Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson analyzes Usain Bolt

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Michael Johnson believes Usain Bolt can break 19 seconds in the 200m, as he’s said before, but isn’t sure if Bolt has passed his prime yet.

Johnson, the former 200m world record holder, was asked about Bolt, the current 200m world record holder, at the Laureus Sports Awards in Kuala Lumpur this week.

Johnson broke the 200m world record twice in 1996, clocking 19.66 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Trials and 19.32 at the Atlanta Olympics. Bolt took it lower with a 19.30 at the 2008 Olympics and 19.19 at the 2009 World Championships.

“I think [Bolt] could go under 19 seconds, but then beyond that I’m not quite sure,” Johnson said, according to Sportal. “Technically, he’s not the best. Technically he’s a little bit all over the place and that’s a race where the longer it goes, the more you need to be really efficient in order to be able to maintain the level of speed that you want.

“And so that’s something that, if were to clean up some of those things, I think he could go under 19 seconds.”

The comments echo what Johnson said in 2011. Johnson has also said Bolt could run the 100m in 9.4 seconds. The current mark, set by Bolt in 2009, is 9.58.

Even though Johnson says Bolt could go faster, he also cautioned that the Jamaican superstar’s fastest days may be behind him. Bolt is 27 years old. Johnson was 28 when he broke those world records in 1996.

“If I had to guess and go out there and say whether or not we’ve seen the best of him, I would say probably, but you never know with him,” Johnson said, according to the report. “There’s the argument for both. You could say that, as a sprinter gets older you’re not going to get faster, probably, you’re going to get slower and not faster.

“Then on the other side of things, I don’t know if he has done everything that he possibly could to go out there and be the best that he can be.”

Johnson also pointed out that Jamaica’s reign in sprinting could last beyond the era of Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who is also 27.

“You’ve got young kids there inspired by the success of Bolt and [Yohan] Blake and all of the Jamaican team, plus there’s been renewed investment in coaching and great training too,” he said, according to Yahoo. “The Jamaicans will continue to be tough for years to come.”

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Kyle Dake repeats as world wrestling champ; next challenge: Jordan Burroughs

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Kyle Dake recovered from an unspecified freak accident that required surgery, and not wrestling in a meet for eight months, to repeat as world champion at 79kg, a non-Olympic weight class, on Sunday.

The next six months will bring another challenge — beating Jordan Burroughs for an Olympic spot.

“Every year I have a goal of being the best guy in the world. Last year, I proved it. This year, I proved it,” Dake told Trackwrestling.com. “I’ve got my work cut out for me, coming up.”

Dake, a four-time NCAA champion at Cornell who considered quitting after finishing second at U.S. trials year after year, is now in his freestyle prime. He backed up going unscored on at worlds last year by beating his four opponents in Kazakhstan this week by a combined 27-4, capped by topping Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov 4-2 in a final rematch.

Kid Dynamite is unquestionably one of the world’s best pound-for-pound wrestlers.

That was not the case four years ago. Then, an internationally inexperienced Dake moved out of the 74kg division, and up to 86kg for the Olympic year, to avoid facing Burroughs because Burroughs had a bye into the Olympic trials final as the reigning world champion. Dake ended up losing the 86kg trials final to J’den Cox, who on Saturday repeated as world champion himself.

The four-year difference would seem to favor Dake over Burroughs at April’s trials, where Dake has a bye into the semifinals and Burroughs into the final.

Burroughs, at 31 years old, is on the back end of his career. He just missed the finals of back-to-back world championships for the first time, though he came back for bronze medals. Burroughs has made every U.S. world or Olympic team at 74kg dating to 2011 and earned a medal every time, save his tearful Rio Olympic exit.

Dake, reluctant four years ago to detail his decision to move out of 74kg, determined before this week’s worlds that he would choose 74kg over 86kg (where Cox likely waits again).

“74 seems like a good spot for me,” Dake told Trackwrestling last month.

The number of weight classes drops from 10 at worlds to six at the Olympics, ensuring that at least two of these Americans will not make the Tokyo team:

Burroughs — 5x Olympic/world champion
Dake — 2x world champion
David Taylor — 2018 World champion (missed 2019 while injured)
Cox — 2x world champion
Kyle Snyder — 2x Olympic/world champion

Later Sunday, Snyder rallied from being upset in the 97kg semifinals on Saturday to snag a bronze medal with a 5-0 win over Georgian Elizbar Odikadze. A potential third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Abdulrashid Sadulayev was the most anticipated match of the championships, but Snyder was beaten one match early by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov.

Sadulayev, meanwhile, blanked Sharifov 4-0 to complete a 30-3 romp through his four matches to repeat as world champ.

“The hardest part about it I would say is just the fact that I didn’t get to wrestle Sadulayev again,” said Snyder, a Rio Olympic champion and a 2015 and 2017 World champion who shared bus and elevator rides with Sadulayev on Saturday and Sunday. “I felt prepared for him.”

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MORE: Jordan Burroughs: Time is running out

Israel is first nation to qualify for 2020 Olympic baseball tournament

Margo Sugarman
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Israel’s baseball team, which captivated at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, is headed to its first Olympics next summer.

Israel won a joint European-African tournament to become the first nation to qualify for baseball’s return to the Games after the sport was voted off the program after Beijing 2008.

It joins host nation Japan. Four more countries will qualify — two at the global Premier12 in November, another from the Americas and one more from a last-chance qualifier next year.

Israel, ranked 19th in the world, advanced via its best opportunity in Italy this week. It upset the highest-ranked European nations — the Netherlands (No. 8) and host Italy (No. 16) — and wrapped it up with an 11-1 win over South Africa on Sunday.

Its run came two years after Israel, then ranked 41st, beat South Korea, Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands and Cuba before bowing out of the World Baseball Classic. And one week after Israel finished fourth at the European Championship.

Israel’s roster at this week’s Olympic qualifier lacked many of the MLB veterans that it had at the World Baseball Classic. Israeli citizenship was not required at the WBC.

Its most recognizable player is Danny Valencia, an infielder who played parts of nine MLB seasons from 2010-18. Joey Wagman, its starting pitcher for its first and last games this week, plies his trade for the independent-league Milwaukee Milkmen.

MLB players are unlikely to feature at the Tokyo Games, but minor leaguers are expected to be eligible as in the past.

The rest of the Olympic field is likely to be nations from North America (such as the U.S., Cuba, Mexico or Canada) or Asia (South Korea, Chinese Taipei) or Australia.

Baseball will not be on the 2024 Olympic program but could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

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MORE: USA Baseball taps longtime catcher to be Olympic qualifying manager