Jeneba Tarmoh

Jeneba Tarmoh, Oregon WR win USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships

Leave a comment

Jeneba Tarmoh left no doubt at the U.S. Championships on Sunday, two years after her famous tie with Allyson Felix at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

University of Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen and World bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell also won track titles in Sacramento, Calif., where on-track temperatures reportedly topped 120 degrees.

Tarmoh won the 200m in 22.06 seconds. Last year’s U.S. champion, Kimberlyn Duncan, was second in 22.1 with a 3.8 m/s tailwind.

“I really just tried to stay focused on my finish,” Tarmoh told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “My coach told me to stay relaxed. That’s exactly what I did.”

In 2012, Tarmoh and Felix tied for third in the 100m at the Olympic Trials, where three women make the Olympic Team in the event. There were no tiebreaker procedures in place, officials determined a runoff to decide the spot, and Tarmoh ceded it to Felix rather than run.

Tarmoh still made the Olympic Team in the 4x100m relay that won gold (Tarmoh ran in the first round to earn her medal but not the final). She went on to finish fifth in the 200m at the 2013 World Championships. Felix tore her hamstring and fell to the track in the same race.

Now, Tarmoh, at 24, is a U.S. champion for the first time. She owed her ability to focus at such a big meet to her experience.

“It’s very hard, but I think it’s practice, being a professional for probably three years now,” Tarmoh said. “It doesn’t happen in one year. It definitely takes time.”

The track and field season continues with the resumption of the Diamond League in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday. There, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay will face off in the 100m in Gay’s return from a doping suspension.

In other events Sunday, University of Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen followed his NCAA Championship with the U.S. title in the 110m hurdles. Allen’s dip at the line earned him a victory over 2013 U.S. champion Ryan Wilson in a photo finish — 13.155 to 13.160 (video here).

Allen’s time, rounded up to 13.16, was the same mark he set to win the NCAA title in Eugene, Ore., two weeks ago.

Allen, a redshirt freshman at Oregon last year, caught two touchdowns in the school’s May spring game and was named MVP. Allen said football was his priority after he won the NCAA title.

In the men’s 200m, the heat slowed World bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell, but not until after he won the race.

Mitchell edged two-time Olympian Wallace Spearmon and grabbed his right hamstring shortly after crossing the finish line in 20.13, .09 faster than Spearmon.

“I’m fine, just hot conditions out here,” Mitchell said. “I’ll be OK.”

The 2011 World champion Jenny Simpson comfortably won the 1500m in 4:04.96. Mary Cain, a professional who graduated high school one week ago, was second in 4:06.34.

Bershawn Jackson, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, fell after the first hurdle in the 400m hurdles and was helped off the track. Johnny Dutch won his first U.S. title (in his seventh try) about 350m later in 48.93.

Duane Solomon, an Olympic and World finalist, quickly took the lead in the 800m and was not challenged down the stretch. He won by 1.67 in 1:44.3.

The 2012 World Junior champion Ajee’ Wilson captured the 800m in 1:58.7. World bronze medalist Brenda Martinez was fifth.

The 2013 NCAA champion Kori Carter won the 400m hurdles in 53.84, the second fastest time in the world this year. Only Jamaican Kaliese Spencer has run faster.

Inika McPherson outlasted three-time Olympian Chaunte Lowe and Olympic and World silver medalist Brigetta Barrett to win the high jump with a personal best 2m clearance.

Olympian Evan Jager won the 3000m steeplechase in 8:18.83.

Two-time reigning NCAA champion Sam Kendricks took the pole vault by clearing 5.75m.

Olympian Gia Lewis-Smallwood won her second straight U.S. discus title with a 65.96m throw. London teammate Sean Furey threw 81.1m to prevail in the javelin.

Jeff Henderson leaped 8.52m to win the long jump.

Oscar Pistorius trial set to resume Monday

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
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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