Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, LaShawn Merritt struggle in Shanghai; Diamond League recap

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and LaShawn Merritt continued early season struggles relative to their top rivals in a Diamond League meet in Shanghai on Sunday.

Fraser-Pryce, the Olympic and World 100m champion, finished fifth in the 100m in 11.25 seconds (full meet results here).

That’s her slowest 100m time in a Diamond League final since before the London 2012 Olympics. She’s finished fifth, sixth, second and eighth in her last four Diamond League 100m races, including three from an injury-plagued 2014.

Fraser-Pryce, 28, bettered 11 seconds in all six of her Diamond League 100m races in 2013, when she won the World Championship in 10.71 into a headwind, but hasn’t broken 11 since 2013.

“It is a good start,” Fraser-Pryce said of Sunday’s 11.25, according to the IAAF. “I didn’t have any time in my hand and no expectations.”

Fraser-Pryce has said she might not try to defend her World title in the 200m, which could open the door wider for Olympic champion Allyson Felix to regain that title. Though Felix has said she might run the 400m at Worlds instead of the 200m.

In Shanghai, Nigerian Blessing Okagbare won the 100m in 10.98, ahead of American Tori Bowie (11.07), Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye (11.13), Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown (11.22) and Fraser-Pryce. Bowie was the fastest woman in the world last year at 10.80.

In the 400m, Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada easily outdueled World champion LaShawn Merritt for the second time this year. James clocked 44.66, followed by World silver medalist Tony McQuay (45.54) and Merritt (45.58).

“I am a little bit behind in training,” Merritt said, according to the IAAF. “I have still some work to do.”

Merritt was well off his 2014 Diamond League season-opening time of 44.44.

In the 110m hurdles, World champion David Oliver prevailed in 13.17, ahead of Cuban Orlando Ortega (13.19) and Olympic champion Aries Merritt (13.25).

Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim won the high jump without taking a crack at the 2.45m world record, which he tried so often last year. Barshim cleared 2.38m, enough to top Ukrainian rival Bohdan Bondarenko, who missed two attempts at 2.38m and one at 2.41m.

Panama’s Alonso Edward took the 200m in 20.33 seconds. The race did not include any of the 2012 Olympic or 2013 World Championships medalists, nor the fastest man from 2014, Justin Gatlin.

Ethiopian World bronze medalist Almaz Ayana became the third-fastest woman all time in the 5000m by clocking 14:14.32.

The Diamond League next moves to Eugene, Ore., for the Pre Classic in two weeks. NBCSN will have coverage on May 30 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET, followed by NBC from 4:30-6.

Blind pole vaulter Charlotte Brown finishes third at state meet

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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