Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

U.S., Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce star to end World Indoor Championships

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The U.S. won 12 medals and eight golds to lead all nations in both categories at the finish of the World Indoor Track and Field Championships in Sopot, Poland, on Sunday.

The U.S. led the medal counts for the fourth straight World Indoors, boosted Sunday by the first global championship medals — golds — from Chanelle Price (800m) and Omo Osaghae (60m hurdles) and the men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams.

The U.S. men’s 4x400m closed the meet with its only world indoor record — 3 minutes, 2.13 seconds.

The marquee event on the third and final day was the women’s 60m. Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won in 6.98 seconds, the second fastest time this millennium.

Fraser-Pryce, the two-time reigning Olympic 100m champion and world champion in the 100m and 200m, joined countrywoman Veronica Campbell-Brown as the only women to win world titles in the 60m, 100m and 200m.

The Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure took silver in 7.01, followed by American Tianna Bartoletta (formerly Madison) in 7.06.

The seven-time Olympic medalist Campbell-Brown finished fifth in her first meet since it was revealed she failed a drug test in May.

In the 800m, Price shocked the field by winning in 2:00.09, the fastest time in the world this year. Price was the world’s 28th fastest woman in the 800m last year.

Osaghae took the 60m hurdles in a world-leading 7.45, prevailing by .01 and .02 over the French silver and bronze medalists. The U.S. has won every global 60m/110m hurdles championship since 2010, shared among four men.

American Bernard Lagat won silver in the 3000m. Lagat, at 39 years, 87 days old, became the oldest men’s medalist in World Indoor Championships history. Teammate Galen Rupp was fourth.

U.S. Olympic champion Jenn Suhr tied for fifth in the pole vault, won by Cuba’s Yarisley Silva. Silva was second to Suhr at the London Games.

Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba blew away the 3000m field, prevailing by 2.68 seconds but was more than 38 seconds slower than her world record set Feb. 6.

Track and field now enters the outdoor season. Key events include Diamond League meets beginning May 9, the U.S. Championships in Sacramento, Calif., from June 26-29 and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, beginning in late July.

Big road races come first, though. The New York City Half Marathon is next Sunday and includes Mo Farah. Farah is prepping for his marathon debut in London on April 13. The Boston Marathon is April 21.

U.S. Paralympian in good spirits after scary crash

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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