Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Four names, one favorite: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce leads contenders in women’s 100 meters

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The other two-time Olympic 100-meter champion from Jamaica will look to regain her world title Monday.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce tops the women’s 100 at the World Championships in Moscow, where they will run the semifinals (11:35 a.m. Eastern time) and finals (1:50 p.m.) Monday evening.

Like Bolt, Fraser-Pryce won the 100 at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and the 2009 World Championships. Also like Bolt, she did not win the world title in 2011 (Bolt false started, Fraser-Pryce took fourth).

She only qualified seventh into the semifinals, but that came in a race where she appeared to shut it down after about 30 meters. Fraser-Pryce, 26, owns the fastest time in the world this year (10.77) and could chase the championship record of 10.70 set by the disgraced Marion Jones in 1999.

“I am focusing on the execution, because I know that if I run the race the way I am supposed to, then I will do great things,” Fraser-Pryce, who launched a business called Chic Hair Ja earlier this year, told the Jamaica Gleaner.

Her biggest challenger is Blessing Okagbare, the 5-foot-11 Nigerian who won silver in the long jump Sunday. Okagbare has run 10.79 this year, the only other woman entered in Moscow who has run sub-10.85 in 2013.

Another medal contender, Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste, withdrew from worlds Saturday after learning she failed a drug test. Baptiste took bronze at the 2011 worlds and joins the silver medalist from two years ago, Veronica Campbell-Brown, in missing this race after positive tests.

The American contingent follows Okagbare. U.S. and NCAA champion English Gardner, 21, led all qualifiers into the semifinals with a 10.94 on Sunday, the fastest first-round time ever at a worlds. Gardner’s form in Europe was suspect before that 10.94. Her job is to prove she can be consistent through the rounds.

The defending world champion is a bit under the radar. Carmelita Jeter, 33, qualified 14th out of 24 semifinalists. She’s not assured of making the final if the quadriceps injury that’s plagued her since May bothers her Monday.

Medal Picks
Gold: Fraser-Pryce
Silver: Okagbare
Bronze: Murielle Ahoure (CIV)

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World short-track speedskating championships will be moved, postponed or canceled

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The International Skating Union announced Tuesday that the world short-track speedskating championships will not proceed as scheduled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Seoul’s Mokdong Ice Rink, where the competition was set to be held March 13-15, held the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships earlier this month but closed on Monday.

The ISU left open the possibility that the championships will be postponed or relocated, but the window to do so may close rapidly.

“Taking into account the uncertain world-wide development of the coronavirus, the limited and uncertain available time slots during the coming weeks and the logistical challenges of potential organizers and participating teams, a postponement and/or relocation of the Championships would be difficult to achieve,” the ISU said. “Nevertheless, a postponement and/or relocation of this Championships might be considered if the circumstances would allow so in due time.”

South Korea is one of short-track speedskating’s traditional powers. Last year, the country dominated the world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, winning both relays and taking gold in all of the men’s individual races. South Korea also led the medal count on home ice in the 2018 Olympics.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of many events in China, where the illness was first found. The world indoor track and field championships were pushed back a whole year.

With the virus spreading to other regions, other countries’ sports schedules are being affected. Several soccer games are proceeding in empty stadiums in Italy and Iran.

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Daniel Romanchuk’s ascent to marathon stardom accelerated at University of Illinois

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The rise of Daniel Romanchuk has been one of the major stories of this Paralympic cycle. The wheelchair racer was eliminated in the first round of all five of his races in Rio.

But now, he’s the world’s best marathoner with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, a world-record holder on the track and already qualified for the Tokyo Games.

Romanchuk, born with spina bifida, was profiled by NBC Sports Chicago as part of a series of NBC Sports Regional Networks pieces published this week — marking 150 days until the Tokyo Olympics and six months until the Tokyo Paralympics.

NBC RSN Olympic and Paralympic Profiles
NBC Sports Bay Area

Abbey Weitzeil (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Boston
Margaret Bertasi (Rowing) — LINK
Abbey D’Agostino Cooper (Track and Field) — LINK

NBC Sports Chicago
Ryan Murphy (Swimming) — LINK

NBC Sports Northwest
Galen Rupp (Marathon) — LINK
Mariel Zagunis (Fencing) — LINK

NBC Sports Philadelphia
Vashti Cunningham (Track and Field) — LINK
Julie Ertz (Soccer) — LINK

NBC Sports Washington
Katie Ledecky (Swimming) — LINK
Kyle Snyder (Wrestling) — LINK

Romanchuk, 21, swept the Boston, London, Chicago and New York City Marathon titles in 2019. He attributes that success to his native Baltimore and his training residence of the University of Illinois.

At age 2, he was enrolled in Baltimore’s Bennett Blazers, an adaptive sports program for children with physical disabilities. Tatyana McFadden, a 17-time Paralympic medalist who dominated women’s wheelchair marathons, planted her athletic roots there.

“Their motto is to teach kids they can before they’re told they can’t,” Romanchuk said.

Things really blossomed for Romanchuk after he moved from Baltimore to the University of Illinois. Illinois was designated a U.S. Paralympic training site in 2014 and has produced McFadden, Jean Driscoll and other U.S. Paralympic stars.

“Without this program, I certainly would not be where I am,” Romanchuk said. “It’s a very unique combination of coaching and teammates.”

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MORE: Ten Paralympic hopefuls to watch for 2020 Tokyo Games