Justin Gatlin stays hot; Genzebe Dibaba breaks world record in Monaco

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Justin Gatlin continued his unbeaten streak, while Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba broke a 22-year-old world record in the women’s 1500m at a Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday night.

Gatlin, the favorite to beat Usain Bolt for 100m and 200m World titles in August, won the 100m in 9.78 seconds, beating Tyson Gay by .19. Gatlin is the only man to run 9.80 or better since the start of 2014, and he’s done so six times. The 33-year-old, five years removed from a four-year doping ban, hasn’t lost an individual race since Sept. 6, 2013.

Dibaba, better known as a 5000m runner until now, clocked 3:50.07 in the 1500m to break the 3:50.46 world record set by China’s Qu Yunxia in 1993. In the same race Friday, Shannon Rowbury ran 3:56.29 to break the American record set by Mary Slaney in 1983 (3:57.12).

Dibaba’s world record is the first in an Olympic track event since Aries Merritt in the 110m hurdles on Sept. 7, 2012. It’s the first women’s Olympic track event world record since Russian Gulnara Samitova-Galkina in the 3000m steeplechase on Aug. 17, 2008. Dibaba’s older sister, Tirunesh Dibaba, holds the 5000m world record set June 6, 2008.

“I think Tirunesh will be happy, all Ethiopia will be happy,” Dibaba said, according to the Diamond League. “I knew from the beginning that I could break the record and am still able to improve, maybe under 3:50. But one thing is clear I will double at World Championships [1500m and 5000m]. And let’s try for 5000m world record after Beijing.”

In Monaco, athletes were preparing for the World Championships in Beijing (Aug. 22-30, broadcast info here). Here are full results from Monaco.

Asbel Kiprop, the two-time reigning World champion, ran the fifth fastest 1500m of all time in 3:26.69. The Kenyan was .69 off Hicham El Guerrouj‘s world record from 1998 and moved to third fastest all time in the event behind Kiprop and Bernard Lagat.

Kiprop relegated Olympic and World 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah to fourth place, marking the Brit’s lowest finish in an outdoor track final since 2010, according to Tilastopaja. Afterward, Farah said he will run the 10,000m at Worlds but hadn’t decided whether to contest the 5000m.

American Matthew Centrowitz, who won medals behind Kiprop at the last two Worlds, clocked a personal-best 3:30.40 for 10th place, moving to third on the U.S. all-time list and ahead of Alan Webb. Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano was 13th in 3:36.16.

Two-time U.S. champion Joe Kovacs threw the farthest shot put in 12 years, 22.56m to win that contest and solidify favorite status going into his first World Championships.

Francena McCorory, who failed to qualify for the World Championships in the individual 400m, improved on her fastest time in the world this year by winning the 400m in 49.83. McCorory, who has the three fastest times in the world in 2015, could still run the 400m at Worlds, if Allyson Felix gives up her spot to focus on the 200m.

American Sharika Nelvis took the 100m hurdles in 12.46 in a Worlds preview. Nelvis, the world’s fastest woman this year in 12.34, beat a field that included the three other Americans going to Worlds plus the top non-American going to Worlds, Michigan-born Brit Tiffany Porter.

American Candyce McGrone won the women’s 200m in a personal-best 22.08, becoming the second fastest woman in the world this year behind Felix. The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller, one of Felix’s biggest threats for Worlds in the 200m and 400m, slowed to a jog in the final 50 meters and was last in 28.28.

Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie won the pole vault with a 5.92m clearance.

Olympic champion Christian Taylor defeated Cuban rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo in the triple jump, 17.75m to 17.73m. Taylor and Pichardo are the only men to triple jump farther than 17.53m this year, which they’ve done a combined 13 times.

Bershawn Jackson, the 2005 World champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, won the 400m hurdles in 48.23. Jackson, 32, has won at eight of his nine meets this season and holds the world’s fastest time this year of 48.09.

In the men’s 800m, Amel Tuka of Bosnia and Herzegovina ran the world’s fastest time of 2015, a 1:42.52 to beat a field that did not include Kenyan Olympic champion and world-record holder David Rudisha.

The Diamond League season continues in London next Friday and Saturday, with Bolt scheduled to race for the first time since June 13.

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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