Mo Farah

Birmingham Diamond League preview; loaded women’s 100m, men’s mile

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The track and field season is winding down with three Diamond League meets to go. The last meet before the two-legged Diamond League finals is Sunday in Birmingham, England, and there are a few savory events.

Cheers will be loudest for Mo Farah, who was forced to miss the biggest meet in Great Britain this year due to illness, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, a month ago.

A world record could fall in the men’s high jump, the fastest woman this year takes on a far more decorated group and the world’s elite gather in the men’s mile.

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s High Jump — 10:09 a.m. ET

Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim will take another crack at a 21-year-old world record they have both had attempts at this year.

The record is 2.45m, held by Cuban Javier Sotomayor. Bondarenko and Barshim have both cleared 2.42m this year.

Women’s 100m — 10:33 a.m.

There were 16 women on the entry list as of this publishing, which means heats. The field includes the reigning Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 2011 World champion Carmelita Jeter, the Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix and the fastest woman in the world this year, American Tori Bowie.

As accomplished as the field is, Bowie’s world-leading 10.80 is two tenths better than the other 15 sprinters this year.

Women’s 100m Hurdles — 11:29 a.m.

The field includes the last two Olympic champions — Sally Pearson and Dawn Harper-Nelson — and the reigning World champion — Brianna Rollins. It’s a rarity that they convene at the same meet.

The Aussie Pearson’s mission is to break up American dominance in this event this season. The 10 fastest times have been run by Americans, spread across four women. The only one of that quartet not in this race is Lolo Jones, who ended her season early to rest after two years of doing summer and winter sports.

Men’s Mile — 11:38 a.m.

Kenyan Asbel Kiprop runs in his first Diamond League meet since a failed attempt at Hicham El Guerrouj‘s world 1500m record in Monaco on July 18. He is the two-time reigning World champion in the 1500m.

The man who beat Kiprop in Monaco, with the fastest time in nearly 10 years, is also in the mile field in Birmingham. That’s countryman Silas Kiplagat. As is the fastest miler this year, Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman. Top Americans Leo Manzano and Matthew Centrowitz will have their hands full.

Men’s Two Miles — 11:48 a.m.

This is not a Diamond League or Olympic distance, but it includes Britain’s greatest active track and field athlete, double Olympic champion Mo Farah. Farah, who finished eighth in his first marathon in London April 13, is focusing on the track again and swept the 5000m and 10,000m at the European Championships earlier this month in Zurch.

Among Farah’s competition is American Will Leer.

Usain Bolt wins after Humvee entrance

Maria Sharapova wraps up tennis career after nearly two decades, career Slam

Maria Sharapova
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Maria Sharapova has announced her retirement after a professional tennis career that includes five Grand Slam wins, 36 singles titles and an Olympic silver medal.

Sharapova was only 17 when she won her first major in 2004 at Wimbledon. She won the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 before completing her career Grand Slam in the 2012 French Open. She won the French Open again in 2014.

After moving from Russia to Florida at age 9 to train at the Bollettieri Academy, she made her professional debut just after her 14th birthday in 2001. She graduated to top-level events and majors within two years and reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2003.

In 2004, she upset Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams at Wimbledon and beat Williams again at the Tour Championships.

By 2005, the 6-foot-2 player had claimed the top spot in the world rankings. She remained in the top five for most of the next four years before suffering an injury to her right shoulder that limited her tournament schedule in 2008 and 2009. By 2011, she had reclaimed her status as a top-five player and remained there until 2016.

Her career declined after a positive drug test at the 2016 Australian Open. The substance in question, meldonium, had been given by Russian doctors to many athletes.

An initial suspension of two years was reduced to 15 months, but she wasn’t able to get back to her previous form. She won one more tournament in 2017 and reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 French Open, but she fared poorly in sporadic appearances in 2019. Her last match was a loss to Donna Vekic in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

SEE: Sharapova discusses reduced ban on TODAY

Her meldonium suspension also cost her commercial sponsorships and her role as a UN Development Program ambassador, which she earned with her work to help survivors of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

She was involved in the Olympics as a silver medalist in 2012, losing to Williams in the final, and as one of the final torch bearers in the relay to the 2014 Olympics opening ceremony in her home country.

She’s also third on the all-time WTA earnings list behind Serena and Venus Williams, taking in more than $38m in her career on top of lucrative endorsement deals.

Federica Brignone hopes World Cup rival Mikaela Shiffrin will return soon

Shiffrin and Brignone
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Mikaela Shiffrin‘s prolonged absence from the World Cup Alpine skiing circuit has opened the door for Italy’s Federica Brignone to break the American’s grip on the season title, but Brignone hopes her friend and rival will be back in competition soon.

“I really do hope that she will return soon for herself so she can do again what she loves most,” Brignone said.

Brignone took the season lead from Shiffrin, who has won the last three World Cup overall titles, on Sunday and has a 73-point advantage with 11 of the season’s 40 races remaining. She also leads Shiffrin by 74 points in the giant slalom standings.

READ: Brignone moves into World Cup lead

No Italian woman has won the overall World Cup. Brignone was fifth in 2017 and won the Alpine combined discipline title last season.

Brignone will have a chance to clinch another Alpine combined discipline title and extend her overall lead in her home country this weekend. While some other sports events in Italy have been canceled or otherwise affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the host resort of La Thuile has so far been spared from the virus’ spread.

Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, the only other skier with a realistic chance of winning the overall trophy, is dealing with a knee injury and might not be able to race this weekend. Vhlova leads Shiffrin by 20 points in the slalom standings.

Shiffrin has not competed since the death of her father Feb. 2, and she has not announced plans to return. She was not on pace to match her astounding 17-win 2018-19 season but still had six wins and had reached the podium in 13 of 19 races.

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