David Boudia

David Boudia ponders a third diving event leading to 2016

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David Boudia was a spectator for the biggest platform diving final of the year. He considered that a competitive advantage considering the big picture, the 2016 Olympics.

“I was able to be on the outside looking into the competition,” he said. “I saw their strengths, weaknesses. I was evaluating.”

Boudia entered three of four events at the FINA World Cup in Shanghai last week. The one he missed was the platform, his 2012 Olympic gold medal event. Boudia didn’t contest it at the 2013 Winter Nationals, where individual World Cup spots were determined.

Why?

Boudia has said he’s using the “off year” — no Olympics, no World Championships — to experiment with new dives and new events.

So, Boudia spent most of his time in Shanghai climbing three meters above the pool rather than 10. He placed eighth in the 3m springboard, fourth in the synchro springboard with Sam Dorman and third in the synchro platform with Steele Johnson.

He watched the last event Sunday, the men’s platform final, where the Chinese pipeline produced another one-two finish. Yang Jian, 20, scored 543.83 points to defeat veteran Qiu Bo, who had 528.5.

Three years ago, Qiu won the World Championship and became the Olympic favorite. But Boudia knocked him off by 1.8 points in London for the first U.S. Olympic diving gold medal since 2000.

Qiu repeated as World champion with 581 points in Barcelona last year, where Boudia was a distant second with 517.4 in the final (though Boudia beat Qiu in the semis).

Boudia couldn’t have been surprised seeing Qiu and Yang star in Shanghai, given he finished behind one of them at each of his three World Series platform competitions this year.

“They’re on a whole other level than the rest of the world,” Boudia said (Yang can be unrivaled in particular, scoring a record 616.5 points at the London World Series event). “I definitely think [Yang] will probably be the favorite going into Rio. Qiu Bo is right behind him.”

Yet Boudia doesn’t consider himself an underdog. Not with that Olympic gold medal back home in Indiana.

“London [2012] really boosted my confidence and belief that I can contend with these Chinese guys,” he said. “Diving is a world where consistency is the name of the game. Any given day a guy can miss a dive just like that, and they’re out of it totally.”

Boudia finished his season in Shanghai, and he’s left with thoughts as he takes a break for the birth of his daughter. What events does he want to try to qualify for his third Olympics in 2016?

He wants three — individual platform, synchro platform and either individual springboard or synchro springboard. He flew to Shanghai leaning toward the synchro springboard, but that eighth-place finish in the individual springboard was encouraging for Boudia, who won the Winter Nationals title in the event.

He sees room for improvement without much separation from the medal contenders.

“Going into the last round here in the World Cup, I was maybe four or five points out of third place … and I didn’t have the hardest dives,” Boudia said.

No U.S. diver has qualified for both individual Olympic events since Mark Ruiz in 2000. Before that, the last to do it was Greg Louganis, who swept the platform and springboard golds in 1984 and 1988. Nobody has won Olympic medals in both events since Russian Dmitry Sautin in 2000.

Boudia’s added event is just one of the changes for USA Diving since it won four medals in London. Five of the six women on the Olympic Team have retired, with synchro springboard silver medalist Abby Johnston the outlier.

Boudia’s Olympic synchro platform bronze medal teammate, Nick McCrory, competed internationally for the first time since the Olympics in Shanghai. Like Boudia, he focused on the springboard, finishing 12th.

It appears they won’t dive together in synchro platform leading into Rio, since Boudia has a new synchro platform partner in the 18-year-old Johnson.

90-plus-year-old men set 3 world relay records at USATF Masters

Justin Gatlin wins, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce loses at Pre Classic; American records fall

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Justin Gatlin is still the world’s fastest man — when Usain Bolt is not in the field.

Gatlin won the Prefontaine Classic 100m in a wind-aided 9.88 seconds in Eugene, Ore., on Saturday (video here), while American records fell in two women’s races.

Gatlin beat a field that included two of the other five fastest men of all time — Asafa Powell (9.94) and Tyson Gay (9.98). Canadian Andre De Grasse, the co-World bronze medalist, was last in 10.05.

Powell and fourth-place Mike Rodgers both said they didn’t hear the starter’s gun.

“Justin got such a big jump, it was too far for me to catch him,” Powell said.

Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion who served a doping ban from 2006 to 2010, moved to 32-2 in individual sprints since the start of 2014, according to Tilastopaja.org.

The only two losses were in the only two races that also included Usain Bolt — the 100m and 200m at the 2015 World Championships. Gatlin and Bolt are not expected to race each other again until the Rio Olympics, should they both qualify at their trials.

The Pre Classic marked the biggest track meet before the U.S. Olympic Trials from July 1-10, also in Eugene.

Full Pre Classic results are here.

In other events, Keni Harrison broke the American record in the 100m hurdles by winning in 12.24 seconds (video here). Harrison matched the second-fastest time ever and was .03 off the world record set by Bulgaria’s Yordanka Donkova in 1988.

Harrison was a revelation in 2015, winning the NCAA title and finishing second at the U.S. Championships. She false started out of the World Championships semifinals Aug. 28.

She elevated to another level this year, clocking the four fastest times in the world so far.

“My coach, he puts it in mind, 12.1 [seconds], 12.1, 12.1, so that’s what I go for in practice,” Harrison said. “I didn’t feel that fast at all.”

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who could become the first three-time Olympic 100m champ in Rio, finished last in eighth place in her first 100m since Sept. 6 (video here).

She clocked 11.18 seconds, competing for the first time in any meet since April 30, recovering from a toe injury. It’s the second instance in three years Fraser-Pryce finished last in her Pre Classic race. Fraser-Pryce was actually faster Saturday than in her first 100m of 2013 and 2015, years she went on to capture World titles.

American English Gardner won in 10.81 seconds, .01 off the fastest in the world this year. Gardner was the second-fastest woman in the world last year but eliminated in the World Championships semifinals while recovering from a reported partially torn right hamstring.

“Nationals last year, I tapered and ran 10.79,” Gardner said. “Loaded, weight room, no taper, 10.81, I can’t be mad at that. I’m not even ready to really run. I haven’t even done really any speed work.”

Meanwhile, perhaps Fraser-Pryce’s biggest sprint rival ran the fastest 200m in the world this year. That’s American Tori Bowie, who was a long jumper until March 2014.

On Saturday, Bowie beat World champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands with a personal-best 21.99 seconds (video here).

“My coach said he is sick and tired of seeing me run 22 seconds,” Bowie, crouching on the track in exhaustion, told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Bowie, who earned World 100m bronze in August and didn’t contest the 200m, now owns the fastest 100m and 200m times in the world this year.

Schippers, who won the 2015 World title in 21.63, was second in 22.11. The field did not include injured Olympic champion Allyson Felix.

In the 400m, Kirani James outdueled American rival LaShawn Merritt for the 12th time in 19 meetings between the last two Olympic champions. James edged Merritt, 44.22 to 44.39 (video here). South African Wayde van Niekerk, who won the 2015 World title in 43.48, was not in the field Saturday.

In the women’s 400m, Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross was seventh in 52.16, well off the time she needs at trials on July 3 to make her fourth Olympic team. Shaunae Miller, who took silver behind Felix at 2015 Worlds, won Saturday in 50.15.

“Definitely behind on training, so hoping a month will be enough time to get it together for trials,” said Richards-Ross, adding that she does not have any health or injury problems.

Vashti Cunningham, the 18-year-old daughter of retired NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham, was fifth in the high jump. Cunningham, the U.S. and World Indoor champ, could become the youngest U.S. Olympic track and field competitor since 1976 if she finishes in the top three at trials July 3.

Jamaican Omar McLeod remained undefeated in four 110m hurdles races this year, clocking 13.06 seconds in a rout by .32 (video here). McLeod, 22, won the 2015 NCAA title for Arkansas, then went pro and finished sixth at the World Championships on Aug. 28. He’s now the clear Olympic favorite with the four fastest times in the world this year.

David Oliver, the 2013 World champion, was second behind McLeod in 13.38. Olympic champion and world-record holder Aries Merritt was fourth in 13.51, nearly nine months removed from a kidney transplant.

“It was a crappy race top to bottom, aside from Omar,” Oliver said.

Bernard Lagat, who at 41 will try to become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time at trials, dropped out during the 5000m due to a cold. It was the 15th and final Pre Classic appearance for Lagat, who plans to retire later this year.

“After that first mile, I could feel like my chest was burning,” Lagat said. “I can get healthy and come back for the trials.”

World champion Christian Taylor captured the triple jump with his final leap (video here). Taylor’s 17.76-meter mark overtook countryman Will Claye‘s 17.56 meters. Taylor and Claye also went one-two at the London Olympics.

Emma Coburn broke the American record finishing third in the 3000m steeplechase (video here). Her time of 9:10.76 bettered Jenny Simpson‘s mark of 9:12:50 from 2009. Coburn also beat Simpson’s time in July 2014, but she wasn’t drug tested after that race, so it wasn’t ratified as an American record.

On Saturday, Coburn cried multiple times after her record and then made sure to get drug tested.

Boris Berian earned his first Diamond League victory in the 800m, clocking 1:44.20 against a field that didn’t include Olympic and World champion and world-record holder David Rudisha. (video here)

Berian, who was flipping burgers at a McDonald’s inside a Walmart two years ago, raced one week after being served a lawsuit by Nike for breach of a sponsorship contract after he switched from Nike to New Balance this year. Nike sponsors the Pre Classic.

French Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie cleared 5.81 meters to win the pole vault, wearing a University of Oregon jersey. Canadian World champion Shawn Barber was second, also clearing 5.81 meters but with more misses than Lavillenie. American Sam Kendricks, who beat Lavillenie and Barber in Shanghai on May 14, was third at 5.71 meters.

U.S. Olympic medalists swept the 400m hurdles, won by London silver medalist Michael Tinsley in 48.74 (video here). He passed 2008 Olympic silver medalist Kerron Clement (48.87) after the final hurdle. Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Bershawn Jackson (49.04) took third.

Another American, Johnny Dutch, is fastest in the world this year (48.36). Dutch was not in the Pre Classic field.

The Diamond League continues in Rome on Thursday.

MORE: Rio Olympic, Paralympic medals reveal date set

Novak Djokovic plans on Olympics ‘for the moment’; Serena mulls ‘super protection’

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PARIS — Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic says canceling the Olympics “is unthinkable” and, “for the moment,” he is still planning to compete at the Rio de Janiero Games, despite worries about the Zika virus.

Speaking at the French Open on Saturday, Djokovic added that people should not only be concerned about those who are going to Rio for the Olympics, but also the Brazilians themselves — “not talking about them too much.”

Earlier Saturday, the World Health Organization rejected a call from 150 health experts to consider postponing or moving the Aug. 5-21 Olympics.

Says Djokovic: “Honestly, I don’t know what to think anymore.”

The No. 1 women’s tennis player, Serena Williams, says Zika has “been on my mind” and she will have to head to Rio “super-protected, maybe.”

MORE: U.S. Olympic tennis player refuses to answer meldonium questions