Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin stays perfect for 2014 in Rome

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Justin Gatlin extended his unblemished record this year by winning the 100m in 9.91 seconds at a Diamond League meet in Rome on Thursday night.

Gatlin, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist and World silver medalist, beat a field that didn’t include top rivals Usain BoltYohan Blake and Tyson Gay. Nobody else broke 10 seconds at Stadio Olimpico, where Gatlin beat Bolt by .01 of a second last year.

Gatlin now owns the three fastest legal 100m times of 2014, according to the IAAF.

The Diamond League moves to Oslo on Wednesday. Blake is entered in the following Diamond League meet on June 14 in New York. Bolt isn’t scheduled to debut this year until June 17 in the Czech Republic.

Gatlin is scheduled to race against Gay at a Diamond League meet on July 3 in Lausanne, Switzerland, in Gay’s first race in more than one year as he returns from a doping suspension.

In other events Thursday, American Tori Bowie backed up her shock 200m victory at last Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic by crossing first in the 100m. Bowie, a long jumper at the World Indoor Championships in March, prevailed in 11.05, a personal best by .05.

Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the reigning Olympic and World champion, lacked her usual spark and finished eighth in 11.19. Fraser-Pryce also took eighth at the Prefontaine Classic 200m and said after she arrived in Rome that she had a leg problem.

World champion Brianna Rollins was victorious in her Diamond League debut, taking the 100m hurdles in 12.53, the fastest time in the world this year. She edged 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson by .01. London Olympic champion Sally Pearson pulled out before the start.

The most anticipated field event was the men’s high jump, where Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim cleared 2.41m for the win. Both Barshim and Ukraine World champion Bohdan Bondarenko failed all three attempts at 2.43m, which would have been the highest clearance since Javier Sotomayor set his 2.45m world record in 1993.

South African Caster Semenya was a disappointing 10th in the 800m, nowhere near the form that took her to Olympic silver two years ago.

Likewise, Kenyan World champion Asbel Kiprop was unimpressive in the 1500m, losing by 1.55 seconds to countryman Silas Kiplagat while running under threat from Athletics Kenya.

LaShawn Merritt took the 400m in 44.48, unchallenged with rival Kirani James absent.

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Richard Callaghan, figure skating coach, banned for life

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Richard Callaghan, a figure skating coach best known for helping Tara Lipinski earn 1998 Olympic gold, was ruled permanently ineligible for violations including sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Callaghan can still appeal the sexual misconduct violation, according to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a watchdog for U.S. Olympic sports organizations that updated Callaghan’s status Wednesday.

He was first suspended in March 2018 pending an investigation into allegations first made against him more than 20 years ago.

Earlier this month, another former skater, Adam Schmidt, said in a lawsuit that he was sexually molested as a teenager by Callaghan starting in 1999.

Callaghan was previously accused of sexual misconduct in April 1999 by Craig Maurizi, one of his former students and later an assistant to him in San Diego and Detroit.

Maurizi told The New York Times that Callaghan had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with him beginning when he was 15 years old. The alleged misconduct had begun nearly 20 years earlier. Callaghan denied the allegations.

In March 2018, Callaghan told ABC News: “That’s 19 or 20 years ago. I have nothing to say.”

Maurizi’s previous grievance against Callaghan with the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the precursor to U.S. Figure Skating, was dismissed on procedural grounds.

He was Callaghan’s assistant at the Detroit Skating Club until they split after Lipinski turned pro, left Callaghan and decided to train with Maurizi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Pita Taufatofua, Tonga flag bearer, finishes last in kayak debut

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Pita Taufatofua, the Tonga Olympic flag bearer who went viral in Rio and PyeongChang, began his quest to make a third straight Olympics in a third different sport with a last-place finish in his opening-round heat at the world sprint kayak championships in Hungary on Wednesday.

The start of the heat appeared delayed as Taufatofua struggled to get his kayak into position in the water. He was left at the start as the other six kayakers raced out and finished between 33 and 40 seconds. Taufatofua took 58.19 seconds, the slowest of 53 finishers among seven total heats.

“Well that was slightly better than the first time I competed in Taekwondo or skiing,” was tweeted from Taufatofua’s account. “Would have liked to start facing the right way but that’s life.”

Taufatofua, 35, was the oldest athlete in the heat by nearly a decade. He is also entered in doubles races with Tonga canoe federation president Malakai Ahokava with heats Thursday and Friday.

Taufatofua hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in taekwondo, where he competed in Rio, and in sprint kayak.

But he hasn’t competed in taekwondo in three years and just started training kayak this spring. At worlds, Taufatofua told the BBC he is still having trouble staying afloat in the water.

Taufatofua said in announcing the new sport in April that it would be “largely impossible” to qualify for Tokyo. He could be the first athlete to compete in a different sport in three straight Olympics (Summer and Winter) since the Winter Games began in 1924, according to the OlyMADMen.

“It’s certainly going to be the greatest challenge that I’ve ever had to embark on,” he said then.

Taufatofua’s results at worlds this week has little bearing on his Olympic qualifying prospects. Rather, he just needed to compete in Hungary to stay eligible for the Olympics.

The key will be an Oceania qualifying event early next year, where one Olympic bid is available. He will likely have to beat the best kayakers from Australia and New Zealand to grab it. Australian Stephen Bird placed eighth at the Rio Olympics and 11th at the 2018 World Championships.

If Taufatofua fails, he could receive a special tripartite invitation sometimes offered to smaller nations like Tonga.

Taufatofua became a social-media celebrity by marching into the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony shirtless and oiled up. He then lost in the first round via mercy rule in his taekwondo tournament.

He made a quixotic bid for the PyeongChang Winter Games in cross-country skiing — and accomplished the feat, barely, in a sport that has lenient qualifying requirements for nations with a lack of Winter Games depth.

Taufatofua finished 114th out of 116 in his 15km Olympic cross-country skiing race, nearly 23 minutes behind the winner.

If Taufatofua is able to carry the Tongan flag at a third Opening Ceremony, he will definitely be shirtless again, in a similar outfit to what he wore in Rio and PyeongChang, he said last year.

MORE: Five-time Olympic kayak medalist banned four years

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