Allyson Felix runs year’s fastest 400m (video)

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Allyson Felix erased any questions about her health, running year’s fastest 400m time, 49.65 seconds, at the Diamond League meet in London on Sunday.

It was just her second 400m since taking silver in Rio. She dropped .87 seconds from her 400m season debut in Kingston on June 10.

“It feels good to be back,” said Felix, who finished second in Rio behind a diving Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas. Miller-Uibo did not run in London.

Felix suffered a severe ankle injury last spring, missing the Olympic 200m team by .01. She admitted to OlympicTalk this week that “there’s always residual effects, especially with ankle injuries.” This season, she has had “a much slower build-up.”

It was Felix’s last scheduled meet before returning to London for the world championships in August.

Fellow American Courtney Okolo finished a distant second in a season’s best 50.29 seconds.

Shamier Little, who Tweeted before the race about having to race against 2016 Olympic 4x400m gold medalists Felix and Okolo, finished third.

Full London results are here.

Also on Sunday, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson edged Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands in the 100m, despite competing in cushioned trainers instead of running spikes due to an Achilles injury, according to Reuters. Thompson, the 2016 Olympic champion, has now won 100m races at 16 consecutive meets, save for one race she did not finish.

Mo Farah thrilled the fans in London by winning the 3000m in one of his final track races before moving to road racing and marathons after worlds.

World-record holder Keni Harrison defeated 2012 Olympic champion Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles.

U.S. men swept the top three spots in both the 200m and long jump.

Ameer Webb finished first the 200m, clocking 20.13 seconds. Fred Kerley, the 2017 U.S. 400m champion and the year’s second-fastest man in the event, showed his speed in the shorter sprint, lowering his 200m personal best from 20.45 to 20.24 in his professional debut. Isiah Young claimed third.

2016 Olympic champion Jeff Henderson won the long jump, followed by Michael Hartfield and Marquis Dendy.

The Diamond League moves to Rabat, Morocco next Sunday, with NBC Sports Gold coverage at 2:00 p.m. ET.

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New generation of male figure skaters owns spotlight at worlds; preview

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Nobody in the men’s field at figure skating worlds owns an Olympic or world title for the first time since 1985. This could lead to the best U.S. men’s results in years.

Yuzuru HanyuJavier Fernandez and Patrick Chan combined to win every gold medal since 2011, but all of them ended their seasons at the Olympics.

This week in Milan, the four leading men, who just competed in their first Olympics, are all 20 years or younger. And that includes two Americans.

Nathan Chen can become the first world singles champion from the U.S. since Evan Lysacek in 2009. Chen and Vincent Zhou could be the first U.S. men to finish in the top five together since Lysacek and Johnny Weir in 2005. Chen, Zhou and Max Aaron could make up the best U.S. trio at a worlds in more than 20 years.

Start with Chen. The 18-year-old said he planned to compete this week regardless of what happened at the Olympics, but after his struggles in the team event and individual short programs, the quad master nailed his free skate, came home to California and said he took maybe one day off of training before this event.

Chen is one of three men in the gold-medal hunt, along with Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China. While Chen largely struggled at the 2017 Worlds and in PyeongChang, Uno and Jin each made the podium at both events. And each can come close to or equal Chen in quad numbers.

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Zhou, 17, has a chance to become the youngest man to earn a world medal since Hanyu in 2012. Or the first man to win the world junior title one season and make the world senior podium the next since Yevgeny Plushenko in 1997-98.

Zhou is riding momentum. He struggled in the fall and entered nationals in January ranked fifth among Americans for the season. He placed third to make the Olympic team and then landed three clean quads in his Olympic free skate to jump from 12th to sixth.

“I did better there than a lot of people thought I would,” Zhou told NBC Sports research last week. “I knew I was capable of that all season.

“I want to reach my ultimate goal of being Olympic champion, and my best chance is in 2022 … because by 2026 I will probably be old and creaky with four prosthetic limbs.”

Aaron made it to Milan after Olympian Adam Rippon gave up his spot, and the top two alternates (Jason Brown and Ross Miner) both declined. Still, Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, is seeded seventh in the men’s field based on top scores this season.

NBC Sports figure skating researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

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Carolina Kostner the sentimental favorite at figure skating worlds

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Olympic champion Alina Zagitova is without question the favorite at this week’s world figure skating championships, especially after the sprightly Russian’s training partner and rival Yevgenia Medvedeva withdrew because of injury.

She won’t be the sentimental favorite, though.

That would be Carolina Kostner, the ageless Italian star who could be competing at worlds for the last time on home soil. The 2012 champion and six-time world medalist seemed to indicate that retirement could be looming after she finished fifth at the PyeongChang Games, where she was chosen to carry the Italian flag at the Closing Ceremony.

Kostner will have a huge home crowd behind her when the event begins Wednesday in Milan.

“Decisions like that should never be taken in a hot moment. It will come naturally,” said Kostner, who no longer can compete with the sport’s high-fliers when it comes to technical marks, but whose elegant artistry and presentation often make up the difference.

“She is an example of perseverance, of a long-lasting athlete,” Medvedeva said. “I have trouble imagining how someone can stay in that shape for a very long time. When you see people like Carolina, you understand that if she can do something, then that something is possible. If you love what you do, you put all of yourself into it, like Carolina Kostner.”

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When asked about retirement, Kostner brought up her cousin, Isolde Kostner, who won three Olympic Alpine skiing medals before deciding to step away from competition.

“She stopped skiing shortly before the (2006) Olympics in Italy,” Caroline Kostner said. “Many did not understand why she wouldn’t pull through because it was her home country, and she said, ‘You will feel strongly when it is time to stop.’ And I haven’t felt it yet.”

The biggest story at the world championships in an Olympic year tends to be who is missing rather than who shows up. The grind of competing for an entire season builds toward the quadrennial event, and athletes who medal or intend to retire rarely press on to worlds. Then there are the injuries, which accumulate during the year.

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