Tori Bowie

Tori Bowie, Justin Gatlin star at Monaco Diamond League meet

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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.

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Kerri Walsh Jennings’ next partner is a familiar one

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Kerri Walsh Jennings is slated to play with with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh this summer, after she and Olympic bronze medal teammate April Ross split last month.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion with Misty May-Treanor before that bronze in Rio, and Branagh, who made the Beijing Games quarterfinals with Elaine Youngs, are entered in an FIVB World Tour event in Croatia the last week of June.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are both 38 years old and briefly paired in 2010 when May-Treanor was uncertain about making a run for the London Olympics. When May-Treanor told Walsh Jennings she was all-in for London, Walsh Jennings split from Branagh.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are hoping to play together through the World Tour Finals in late August, according to Volleyball Magazine.

That includes the world championships in Vienna, Austria, in late July and early August.

It’s not known if they will have the combined ranking points to earn an outright worlds spot. They could also receive a wild card for worlds. Entries will be announced next month.

Walsh Jennings, a mother of three, has said she hopes to play in the 2020 Olympics at age 41, when she will be older than any previous Olympic beach or indoor volleyball player, according to Olympic historians.

Branagh returned to competition this year after a one-year break to have her second child. She has played few international events since 2012 and last won internationally in 2010 (with Walsh Jennings).

Ross, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist and 2009 World champion, is now partnered with Lauren Fendrick, who played with Brooke Sweat in Rio. Ross, 34, said she will figure out her long-term partner plans for Tokyo 2020 after this season.

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Catching up with Ross Powers

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Ross Powers, now 38 years old and 15 years removed from his Olympic snowboarding title, is still out with halfpipe riders on the snow five days per week.

The difference now is that Powers is coaching. He runs the snowboarding program at Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, where he graduated from in 1997.

Powers spoke with OlympicTalk before last season, reflecting on 20 years of snowboarding in the Olympics, Shaun White and how he likes coaching.

OlympicTalk: The PyeongChang Winter Games will mark 20 years since snowboarding’s debut in Nagano. What was it like competing in the first Olympic halfpipe?

Powers (who won bronze in Nagano at age 19): It seemed kind of like a regular World Cup. We were up in the mountains. At the time, it was a really good halfpipe, but we ended up competing in some bad weather, some rain. I didn’t realize until I left Japan and got home how big the Olympics were. But looking back, it was a special time. And I really learned from the ’98 Olympics, like if I get this chance again, I’m going to go there, I’m going to do it all. I’m going to go to Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, watch as many events as I can and just make the most out of the Games.

OlympicTalk: The Nagano halfpipe was about half the size of today’s superpipes (394 feet long with 11 1/2-foot walls vs. 590 feet with 22-foot walls in Sochi). Could today’s snowboarders compete with you guys back in 1998?

Powers: It was so different. At the time, I want to say it was the biggest pipe we rode, but compared to today’s standards, it’s small. The weather was tricky. I think a lot of those guys [today] could ride it, but it’s so much different than today’s halfpipe for sure.

OlympicTalk: In 2002, when you led a U.S. men’s halfpipe medal sweep, the rider who just missed the Olympic team was a 15-year-old Shaun White. What do you remember about him?

Powers: You kind of knew he was going to be the next guy. Where he took our sport and certain tricks. One thing that really impressed me about him is he’ll train really hard for an event, show up, even if the conditions are bad, he’s planned this trick he wants to do, and he’ll try it no matter what. Most of the time he’ll give it a go and land it. That actually hurt him in Russia [White attempted but couldn’t perfect the YOLO Flip 1440 in Sochi] because he probably could have stepped down a notch, gotten a medal and maybe even won the event.

OlympicTalk: Did Shaun ever beat you before you retired?

Powers: I had my run from 1998, ’99, ’00, ’01, all those times that I was doing really well. I tried to make the 2006 Olympics in Italy. I was the alternate, so I just missed that. He was definitely beating me up through those times.

OlympicTalk: Did you travel to the Torino Olympics as an alternate?

Powers: I did, yeah. I traveled over there and actually watched my buddy [Seth] Wescott win the gold in boarder cross. That night, he was like, you should try boarder cross. That kind of got me into doing that my next few years after that.

[Editor’s Note: Powers almost made the 2010 Olympic team in snowboard cross, even finishing third in a December 2009 World Cup.]

OlympicTalk: Which is tougher, coaching or competing?

Powers: I would say it is tougher coaching than competing. You just have so many responsibilities and so much work. The nice thing about coaching, though, compared to competing, is you can kind of push yourself and have fun [riding] on certain days but then also sit back and really work with the athletes on all other days. So when you’re feeling it, you can push yourself. So it’s not like an athlete, where you have to push yourself.

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