Mike Powell

Mike Powell eyes masters world record, possible Olympic trials run at age 51

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Mike Powell broke the long jump world record 24 years ago in perhaps the greatest head-to-head duel in track and field history.

Now 51, Powell expects to break the long jump world record in his masters age-group category of 50 to 55 years old on March 7 in New Zealand, after losing 67 pounds while training the last two years.

Powell said it will be his first jump in competition since 2001. He reportedly made similar plans to jump at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, and again go for masters marks in 2006, 2007 and 2009, but none worked out.

His world record from the 1991 World Championships is 8.95 meters (29 feet, 4 1/2 inches). The 50-55 masters world record is 6.84 meters (22 feet, 5 1/2 inches).

He will continue to compete — should he not injure himself in New Zealand, he jokes — and, if he is able to jump far enough to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, he will enter them.

Powell said Monday he weighs 180 pounds and within five pounds of his weight when he last jumped at the Olympics in 1996. He won silver medals at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

“I can dunk really easily right now,” Powell, who is 6 feet, 2 inches, said in a phone interview. “I feel like I was when I was in my 20s.”

Powell said he knows he will jump at least 23 feet, 5 inches, in New Zealand, and that he would be pleased with a 24-foot jump. He would likely have to jump at least 25 feet, 5 inches, in the next 16 months to meet U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying criteria.

“If there’s a .001 percent chance that can happen, I’ve got to go for it,” he said.

Of course, health is key. Powell said he is jumping off his weak leg right now due to injury.

“It’s scary stuff,” training again, Powell said. “My body’s like, what the heck are you doing?”

Powell also said he can leap 34 inches vertically today. He jumped 42 inches, at least, at his peak, according to reports from the early 1990s.

“It’s going to get up there by next year,” he said. “I have no doubt what my body can do physically. It’s a matter of if I can figure out how to do it so it doesn’t break.”

Powell, a long jump coach for most of the years since his retirement, can be seen at dawn at Heritage Community Park in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., dancing by himself among the morning groundskeepers.

“I’m going to be one of those guys who shows up at the track at 75,” he said. “I’m not going to stop jumping.”

NBC SportsWorld: Powell’s Jump for the Ages

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, bracket

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, bracket

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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