Yohan Blake

Yohan Blake ends Glasgow Diamond League wheeled off in chair (video)

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Yohan Blake fell behind and then fell to the track about halfway through a Diamond League 100m race in Glasgow, Scotland, on Friday.

Blake, the Olympic 100m and 200m silver medalist who missed most of last season with hamstring problems, was wheeled off in a chair. He said he did not finish the race due to a cramp, according to the BBC.

Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade won in 9.97 seconds against a field that did not include Usain Bolt, who hasn’t competed yet this season due to injury, nor top Americans Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay.

It may end a poor, shortened season for Blake. The man who beat Bolt at the 2012 Jamaican Olympic Trials stumbled out of the blocks in his only other Diamond League 100m this season, in New York on June 14 where he ran 10.21.

He also finished sixth in a 200m in Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 3.

In other events, Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton thanked a group of 400m hurdles runners before racing with them. Then he went out and finished second, beating the Olympic gold and silver medalists in the event.

Eaton, who has focused on the non-decathlon 400m hurdles this season since there are no Olympics or World Outdoor Championships, clocked a personal best 48.69.

The decathlon world record holder beat the top two 400m hurdles runners from the London Olympics, the Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez and American Michael Tinsley.

“I can’t even believe that,” Eaton told the BBC on the track after the race. “I knew I had Tinsley on my inside, and I was like this guy is Olympic silver/World silver [medalist], I’m like this guy is just going to run up on me and take me out. When he came up on me, I was like, just use him to compete. Just compete. That’s what I did.”

Eaton said before and after the event that it was likely his last 400m hurdles race. He shaved .25 off his personal best.

“I told the [400m hurdlers] in the call room, I was like, you know what, it’s been fun, I thank you for treating me like an athlete, not a decathlete, because I’ve gotten a lot of respect, and I respect them a lot,” Eaton told the BBC. “My very last one, I wanted to go out well. So, I think I did.”

The only man to top Eaton was Olympic bronze medalist Javier Culson, who cruised in 48.35.

How good is Eaton in the 400m hurdles? He’s the sixth-fastest man in the world this year. His 48.69 would not have made the 2012 Olympic final, however.

Eaton may be done with the 400m hurdles, but he may also end his season by contesting another one-off event, the long jump, at a Diamond League meet in London on July 20.

He has his eyes on others, too.

“I’d love to try the triple jump,” he said before the meet, according to the IAAF. “I just don’t have the time, and I don’t have the greatest knees. There are a lot of events that are appealing. I think that’s why I’m a decathlete because I have a genuine curiosity about all the events. I just like to test them out.”

Francena McCorory passed Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross on the final straightaway to take the 400m in 49.93. McCorory also edged Richards-Ross at the U.S. Championships on June 28.

Panama’s Alonso Edward edged reigning World silver medalist Warren Weir in the 200m, 20.25 to 20.3. Americans Curtis Mitchell and Wallace Spearmon were third and fourth. Weir remains the fastest man in the world this year at 19.82, with Bolt and Blake’s mentioned setbacks.

American Tianna Bartoletta, an Olympic champion in the 4x100m relay as Tianna Madison, won the long jump with a leap of 6.98m. She beat rising British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who jumped a personal-best 6.92m. Olympic and World champion Brittney Reese was not in the field.

In the 110m hurdles, Brit William Sharman upset the fastest man in the world this year, Jamaican Hansle Parchment. Sharman clocked 13.21 and Parchment was fifth in 13.31 and reportedly limped and touched his hamstring after. Olympic champion Aries Merritt and World champions Jason Richardson and David Oliver were not in the field.

American Gia Lewis-Smallwood, 35, won the discus with a personal-best throw of 67.59 meters. She handed Croatian Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic her first Diamond League defeat since before the London Games.

Ethiopian-born Dutch runner Sifan Hassan edged Ethiopian-born Swede Abeba Aregawi by .27 to win the women’s 1500m. Hagos Gebrhiwet, who was born in and competes for Ethiopia, took the men’s 5000m. Kenyan-born American Bernard Lagat was 12th.

The Glasgow Diamond League meet concludes Saturday with headliners Allyson FelixShelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and David Rudisha.

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Brian Orser reveals Hanyu’s, Medvedeva’s, and Brown’s Grand Prix plans

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Over the past decade, the Toronto club where Brian Orser coached South Korea’s Yuna Kim to the 2010 Olympic title has become such an attraction for top figure skaters from around the globe that it could add a word to a name that already is a mouthful.

You could call it the Toronto International Cricket Skating and Curling Club.

But its reach now is limited by the deadly virus pandemic that has effectively frozen out the elite athletes from Japan, Russia, South Korea and Poland who train at the Cricket Club.

That situation won’t change quickly, even with the International Skating Union having announced Monday its plans to proceed with a live format for the international Grand Prix Series. This fall, it will become a series of six essentially domestic competitions scheduled to begin with Skate America Oct. 23-25 in Las Vegas.

If they take place.

“As soon as the skaters can come back, it will be full steam ahead… to where, we don’t know,” Orser said via telephone Wednesday.

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu remains in Japan. Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva is in Russia, four-time national champion Cha Jun-Hwan in South Korea, and two-time national champion Yekaterina Kurakova in Poland.

“We would like for them all to come back, but with the Canadian travel restrictions in place until at least Aug. 21, we can’t guarantee approval to get them in, and they would have a 14-day quarantine here if they do get in,” Tracy Wilson, who coaches with Orser, said via telephone Wednesday. “Right now, they are all training at home, and that’s OK.

“The situation is different for each one. The Japanese federation may need Yuzu to do the Grand Prix in Japan, and at this point he would face quarantine entering Canada and returning to Japan.

“For Yevgenia, as soon as she does the Russian test skates (scheduled for early September), we will re-evaluate her situation.”

Orser said he has been doing three video coaching sessions a week with Medvedeva, with whom he is in his third season as coach. Medvedeva, who left Russia for Canada after winning a silver medal at the 2018 Olympics, also is currently getting help from coach Elena Buyanova at the CSKA rink in Moscow.

“She (Medvedeva) looks way ahead of where she was at this point last year,” Orser said.

MORE: Looking back at Yuna Kim’s 10-year gold medal anniversary

Orser also has been having live remote sessions with Cha and Kurakova, and they are also sending videos to him. The only skater he has not seen is Hanyu.

“That’s normal when he is back in Japan,” Orser said. “I wasn’t expecting anything.”

How long Hanyu stays in Japan may depend on travel restrictions being loosened in both his homeland and Canada.

“I would like to get them all back, and they need to come back,” Orser said. “But facing a double quarantine is not in anyone’s best interest.”

Only two of the Cricket Club’s international skaters, 2014 Olympian Jason Brown of suburban Chicago and Yi Zhu of Los Angeles (who represents China), have come back to Toronto after leaving in late winter.

It took Brown two tries to get back across the border because of issues with the paperwork necessary for Canada to consider it essential he be allowed to enter. Orser and Wilson want to be sure any skaters coming from Asia and Europe are admitted on the first try.

From April to July, until skaters could get back on the ice in their various homelands, Brown led Thursday off-ice fitness classes via Zoom, with Medvedeva, Cha and Kurakova taking part.

“It was such a fun way to stay connected and still ‘train’ together while we were oceans apart,” Brown said in a Wednesday text message.

Orser and Wilson will recommend that all the foreign skaters training at the Cricket Club try to compete at Skate Canada, scheduled the last weekend of October at a 9,500-seat arena in Ottawa. Wilson thought if the event cannot have spectators, it might be moved to a smaller facility, possibly in a different city.

“All plans are in the early stages,” Skate Canada spokesperson Emma Bowie said in an email.

Grand Prix assignments have not yet been made.

Whether Brown picks Skate Canada over Skate America – if he gets a choice – could depend on when (and if) the Canadian government shortens quarantine periods for travelers from the United States.

“I know that we are in such unprecedented and uncertain times, so I love seeing the ISU being creative and trying to find a way to hold skating events this year,” Brown wrote. “While a lot can happen before October, if it’s safe to do so, I’ll be ready and eager to take part in any events that I can.”

The ISU said it wants to have the Grand Prix Final in Beijing, whether it takes place on its original dates (Dec. 10-13) or early in 2021. The competition is to be used as a test event of the skating venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

There are no details yet on qualification for the final, which usually is determined by points for placements at the six “regular season” events of the series, held in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan. The top six in each of the sport’s four disciplines make the Final.

In the past, the highest-ranked skaters could compete in up to two Grand Prix events, but ISU Vice-President Alexander Lakernik of Russia said in a Tuesday email that everyone would be limited to one event this year.

Because the Final presumably would have much more of an international field than the six other events, staging it is infinitely more problematic because of travel involved.

“We want what’s best for the sport,” Wilson said. “We have to get these kids out there doing programs, to get them on TV. [Note: An NBC spokesman said the network would, as planned, provide coverage of the Grand Prix, with details forthcoming.] In terms of competition, we’re up for anything.

“For me, though, with all the restrictions, there is no way they will be able to run a fair qualification for the Grand Prix Final. You’ve got to reinvent yourself and make it something else – if you are able to have it at all.”

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.

MORE: Nathan Chen is surprised, grateful and posing questions about figure skating’s restart

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Steven Nyman, top U.S. downhiller, faces another obstacle

Steven Nyman
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Steven Nyman, the active U.S. leader in World Cup downhill wins, tore his right Achilles in a training crash and had surgery earlier this week in Mt. Hood, Ore.

“I am moving forward,” was posted on Nyman’s social media. “I’ve been through this before and have full intention to comeback [sic] and compete through the next Olympics.”

Nyman raced in three Olympics and owns three World Cup downhill victories.

He turns 40 during the next Winter Games in Beijing in 2022, when he will be three and a half years older than any previous U.S. Olympic Alpine skier.

Nyman missed the PyeongChang Olympics after a pair of major injuries: blowing out his left knee in a January 2017 downhill race crash and tearing his right ACL in downhill training in January 2018. He also tore his left Achilles in 2011.

He raced the last two seasons with a best World Cup finish of fifth in Val Gardena, Italy, site of all of his World Cup wins in 2006, 2012 and 2014.

The U.S. men’s program is in the midst of its longest World Cup downhill victory and podium droughts this millennium — none since Travis Ganong‘s win in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Jan. 27, 2017.

MORE: Alpine skiing World Cup plans earlier season start with fewer fans

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