Lindsey Vonn eyes January return from her ‘most painful injury’

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Lindsey Vonn hopes to return to racing in January after severely fracturing the humerus bone in her right arm in a Nov. 10 training crash that was “by far the most painful injury” of her career.

In a recent interview with NBC Sports’ Steve Porino, Vonn said doctors at first gave her a conservative estimate of 10 to 12 weeks to return.

Then, after strong early progress following surgery, her doctor said it could be more like eight weeks until she’s racing.

“I normally heal pretty well, but you never know, so I’m just kind of hoping for some time in January,” Vonn said.

The four-time World Cup overall champion compiled a laundry list of injuries, mostly from crashes, in the last decade.

This one was different. Vonn is usually able to stop taking pain medication a day or two after surgery. This time, it took a week and a half.

On Nov. 10, Vonn lost an edge, did the splits, turned backwards, went off a little jump and landed on her arm and then into netting in Copper Mountain, Colo., weeks before her anticipated World Cup season debut.

“I could feel my bones hitting together and hitting the nerve,” Vonn said. “It was brutal.

“When I’m laying on the ground, I’m thinking, you’ve got to be kidding me. How do I keep doing this? I don’t know. I’ve toned down my training. I’ve tried to limit my risk as much as I can, but unfortunately it’s a high-risk sport.”

Vonn’s spirits are lifted by two goals. First, to break the World Cup career wins record of 86 held by retired Swede Ingemar Stenmark. Vonn is 10 victories shy.

Given she won nine races in an injury-shortened 2015-16 season, it was reasonable to think Vonn could have reached the record this year. Until that crash.

“That’s the record that’s really getting me out of bed every day,” said Vonn, who turned 32 on Oct. 18.

If Vonn returns in January, she will miss at least five of the 15 scheduled World Cup races in her best events — downhill and super-G.

Next season, Vonn will be older than any woman who has ever won an Olympic, world championships or World Cup race, except for Austrian Elisabeth Goergl, who won once at the age of 33.

“If I couldn’t ski anymore, that would be the only thing that would prohibit me from trying to break the record,” Vonn said. “I’m so close.”

The second goal is the 2018 Olympics. Vonn won downhill gold in 2010 but missed the 2014 Winter Games due to injury.

“If I didn’t have the records and the Olympics coming up, I might retire,” Vonn said, “but I still have a lot I want to accomplish, and that keeps me going.”

Vonn plans to get X-Rays every two weeks to see how the bone is healing and when she can return to snow. She has plans mapped out for best-, average- and worst-case scenarios.

More key races this season are the world championships in February in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and a downhill and super-G at the 2018 Olympic venue in March. Vonn has marked a date by which she is desperate to return.

“But that’s my little secret,” she said, smiling.

MORE: Bode Miller trains with U.S. Ski Team

World championships rematches in Birmingham; Diamond League preview

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Several newly crowned world champions headline a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Sunday, live on NBC Sports Gold and The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

Coverage begins on NBC Sports Gold at 8:20 a.m. ET and on the Olympic Channel at 10 a.m.

Many stars made the 125-mile trek northwest from London, where worlds concluded last Sunday, to Birmingham for the last Diamond League meet before the finals in Zurich (Aug. 24) and Brussels (Sept. 1).

They include Allyson FelixMo FarahElaine Thompson and Shaunae Miller-Uibo, plus surprise world champs Emma CoburnPhyllis Francis and Ramil Guliyev.

Here are the Birmingham entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

8:22 a.m. — Women’s Pole Vault
8:31 a.m. — Men’s Long Jump
8:41 a.m. — Women’s 800m
9:30 a.m. — Men’s Mile
9:39 a.m. — Men’s High Jump
9:47 a.m. — Women’s Discus
10:03 a.m. — Women’s 400m Hurdles
10:14 a.m. — Men’s 800m
10:23 a.m. — Men’s 100m
10:28 a.m. — Women’s Triple Jump
10:32 a.m. — Men’s 400m
10:40 a.m. — Women’s 3000m
10:53 a.m. — Men’s Shot Put
10:57 a.m. — Men’s 110m Hurdles
11:08 a.m. — Women’s 100m
11:17 a.m. — Men’s 200m
11:26 a.m. — Women’s 1500m
11:36 a.m. — Women’s 400m
11:45 a.m. — Men’s 3000m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s 3000m — 10:40 a.m.
Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs, the surprise one-two finishers in the world championships 3000m steeplechase, race without the barriers and water jumps here. The two fastest American steeplers of all time face the two fastest Americans in the 5000m all time — Shannon Rowbury and Molly Huddle.

But the favorite has to be Kenyan Hellen Obiri, who is the fastest woman since 1993 in this non-Olympic event. Obiri dusted 10,000m world-record holder Almaz Ayana with her kick to win the world 5000m crown on Sunday.

Men’s Shot Put — 10:53 a.m.
Ten of the top 11 finishers from worlds are here, including the medalists — Tomas Walsh (NZL), Joe Kovacs (USA) and Stipe Žunić (CRO).

Nobody has been more impressive this season than Olympic champion Ryan Crouser, who will look to make up for his shocking sixth-place finish from London. Crouser owns five of the world’s top six throws in 2017, including a 22.65-meter heave at the USATF Outdoor Championships. That’s two feet farther than Walsh’s world title-winning throw.

Women’s 100m — 11:08 a.m.
An interesting field will race in two heats to qualify for this final. It does not include Tori Bowie, who in London became the first American woman to take a global 100m crown since 2005.

But it does include Olympic 100m champion Elaine Thompson, who earned zero medals at worlds while reportedly slowed by a stomach illness and an Achilles problem. World 100m silver and bronze medalists Marie-Josée Ta Lou and Dafne Schippers are also in the field.

Two Olympic champions making their Diamond League 100m debuts are Sally Pearson, the 2012 Olympic 100m hurdles gold medalist, and Rio 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

Men’s 200m — 11:17 a.m.
Who would have thought six months ago that a Diamond League 200m without Usain BoltAndre De GrasseWayde van Niekerk or Justin Gatlin would be one of the headline events?

After the surprise at worlds, this one is intriguing. Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev is entered after winning an out-of-nowhere gold medal in London. He’ll face a man with reason to carry a chip on his shoulder — Botswana’s Isaac Makwala. Makwala has the fastest 200m time in the world this year but finished sixth at worlds, likely in part due to his medical controversy and having to run an extra 200m heat alone the night before the final.

Women’s 400m — 11:36 a.m.
The three world medalists return here, hopefully to race in better weather conditions. American Phyllis Francis surpassed Allyson Felix and a stumbling Miller-Uibo to claim gold on a wet, chilly night in London last week in the slowest world championships-winning time ever. Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser clipped Felix for silver, with Miller-Uibo falling to fourth.

Felix still owns the fastest time in the world this year and, with Miller-Uibo choosing to race the 100m in Birmingham, is a quarter of a second faster than anyone in this field in 2017.

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VIDEO: Ten memorable races from worlds

U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet

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The U.S. and Great Britain go head-to-head in a track and field meet on July 21 at the London Olympic Stadium.

“The Meet” will include nine running, jumping, hurdles and relay events and last two hours. Specific events and athletes will be announced early next year.

The U.S. topped the overall medal standings at every Olympics and world outdoor championships since 2004.

Great Britain is one of three countries to earn at least five medals at every Olympics and worlds since 2007, joining the U.S. and Kenya.

British athletes made six podiums at the just-completed worlds at the London Olympic Stadium, including in all four relays. The other two medals came from Mo Farah, who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

“The Meet” is similar to swimming’s “Duel in the Pool,” a biennial head-to-head competition between the U.S. and rival Australia from 2003 through 2007 and between the U.S. and Europe between 2009 and 2015.

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VIDEO: Ten memorable races from worlds