Prefontaine Classic preview, schedule, broadcast info

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The Prefontaine Classic will provide an early look at World Track and Field Championships contenders, live on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday.

The annual Diamond League meet in Eugene, Ore., will carry extra significance this year, given it will be contested on the 40-year anniversary of the death of its namesake, 1972 Olympic 5000m runner Steve Prefontaine.

Competition starts Friday night, with Olympic and World champion Brittney Reese in the long jump, Olympic bronze medalist Reese Hoffa in the shot put, Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp in the 5000m and Olympic and World champion Mo Farah in the 10,000m. USATF.TV will have live coverage.

On Saturday, Olympic champions Allyson FelixJustin GatlinSanya Richards-Ross and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce headline the fields.

NBCSN will have live coverage Saturday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET, followed by NBC from 4:30-6. Live Extra will stream the entire broadcast window. The full schedule and entry lists can be found here.

Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

Friday
11:03 p.m. — Men’s discus
11:06 — Women’s long jump
11:28 — Men’s shot put
12 a.m. (Saturday) — Men’s 5000m
12:20 — Men’s 10,000m

Saturday
3:21 p.m. — Women’s triple jump
3:26 — Men’s pole vault
3:41 — Women’s 400m
3:49 — Men’s 800m
3:56 — Men’s high jump
4:03 — Men’s 400m hurdles
4:11 — Men’s 3000m steeplechase
4:30 — Women’s javelin
4:33 — Women’s 100m
4:42 — Men’s 100m
4:49 — Men’s 400m
4:55 — Women’s 800m
5:05 — Men’s 110m hurdles
5:12 — Women’s 5000m
5:32 — Men’s 200m
5:40 — Women’s 1500m
5:49 — Men’s Bowerman Mile

Here are five track events to watch Saturday:

Women’s 400m (3:41 p.m. ET)

Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix will race a 400m at a Diamond League meet for the first time in more than one year. Felix said she will enter one of the 200m or 400m at the World Championships in August, and her performance at the Prefontaine Classic could go into determining her event at Worlds in Beijing.

On Saturday, Felix will oppose Olympic 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who owns the fastest time in the world this year. Felix is capable of beating Richards-Ross when at their best, as she did at the 2011 World Championships. The Pre Classic field is lacking the world’s other elite 400m runner, American Francena McCorory.

Women’s 100m (4:33 p.m. ET)

The field includes the fastest women from 2015 (Elaine Thompson, Jamaica), 2014 (Tori Bowie, U.S.), 2013 and 2012 (Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica) and 2011 (Carmelita Jeter, U.S.).

The opportunity is ripe for Thompson, 22, to stake her claim as the favorite to be crowned world’s fastest woman at the World Championships in three months. She’s already won 100m races in Kingston in March, April and May, but training partner and Olympic and World champion Fraser-Pryce was not in any of those races.

Thompson’s clocked 10.92 this year, but it was Bowie who starred in 2014 with a top time of 10.80. The Mississippi native missed the end of last season after a late August hamstring injury and ran 11.07 in Shanghai on May 17.

Men’s 200m (5:32 p.m. ET)

Usain Bolt ran 20.13 on a wet track in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Tuesday. Bolt is not in Eugene, but rival Justin Gatlin is in this 200m field. Gatlin ran mostly 100m races since his return from a four-year doping ban in 2010, but last year he clocked 19.68 and 19.71 in the 200m, the fastest times in the world since Bolt won the 2013 World Championship in 19.66. Gatlin hasn’t run a wind-legal 200m yet this season. He did clock a wind-aided 20.10 on April 11.

Gatlin’s competition Saturday will come from the three fastest Jamaicans aside from Bolt this year — Julian ForteNickel Ashmeade and Rasheed Dwyer — Panama’s 2009 World silver medalist Alonso Edward and U.S. 2013 World bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell.

Women’s 1500m (5:40 p.m. ET)

The day’s final women’s race includes reigning Diamond League champion Jenny Simpson, the world’s fastest woman from 2014, Ethiopian-born Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, plus talented Americans Shannon Rowbury, the 18-year-old Alexa Efraimson and steeplechaser Emma Coburn.

It’s early, but Simpson and Rowbury are threats to break a 44-year U.S. gold-medal drought in Olympic track events longer than 400m next summer in Rio de Janeiro.

Men’s Bowerman Mile (5:49 p.m. ET)

The traditional finale of the meet could be a U.S.-Kenya battle. The Kenyan contingent includes two-time reigning World champion Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat, the fastest 1500m runner in the last decade. Americans Matthew Centrowitz, the 2013 World silver medalist, and Leo Manzano, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, will look to dethrone them.

Mary Cain leaves Oregon, returns home to New York

Who is Italy’s greatest Olympian?

Alberto Tomba
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Italy ranks sixth on the total Olympic medal list, thanks in large part to its fencers. Italian fencers have won a leading 125 medals, more than double the nation’s total in any other sport. The Italians are known for their personalities, from La Bomba to the Cannibal, with six of their best detailed here …

Deborah Compagnoni
Alpine Skiing
Three Olympic Gold Medals

The only Alpine skier to earn gold at three straight Olympics. Compagnoni overcame a broken knee as a junior racer and life-saving surgery to remove 27 inches of her intestine in 1990 to win the Albertville 1992 super-G by 1.8 seconds. It remains the largest margin of victory in the discipline for either gender since 1968. The following day, Compagnoni tore knee ligaments in the giant slalom. She returned to win the GS at the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Compagnoni ended her Olympic career with the biggest rout in a GS at a Winter Games, prevailing by 1.41 seconds in Nagano.

Klaus Dibiasi
Diving
Three Olympic Gold Medals

The only diver to win the same individual event three times. The Austrian-born Dibiasi took platform silver in 1964 at age 17, then three straight golds through 1976. Dibiasi was coached by his father, who was 10th on platform at the 1936 Berlin Games. In his final Olympics, Dibiasi held off a 16-year-old Greg Louganis, who would go on to challenge, if not overtake, Dibiasi as the greatest male diver in history.

Eugenio Monti
Bobsled
Six Olympic Medals

Regarded by many as the greatest bobsled driver in history. Monti captured two silver medals in 1956, missed the 1960 Winter Games that didn’t include bobsled, then two bronzes in 1964 and a pair of golds at age 40 in 1968. On top of that, the nine-time world champion is remembered for an act of sportsmanship in 1964. In between runs, Monti lent a bolt off his own two-man sled to a British team whose sled was damaged. The Brits took gold, ahead of both Italian sleds.

Alberto Tomba
Alpine Skiing
Three Olympic Gold Medals

“La Bomba” dazzled by sweeping the giant slalom and slalom at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, after dubbing himself the “Messiah of Skiing“ beforehand. Known for his man-about-town ways, Tomba offered one of his gold medals to East German figure skater Katarina Witt should she fall short in her event. After Witt repeated as gold medalist, the story goes that Tomba showed up with a bouquet of roses and an autographed picture of himself, made out out to “Katerina.” “I used to have a wild time with three women until 5 a.m.,” Tomba once said. “Now I live it up with five women until 3 a.m,”

Valentina Vezzali
Fencing
Six Olympic Gold Medals

An 18-year-old Vezzali was an alternate for the 1992 Olympics, forced to watch on TV as the Italian women took team foil gold. Vezzali made the next five Olympics, winning medals in all nine of her events, including three straight individual titles, the last as a mom. Vezzali finished her career with nine total Olympic medals, 25 world championships medals, a flag bearer honor at the 2012 Opening Ceremony and as a member of Italy’s parliament.

Armin Zoeggeler
Luge
Six Olympic Medals

“The Cannibal” retired in 2014 as the first athlete to earn a medal in the same individual event at six straight Olympics. Zoeggeler earned silver and bronze medals in 1994 and 1998, then overtook German legend Georg Hackl for gold in 2002, followed by winning at home in Torino in 2006. He held on for bronze medals in 2010 and 2014, behind the new German luge star, Felix Loch, who would be coached by Hackl. Growing up on top of a steep hill, Zoeggeler began sledding at age 7 to catch the school bus at the bottom.

GREATEST OLYMPIANS: Germany | Liechtenstein | Japan

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Kurt Angle recalls devastation, exultation of Olympic wrestling gold medal

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Kurt Angle doesn’t remember much from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, but he won’t forget that moment of deep emotional pain.

In the 100kg final, Angle and Iranian Abbas Jadidi were tied 1-1 after regulation and an overtime period.. Eight total minutes of wrestling. They also had the same number of passivity calls, forcing a judges’ decision to determine the gold medalist.

After deliberation, the referee stood between each wrestler in the middle of the mat. He held each’s wrist, ready to reveal the champion to the Georgia World Congress Center crowd — and to the athletes. Angle, now 51, has rarely watched video of the match. But he distinctly remembers, in his peripheral vision, Jadidi’s left arm rising.

“I thought I lost,” Angle said by phone this week. “So right away, I was like, s—, four more years.”

Turns out, the Iranian was raising his own arm. An instant later, the referee suppressed Jadidi. He lifted Angle’s right arm. The wrestler sobbed.

“I had so much emotion because I was devastated and then I was told that I won,” Angle said. “It was a very odd experience. I didn’t know how to handle it. It felt like my father died all over again. That’s how much grief I had. Then, all of a sudden, you won.”

Angle thought of two people immediately after he won, falling to his knees in prayer. First, his father, David, who died in a construction accident when Angle was 16. Second, the 1984 Olympic wrestling champion Dave Schultz, his coach who was murdered by John du Pont six months before the Games.

Angle went on to become one of the most famous U.S. gold medalists of the Atlanta Games, due largely to a two-decade career as a professional wrestler, including as a world heavyweight champion with the WWE.

It would have been different if the referee kept Jadidi’s arm in the air. Angle went into the Olympics knowing it would be his last competition, but only if he took gold. Anything less, and he would continue on, perhaps into his 30s and the 2000 Sydney Games. Despite everything Angle went through just to get to Atlanta.

In the year leading up to the Olympics, Angle lost Schultz, broke his neck at the U.S. Open and, five minutes before each match at the Olympic Trials, received 12 shots of novocaine to numb the pain long enough to advance to the next round. Angle later developed a painkiller addiction.

Angle, a Pennsylvania native, was part of the Foxcatcher club when du Pont shot and killed Schultz. Angle said he wasn’t consulted for the 2014 film “Foxcatcher,” but he thought it was well done save a few instances of dramatic license.

“Unfortunately, I hate to admit this, but if it weren’t for Team Foxcatcher, I probably wouldn’t have won my gold medal,” Angle said. “I probably wouldn’t have known Dave Schultz, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I did. It sucks because, to have to thank John du Pont for the ability of allowing me to pay me to wrestle full time and win a world championship [in 1995] and Olympic gold medal, that was huge, but he killed Dave Schultz. The club would have thrived to this day. It just sucks it turned out the way it did, because it made me the best wrestler in the world. Dave Schultz had a lot to do with that, but a lot of wrestlers that followed could have not had to worry about money and could have trained and competed.”

Angle shared his gold medal with, he estimated, thousands of people before housing it in a safe.

“The gold was wearing off,” Angle said. “One kid, I remember, I was at an elementary school, and he grabbed my medal by the ribbon and started twirling it around real fast. He let go of it, and it hit the wall. There’s a big dent in my gold medal. That was the last time I brought it to an elementary school.”

Angle announced in 2011, at age 42, that he was training to come back for the 2012 Olympic Trials. He never made it, calling it off with a knee injury.

“But I trained hard for it,” Angle said, noting he still kept up appearances with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. “I will tell you this, I wouldn’t have made the team. My goal was to place in the top three. I just missed the [thrill of] competition.”

It meant that Angle’s last match remained that Olympic final. His last moment as a freestyle wrestler having his arm raised.

“All I wanted to do was win a world championship and an Olympic gold medal, and I did them both,” Angle said, sobbing, just off the mat that night in Atlanta. “If I died tonight, I’d be the happiest man in the world.”

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