulled away to beat American Jenny Simpson in a battle of the last two world 1500m champions. The Swede Aregawi clocked 3:58.72 and became the first woman under four minutes this year.

Emma Coburn notched a rare American 3000m steeplechase victory in 9:19.80, beating a field that included all three 2013 World Championships medalists by 5.96 seconds.

Miracle on Ice gold medal sells at auction

U.S. figure skating could have its best world team since 2006

Nathan Chen performs during the men's free skate competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP
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KANSAS CITY — U.S. figure skating has a shot at medals in three of four disciplines at the world championships in Helsinki in two months, which hasn’t happened in 11 years.

Before this year, the U.S. men and U.S. women hadn’t boasted simultaneous medal contenders in a decade. Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek spent the 2010 Olympic cycle in the world elite, while the U.S. women faded. After they stopped competing, Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold moved into the women’s medal field while the U.S. searched for a new leading man.

He’s arrived. Nathan Chen confirmed he is one of the world’s best male skaters by landing a record seven quadruple jumps between two programs at Sprint Center this past week.

The 17-year-old already made the podium in an event that featured the world’s best, earning silver at the Grand Prix Final in December. Chen struggled with his short-program jumps at the Grand Prix Final and attempted one fewer quad overall yet still outscored everybody but Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu.

Of all of the U.S. medal hopes at worlds, Chen may face the stiffest trio of challengers. Not only is there Hanyu, but also two-time reigning world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain, plus Japan’s Shoma Uno, all of whom rank higher than Chen in best total scores in international competition this season.

MORE: Chen believes Olympic gold is possible after U.S. title

Wagner, who shares a coach with Chen, did not have her best nationals. She finished second to surprise winner Karen Chen (no relation to Nathan), who has yet to factor internationally.

But Wagner said before and after the U.S. Championships that her focus was to peak for the world championships. The goal for nationals was to make the world team, which required not winning but finishing in the top three. Mission accomplished.

The concern with Wagner is that she hasn’t produced a world medal-caliber result yet this season. Her best score from the fall ranks her sixth among women going to worlds. But Wagner has shown in the last few seasons that she can pull it together for major events. There’s her 2016 World Championships silver medal, plus her three straight Grand Prix Final medals from 2012-14.

At worlds, Wagner will have to deal with a Russian trio capable of sweeping the podium, three strong Japanese skaters, plus the revelation of this season, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond.

VIDEO: Wagner passed Puffs in emotional press conference moment

The U.S.’ strongest discipline continues to be ice dance. Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished second and third at the 2016 World Championships. They went one-two at the U.S. Championships this past week.

But two ice dance medals don’t appear to be in the cards in Helsinki. That’s because Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who earned gold and silver at the last two Olympics, came back this season after a two-year break.

Virtue and Moir broke international scoring records in the fall, sweeping their four starts. The two-time reigning world champions, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, also beat the U.S. couples at the Grand Prix Final.

The Shibutani siblings and Chock and Bates have never finished ahead of Virtue and Moir in competition. Neither has bettered the French since the December 2014 Grand Prix Final, either.

But all it takes is one dance medal, plus Chen and Wagner at their best in Helsinki, and the U.S. could go into the Olympic year in its best place since 2006.

MORE: Gracie Gold comments on split from coach Frank Carroll

Laurie Hernandez discusses life after Rio, new book on TODAY (video)

Laurie Hernandez
TODAY
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Laurie Hernandez‘s book, “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond,” is out Tuesday, and the Olympic champion gymnast stopped by TODAY on Monday to discuss its contents and life post-Rio.

An excerpt on Hernandez’s experience in Rio and the story of her floor-exercise wink to judges, is here.

On TODAY, Hernandez discussed another interesting anecdote from the book about tissues.

“Before Olympic Trials, we went out to eat, and I had a little breakdown because practice was really rough, and my routines weren’t coming the way I wanted them to,” she said. “This poor waitress kept bringing me over piles of tissues. … We were leaving, and my sister [Jelysa] told my dad, I’m going to save these tissues. I’m going to give them to her when she makes the team. I’m thinking to myself, you guys are crazy, this is not going to happen.”

Hernandez went on to finish second to Simone Biles at the Olympic Trials and make the five-woman Olympic team as the first U.S. female Olympian born in the 2000s.

The family celebrated the achievement, where Jelysa handed the tissues to Hernandez in a bag.

“Even when you fell, you couldn’t believe in yourself, we were there for you,” Jelysa told her.

“So it was a really defining moment,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez is away from gymnastics while promoting her book and touring with “Dancing with the Stars,” but she is expected to return to the sport at some point.

MORE: Hernandez explains 2017 goals: First date, driver’s license, Law & Order