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Without Bolt, a new 200 world champ will take crown for first time since 2007

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LONDON (AP) Usain Bolt will surrender another world title. This one, without even taking the track.

The Jamaican great is skipping the 200 meters at the world championships, bringing an end to his string of four straight titles in his favorite event.

This was planned. The loss to Justin Gatlin – along with up-and-coming sprinter Christian Coleman – in the 100 meters? Not so much.

So far, Bolt’s farewell tour in London hasn’t exactly going according to design, and he’ll be only a spectator when the heats of the 200 begin Monday. He still has the 4×100 relay at the end of the meet.

“I’m just disappointed I couldn’t do better for (the fans), but that’s how it goes sometimes,” Bolt said after his bronze-medal finish on Saturday. “The support has been outstanding throughout the years.”

With no Bolt, the 200 is wide open for the first time since, well, Tyson Gay, held off a rising Bolt at the 2007 worlds in Osaka, Japan.

Waiting in the wings is Wayde van Niekerk, the South African who is currently the world and Olympic 400-meter champion. He’s one of the favorites in the 200 as well. The semifinals are on Wednesday and the final is Thursday.

Like Van Niekerk, Isaac Makwala of Botswana is trying his hand at the 200-400 double. He has the top time in the 200 this season and a healthy amount of respect for Van Niekerk.

“Wayde van Niekerk is my brother. We want to conquer the world together and make the final for Africa,” Makwala said. “He is so friendly and a lovely guy.”

MORE: Tori Bowie wins 100 meters by .01

A look at the events from Day 4 of the world championships:

SLAM DUNK: Polish hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk‘s best toss this season is more than 6 meters (20 feet) better than anyone else. The two-time Olympic champion will be the overwhelming favorite to defend her world title.

OF MERRITT: Aries Merritt is one of the feel-good stories of the championships. He won a bronze medal in the 110-meter hurdles with a failing kidney in 2015. Now, with a functioning kidney thanks to a transplant from his sister, Merritt is back in the final. Another hurdler earning a lane is reigning champion Sergey Shubenkov, the Russian who’s competing as an independent with his country’s team suspended because of a doping scandal. “It will be an interesting final,” Merritt said.

HOP, SKIP & JUMP: Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia almost never loses in the triple jump. She’s looking for her third straight world title against a field that includes Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela. Ibarguen edged Rojas for gold at the Olympics in Brazil.

FOUR LAPS: Olympic 800-meter champion Caster Semenya of South Africa stepped up to the 1,500 meters and will be a contender for a medal. She’s been embroiled in the controversial debate in track and field over women with very high levels of testosterone being allowed to compete. Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia is the defending champion in the event.

TAYLOR MADE: American triple jumper Christian Taylor begins his quest for a third straight world title. He’s focused on breaking the world record of 18.29 meters (just over 60 feet), set by Jonathan Edwards of Britain in 1995. Taylor’s top mark is 18.21 (59-9). Should he ever achieve that, Taylor hinted he might switch over to the 400 meters. “I love the 400,” Taylor said. “I would just run with pure joy then, knowing that everything on my bucket list was really ticked off.”

MORE: Men’s marathon | Women’s marathon

Alina Zagitova hands Yevgenia Medvedeva first loss in 2 years

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Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva is no longer the clear favorite in the Winter Olympics’ marquee event.

The two-time world champion lost for the first time in more than two years, upset by training partner Alina Zagitova at the European Figure Skating Championships in Moscow.

Italian Carolina Kostner earned bronze.

Zagitova, the 15-year-old world junior champion, set personal bests in the short program and free skate and totaled 238.24 points. She beat Medvedeva by 5.38 points.

Medvedeva, in her first competition since November due to a broken foot, fully rotated all of her jumps Saturday, but Zagitova was cleaner. She also stumbled out of a double Axel in her short program.

“I did not feel the injury,” Medvedeva said after the short program, according to the International Skating Union. “Everything has healed.”

Full results are here. NBCSN will air coverage Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

Zagitova was born three months after the Salt Lake City Olympics and without a name for her first year. Her parents eventually decided on Alina after watching Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion Alina Kabayeva on TV.

She had been working to this point in her first senior international season. She swept her two fall Grand Prix starts, then won the Grand Prix Final in December, all without Medvedeva in the field.

On Saturday, she landed all of her jumps (including seven triples) in the second half of her program for 10 percent bonuses. It’s the type of technical content layout ambitious enough to challenge Medvedeva.

“I think that Zhenia [Medvedeva] is her role model in life, in behavior, in her way to work,” shared coach Eteri Tutberidze said last year, according to Goldenskate.com. “Alina absolutely tries to copy her way to work, the amount of work and she doesn’t stop. This helps. I can sometimes show Zhenia and say, ‘Look how Alina is working,’ and I tell Alina, ‘Look how Zhenia is working.’”

Medvedeva, whose last defeat was in November 2015, also won both of her Grand Prix starts, posting the world’s highest scores this season, while dealing with foot pain.

She underwent an MRI that revealed a crack, then withdrew from the Grand Prix Final and the Russian Championships in December. She is still expected to be on the Olympic Athlete from Russia team in PyeongChang.

Kostner, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who made her Europeans debut in 2003, fell on her opening triple Lutz and landed just three triple jumps Saturday.

She hung on to win a medal at her 11th straight European Championships.

Russian Maria Sotskova, the Grand Prix Final silver medalist, fell on her last triple jump, a Lutz, among other landing troubles. She placed fourth.

Those four skaters are the Olympic medal contenders along with Canadians Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman and Japanese Satoko Miyahara and Kaori Sakamoto.

U.S. champion Bradie Tennell ranks 14th in the world this season.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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MORE: NBC Olympics PyeongChang preview series on Netflix

Julia Marino, Hailey Langland qualify for Olympics; U.S. sweeps possible

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The addition of snowboard big air to the Olympics next month means Jamie AndersonJulia Marino and Hailey Langland have two chances for a U.S. podium sweep in PyeongChang.

Marino and Langland qualified for the U.S. big air and slopestyle team Saturday, joining the already qualified Anderson, who won slopestyle’s debut in Sochi.

Anderson, Marino and Langland swept the podium in that order at the last Olympic qualifier in slopestyle in Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

They also made up three of the top four riders at the 2017 X Games big air and slopestyle.

The U.S. has never swept the Winter Olympic medals in a women’s event but could do so in big air, slopestyle and even snowboard halfpipe in PyeongChang.

MORE: U.S. Olympic roster

While Anderson is the veteran, an X Games medalist 11 of the last 12 years, Marino and Langland represent the new wave of U.S. big air and slopestyle riders.

Marino, a 20-year-old from Connecticut who trains in Quebec, earned slopestyle and big air medals at X Games Aspen and Oslo last year in her debuts at those events.

They included slopestyle gold in Aspen over Anderson.

Langland, a 17-year-old from Southern California who plays the ukulele, guitar and piano, won the first X Games women’s big air title last year and took bronze in slopestyle in 2016.

Born in 2000, she is younger than any previous female Olympic snowboarding medalist.

“She reminds me of a younger me,” Anderson said, according to NBC Olympic Research.

The U.S. could add a fourth woman to the big air/slopestyle team, likely either Jessika Jenson or Ty Walker, a pair of 2014 Olympians in slopestyle.

The U.S. men are not as strong internationally in big air and slopestyle, where the Olympic favorites hail from Canada and Norway.

Kyle Mack won the last qualifier Saturday — without the top international riders in the field — to clinch the third and last automatic spot on the men’s big air/slopestyle team.

Chris Corning and Red Gerard previously qualified for PyeongChang. A fourth rider can be added via discretionary selection.

U.S. Olympic Qualifying Standings
Snowboard Big Air/Slopestyle 
(through five of five events)
Three riders auto qualify per gender; one possible discretionary spot
1. Chris Corning — 2,000* QUALIFIED
1. Red Gerard — 2,000* QUALIFIED
3. Kyle Mack — 1,800* QUALIFIED

4. Chandler Hunt — 1,400* (2nd and 3rd)
5. Ryan Stassel — 1,400 (2nd and 3rd)

1. Jamie Anderson — 2,000* QUALIFIED
2. Julia Marino — 1,800* QUALIFIED
3. Hailey Langland — 1,600* QUALIFIED
4. Jessika Jenson — 1,600 (1st and 3rd)
5. Ty Walker — 1,300 (2nd and 4th)
*Has automatic qualifying minimum of one top-three result against entire field.

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