Justin Gatlin puts away Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay in Lausanne

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Justin Gatlin easily defeated Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay in a 100m in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday, in what may have been a preview of the World Championships in August.

Gatlin, five years removed from a four-year doping ban, clocked 9.75 seconds for the victory. Gatlin, 33, is the only man to run 9.80 or better since Sept. 6, 2013, and he’s done it five times.

Powell and Gay both finished in 9.92 in Lausanne. Usain Bolt previously pulled out of the meet due to a leg injury. Bolt’s best time since the start of 2014 is 9.98, and he is in danger of relinquishing his World title to, most likely, the 2004 Olympic champion Gatlin.

Powell, who held the world record before Bolt first broke it in 2008, and Gay, the 2007 World champion, rank No. 2 and No. 6 in the world in the 100m this year. Gay said after the race he had a sore hip, according to the IAAF.

Athletes were competing in Lausanne in preparation for the World Championships in Beijing (Aug. 22-30, broadcast info here). Full results from Lausanne are here.

Also Thursday, Allyson Felix won a 200m in 22.09 seconds. Only one woman has run faster than that this year — Felix on May 15 (21.98). The Olympic champion reinforced her favorite status for Worlds, but she may run the 400m instead in Beijing and has said the Worlds schedule doesn’t allow for a 200m-400m double.

The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller established herself in Lausanne as the top threat if Felix attempts the 400m at the World Championships. Miller, 21, clocked a personal-best 49.92, the best time in the world this year by a woman who is qualified for Worlds and better than any time by Felix since 2011. Miller beat a field Thursday that included Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who did not qualify for Worlds.

Miller is also second fastest in the world in the 200m this year behind Felix.

Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes, a 19-year-old training partner of Bolt, won the 200m in a personal best 20.13 over a field that included neither the Worlds favorite Gatlin nor the world-record holder Bolt.

American English Gardner won an earlier 100m race in 10.76, which would be a personal best if not for the illegal tailwind of 5.4m/s.

Olympic champion Christian Taylor triple jumped a personal best 18.06m to win over Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo, matching the fourth-best jump of all time.

Botswana’s Nijel Amos took the 800m by passing Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha in the final straight. Amos ran 1:43.27 to Rudisha’s 1:43.76. Amos, who took 2012 Olympic silver behind Rudisha, had the fastest time in the world in 2014 and is No. 2 this year behind Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman. Rudisha, coming off injuries since the 2012 Olympics, ranks fourth in the world this year.

Beijing Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson took the 100m hurdles in 12.55, leading a U.S. sweep over Jasmin Stowers (12.58), Queen Harrison (12.63) and Sharika Nelvis (12.63). Stowers and Harrison failed to qualify for Worlds. Harper-Nelson’s biggest competition at Worlds should come from countrywomen Nelvis (fastest in the world this year), defending World champion Brianna Rollins and NCAA champion Keni Harrison.

Olympic and World champion Mo Farah won a 5000m in 13:11.77 over top Ethiopians and Kenyans.

Reigning Diamond League champion Jenny Simpson finished third in a 1500m by Ethiopian-born Netherlands runner Sifan Hassan. Hassan was the fastest woman in the world last year, while Simpson was No. 3. They’re both Worlds medal contenders.

Bershawn Jackson, the fastest 400m hurdler in the world this year, clocked 48.71 to beat a field that included the reignign World gold and silver medalists. Jackson, 32, appears the favorite to win the World Championship, 10 years after his previous title.

Two-time reigning World champion David Storl won the shot put with a 22.20m throw, his first time over 22 meters. American Joe Kovacs, the world No. 1 in 2014 and 2015, took second.

Kovacs has thrown 22.35m this year and seems headed for a showdown with the German Storl at Worlds. Storl and Kovacs have combined for the 10 farthest throws in the world this year.

U.S. champion Tianna Bartoletta won the long jump with 6.86m leap. Bartoletta was the only woman to jump seven meters last year and is again the only one so far this year. She’ll look to break Olympic champion Brittney Reese‘s streak of three straight World titles in August.

Emma Coburn, who wants to become the first American to win a Worlds 3000m steeplechase medal, finished third in the event in Lausanne behind a Kenyan and an Ethiopian. Coburn still has the second fastest time in the world this year.

Olympic champion and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie finished third in the pole vault but remains the only man to clear six meters this year.

The Diamond League continues in Monaco on July 17.

Allyson Felix’s coach to voice opinion on Olympic track and field schedule

Jordan Thompson, U.S. volleyball’s new weapon, took unique route to NCAA history

Jordan Thompson
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It was about this time last year that Jordan Thompson first appeared on the radar of U.S. women’s volleyball coach Karch Kiraly. Since, Thompson emerged as the youngest starter, and arguably a star, for the national team.

She goes into what could be her final weekend of college volleyball as one of the most dominant athletes in any sport. And one of the most unique stories in NCAA history.

Thompson plays not for a Big Ten or Pac-12 powerhouse, but for Cincinnati, a school that, before she arrived, never made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The unranked Bearcats upset second-ranked Pittsburgh in the second round last Saturday. They play Penn State, winner of six of the last 12 NCAA titles, in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

In 33 games this season, Thompson has registered a Division I-leading 768 kills, which is 143 more than the next most prolific attacker. That margin of 143 is the same number that separates No. 2 from No. 31.

Last season, she had 827 kills, which was 240 more than anybody else and a single-season record (by 112 kills) since NCAA match formats shifted from 30-point to 25-point sets in 2008.

She is a contender, if not a favorite, to be AVCA National Player of the Year. All of the previous winners dating to 1985 came from schools that reached at least one Final Four.

On Oct. 4, a UCF player’s face caught the wrong end of a Thompson attack. Cincinnati teammates watching from the bench dropped to the floor in astonishment.

Thompson tallied 50 kills in one match alone on Nov. 3, becoming the first D-I player to do so in 20 years.

That happened on Senior Day. Before that match, Thompson received a plaqued No. 23 jersey and flowers.

She posed for a photo standing with her husband, former Cincinnati offensive lineman Blake Yager, her mother, Mary, whose bribes helped Thompson develop into an attacker, and her father, 1990s Harlem Globetrotter Tyrone Doleman (and brother of Pro Football Hall of Famer Chris Doleman).

Mary has been most instrumental, raising Thompson as a single mom in Minnesota. Thompson, who is 6 feet, 4 inches now, was always tall for her age.

She played youth basketball against older girls and grew frustrated by the physical contact. Kneepads weren’t comfort enough. She decided to give volleyball a try in middle school.

“She was very timid,” Mary said of her daughter, who has since gotten 10 tattoos, including one of a hummingbird. “She would tell me she didn’t want to hurt anyone on the other side of the net. I told her I would give her a dollar for every time she would whack it. And I would give her $10 if she would actually hit someone on the other end of the court.”

It took a while, but Thompson was motivated by her love of horses. The payouts from her mom went toward a saddle and a bridal. A box with horse equipment remains in the family garage back home.

“She was trying to build up her supplies to be able to one day say to me, look, I’ve got a saddle, I’ve got all of my tack, I’ve got stuff to clean the hooves, can we get a horse now?” Mary said. 

After just two years of club volleyball, Thompson received her first Division-I scholarship offer. It came from Syracuse. Thompson was a high school sophomore.

“In the back of my head, I’m thinking, I’m never going to get another offer, so I better take this one,” she said.

Thompson was intent on Syracuse for a year before a coaching change led her to decommit. She wasn’t sure if many schools knew she had reopened her recruiting. A Minnesota club teammate had committed to Cincinnati and suggested Thompson take a visit.

The Bearcats went 3-29 the season before she committed.

“I said, Jordan, you can play D-I at Texas. You can go to Nebraska,” Mary said. “She was like, no, no, I want to play all four years. I actually want to get playing time, mom. She really struggled believing how good she could be.”

The biggest obstacle came junior year. In a preseason training session, Thompson collided with that Minnesota club teammate, Jade Tingelhoff, and tore the UCL in her dominant, right arm. She was in an armpit-to-wrist brace for two months post-Tommy John surgery, including three weeks with her arm locked in place.

She couldn’t brush her hair, had a hard time brushing her teeth and found it difficult showering and getting dressed.

She still went to every Bearcats game and traveled with the team. Cincinnati went from 22-10 her sophomore season to 13-19 that year without her on the court.

“It ended up being OK,” Tingelhoff said. “She came back that next season — I’m not kidding — 10 times as better than she was even the previous year.”

As a redshirt junior, Thompson and her 827 kills helped Cincinnati to a 26-8 record and its first NCAA Tournament win in seven years. She also caught the eye of Kiraly by the end of that 2018 season.

“She was one of the elite players in all of college volleyball,” he said. “Probably the only one who came from a conference other than the ones known for producing the most NCAA champions, like the Big Ten and the Pac-12.”

By last spring break, Thompson had become a favorite of U.S coaches at a camp to help select teams for summer international tournaments.

She had a one-on-one conversation with Kiraly, the only person to own Olympic indoor and beach gold medals. The legend told her she had potential to play at the Pan American Games. Later, he upped the praise to say she was ready for the top-level Nations League, a precursor to Olympic qualifying.

Thompson made her national team debut in May. By August, she came off the bench to help spur a comeback in a crucial Olympic qualifying match. The next day, she was in the starting lineup for the U.S.’ final Olympic qualifier, where the Americans clinched a Tokyo 2020 berth.

“I think a lot people don’t know she is still in college,” two-time U.S. Olympic outside hitter Jordan Larson said then. “She still has one more year left.”

Agents reached out, but Thompson had no intention of giving up her final year of NCAA eligibility. She wanted to make history at Cincinnati. That was secured with the Sweet 16 berth.

With the new year, she will trade the Cincinnati red and black for Team USA colors. She will keep in mind what the U.S. coaching staff told the team during Olympic qualifying and what she called a dream summer.

“My big goal in life was I just wanted to be in the USA gym,” said Thompson, who is working on her master’s in criminal justice. “To hear that we’re all working towards this goal of trying to make this roster, and we are being looked as potential players to make that roster, my jaw dropped. To know that it’s even a remote possibility is mind-blowing.”

VIDEO: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is about 9,800 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

“If, ever, we have two alternatives, and where one alternative gives the athletes of a particular sport more closeness to the heart of the Games and allows them to enjoy the magic and the spirit of the Games better, then in the interest of the athletes, we prefer this solution,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in June when asked about Tahiti’s interest in hosting surfing.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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