David Rudisha

Zurich Diamond League final preview

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The Diamond League circuit concludes with two finals meets in Zurich on Thursday and Brussels on Sept. 5.

The finals are labeled that way because they mark the last competitions in individual event Diamond Races, accumulation points standings that determine season-long champions.

The Diamond League finals provide double the points than the previous Diamond League meets. That means first place in Zurich awards eight points, second place gets four points and third place two points.

Each of the 32 individual event Diamond Race winners receive $40,000 and a Diamond Trophy. Half of the Diamond Races conclude in Zurich. The other 16 conclude in Brussels.

In Zurich, 14 of the 16 Diamond Races are still in play. Only LaShawn Merritt (400m) and Sandra Perkovic (discus) have their titles already clinched, so long as they show up in Switzerland.

The rest of the events are headlined by Allyson Felix and David Rudisha with Universal Sports and UniversalSports.com coverage starting at 2 p.m. ET. Don’t forget Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell racing in the 100m, a non-Diamond Race event.

Here are five Diamond Races to watch in Zurich:

Men’s triple jump — 2 p.m. ET

Standings
1. Will Claye (USA) — 14 points
2. Christian Taylor (USA) — 12 points

The Americans who went one-two at the London Olympics will do battle for another title in Zurich. This time, London silver medalist Claye is in the driver’s seat.

Claye has had a better season than Taylor, leaping personal bests 17.66m in May and 17.75m in June, the latter winning the U.S. Championships in Sacramento, Calif. Claye celebrated that jump, while wearing a backwards cap, by running into the stands.

But Taylor, who opened his season running 400m races, won the last Diamond League triple jump in Glasgow, Scotland, on July 12. Claye was second there. If that result repeats in Zurich, Taylor will claim the Diamond Race title.

Women’s 1500m — 2:38

Standings
1. Abeba Aregawi (SWE) — 12 points
2. Sifan Hassan (NED) — 10 points
3. Jenny Simpson (USA) — 9 points

Simpson, the 2011 World champion, is having the best season of her career. She’s gone under her previous personal best twice, including a 3:57.22 in Paris on July 5. Then she beat the Ethiopian-born Aregawi and Hassan, along with Genzebe Dibaba, in Stockholm on Thursday.

That victory put Simpson in control of her own destiny in Zurich. Win, and she takes the Diamond Race. If she finishes second, she can also capture the season title if Aregawi doesn’t finish first or third and Hassan doesn’t win.

Women’s 100m — 2:59

Standings
1. Kerron Stewart (JAM) — 7 points
2. Murielle Ahoure (CIV) — 3 points
3. Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM) — 2 points
3. Blessing Okagbare (NIG) — 2 points
3. Myriam Soumare (FRA) — 2 points

Few could have predicted how this event would play out this season. Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce prevailed in the opener in Doha but hasn’t won since and isn’t in the Zurich field after scratching the Birmingham 100m on Sunday.

American Tori Bowie, primarily a long jumper until March, won three of the six Diamond Race events so far this season, giving her 12 points and the lead. But she pulled up with a leg injury in Birmingham and will miss Zurich, meaning she is not eligible to win the Diamond Race.

That leaves the Jamaican veteran Stewart as the leader. Stewart, 30 and a 2008 Olympic 100m silver medalist, hasn’t broken 11 seconds this year for the first time since 2007. She’ll likely need to finish second to win the Diamond Race, and it won’t be easy. Okagbare and Campebell-Brown are the fastest women this year in the field. Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix and the world’s fastest 200m runner this year, the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers, are also in the field.

Men’s 800m — 3:08

Standings
1. David Rudisha (KEN) — 8 points
2. Nijel Amos (BOT) — 6 points
3. Asbel Kiprop (KEN) — 4 points
3. Adam Kszczot (POL) — 4 points

The Olympic champion and world record holder Rudisha will clinch the Diamond Race title with a victory or by finishing second if Amos, Kiprop and Kszczot don’t win. Rudisha, who came back in June after missing more than a year of competition with a knee injury, has looked more beatable this season that any time over the last five years. He is coming off a 600m victory in Birmingham, England, on Sunday.

World champion Mohammed Aman can prevail in the Diamond Race with a win if Rudisha doesn’t finish second. Aman won a pair of 800m races at Diamond League meets this year, but they didn’t count in the Diamond Race standings.

Women’s 100m Hurdles — 3:17

Standings
1. Queen Harrison (USA) — 17 points
2. Dawn Harper-Nelson (USA) — 13 points

Americans have won all six 100m hurdles races this season — Harrison with three, Harper-Nelson with two and World champion Brianna Rollins with one. Australian Olympic champion Sally Pearson is also in this field, but the Diamond Race will come down to Harrison, a 2008 Olympian in the 400m hurdles, and the 2008 Olympic champion Harper-Nelson.

Harper-Nelson closed the gap on Harrison with a Birmingham victory and owns the fastest time in the world this year (12.44).

Video: Youth Olympics 8x100m relay

Can T.J. Oshie, other established Olympic hockey stars hold on for 2022?

T.J. Oshie
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T.J. Oshie will be 35 years old during the next Winter Olympics. Jonathan Quick will be 36. Now that the NHL is one key step closer to returning to the Winter Games, the question surfaces: which 2014 Olympians will have a difficult time returning to rosters in 2022?

Oshie was the last of the 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, beating out Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad, in part for his shootout prowess.

In group play against Russia, Oshie was memorably tapped by U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma six times in a shootout, including all five in the sudden-death rounds. Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game winner.

“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said, according to USA Hockey. “Each time I would look up to see what [Bylsma] had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing toward shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous.”

Oshie became known as “T.J. Sochi” on social media. President Barack Obama congratulated him on Twitter. The U.S. eventually lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game.

When the NHL chose not to send its players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, it may have spelled the end of Oshie’s Olympic career.

Consider that the oldest forward on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team was 29, six years younger than Oshie will be come 2022. A recent Olympic roster prediction from The Hockey Writers put Oshie in the “Just Missed Out” list.

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire has Oshie among the finalists for the last forward spots in his early U.S. roster prediction.

“I wouldn’t discount T.J. Oshie because shootout is still part of it,” McGuire said. “He still has his shootout moves, even though he’s not getting any younger.”

Quick, the unused third goalie in 2010, played 305 out of 365 minutes in net for the U.S. in Sochi. He was coming off a Stanley Cup in 2012 and en route to another one in 2014.

Since, he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. He remains the Los Angeles Kings’ No. 1 goalie, which almost automatically puts an American in the Olympic roster discussion these days.

“Somebody like Jonathan definitely merits consideration just because of his achievement level over time, but I think he’d be the first person to tell you injuries have definitely affected him,” McGuire said of Quick, looking to become the second-oldest U.S. goalie to play in the Olympics after Tom Barrasso in 2002. “It’s not going to be easy for him.”

The U.S. could bypass Quick for three Olympic rookies in 2022. Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson and Ben Bishop have superior save percentages and goals-against averages and more games played than Quick since the start of the 2018-19 season.

A wild card is Spencer Knight, the 19-year-old No. 1 from the world junior championships who last year became the highest-drafted goalie since 2010 (No. 13 to the Florida Panthers). Knight would break defenseman Bryan Berard‘s record as the youngest U.S. Olympic hockey player in the NHL era.

The Canadian roster has traditionally been deeper than the U.S. The talent is overwhelming at center, led by Sidney CrosbyConnor McDavidPatrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon. The Canadians must get creative if the likes of veterans Jonathan Toews and John Tavares will join them in Beijing.

Toews, then 21, was the best forward at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Canada’s only one on the all-tournament team. While Toews’ last NHL All-Star selection was in 2017, his last two seasons have been his best in terms of points per game since 2011.

“The one thing that Canada is very good at, they do it extremely well, they select players that fit roles,” McGuire said, noting Mike Richards shifting to the wing during the 2010 Olympics. “When you look at the overwhelming depth that Canada has, that’s going to be the thing that’s going that’s going to be very interesting to watch to see how it plays out at center.”

MORE: NHL players vote on world’s best female hockey player

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NHL closer to Olympic hockey return for 2022, 2026

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The NHL just took a major step to returning to the Olympics in 2022 and 2026 after skipping the 2018 Winter Games.

The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association announced a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that includes Olympic participation at the next two Winter Games in Beijing and Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Should the NHL, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the IOC agree, expect the world’s best players to compete for their nations during breaks in those NHL seasons.

Nine of the 12 nations have already qualified for the 2022 Olympic men’s hockey tournament. The groups and qualifiers are here.

The NHL participated in five straight Olympics from 1998-2014 before declining to pause its season for PyeongChang.

The 2018 Olympic men’s hockey rosters included players from every other major international league, led by Russia’s KHL, which made up the entire Olympic Athletes from Russia team that beat Germany in the final. The U.S. team included veterans in European leagues, the minor league AHL, collegians and captain Brian Gionta, a 2006 Olympian who had stepped away from the NHL.

In April 2017, the NHL announced it would not send its players to the 2018 Olympics due to a lack of concession from the IOC, IIHF or the NHLPA to entice owners and officials. At the time, the CBA did not include Olympic participation.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman then cited “fatigue” among team owners about taking an Olympic break every four seasons. Owners mentioned the risk of having their stars get injured, away from their teams in the middle of their seasons. South Korea, with its 14-hour time difference from New York, was also not as enticing a Winter Olympic host as, say, Canada or Russia.

Other issues Bettman and other league and team officials expressed included a lack of exposure and benefit for the NHL, the league’s inability to use the Olympics for marketing due to sponsorship rules and money.

MORE: 2014 Olympic stars on the 2022 Olympic roster bubble

Before and after the PyeongChang Olympics, Bettman doubted that the NHL would return for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

“I don’t want to sound like a broken record on the subject, but I think going to the Olympics is a challenge for us,” Bettman said last November after meetings with the IIHF. “I know the players love representing their countries. I know that the players like going. I know that the players that don’t go like having a break in the middle of the season. But from our standpoint, we have found going to the Olympics to be incredibly disruptive to our season.

“For us, at best, it’s a mixed bag.”

Canada came to dominate Olympic men’s hockey in the NHL era, taking gold in 2002, 2010 and 2014. Sidney Crosby, gold medalist in 2010 and 2014, will be 34 years old come the 2022 Olympics.

Alex Ovechkin, a three-time Olympian for Russia with zero medals, will be 36 years old. Only two Russian male Olympic hockey players have been older: Igor Larionov in 2002 and Sergei Fedorov in 2010, according to Olympedia.org.

Younger stars Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews (USA), Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy (Russia), Connor McDavid (Canada), David Pastrnak (Czech Republic) and Leon Draisaitl (Germany) could each play in their first Olympics in 2022.

MORE: NHL players vote on world’s best female hockey player

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