Jenny Simpson

Jenny Simpson leads silver night for U.S. at worlds; Mary Cain 10th in 1,500-meter final (video)

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Jenny Simpson won one of three silver medals for the U.S. at the World Track and Field Championships on Thursday in a 1,500-meter final where 17-year-old Mary Cain finished a respectable 10th.

The 1,500 was the key event for American fans on Thursday’s schedule at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Simpson, 26, came in as the defending world champion. Cain impressed in becoming the youngest woman ever to make the 1,500 final at the World Championships.

Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi, who competed for Ethiopia at the 2012 Olympics, entered as the favorite and won in 4 minutes, 2.67 seconds. Simpson led for most of the race until Aregawi passed her with about 300 meters left. The Colorado native held on for silver in 4:02.99. Kenyan Hellen Obiri earned bronze in 4:03.86.

“We can do another round,” Simpson told NBC Sports reporter Lewis Johnson on Universal Sports. “I’m ready for a fourth round. … I was so tired at the end because I led so much of it. I tried so hard to catch Aregawi. … That’s the hardest I’ve ever run (trying to catch her) in my life.”

Cain completed an impressive season that saw her become the youngest woman to make the U.S. team at a world championships. In the final, she was in last place going into the final lap and looked to be losing ground on the pack. But she summoned energy to finish 10th out of 12 in 4:07.19, the third fastest time of her life.

“They (my coaches) said there was no pressure, but I think I could have medaled,” said Cain, who watched the 2012 baseball drama “Trouble with the Curve” before her race, according to Universal Sports. “I’m definitely a little upset, but I’ve got to rally, get out of this funk.”

Cain said it was her last race of the season. She will head back to Bronxville (N.Y.) High School to begin her senior year.

“I think I’ve matured on the world scene,” she said. “It makes me a lot more motivated to be here two years from now.”

The final was delayed eight minutes by the men’s high jump, where Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko took three attempts at a world record after winning gold but couldn’t beat Javier Sotomayor‘s all-time best from 20 years ago.

The U.S. won silver medals in both 400-meter hurdles races. Michael Tinsley repeated his Olympic silver in the closest men’s 400 hurdles finish in worlds history. He was outleaned by Trinidad and Tobago’s Jehue Gordon by .01 of a second.

The women’s 400 hurdles saw the largest margin of victory in the event’s worlds history. The Czech Republic’s Zuzana Hejnova won in 52.83. while silver and bronze went to Americans Dalilah Muhammad (54.09) and 2011 world champion Lashinda Demus (54.27).

Allyson Felix and Usain Bolt will be star attractions Friday in Moscow. Felix advanced to the finals of the 200, an event where she holds three world titles and an Olympic title. She’ll face off with 100-meter champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce at 1:15 p.m. Eastern time (Universal Sports).

Bolt will run the heats of the 200 in the morning and the semifinals in the evening in Moscow (11:40 a.m. ET), his first action since winning the 100 on Sunday.

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Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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