Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin wins in Kingston; Merritt, Richards-Ross beaten

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Justin Gatlin won his first 100m of the season in 10.11 seconds at the Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston on Saturday night.

Gatlin, 32, edged Jamaicans Andrew Fisher (10.21) and Nesta Carter (10.22) running into a headwind, according to TV announcers. Gatlin and Carter won silver and bronze behind Usain Bolt in the 2013 World Championships 100m. Bolt might not make his season debut until June.

“I knew to get ready for that wind in my face, so to drive hard, once I came up, just attack,” said Gatlin, who said he ran competitively in Jamaica for the first time in his career. “I think I’m a bridge for the gap of the generations. I dueled with Maurice Greene. I watched Michael Johnson run. I ran with the great Usain Bolt. Also, [Yohan] Blake. So I’m just very blessed to be here with the best crowd in the whole world.”

Jamaican Olympic and world 200m medalist Warren Weir was fourth in 10.30. American Walter Dix, won won sprint medals at the 2008 Olympics and 2011 World Championships, was seventh in 10.45.

Triple 2013 world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 200m in 22.53, .08 better than U.S. champion Kimberlyn DuncanJeneba Tarmoh was third in 22.69.

“Tonight was all about seeing where I am and looking forward to the rest of the season,” said Fraser-Pryce, who was .26 off the world-leading time for 2014.

Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, an Olympic and world long jump medalist, won the women’s 100m in 11.19. 2008 Olympic silver medalist Kerron Stewart took second in 11.32. U.S. champion English Gardner was seventh in 11.50.

Olympic champions Sanya Richards-Ross and LaShawn Merritt were beaten in their 400m races. Richards-Ross, plagued by toe problems since the London Games, was fifth in 51.62. World indoor champion Francena McCorory prevailed in a world-leading 50.24.

Merritt was beaten at the lean by 2012 Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, 44.82 to 44.86.

“No disappointment,” Merritt said. “I’m a champion.

“I think I ran a little bit too conservative throughout the first part of the race. Then I just kind of ran to get tired.”

Two-time Olympic 400m hurdles champion Felix Sanchez passed 2013 world champion Jehue Gordon after the final hurdle to win in 49.21. Gordon, who at 22 is 14 years younger than Sanchez, came in second in 49.32.

“I’m an old man,” said Sanchez, who slapped his chest before crossing the finish line, “but I’ve still got something left.”

2008 Olympic silver medalist Christian Cantwell won the shot put with a throw of 21.85m, a 2014 world lead and a distance that would have won the 2013 World Championship. Cantwell missed much of last season due to injury.

2012 Olympic bronze medalist Hansle Parchment won the 110m hurdles in 13.42 seconds in front of a home crowd, edging American world silver medalist Ryan Wilson by .03. World Championships bronze medalist Tiffany Porter of Great Britain took the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.92, one day after Lolo Jones ran a reported 12.89 in Bloomington, Ind.

American Curtis Mitchell, the world 200m bronze medalist, came in second in the 200m behind Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer, 20.53 to 20.54.

The meet lost two Olympic gold medalists earlier this week with the withdrawal of 2008 Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and 2012 Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix. Felix missed the meet due to a reported injury and was scheduled to next race at the Cayman Invitational on Wednesday.

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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