Tyson Gay, Tori Bowie take U.S. 100m titles; Carmelita Jeter hurt

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American record holder Tyson Gay and Tori Bowie captured 100m titles at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Friday night.

Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross failed to qualify for the 400m final (race video here), meaning she will not run in the World Championships in Beijing in August.

In the 100m, Gay clocked 9.87 seconds for his biggest victory since returning from a doping ban last year and his first World Championships berth since 2009 (race video here).

“It means everything,” Gay told Lewis Johnson on NBCSN. “Just being able to come back from a mistake, show the world that you can make up for the mistake.”

“I think this is the most meaningful USA championship I’ve ever won,” Gay said later on USATF.TV. “I feel like this is the most, I wouldn’t say love, or respect that I’ve ever gotten. I’ve had so many people giving me high-fives, saying we love you, so glad to have you back, you’re a breath of fresh air.”

The U.S. men’s 100m team at Worlds will include Gay, Justin Gatlin (who didn’t run the 100m on Friday but has a bye as the 2014 Diamond League champion) and Trayvon Bromell, who finished second to Gay in 9.96, and Mike Rodgers, third in 9.97.

The Baylor rising junior Bromell’s college coach said before the meet, “if he goes big up there this weekend, which by all accounts he probably will, it’s going to be difficult for him to come back,” according to the Waco Tribune.

Bromell, 19, said Friday he does not have immediate plans to turn professional.

“Only way I’m going to come out is if I get what I’m worth,” Bromell said on USATF.TV. “I’m not like the average athlete that jumps when they see a dollar sign. … I don’t want to seem like I’m asking too much or anything, but I don’t want to be that person that gets gypped over and not get what they should get. I feel like if I’m not getting what I deserve, I’m going to stay in school because I guarantee my degree will get me what I’m worth.”

On Thursday, Bromell ran the fastest wind-legal 100m of the U.S. Championships, a 9.84 in the first round.

“He’s the future,” Gay said of Bromell, who called Gay his idol. “When I was in the back room, talking to some guys, it was just a new era. I’m not familiar with a lot of faces.”

Full U.S. Championships results | U.S. qualifiers for World Championships

Bowie took the women’s 100m final in 10.81 seconds (race video here), tying for third fastest in the world this year behind Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

The soft-spoken Bowie, primarily a long jumper until spring 2014, qualified for her first Worlds team.

“It’s a huge step,” Bowie, the fastest woman in the world in 2014 in 10.80, told Johnson on NBCSN. “It’s kind of like a dream come true almost. Oh my gosh, I worked so hard to get to this level. Honestly, I would’ve been content to just get top three, but I’ll take first place any day.”

Bowie is joined on the U.S. women’s 100m team for Worlds by 2013 U.S. champion English Gardner, who was second in 10.86, and University of Oregon rising junior Jasmine Todd, who was third in 10.92.

The 2011 World champion Carmelita Jeter finished seventh, failing to make the U.S. team, and fell to the track after the race. The 35-year-old said she believes she tore her left quadriceps, according to Lewis Johnson.

Jeter suffered a right quad injury in May 2013 and went 10 months between races in 2013 and 2014.

Olympic silver medalist Trey Hardee won the decathlon with 8,725 points to join Olympic and World champion Ashton Eaton on the Worlds team. Eaton had a bye and didn’t compete in the decathlon at Nationals.

Hardee’s point total was his highest since he won the 2009 World Championship.

In the women’s 400m, Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix and 2014 U.S. champion Francena McCorory led the qualifiers into Saturday’s final. Richards-Ross was fifth in her semifinal, failing to make the final.

World gold and silver medalists LaShawn Merritt and Tony McQuay were among the qualifiers into Saturday’s men’s 400m final, while 2004 Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner failed to advance out of the semifinals Friday.

In the women’s 100m hurdles, 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson, World champion Brianna Rollins and Summer and Winter Olympian Lolo Jones, along with the world’s two fastest women this year, Sharika Nelvis and Jasmin Stowers, advanced to Saturday’s semifinals. Rollins has a bye onto the Worlds team and will be joined in Beijing by the top three women from the final.

Diamond League champion Jenny Simpson led the qualifiers into Sunday’s 1500m final, though Simpson has a bye into Worlds. She’s joined in the final by Shannon Rowbury and Mary Cain, among others.

Brenda MartinezAjee’ Wilson and Alysia Montano, who finished three-four-six at the 2013 Worlds, all qualified into Sunday’s 800m final.

World silver medalist Nick Symmonds and Olympic fourth-place finisher Duane Solomon made Sunday’s men’s 800m final.

The U.S. Championships continue Saturday (NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra, 4-6 p.m. ET) highlighted by the men’s and women’s 400m finals.

Powell, Fraser-Pryce win Jamaican Championships; Yohan Blake out

Who is Italy’s greatest Olympian?

Alberto Tomba
Getty Images
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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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