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Usain Bolt discusses viral photo on TODAY

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By now, if you follow the Olympics, you have seen the photo at the top of this story. It shows Usain Bolt calmly looking backwards and smiling at his opponents, who are straining just to stay in the frame during the 100m semifinal in Rio.

The photo, captured by Getty Images’ Cameron Spencer, went viral and quickly became a meme.

The world’s fastest man was asked about the photo during an interview on TODAY this morning.

“People kept on saying, ‘Why were you smiling?’” Bolt said. “I was like, ‘I was just happy!’”

The appearance began a busy day in New York for Bolt, who hosted at least two Facebook Lives and wore the referee-inspired Foot Locker uniform during an appearance for Puma.

Bolt was asked who will win the 100m gold medal at the 2020 Olympics during a Facebook Live with Sports Illustrated. While Bolt admitted that a lot could change between now and then, he identified Canada’s Andre De Grasse as a potential favorite. De Grasse, the sprinter on the far left of the viral photo, won three sprinting medals in Rio, including the 100m bronze medal.

“I know he has the talent,” Bolt said.

Bolt added little clarity to the ever-changing narrative of when he will retire.

During the TODAY appearance, he reiterated that he would retire after the 2017 World Championships in London. Later in the day, he told Sports Illustrated that there was a chance he would keep racing after 2017.

“It’s definitely slim, but you never know,” he said. “That’s why my coach says, ‘Stop saying you are going to retire. Enjoy it, and after the season, if you feel like it’s time, then you retire.’”

Bolt, jokingly, even left the door open to retiring from track before the 2017 World Championships.

“If I had the chance to play for Manchester United, I would go right now,” he said on his personal Facebook Live. “I would retire and start playing futbol right now. That’s how much I really want to play for Manchester United.”

Bolt also discussed his post-track plans, for whenever that will be.

He wants to open a health clinic in Jamaica to help young athletes get medical treatment. He also is hoping to stay involved in track and field, but not as a coach.

“No, that is not going to happen,” Bolt said, laughing, during his personal Facebook Live. “I’ll do motivational talking, I’ll do all these things, but I don’t think I’ll ever go into coaching. Coaching is just so much, it’s hard. The stress I put my coach through and all that…sorry, I know I disappointed a lot of people.”

He does not plan in following in the footsteps of U.S. sprinters Ryan Bailey and Tyson Gay, who have tried bobsledding.

“It’s already cold in a jacket in the snow,” Bolt said in Sports Illustrated’s Facebook Live. “To be in full tights? No.”

MORE: Allyson Felix eager to double again

Chinese lead, star pairs struggle in world championships short program

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China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong recorded the highest pairs short program score in the world since the 2014 Olympics, topping the world championships field in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Two-time defending world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada and Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are well behind in seventh and 13th place, respectively.

Sui and Han, in just their second event this season, tallied a personal-best 81.23 points.

They lead by 1.39 over Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot going into the free skate Thursday (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are in third.

The Chinese will go for their first world title after giving up a short-program lead last year and taking silver for a second straight time.

Full worlds short program results are here.

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Sui and Han missed the fall season after Sui underwent right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring. They returned at the Four Continents Championships in February and posted personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

Duhamel and Radford, looking to become the first pair to three-peat in 40 years, came in slowed by Radford’s hip injury suffered in the last week. Radford was off-balance on his triple toe loop landing Wednesday. Duhamel’s hand touched the ice on her throw triple Lutz landing.

They scored 72.67 points, which is 8.56 behind Sui and Han.

Stolbova and Klimov both suffered falls in their short program and scored 65.59, qualifying for the 16-pair free skate by four points. The Russian champions missed the autumn season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury.

The top U.S. pair was Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, who posted a personal-best 72.17 points for eighth place. The husband-and-wife pair are competing for the second time this season after Scimeca Knierim’s serious abdominal injury.

U.S. champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier suffered two falls and placed 20th, matching the worst U.S. pairs finish in worlds history. They did not qualify for the 16-pair free skate.

Therefore, the Knierims must finish 10th or better after the free skate to ensure the U.S. earns two pairs places at the 2018 Olympics.

Pairs is the U.S.’ weakest discipline. The last U.S. medal in pairs at worlds came in 2002. The last Olympic medal was in 1988.

North Korean pair Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik placed 14th in the short program, the highest of any pair expected to compete for one of four final Olympic quota spots in September.

North Korea sent no athletes to the Sochi Olympics, and it’s not a guarantee it will qualify any athletes for PyeongChang, or if it will send athletes to South Korea in February. But Ryom and Kim’s personal best by nearly 11 points on Wednesday was very encouraging.

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MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition

Pairs Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 81.23
2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 79.84
3. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 79.37
8. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Christopher Knierim (USA) — 72.17
20. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 56.23

Missy Franklin out due to shoulder surgeries

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Missy Franklin is sidelined from swimming competition for an undisclosed period of time to recover from surgeries on both of her shoulders due to bursitis, according to her social media.

“This is what’s best for me to come stronger than ever,” was posted on Franklin’s Instagram. “I’m so far from being done with this sport.”

The five-time Olympic champion was diagnosed in early January following an MRI, underwent surgeries that month and has returned to limited training.

Franklin, who has not raced since the Rio Olympics, will not compete in the next USA Swimming Pro Series meet in Mesa, Ariz., in two weeks.

Her return date is not set.

The U.S. Championships are in June in Indianapolis and serve as a qualifying meet for the world championships in Budapest in July.

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