Jenn Suhr

Adidas Grand Prix schedule, broadcast info, events to watch

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NEW YORK — Some of the track and field season’s most anticipated events are approaching, and the busy stretch begins with the Adidas Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium on Saturday.

It’s the sixth of 14 Diamond League meets and the final one before the U.S. Championships in two weeks in Sacramento, Calif. The New York headliners have sparingly competed in the first five Diamond League meets, some not at all. They include Mary Cain (her last meet before a driver’s test and graduation), Jenn Suhr, Lolo JonesYohan Blake and David Rudisha.

The Adidas Grand Prix will be their showcase before focus jumps to the U.S. Championships, Tyson Gay‘s return (against Justin Gatlin) on July 3, the Commonwealth Games and Usain Bolt‘s hopeful 2014 debut later this summer.

NBCSN will have live coverage Saturday from 4-6 p.m. ET. The full schedule and entry lists can be found here.

Here’s the Saturday schedule of notable senior events (all times Eastern):

11:45 a.m. — Men’s discus
12:20 p.m. — Women’s triple jump
1:20 — Women’s javelin
2:35 — Men’s long jump
2:40 — Women’s pole vault
3:37 — Women’s 800m
4:04 — Men’s 400m hurdles
4:13 — Women’s 3000m
4:15 — Men’s high jump
4:29 — Men’s 400m
4:38 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
4:51 — Women’s 400m
4:55 — Women’s shot put
5:01 — Women’s 1500m
5:20 — Women’s 100m hurdles
5:29 — Men’s 200m
5:35 — Men’s 100m
5:42 — Men’s 800m
5:50 — Women’s 100m
6:05 — Women’s 200m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s pole vault

Jenn Suhr competes three days after vaulting in New York’s Herald Square with the Empire State Building among other scenery as a backdrop. She’s been lying low so far this outdoor season, attaching to a new carbon pole after winning Olympic gold and World silver with a traditional fiberglass model.

Suhr will not be facing longtime rival Yelena Isinbayeva, who is taking time off to start a family. But she will go up against the other woman to win medals at the Olympics and World Championships — Cuban Yarisley Silva.

Women’s 1500m

In Eugene two weeks ago, World champion Abeba Aregawi lost a Diamond League 1500m for the first time since Aug. 17, 2012. Her conqueror, Kenyan Hellen Obiri, is not running in New York, making 2011 World champion Jenny Simpson the biggest threat. Simpson was fourth in Eugene in a personal best, setting her up to potentially take down Aregawi at last.

Women’s 100m hurdles

Crossover Olympian Lolo Jones makes her 2014 Diamond League debut. Jones, who finished 11th in bobsled in Sochi, didn’t enter this meet until after she notched a 12.74-second victory in Morocco on Sunday. Her addition came with the withdrawal of Olympic champion Sally Pearson due to a hamstring problem.

World champion Brianna Rollins is also absent, but Jones faces a familiar group of top U.S. women — 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson, 2014 World Indoor 60m hurdles champion Nia Ali and veteran Queen Harrison.

Men’s 100m

Before last Saturday, Yohan Blake clocked 9.76, 9.69 and 9.75 in his last three 100m races. Problem is, they were all in August 2012. What kind of form is the Jamaican Olympic silver medalist in after last year’s hamstring injury?

His only open sprints this year were a 10.02 over 100m in a low-key Jamaican meet last Saturday and a nondescript 20.49 over 200m in Kingston in March. Hopefully he gets pushed at Icahn Stadium by American Marvin Bracy, the World Indoor 60m silver medalist. Watch for Bracy to set a personal best and possibly break 10 seconds for the first time.

Men’s 800m

Olympic champion and world-record holder David Rudisha hurt his knee running in Central Park last year and wound up missing more than a calendar’s worth of competition.

The Kenyan returned in Eugene, where he looked strong for about 600m before fading from first to seventh. The field here is weaker, with American Duane Solomon the top rival. Solomon, though, owns fourth- and 10th-place finishes in two Diamond League races this season, despite entering with American record aspirations.

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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Russia boxers to boycott Olympics if sanctions not lifted

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Russian boxers will only take part in the Tokyo Olympics if doping sanctions forcing them to compete as neutral athletes are overturned, the general secretary of the Russian Boxing Federation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Umar Kremlev said he has spoken with the Olympic boxing team and they “unanimously” rejected the conditions laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for manipulating doping data.

The WADA sanctions, announced on Monday, ban the use of the Russian team name, flag or anthem at a range of major sports competitions over the next four years, including next year’s Olympics.

“They said we won’t go without our flag and anthem,” Kremlev said. “We aren’t going for medals, but for that feeling that I brought the highest honor home for my country.”

Separately, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament said Russia could create an alternative to the Olympics.

“This ruling show the clear crisis in international sports institutions. I believe that Russia could host its own games at home,” Valentina Matvienko said in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.

There is a precedent. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union refused to compete in the Olympics and hosted its own Spartakiads — named after the ancient rebel slave Spartacus — with a strong socialist slant. However, the Soviet Union began competing at the Olympics in 1952 and Russians generally take great pride in the country’s Olympic achievements since then.

If the sanctions aren’t overturned, Kremlev said Russian boxers would prefer to turn pro rather than compete at the Olympics.

“A world champion (in professional boxing) is better known than an Olympic champion,” Kremlev said, adding the Russian anthem would be played before pro title fights.

Kremlev said boxers are being asked to shoulder the blame for offenses committed in other sports. He said they would still stay at home even if Russia’s athletes in other sports decided to take part.

“If other sports are guilty and people have breached the WADA code, why are we punished?” he said. “We are for honest sport and against doping. We want our sport to be clean … If someone breaks the rules, we push them out.”

Russia is a major power in amateur and Olympic boxing. It hosted both men’s and women’s world championships this year, finishing at the top of the medals table at the women’s event and second in the men’s championships. The International Olympic Committee has taken direct charge of boxing at the Tokyo Olympics after criticizing chronic financial problems and infighting at the International Boxing Association.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov talked up Russia’s chances of overturning the WADA sanctions.

“I think that there is every basis to appeal the decision, because our experts have presented their position, and they have the same database as WADA does,” Kolobkov said in comments reported by state news agency TASS. “There is an answer to every question and the whole process is ahead of us.”

The official decision on whether to dispute the sanctions will be made on Dec. 19 by the Russian anti-doping agency’s supervisory board, but senior figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have signaled their preference for taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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