Elaine Thompson beats Tori Bowie in first 100m match up since Rio

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In their first match-up since the Rio Olympics, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson handily topped the U.S.’ Tori Bowie in the 100m at the second Diamond League meet of the season in Shanghai.

Thompson, the 100m and 200m gold medalist in Rio, raced to 10.78 seconds. Bowie – who took the silver medal in Rio – clocked a season’s best, 11.04, for second place.

“I made a great start and I was able to bring it home,” Thompson told media. “I am pleased with the time.”

Thompson added that her next stop will be to compete in the Jamaica Invitational later in May, followed by more world championships preparation.

Two-time Olympic 200m gold medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown from Jamaica finished sixth in 11.23 and Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta of the U.S. was last in 11.49.

In the men’s 100m hurdles, Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica came out ahead of Spain’s Orlando Ortega, 13.09 to 13.15. China’s Xie Wenjun was third in 13.31, followed by Hansle Parchment of Jamaica and Sergey Shubenkov clocking 13.35. Aries Merritt finished sixth in 13.36.

“I didn’t get out that great and that did not allow me to control the race,” McLeod said after the race, despite winning. “I didn’t execute that well and it turned into a bit of scrap. I know [Ortega] is a great competitor, so I’m pleased to win. Every time you go out to the track and win, it is a confidence booster. You don’t want to be defeated as that throws your confidence off.”

The U.S.’ Noah Lyles equaled the world’s fastest time this year at 19.90 in the 200m, ahead of teammate LaShawn Merritt who clocked 20.27.

Lyles, the 2016 world junior champion in the 100m, told media he believes the 200m is his strong suit. He plans to focus on that when competing in the Diamond League Rome meet, the Adidas meet, and the U.S. Trials.

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Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

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Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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