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.

Justin Gatlin: I’m the guy to beat right now

Kuwaiti sheikh steps aside from IOC after indictment

AP
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GENEVA (AP) — Facing a criminal trial in Switzerland, Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al Fahad al Sabah temporarily stepped aside from his IOC work on Monday.

The Kuwaiti sheikh denies wrongdoing but said in a statement he did not want “these politically motivated allegations to distract attention” from the Olympic movement’s work.

“Sheikh Ahmad has every confidence and trust in the Swiss courts and IOC Ethics Commission’s impartial due processes,” the statement from his personal office in Kuwait said. “He fully intends to continue serving the IOC again at the earliest opportunity.”

The sheikh has been indicted for forgery in Geneva and faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years, city daily Le Temps reported. The investigation arose from a dispute with another royal family member, who is a former prime minister of Kuwait.

Sheikh Ahmad has been an International Olympic Committee member for 26 years, a close ally of president Thomas Bach, and leads the global and Asian groups of national Olympic bodies. He also chairs an IOC panel which will give $500 million to Olympic bodies and athletes before the 2020 Tokyo Games.

He is due to be re-elected unopposed in Tokyo next week as president of the global Olympic group known as ANOC.

The IOC said in a statement its ethics panel can intervene for misconduct “even if it is not related to sport.”

The Olympic ethics panel had confirmed last year it was studying separate allegations against Sheikh Ahmad relating to bribery in international soccer elections.

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Who qualifies for figure skating’s Grand Prix Final?

Yevgenia Medvedeva
NBC Sports Gold
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A look at the qualifying scenarios for December’s Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual international figure skating event, with the sixth and last qualifier happening this week at Internationaux de France, headlined by Nathan Chen and streaming live on NBC Sports Gold … 

Men
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 30 points (qualified)
3. Michal Brezina (CZE) — 26 points (qualified)
4. Sergey Voronov (RUS) — 24 points (qualified)
5. Cha Jun-Hwan (KOR) — 22 points (bubble)
6. Keegan Messing (CAN) — 20 points (bubble)

Competing this week: Nathan Chen (USA) — 15 points, Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 9 points, Jin Boyang (CHN) and Dmitry Aliyev (RUS) — 7 points, Jason Brown (USA) — 5 points.

Outlook: Chen qualifies with a fifth or better this week. If he wins as expected, it would mean the favorites swept the six men’s Grand Prix Final qualifiers (Hanyu, Uno and Chen with two wins each). That trio last faced off at the Olympics, where Hanyu repeated as champion, Uno took silver and Chen rebounded from a 17th-place short program with the top free skate to place fifth overall. Hanyu, though, is uncertain for the Final after injuring his right ankle in practice before his free skate at Rostelecom Cup on Saturday. Samarin is the only man in this week’s field who would get into the Final by placing second to Chen.

Women
1. Alina Zagitova (RUS) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 28 points (qualified)
3. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 26 points (qualified)
4. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 24 points (bubble)
5. Sofia Samodurova (RUS) — 24 points (bubble)
6. Mako Yamashita (JPN) — 17 points (bubble)

Competing this week: Rika Kihira (JPN) — 15 points, Stanislava Konstantinova (RUS) — 13 points, Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 11 points, Mai Mihara (JPN), Bradie Tennell (USA) and Alexia Paganini (SUI) — 9 points, Laurine Lecavelier (FRA) — 7 points.

Outlook: It’s a near-lock that the Grand Prix Final will be an all-Russian and Japanese affair. The biggest question across all disciplines this week is whether the Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Medvedeva can earn one of the three available spots. She is definitely in with a win. If she’s second, it likely comes down to a tiebreak among at least Medvedeva, Sakamoto and Samodurova, looking at who had the most total points between their two Grand Prix starts. If she’s third, she’s almost definitely out of the Final. The U.S. champion Tennell is one of six women who qualify automatically with a win this week.

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Natalya Zabiyako/Alexander Enbert (RUS) — 30 points (qualified)
3. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 26 points (qualified)
4. Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise (ITA) — 26 points (qualified)
5. Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin (RUS) — 22 points (bubble)
6. Alisa Efimova/Alexander Korovin (RUS) — 20 points (bubble)

Competing this week: Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) — 15 points, Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitriy Kozlovskiy (RUS) — 9 points, Ryom Tae-Ok/Kim Ju-Sik (PRK), Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea (USA) and Minerva Fabienne Hase/Nolan Seegert (GER) — 7 points.

Outlook: With none of the Olympic medalists competing this fall, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers from PyeongChang have been the most impressive thus far — Tarasova and Morozov and James and Cipres. The French make it to the Final by finishing fifth this week. For either the North Koreans or the Americans to make the Final, they almost definitely have to win. That’s a very tall order against the French in Grenoble.

Ice Dance
1. Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue (USA) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 30 points (qualified)
3. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri (ITA) — 26 points (qualified)
4. Tiffany Zahorski/Jonathan Guerreiro (RUS) — 24 points (bubble)
5. Sara Hurtado/Kirill Khaliavin (ESP) — 22 points (bubble)
6. Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter (USA) — 20 points (bubble)

Competing this week: Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) — 15 points, Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) — 13 points, Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) and Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 11 points, Marie-Jade Lauriault/Romain Le Gac (FRA) — 9 points, Olivia Smart/Adrián Díaz (ESP) — 7 points, Allison Reed/Saulius Ambrulevičius (LTU) — 5 points.

Outlook: This week’s favorites have no chance at the Final. That’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who missed their first Grand Prix due to Cizeron’s back injury. The anticipated showdown between the three-time world champions and Olympic silver medalists from France and world silver medalists Hubbell and Donohue must wait until the world championships in March. Their absence could open the door for multiple U.S. dance couples to qualify for the Final for a fifth straight year, despite the absence this fall of Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (indefinite break) and Madison Chock and Evan Bates (injury). Hawayek and Baker are into the Final with a fourth or better this week.

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