Getty Images

Rome Diamond League preview, broadcast schedule

Leave a comment

Canadian Andre De Grasse, who won a medal of every color in Rio, headlines a Diamond League meet in Rome, live on Thursday starting at 12:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold and 2 p.m. on NBCSN.

Rome, the site of Usain Bolt‘s last individual defeat in 2013, is the first of three Diamond League meets in an 11-day span.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold will also air live coverage of Oslo (June 15) and Stockholm (June 18), the last two meets before the U.S. Championships. Nationals serve as the qualifying meet for the world championships in London in August.

Rio Olympic medalists prepping for nationals in Rome include shot putter Michelle Carter and pole vaulter Sandi Morris.

The meet is deeper with international stars like 1500m world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, world 200m champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands and of course De Grasse.

Rome start lists are available here. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):

12:15 p.m. — Women’s shot put
1 — Women’s triple jump
1:20 — Women’s pole vault
2:03 — Women’s 400m hurdles
2:10 — Women’s high jump
2:15 — Men’s 3000m steeplechase
2:30 — Men’s 100m
2:35 — Men’s javelin
2:40 — Men’s 800m
2:50 — Women’s 400m
3:05 — Men’s 110m hurdles
3:13 — Women’s 1500m
3:23 — Women’s 100m
3:30 — Men’s 200m
3:40 — Women’s 5000m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s pole vault — 1:20 p.m. ET

Every Rio Olympic medalist is here — gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, Morris and bronze medalist Eliza McCartney of New Zealand.

Little separates the trio this year. Stefanidi cleared 4.85 meters indoors, best in the world this year. Morris has cleared 4.84 meters outdoors, best in the world this year. McCartney has cleared 4.82 meters outdoors. The only woman to rival the trio in top clearances this year is 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr, who is not in Rome.

Men’s javelin — 2:35 p.m. ET

Perhaps the deepest field of the meet. It includes the top four from the Rio Olympics, plus two more men who have earned world championships medals.

The headliner is German Olympic champion Thomas Rohler, who on May 5 moved up to No. 2 on the all-time list behind Czech legend Jan Zelezny. Rohler threw 93.90 meters, but he’s still 15 feet shy of Zelezny’s world record from 1996.

Men’s 110m hurdles — 3:05 p.m. ET

Aries Merritt and David Oliver, the top two U.S. hurdlers over the last decade, go head-to-head here in a teaser for the U.S. Championships in two weeks. With Rio Olympic champion Omar McLeod not in the field, it’s wide open.

Merritt, the 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder, has the fastest time this season of those in Rome. The recipient of a 2015 kidney transplant eyes his first Diamond League victory in four years.

Rio silver medalist Orlando Ortega of Spain and 2015 World champion Sergey Shubenkov of Russia are also entered.

Men’s 200m — 3:30 p.m. ET

The 200m is in a transition year now that both Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin have said they don’t plan to race the half-lap event anymore.

While new names have popped up in the 200m this season — Wayde van NiekerkNoah Lyles and Christian Coleman — the Rome entries represent the old guard in the event.

There are Rio Olympic silver and bronze medalists Andre De Grasse and Christophe Lemaitre. There is Panamanian Alonso Edward, the Diamond League season champion the last three years. And U.S. Olympian Ameer Webb.

De Grasse has struggled in the 100m this season, but this is a prime opportunity to notch his first Diamond League win of 2017.

Women’s 5000m — 3:40 p.m. ET

Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba and Kenyan Hellen Obiri, two of the six fastest women all-time in this event, go head-to-head for the first time.

Dibaba, best known for her 1500m prowess (world record, 2015 World title), is also the indoor 5000m world-record holder. She won the Pre Classic 5000m in 14:25.22 on May 26.

Obiri is the only woman to run faster this year, winning in 14:22.47 in Shanghai on May 13. Obiri, raised a 1500m runner, took 5000m silver in Rio in a personal-best time after a year off to have a baby. Obiri was added to the Rome field as Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana withdrew last month due to a physical problem.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Bolt separated from top rivals at final Jamaican meet

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Ten memorable races from worlds

Five women’s gymnasts to watch at P&G Championships

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As Rio gold medalists decide on their futures, this week’s P&G Championships mark the first showcase for a new class of U.S. women’s gymnasts.

For the first time since 2008, nobody in the nationals field in Anaheim has competed at an Olympics. Usually, a gymnast or two carries over into the post-Olympic year, like Bridget Sloan in 2009 and Kyla Ross in 2013.

But this year, the feeling is akin to 2005, when no woman (or man) from the 2004 Athens Games chalked up at nationals.

Back then, a 15-year-old Nastia Liukin, who had already starred in a commercial during the 2004 Olympics, made her senior nationals debut and won the all-around. Three years later, Liukin won the Olympic all-around in Beijing.

There will be talk this week of finding the next Liukin, or Gabby Douglas, or Simone Biles, who, like Liukin, won her senior nationals debut the year after the Olympics.

“Some of them [from Rio], hopefully Simone, will be coming back, but I think this is a great opportunity for some of these girls to go out there and prove that they’re just as ready to compete at a world championships,” said Liukin, now an NBC Olympics analyst. “They have to step up a little bit and kind of become the leaders.”

MORE: P&G Champs broadcast schedule

Gymnasts this week are vying to impress new U.S. national team coordinator Valeri Liukin (Nastia’s father). The four-woman roster for October’s worlds, where there is no team event, will be named after a selection camp later this summer.

Five gymnasts to watch at the P&G Championships:

Ragan Smith
Rio Olympic alternate
2017 AT&T American Cup champion

The Texan performed admirably in her first senior season in 2016, placing fifth in the all-around at the Olympic Trials. Her best events are balance beam and floor exercise, but the U.S. needed uneven bars help in Rio. So she went to the Games as an alternate at age 15, making headlines for this photo with 6-foot-11 basketball player DeAndre Jordan.

Smith, coached by 1991 World all-around champion Kim Zmeskal, emerged this year as the U.S.’ most reliable all-arounder and clear favorite this week. She won the American Cup on March 4 despite a beam fall. A definite all-around medal favorite at October’s worlds.

Ashton Locklear
Rio Olympic alternate
2014 World team champion

Locklear was beaten for the Olympic team bars specialist spot by Madison Kocian after nearly matching Kocian in scores in four routines between last year’s P&G Championships and Olympic Trials. The 19-year-old is not considered an all-around threat this week but is favored to make the world team based on her bars ability. She was fourth in the event at 2014 Worlds.

Riley McCusker
2017 Jesolo Trophy all-around winner

McCusker, who has the same coach as Laurie Hernandez, struggled at the American Cup in her first senior competition, falling on bars and beam. She rebounded to win Jesolo a month later and remain in the mix as the No. 2 U.S. all-arounder (Smith wasn’t at Jesolo).

However, McCusker was on crutches with a cast on her wrist in early July and said she expected to be back to peak form in September, not August.

Morgan Hurd
2017 Stuttgart World Cup bronze medalist

Hurd, a first-year senior who competes in glasses, was adopted from China as a toddler and now lives with her mom in Delaware.

Liukin, asked to name gymnasts to watch this week, started with Hurd, whom she says has the highest floor exercise start value in the world. “She could be capable of winning a world all-around medal and possibly become a world champion on floor,” Liukin said.

Jade Carey
2017 U.S. Classic vault winner

The U.S. has a tradition of sending a vault specialist to worlds, but neither of the top vaulters from the last Olympic cycle — Biles nor MyKayla Skinner — is competing this week. Enter Carey, a 17-year-old who wasn’t an elite gymnast before this season.

Carey performed the difficult Amanar vault at July’s U.S. Classic, where she was the only gymnast to perform two vaults, which is required to compete for medals on the event at worlds.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Aly Raisman announces book details