Jamaica

Jamaica exacts revenge on U.S. at World Relays, without Usain Bolt

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Jamaica beat the U.S. in sprints on the final night of the IAAF World Relays, without Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in Nassau, Bahamas, on Sunday night.

Bolt, who anchored the Jamaican 4x100m team that was beaten by the U.S. on Saturday, sat out the 4x200m but was seen at the stadium wearing headphones and talking into a phone. Bolt reportedly sat out as a precaution due to a minor hamstring injury.

No matter, Jamaica still outsprinted the U.S. in the 4x200m, winning in 1:20.97. The Americans dropped the baton on the second exchange between Isiah Young and Curtis Mitchell. Anchor Justin Gatlin received the baton in seventh or eighth place and recovered to cross the finish line third before the U.S. was disqualified due to that failed exchange.

“I didn’t even know we dropped the baton,” said Gatlin, the world’s fastest man in the 100m and 200m last season. “I saw the deficit we had. I just wanted to make up as much ground as we possibly can and still get on the medal stand.”

The U.S. women didn’t drop the baton in the 4x100m, but anchor Carmelita Jeter finished .18 shy of Jamaican veteran Veronica Campbell-Brown. Allyson Felix ran the second leg for the U.S. and was passed by Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye before Kimberlyn Duncan and Jeter took the stick.

“I was doing my best to try and hold it and do some work, but I just didn’t feel as sharp as I normally am,” said Felix, who collided with Jeneba Tarmoh in the 4x200m relay Saturday.

The U.S. also swept the men’s and women’s 4x400m, the women’s 4x800m and broke the world record in the men’s distance medley relay.

Olympic 400m champions Jeremy Wariner (2004) and LaShawn Merritt (2008) ran the final two legs for the U.S. men in the 4x400m. The Americans prevailed in 2:58.43, edging the Bahamas by .48.

“I said yesterday it was a great step in the right direction,” said Wariner, 31, who also ran in the 4x400m heats Saturday and is looking to rebound from finishing sixth in the 400m at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and last in his heat at the 2013 U.S. Championships. “Today is an even bigger step.”

In the women’s 4x400m, Phyllis Francis, Natasha Hastings, Sanya Richards-Ross and Francena McCorory clocked 3:19.39 to win by 3.1 seconds over Jamaica. Notably, the Olympic 400m champion Richards-Ross split 48.79 seconds. McCorory, the only woman to run faster than Richards-Ross in 2014, split 49.27 on anchor, albeit with a comfortable lead built from the first three legs.

Richards-Ross, who was born in Jamaica and moved to the U.S. before high school, took pleasure in competing in a Caribbean nation.

“When I first started running for the U.S., sometimes I thought the Jamaicans were really upset, but now they’ve really started to embrace me again,” the 30-year-old said. “I kind of feel like I’m enjoying my twilight years in track and field.”

In the women’s 4x800m, Chanelle Price, Maggie Vessey, Molly Beckwith and Alysia Montano won in 8:00.62, a 10.74-second margin over second-place Poland. The U.S. breezed in the non-Olympic relay without its three fastest 800m runners from 2014 — Ajee’ Wilson, Brenda Martinez and Laura Roesler.

The U.S. men’s distance medley relay team of Kyle Merber (1200m leg), Brycen Spratling (400m), Brandon Johnson (800m) and Ben Blankenship (1600m) broke the world record by .06 by clocking 9:15.50. Of that quartet, only Johnson has competed at a World Championships or Olympics. They beat Kenya, the previous world-record holder, by 1.7 seconds.

The track and field season continues with the start of the Diamond League on May 15 in Doha, Qatar.

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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