Usain Bolt anchors Jamaica into relay final (video)

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LONDON (AP) — Usain Bolt set the stage for his grand farewell, powering down the finishing straight Saturday to qualify Jamaica for the 4x100m relay final at the world championships.

Fittingly, he will face Justin Gatlin and the United States in the final chapter of his unparalleled career.

Both nations won their heats early Saturday, though the U.S. relay squad got the baton around with more aplomb than Jamaica, which had to rely on Bolt to clinch victory.

And Bolt relished the adulation at the 60,000-capacity Olympic Stadium.

“They’ve been outstanding so far, and continue to surprise me and give me energy,” Bolt said.

For the best part of the past decade, though, Bolt has been 100 percent reliable in getting relay gold for the island nation. The last time Jamaica lost a world championship final was in Bolt’s rookie year in 2007, when he ran the second leg and only took silver behind the Americans.

Ever since, Bolt has flaunted his power at the end of every major championship, getting the third gold medal for himself and sometimes another world record for Jamaica.

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This year, however, he only got bronze in the 100m behind Gatlin. And the result in the relay is no longer a foregone conclusion.

The United States, with Gatlin running the second leg, won the first heat in a world leading time of 37.70 seconds. The Americans beat Britain and Japan, both of which also qualified.

“My team did a great job,” said Gatlin, the oldest of the squad at 35. “They’re thinking and acting like veterans and I’m proud of them.”

Christian Coleman took silver in the 100m ahead of Bolt and it gave the U.S. team an added boost.

“Having the gold and silver medal on the same relay team, which hasn’t been done in a long time, it gives us kind of a confidence booster that the speed can get around the track,” Gatlin said.

Bolt stepped out on the track for the second heat, and the Jamaicans needed him. Trailing when he got the baton on the anchor leg, Bolt powered away, quickly swept past his rivals and had time to look to his right before crossing in 37.95 seconds.

Still, Bolt was supportive of his young teammates.

“They came out here and did the job we wanted them to do, and that’s to get us to the finals. They executed and ran well for a young team,” Bolt said. “Over the years, this will be the team bringing in the golds.”

In the women’s heats, both nations are also through.

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Salt Lake City forms committee to weigh Olympic bid

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City has formed an exploratory committee to decide if the city will bid to host the Winter Olympics in either 2026 or 2030 — taking a key step toward trying to become a rare two-time host city.

The group made up of elected officials, business leaders and one key member of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City said Monday that it plans to make a recommendation to state leaders by Feb. 1.

The announcement comes after the U.S. Olympic Committee board said Friday that it was moving forward with discussions about bringing the Winter Games to America for either 2026 or 2030.

Because Los Angeles was recently awarded the 2028 Summer Games, a bid for 2030 would make more sense, chairman Larry Probst said Friday.

The USOC has until next March to pick a city; those expressing interest include Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno, Nevada.

Innsbruck, Austria, said Sunday it wouldn’t bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, taking one more city out of the running. The hosting rights are set to be awarded in July 2019.

The same country hasn’t hosted back-to-back Olympics since before World War II, though when the International Olympic Committee scrapped its traditional rules and awarded 2024 (Paris) and 2028 (LA) at the same time, it indicated it was certainly open to new ideas.

Since 2012, Salt Lake City has been letting Olympic officials know the city was ready and willing to host again with a plan based on renovating and upgrading venues that have been in use since the Games ended.

The city had previously estimated it could put on a Winter Olympics for about $2 billion, but the committee will come up with a new cost estimate, said Jeff Robbins, the president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission.

Robbins is one of three co-chairs on the committee along with Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Fraser Bullock, a key player in Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympics.

Robbins said he thinks the city has a great shot at winning a bid based on the relatively low cost and because it has demonstrated it knows how to maintain venues and keep them in use, putting the city in line with Agenda 2020, the blueprint that IOC President Thomas Bach created for future Olympics calling for less spending on new venues and infrastructure.

There’s an eight-lane interstate running from the Salt Lake airport, which was upgraded for the Olympics, to Park City, which is the home of U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Park City is the host for key U.S. training centers for freestyle skiing, speedskating and cross country skiing.

Overall, the area has hosted about 75 World Cup and world-championship events in winter sports since the Olympic cauldron was extinguished more than 15 years ago.

He said an expanded light rail train line grid around Salt Lake City and a $3 billion airport renovation already underway are two examples of how Salt Lake City is even better prepared now to host than in 2002.

But he and other organizers will also have to answer questions about a bidding scandal that marred the 2002 Games and resulted in several International Olympic Committee members losing their positions for taking bribes.

“You can’t control the past,” Robbins said. “The results of what happened I think would certainly speak volumes. While there was some challenges, we hosted arguably one of the best Olympics ever hosted.”

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Simone Biles announces new coach

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When Simone Biles begins her comeback in earnest next month, she’ll be training under a new coach — Laurent Landi — who coached one of her Olympic teammates, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Landi, a 39-year-old former French gymnast, guided Rio uneven bars silver medalist Madison Kocian at the Dallas-area gym WOGA, along with wife Cecile.

“[Landi] was in Dallas, which is not far away, and had recently left WOGA, and I had worked with alongside him and know how he is with athletes,” Biles said, according to the newspaper. “He does a good job not letting pressure get to the athletes. You can see some coaches get stressed but he doesn’t.”

Biles’ previous coach since she was 7, Aimee Boorman, left their Houston-area gym for a gymnastics job in Florida after the Rio Games.

Biles said last week she plans to return to full-time training Nov. 1 and return to competition next summer.

Kocian is now at UCLA and uncertain to return to elite gymnastics.

Two other Final Five members — Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez — have said they plan to return to training for a Tokyo 2020 run. But neither has announced a return to the gym like Biles.

The last member — 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas — has not said whether she will come back.

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