Tori Bowie

Tori Bowie, Justin Gatlin star at Monaco Diamond League meet

Leave a comment

Tori Bowie and Justin Gatlin ran eye-popping sprints at the Monaco Diamond League meet Friday, when hoped-for world records in two men’s events did not come to fruition.

Bowie, back from a leg injury at the U.S. Championships on June 27, ran a personal-best 10.80 seconds to beat a field that included Olympic and World 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the last two Olympic 200m champions, Allyson Felix and Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Bowie has only been primarily a sprinter since March, when she switched her focus off the long jump. Her personal best before this season was 11.14. She is now the fastest woman in the world this year and 17th-fastest of all time after winning Friday’s race with a .8m/s tailwaind.

Campbell-Brown was second to Bowie in 10.96. Felix and Fraser-Pryce were fifth and sixth, respectively, in 11.01.

Gatlin, the fastest 100m man in the world this year, made a rare appearance in a 200m and made the most of it. He beat a field that included Tyson Gay in 19.68 seconds, smashing his personal best of 19.86 from 2002.

It’s the fastest time in the world this year and would have finished second to Usain Bolt at last year’s World Championships, .02 behind. Bolt’s win came with zero wind. Gatlin ran into a .5 m/s headwind.

Gay was fourth in 20.22 on Friday.

The men’s 1500m was the most anticipated event of the meet, with World champion Asbel Kiprop expected to take a run at the world record of 3:26.

It was not to be, as countryman Silas Kiplagat passed Kiprop on the final straightaway to win in 3:27.64. Kiprop was eyeing Hicham El Guerrouj‘s world record from 1998. Instead, he fell from fourth to fifth fastest all time with Kiplagat taking his place behind El Guerrouj, Bernard Lagat and Noureddine Morceli.

There were no world-record attempts in the men’s high jump, won by Ukraine World champion Bohdan Bondarenko, who cleared 2.40m. Bondarenko and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim have made attempts to better the 21-year-old world record of 2.45m this year.

Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha finished fifth in a scintillating 800m. Botswana Olympic silver medalist Nijel Amos won in 1:42.45, shaving .89 off the fastest time of the year. It was the second-fastest time in the world since the epic London Olympic final.

France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde became the first man to break 13 seconds in the 110m hurdles since Aries Merritt set the world record on Sept. 7, 2012. The Frenchman won in a national record 12.95. Merritt, in his injury-delayed Diamond League season debut, was seventh in 13.47.

World champion LaShawn Merritt pulled away to win the 400m in 44.3 against a field that did not include rival and Olympic champion Kirani James.

Jamaican world leader Kaliese Spencer won the 400m hurdles in 54.09. Czech World champion Zuzana Hejnova was seventh in 55.86 in her first major appearance of 2014 after breaking a toe in January.

Molly Huddle broke her American record in the 5000m, finishing in 14:42.64. Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba won with the fastest time in the world this year, 14:28.88.

American Ajee’ Wilson won the women’s 800m in 1:57.67, the fastest time in the world this year.

Brazil’s Fabiana Murer won her third straight Diamond League pole vault with a 4.76m clearance, topping Olympic champion Jenn Suhr.

The Diamond League resumes in Stockholm on Aug. 21, after the Commonwealth Games.

Jesse Owens biopic cast headliners revealed

Medals or mosquitoes? Zika still talk of Olympic golf

Rory McIlroy
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Olympic qualifying for golf ends in seven weeks, at which time players will have to determine if medals outweigh mosquitoes.

For now, there is only concern.

Rory McIlroy was the latest player to say Zika was in the back of his mind. In an interview with the BBC after his Irish Open victory, he said he has been reading up on the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects. McIlroy is engaged, and he said they might be starting a family in the next few years.

“I have to monitor that situation,” he said.

Masters champion Danny Willett was the next to weigh in. Asked about it Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship, the 28-year-old from England said he was keeping on top of it. Willett’s wife, Nicole, had their first child just 11 days before he slipped on the green jacket.

“It’s not great, is it? There’s going to be 500,000 people watching the Olympics, and you have 11,000 athletes right in the heart of where it’s at,” Willett said. “If it turns out that it would be a massive threat to myself or to Nic or to the little man, then I probably wouldn’t go. Family comes first.

“But as it stands at the minute, I think everything should be OK.”

The Zika virus is in the news everywhere, which goes beyond the standard media outlets.

The International Golf Federation posted a two-page update on its website last month, and it is passing along Zika-related material from the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization to tours and player liaisons.

Andy Levinson, executive director of USA Golf, said Tuesday that updates from WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are posted in the weekly bulletins left in lockers and on the “Players Links” website, where PGA Tour players get other pertinent information they don’t want to miss – like tee times, and FedEx Cup points, and where to leave their courtesy cars.

Two weeks ago at The Players Championship, the PGA Tour’s doctor was in player dining for one-on-ones on Zika.

Vijay Singh made a passing reference to Zika last month when the 53-year-old Fijian decided not to play. Marc Leishman of Australia also mentioned Zika, and for good reason. His wife nearly died last year of toxic shock syndrome and her immune system remains weakened.

The other players to pull out — Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel — cited a busy schedule or family priorities.

Ask a player a question, and there’s bound to be an answer, even if it’s not entirely informed. McIlroy said he was planning to get “injections” on Wednesday so that “I will be immunized for whatever — if I do get bitten by a mosquito down there.”

There is no vaccine for the Zika virus.

IGF executive director Antony Scanlon said he was in Rio de Janeiro a few weeks ago for meetings and saw workers spraying “an unbelievable amount of anti-mosquito” repellant around the various venues. He also repeated the timing — August is the tail end of winter in Brazil, and mosquitoes are not expected to be as prevalent.

Scanlon said he was most curious by the silence from the other side — the women.

“If anyone is at risk, it’s the ladies,” Scanlon said Tuesday from London. “We’ve heard nothing from them. I’m sure they’ve got concerns. And we’re distributing as much information as we can to the players.”

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said as much two weeks ago during an Olympic news conference. He said five or six players have asked him about Zika, though none has said it would keep her from Rio. In an email Tuesday, he said not much has changed.

“They have been receiving regular updates on the topic,” Whan said. “No player has suggested she is not coming (at least not to me). But it is certainly a concern.”

It could be another example that the Olympics mean more to the women, who rarely get a stage as large as this and have a stronger tradition of competing for country in what was the first truly global tour.

Various headlines made it sound as though McIlroy and Willett might skip the Olympics because of Zika, and while their answers allowed some wiggle room, the context of their statements suggested nothing has changed.

At least not yet.

“We’re down to go and hopefully they can give us some proper guidelines as to how to keep it at bay and keep it under control so that it doesn’t ruin what could be potentially a fantastic Olympics,” Willett said.

“Not as apprehensive as I once was,” McIlroy said about the Olympics. “As it gets closer, I am relishing the thought of going down there and competing for gold.”

This much is clear — golfers currently eligible for the Olympics are having to study more than hole locations and wind direction.

MORE: WHO: Olympics OK to go on

Russian Olympic champion positive in Beijing doping retest

Anna Chicherova
Getty Images
Leave a comment

London Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova is one of many Russians among 31 athletes overall who tested positive in recent retests of Beijing Olympic samples, according to Russian news agency TASS.

TASS named nine 2008 Olympic medalists among 14 Russian athletes, citing a Russian TV report, including eight medalists in track and field, with Chicherova being the superstar of the group.

“Perhaps it’s just a mistake,” Chicherova said, according to an Associated Press translation of a Russian TV report. “I can’t explain how my doping test gave a positive result. I’ve competed a lot since then and given hundreds of samples.”

Last week, the International Olympic Committee said 31 unnamed athletes from 12 nations across six sports failed drug tests in retesting of 454 samples from 2008 using the latest drug-testing methods.

Chicherova, 33, took high jump gold at the London Games and bronze in Beijing. She is one of two track and field athletes to earn an individual-event medal at the last five World Championships and last two Olympics. The other is Usain Bolt.

Chicherova, who has had no previously widespread reported doping history, would be one of Russia’s top Olympic track and field medal hopes in Rio, should the ban on Russian track and field athletes competing be lifted before the Games.

Russia is expected to learn if it will be allowed to send a track and field team to Rio on June 17.

“The Ministry of Sport is extremely disappointed to hear the speculation that Russian athletes are among those found to have violated anti-doping rules at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after re-testing their samples,” the Russian Ministry of Sport said in a statement through Burson-Marsteller public relations firm. “Any athletes found cheating should face corresponding sanctions.

“We have taken numerous steps to eradicate the issue of doping, and understand that the roots of the problem, particularly in athletics, go back to the past.”

MORE: Russia track and field boss: ’50-60 percent’ chance of Olympics