Usain Bolt

Video: Usain Bolt wins 100 meters in season’s best in return to London Olympic Stadium

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Usain Bolt was two tenths slower than at the same track last year, but 9.85 was plenty good enough to win the 100 meters at the London Anniversary Games on Friday.

Bolt came from behind, passing 2003 world champion Kim Collins and American Mike Rodgers midway through the race to deliver victory at London Olympic Stadium in his first appearance there since winning triple gold at the 2012 Games.

It marked a season’s best for Bolt, who appears to be coming into form leading into Moscow, where he will attempt to take back his world title in the 100. Bolt false-started out of the 100 at the 2011 worlds.

Rodgers, slated to replace Tyson Gay on the U.S. roster at the world championships in two weeks, placed second in 9.98. Jamaican Nesta Carter was third in 9.99.

Bolt’s biggest competition come worlds, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Justin Gatlin, was not in the field in London on Friday. Gatlin, who beat Bolt in Rome earlier this season, is the only other man going to worlds who has run sub-9.9 this year. 

But Bolt’s 9.85 on Friday bettered Gatlin’s season’s best of 9.89, And he did it without a very good start. There’s little doubt Bolt, now a bigger favorite going into worlds, will get faster in the next two weeks.

“I had a bad start … it’s not the best part of my game but I did OK,” Bolt told the BBC, according to Reuters. “If I’m in good shape I always think I’m going to do well. My start was poor and I need to work on that. To make a perfect race I need to make a good start and just get in to the race. Hopefully I can make a good time at Moscow and continue to do well.”

Bolt is expected to run again tomorrow in the 4×100 relay. Others in action Saturday are London Olympic champions Allyson Felix (200), Mo Farah (3,000), Jessica Ennis (100 hurdles) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (100).

Usain Bolt enters Olympic Stadium on rocket/missile

Here’s a rundown of the other events at the Diamond League meet:

Women’s 1,500: Mary Cain, 17, spent the first 1,450 meters in the back of the pack of a slow-paced, tight race before moving up on the final straight to finish fifth in her senior European debut in 4:09.77.

Kenyan Mary Kuria won in 4:08.77. Cain has run 4:04.62 this year, but her second-place time at a steamy nationals, 4:28.76, came in an incredibly slow overall final.

Cain was in last place in a field of 15 after the second and third laps against less-than-stellar competition. But Cain, who trains under Alberto Salazar, surely came into this meet focused on worlds preparation first and foremost.

“I got a little too overwhelmed in the start,” Cain told Flotrack. “I came in fifth in the end, which actually isn’t that bad. … You’re not always going to have a good race. I can learn from this now, recup. Now I know, hey, Moscow, I don’t just walk into the final and get some medal.”

Men’s 200: Jamaican Warren Weir, the Olympic bronze medalist, confirmed his status as a medal favorite at worlds by pulling away off the turn to win in 19.89 (+.2).

Is it a time that will worry his training partner Bolt? No. Bolt has run 19.73 and 19.79 this year.

Fellow Jamaican Jason Young, who did not make the worlds team, was second in 19.99, and American Wallace Spearmon was third in 20.18. Spearmon should replace Tyson Gay on the worlds team in the 200 when the official roster comes out.

It appears the three Americans — Isiah YoungCurtis Mitchell and, likely, Spearmon — will be among those fighting for bronze behind Bolt and Weir in Moscow.

Men’s 400: World and Olympic champion Kirani James had no problems with rival LaShawn Merritt not in the field.

James, of Grenada and the University of Alabama, didn’t panic at American Tony McQuay‘s blistering start and won in 44.65, a pedestrian time for him this season.

McQuay was within a step of James coming off the last turn and clocked a 45.09, well off his 44.72 and 44.74 from nationals. Still, he earned second place while clearly focusing on a fast opening 200 on Friday. The University of Florida product has a shot at bronze in Moscow.

Notable: The men’s high jump provided epic theater, with Ukrainian Bohdan Bondarenko outlasting U.S. Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard, 2.38 meters to 2.36. Bondarenko went after Javier Sotomayor‘s world record of 2.45, failing on two attempts at 2.47 meters. … Americans Nick Symmonds (season’s best 1:43.67) and Duane Solomon (1:44.12) went a clear 1-2 in the 800. Solomon remains the world leader (1:43.27) with world-record holder David Rudisha out of worlds with a knee injury. Solomon and Symmonds could medal at worlds. … Olympic champion Jenn Suhr (4.73) took second in the pole vault to Olympic silver medalist and world leader Yarisley Silva (4.83) of Cuba. They’re moving toward a showdown with Olympic bronze medalist Yelena Isinbayeva at worlds. The Russian Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic champion, has announced she will step away from the sport after Moscow. … American Brenda Martinez won the 800 in 1:58.19. Martinez, second to Alysia Montano at nationals, became the first woman to go sub-1:59 three times this year, according to IAAF. Between her and Montano, we could see the first U.S. medal at worlds in the event ever. … American Shannon Rowbury posted the fastest time in the world this year to win the 3,000 meters in 8:41.46, leading a 1-2-3 U.S. finish ahead of Gabriele Anderson and Molly Huddle. Of course, the 3,000 is not part of the world championships program. Rowbury is prepping to run the 5,000 at worlds.

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Iris Cummings, last living 1936 U.S. Olympian, has flown ever since Berlin

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Iris Cummings is one of the last living members of a historically significant, global group: athletes who competed at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. She is the only U.S. Olympian from those Games believed to still be alive.

Cummings, a 99-year-old who still swims regularly, was one of 46 U.S. women (along with 313 U.S. men) who competed at the Berlin Olympics, best known for Jesse Owens triumphing in the face of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Since swimmer Adolph Kiefer‘s death in May 2017, the breaststroker Cummings and canoeist John Lysak were the last living 1936 U.S. Olympians. Olympic historians recently learned that Lysak died in January at 105 years old (which Lysak’s family confirmed this week). Canadian Paul Tchir of the OlyMADMen keeps a list of the oldest living Olympians here.

Lysak, born in New Jersey, turned 4 years old when his mom died in 1918 due to the flu pandemic. He was orphaned by his father, overwhelmed with taking care of a farm and four children.

Lysak got a bike to handle a paper route as a boy. That allowed him to sneak down to the Hudson River and row with homemade boats with his younger brother, Steven, who became a 1948 Olympic gold and silver medalist.

“I couldn’t swim, but I floated with a log,” Lysak told NBC Sports for the 2016 film “More than Gold,” about Owens and the 1936 Olympics. “I grew up paddling.”

He specialized at the Yonkers Canoe Club, made the Olympic team and finished seventh in a 10km doubles event with James O’Rourke in Berlin. Lysak later became a Marine and served during World War II.

Lysak spent his last years in California, where Cummings learned to swim off the Pacific beaches as a girl around the time of the Great Depression.

Cummings credited an ability to become an Olympian and one of the first women to fly U.S. military aircraft to her parents, who met while serving in France during World War I. Her father was a medic and sports doctor. Her mother a member of the American Red Cross canteen service.

She said her father, an all-around athlete, gave up a chance to try out for the first modern Olympics in 1896 to attend Tufts University School of Medicine.

“My mother provided the intellectual and academic inspiration from her rare perspective as a woman college graduate and a high school language teacher when very few women ever went to college,” Cummings told NBC Sports in an interview for “More than Gold.”

In 1928, Cummings’ dad took her to her the National Air Races at what is now Los Angeles International Airport.

“I watched Charles Lindbergh at the peak of his fame fly in the air show,” she said.

In 1932, at age 11, Cummings was introduced to the Olympics in person. Her dad was a track and field official at those Los Angeles Games.

Iris Cummings
Iris Cummings (center) competed in the 200m breaststroke at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. (Courtesy Iris Cummings)

All of Cummings’ swimming up to age 13 came in the ocean due to a lack of pools. But from 1934 to ’36, she developed into an Olympian in the breaststroke. In 1936, a 15-year-old Cummings was offered a paid-for, round-trip, cross-country train ticket to swim at a national championships in Long Island, N.Y.

“My mother had to borrow money to buy her railroad ticket to accompany me,” she said.

In a telegraph after nationals, Cummings was told by a California club coach to stay back East for five weeks before Olympic Trials (also on Long Island) because they had no money to send her back and forth again.

“So my mother figured out how we could stay with my grandmother in Philadelphia with almost no place to swim,” Cummings said. They found a country club pool, where she swam after hours while a janitor cleaned.

Cummings placed third in the 200m breast at trials to make the team as its youngest member in an individual event. (Today, only the top two at trials per individual event make the Olympics.)

“They stated, ‘You have made the team, but we don’t have enough money to send all of you,'” Cummings said. “‘The S.S. Manhattan sails in five days. Get out and raise as much money as you can from your hometown.’ My mother and I telegraphed our local newspaper, and a small amount was sent in from Redondo Beach.”

Olympic team members took a 10-day trip on the ship to Germany. Swimmers had one 20-foot-by-20-foot pool in which to train while at sea.

“They pumped the saltwater into it, and it sloshed around as the ship rolled,” Cummings said in an LA84 Foundation interview.

After arriving in Hamburg, U.S. athletes took a boat train that had swastikas on it out of the port.

“Most of us were quite aware of the evolving difficulties or however you want to classify the rise of Nazism in Germany,” said Cummings, adding that U.S. swim coach Charlotte Epstein previously boycotted attending the Olympics. “We’d heard the same rumors [about a U.S. boycott]. We were all wondering if the Olympic committee was going to take action before the boat sailed. That had come up in most everyone’s minds.”

At the Opening Ceremony, Cummings was bored by speeches and instead said she took pictures of the Hindenburg flying above. She had no fear about being there.

“The concerns were from nations that had proximity to the situation like a Belgium, or Holland or Austria,” she said. “We’ve got this passport, I know Margie [Marjorie Gestring, a gold-medal diver at age 13] and I looked at this and said, we’ve got this special passport. They can’t touch us.”

Most of Owens’ events took place before Cummings was eliminated in the first round of the 200m breast. She nonetheless took advantage of passes for athletes to watch track and field at the Olympic Stadium. She saw all of Owens’ races, sitting in an athlete section about 15 or 20 rows above Hitler’s box.

“Whenever [Hitler] came in, we could see him down there,” she said. “He wasn’t very far away.”

Iris Cummings
(Courtesy Iris Cummings)

Eight decades later, Cummings still remembered the crowd cheering for Owens after his victories.

“The whole stadium was rooting for Jesse,” she said.

Soon after the team returned to the U.S., Cummings began attending the University of Southern California. She enrolled in a pilot training program in 1939, earned her license the next year and worked as a flight instructor during the war. Then she became a pilot for the AAF Ferry Command in the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, later included in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs).

“None of us thought there were going to be Olympics in ’40,” she predicted, correctly. Not in 1944, either.

She estimated that she’s flown more than 50 types of airplanes.

“There were only 21 of us [women] who ever flew the P-38,” she said, “and there were only four of us who ever flew the P-61 Black Widow.”

After the war, marriage to Howard Critchell and childbirths, Cummings continued to race planes. She developed curricula for the Federal Aviation Administration, founded an aeronautics program at Harvey Mudd College and was inducted into the National Flight Instructors Hall of Fame, among many honors.

“I’ve been flying 76 years, and it’s a privilege to just be around,” she said shortly before she stopped piloting in 2016.

Cummings still flies as a passenger with a former student.

“It’s a treat to be up there with the elements and appreciate it all,” she said. “It’s you and the air movement and the wind and what you can do with your airplane.”

MORE: Wyomia Tyus’ Olympic protest resonates 52 years later

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NBA participation in Tokyo Olympics could be limited, Adam Silver says

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the Tokyo Olympics’ effect on the league’s schedule planning for 2021 is unclear, but that it’s possible that Olympic participation may be limited.

“There are a lot of great U.S. players, and we may be up against a scenario where the top 15 NBA players aren’t competing in the Olympics, but other great American players are competing,” Silver told Bob Costas on CNN on Tuesday. “Obviously, there are many NBA players who participate in the Olympics from other countries. That’s something we’re going to have to work through. I just say, lastly, these are highly unique and unusual circumstances. I think, just as it is for the Olympic movement, it is for us as well. We’re just going to have to sort of find a way to meld and mesh those two competing considerations.”

Silver said his best guess is that the next NBA season starts in January with a goal of a standard 82-game schedule and playoffs. A schedule has not been released.

In normal NBA seasons that start in late October, the regular season runs to mid-April and the NBA Finals into mid-June.

The Tokyo Olympic Opening Ceremony is July 23. If an NBA season is pushed back two or three months to a January start, and the schedule is not condensed, the Olympics would start while the NBA playoffs are happening.

The current NBA season is in the conference finals phase in an Orlando-area bubble after a four-month stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is a factor in our planning,” Silver said of the Olympics. “It would be tough for us to make a decision in January based on the Olympics happening on schedule when that’s so unclear.”

The NBA has participated in every Olympics since the 1992 Barcelona Games. Monday was the 29th anniversary of the announcement of the first 10 members of the original Dream Team on an NBC selection show (hosted by Costas).

Before the NBA era, U.S. Olympic men’s basketball teams consisted of college players.

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