Sanya Richards-Ross

IAAF World Relays schedule, broadcast times, preview

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With no outdoor World Championships or Olympics this year, the IAAF will introduce a new international event, the World Relays, this weekend.

The world’s greatest track nations — from sprinting to middle-distance running — convene in Nassau, Bahamas for events Saturday and Sunday. The World Relays are scheduled to remain in the Bahamas in 2015 and likely to go on a two-year cycle after that, according to Reuters.

The U.S. and Jamaica will be the anticipated head-to-head matchups in sprints. The Bahamas, Russia, Kenya and Ethiopia enter the mix as the distances rise to 4x1500m relays.

Universal Sports will have live TV coverage at 6:30 each night and online coverage at 6:15.

Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):

Saturday
5:30 p.m. — Men’s 4x200m heats
5:49 — Women’s 4x100m heats
6:15 — Men’s 4x800m FINAL
6:40 — Women’s 4x400m heats
7:12 — Men’s 4x400m heats
7:45 — Women’s 4x1500m FINAL
8:16 — Men’s 4x200m FINAL
8:42 — Women’s 4x100m FINAL

Sunday
5:30 p.m. — Women’s 4x200m heats
5:49 — Men’s 4x100m heats
6:26 — Women’s 4x400m FINAL
6:48 — Men’s 4x1500m FINAL
7:19 — Women’s 4X800m FINAL
7:52 — Men’s 4x400m FINAL
8:11 — Women’s 4x200m FINAL
8:37 — Men’s 4x100m FINAL

Here’s a look at each event:

Women’s 4x100m

Jamaica is the clear favorite here with a team that includes the reigning Olympic and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and 2008 Olympic 100m silver medalist Kerron Stewart. In fact, it could field the same quartet that won the 2013 World Championship in a meet-record time.

The U.S. holds the world record in the 4x100m from the 2012 Olympics, but only Tianna Bartoletta returns from that team. Olympic sprint medalists Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter are among the Americans not in Nassau.

Men’s 4x100m

Likewise, Jamaica is a favorite in the men’s 4x100m, even without Usain Bolt, since the U.S. is missing its top sprinters from last year’s World Championships and Olympics. The Jamaicans boast three-quarters of their world-record team from the 2012 Olympics — Yohan BlakeNesta Carter and Michael Frater.

The U.S. is without Justin GatlinTyson Gay and Ryan Bailey, who went three-four-five in the 2012 Olympic 100m final. However, they return the fourth man from the Olympic 4x100m final silver-medal team, Trell Kimmons, and three-quarters of the 2013 World Championships final team that won silver — Mike RodgersMookie Salaam and Charles Silmon. There’s also the rising Marvin Bracy, who won 60m silver at the World Indoor Championships in March.

Women’s 4x200m

Fraser-Pryce is also eligible for the 4x200m relay, and she says she’s focusing more on the half-lap distance this year after winning Olympic silver and World Championships gold the last two seasons. But the rest of the Jamaican 4x200m pool is not near her league (maybe nobody else in the world is, actually), giving the U.S. a chance.

Five different U.S. women made the Olympic and World Championships 200m finals over the last two years, but none of them are in the World Relays 4x200m pool. Still, the Americans boast reigning national champion Kimberlyn Duncan, proven veterans Bianca Knight and Shalonda Solomon and Tori Bowie, whose 22.57 this year is faster than any member of Jamaica’s pool who doesn’t have two hyphens in her name.

Men’s 4x200m

Jamaica must prove its depth here to beat the U.S., since Bolt is out and Blake is only in the 4x100m pool. That leaves Olympic bronze medalist and world silver medalist Warren Weir to carry the load, along with Nickel Ashmeade (fourth at worlds) and Jason Livermore (worlds semifinalist).

The U.S. put one man in the 200m final at each of the last three major outdoor championships. All of them are in the pool to challenge Jamaica — 2011 world silver medalist Walter Dix, 2012 Olympic fourth-place finisher Wallace Spearmon and 2013 world bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell.

Women’s 4x400m

This event has seen some close finishes between the U.S. and Russia over the last several years, but it shouldn’t be that way in Nassau.

The field is headlined by Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who is working her way back from injury. The U.S. pool also includes Olympic 400m bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter and Natasha Hastings and Jessica Beard from last year’s World Championships silver-medal team.

Russia brings back zero members of its 2013 World Championships gold-medal-winning team. That opens the door for Great Britain, with reigning world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu, and Jamaica.

Men’s 4x400m

This is the marquee event for the host nation, given the Bahamas won the Olympic 4x400m in London. Its entire team from London is back for this meet.

The U.S., a usual favorite in the 4x400m, boasts a group that includes reigning world 400m champion LaShawn Merritt and three-quarters of the team that won the 2013 World Championships final (which the Bahamas did not qualify for) and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor.

Women’s 4x800m

This is another event Russia is deep in, but the top Russians over the last few years are not entered. The U.S. put three women in the 2013 World Championships 800m final, and two of them are in Nassau — bronze medalist Brenda Martinez and sixth-place Ajee’ Wilson — as well as World Indoor 800m champion Chanelle Price.

The U.S.’ top competition could come from Kenya, which is better in longer distances but fields reigning world 800m champion Eunice Sum and 2012 Olympic finalist Janeth Jepkosgei.

Men’s 4x800m

None of the reigning Olympic or world 800m medalists are in Nassau, opening up the field a little bit. The U.S. is led by Duane Solomon, who was fourth in the epic London Olympic final and sixth at the World Championships.

Kenya, with Ferguson Cheruiyot, challenges the U.S. in overall depth, but it is missing world-record holder David Rudisha. Ethiopia is home to the reigning world champion, but it does not have a 4x800m team entered in Nassau.

Women’s 4x1500m

The U.S. pool includes Morgan Uceny, who fell in the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympic 1500m finals, as well as the world 800m bronze medalist Martinez. It is missing 2011 world champion Jenny Simpson and the precocious Mary Cain.

Kenya looks like the favorite, with reigning world 1500m bronze medalist Hellen Obiri and the second fastest woman in the world last year, Faith Kipyegon.

Men’s 4x1500m

Kenya is loaded here with three men who made both the Olympic and World Championships 1500m finals the last two years, including world champion Asbel Kiprop. Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat were the world’s two fastest men over 1500m in 2012 and are again so far this year.

Ethiopia has long been Kenya’s distance rival, and this is the only relay distance it is contesting. The U.S. team includes Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano but not world silver medalist Matthew Centrowitz.

David Rudisha says the last year ‘has been hell’

Ted Ligety scales back race schedule

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Two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety is scaling back his race schedule as he enters the final portion of his decorated Alpine skiing career.

Ligety, a 34-year-old who has endured many injuries since his last World Cup win in 2015, said he will race strictly giant slaloms this year. The World Cup season starts in late October.

“So it’ll be a little bit easier schedule on my body,” Ligety said in a KPCW radio interview in his native Park City, Utah. “I’ll be able to be home a little bit more as well, and then we see. I mean, I would like to keep going as long as I feel like I can win races and feel healthy. That’s really the biggest part, and nowadays I have a 2-year-old son, and there’s more factors than there was when I was 25 years old.”

Ligety, nicknamed “Mr. GS” for his giant slalom prowess, has a 2014 Olympic gold medal and three world titles in that event.

He also owns an Olympic combined title from 2006 and world titles in the super-G and combined from 2013, but he hasn’t won a race in one of those disciplines since January 2014. And since then, he has undergone back and knee surgeries and dealt with hip problems.

“There’s a lot of hard miles on my body up to this point, but I’m still enjoying it,” said Ligety, whose 321 World Cup starts are the most among active Olympic medalists now that Lindsey Vonn and Aksel Lund Svindal have retired. “Right now, I feel really healthy and trying to get to a point where I feel I can win races. That’s the goal right now.”

Ligety, a four-time Olympian, has not publicly committed to a 2022 Olympic run.

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Usain Bolt calls out ’embarrassing’ Jamaican sprinters

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Usain Bolt called out his fellow Jamaican Olympic medalists Yohan Blake and Warren Weir as well as the next generation of his countrymen who have been slower than the top U.S. sprinters in the two years since Bolt retired.

“I’ve walked away from the sport, and no one is there to pick it up, pick up the pieces, keep the level,” Bolt said in a Jamaica Gleaner interview published last week. “It’s embarrassing for the country. Every time I see people, [they say] come back. We need you. But you have so much talent in Jamaica.”

In 2018, Jamaica had none of the 10 fastest men in the world for the first time since 2003. This year, Blake is the lone Jamaican who has broken 10 seconds, while five Americans have done so.

Blake, 29, is the second-fastest sprinter in history and beat Bolt at the 2012 Jamaican Olympic trials but has lost multiple steps since a series of leg injuries beginning in 2013.

Led by Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin, the U.S. could sweep the 100m podium at the world championships in late September. Jamaica hasn’t missed an Olympic or world podium in the men’s 100m since 2004.

While Bolt earned most of those medals, Jamaica boasted a deep group with Blake, Weir, former world-record holder Asafa PowellNesta Carter and Michael Frater. All are now 29 years or older.

“I don’t think it is going to get any better because I think these youngsters are a little bit spoiled,” Bolt said of his countrymen, according to Reuters.

Bolt reacted to Blake, Weir and fellow veteran Kemar Bailey-Cole splitting from Glen Mills, the coach whom they shared with Bolt. Bolt said that sprinters who left Mills “disrespected” the coach on social media.

“[Mills] took you to the highest level that you have ever been,” he said. “They probably won’t get back to that level, but he has brought you there. … If you don’t work hard and you don’t train hard, how can you be great? When Warren Weir got to the level that he is, I remember Warren Weir taking days off to go to Florida and [fellow sprinter] Jason Young. Just randomly, take a week off from training. … frolicking and just relaxing. Who does that in a season?

“These youngsters, they feel like because they got the contract … they feel like they’ve made it. That is the problem. No one wants to listen. No one has the fight in them or the anger to be great. If you don’t want it, then it don’t matter how much I speak. I’ve spoken to all these young athletes from Bailey-Cole to Blake, all of them, I’ve had conversations. You know what I mean? They don’t want to hear it.”

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