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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Kuwaiti sheikh steps aside from IOC after indictment

AP
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GENEVA (AP) — Facing a criminal trial in Switzerland, Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al Fahad al Sabah temporarily stepped aside from his IOC work on Monday.

The Kuwaiti sheikh denies wrongdoing but said in a statement he did not want “these politically motivated allegations to distract attention” from the Olympic movement’s work.

“Sheikh Ahmad has every confidence and trust in the Swiss courts and IOC Ethics Commission’s impartial due processes,” the statement from his personal office in Kuwait said. “He fully intends to continue serving the IOC again at the earliest opportunity.”

The sheikh has been indicted for forgery in Geneva and faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years, city daily Le Temps reported. The investigation arose from a dispute with another royal family member, who is a former prime minister of Kuwait.

Sheikh Ahmad has been an International Olympic Committee member for 26 years, a close ally of president Thomas Bach, and leads the global and Asian groups of national Olympic bodies. He also chairs an IOC panel which will give $500 million to Olympic bodies and athletes before the 2020 Tokyo Games.

He is due to be re-elected unopposed in Tokyo next week as president of the global Olympic group known as ANOC.

The IOC said in a statement its ethics panel can intervene for misconduct “even if it is not related to sport.”

The Olympic ethics panel had confirmed last year it was studying separate allegations against Sheikh Ahmad relating to bribery in international soccer elections.

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Who qualifies for figure skating’s Grand Prix Final?

Yevgenia Medvedeva
NBC Sports Gold
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A look at the qualifying scenarios for December’s Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual international figure skating event, with the sixth and last qualifier happening this week at Internationaux de France, headlined by Nathan Chen and streaming live on NBC Sports Gold … 

Men
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 30 points (qualified)
3. Michal Brezina (CZE) — 26 points (qualified)
4. Sergey Voronov (RUS) — 24 points (qualified)
5. Cha Jun-Hwan (KOR) — 22 points (bubble)
6. Keegan Messing (CAN) — 20 points (bubble)

Competing this week: Nathan Chen (USA) — 15 points, Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 9 points, Jin Boyang (CHN) and Dmitry Aliyev (RUS) — 7 points, Jason Brown (USA) — 5 points.

Outlook: Chen qualifies with a fifth or better this week. If he wins as expected, it would mean the favorites swept the six men’s Grand Prix Final qualifiers (Hanyu, Uno and Chen with two wins each). That trio last faced off at the Olympics, where Hanyu repeated as champion, Uno took silver and Chen rebounded from a 17th-place short program with the top free skate to place fifth overall. Hanyu, though, is uncertain for the Final after injuring his right ankle in practice before his free skate at Rostelecom Cup on Saturday. Samarin is the only man in this week’s field who would get into the Final by placing second to Chen.

Women
1. Alina Zagitova (RUS) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 28 points (qualified)
3. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 26 points (qualified)
4. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 24 points (bubble)
5. Sofia Samodurova (RUS) — 24 points (bubble)
6. Mako Yamashita (JPN) — 17 points (bubble)

Competing this week: Rika Kihira (JPN) — 15 points, Stanislava Konstantinova (RUS) — 13 points, Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 11 points, Mai Mihara (JPN), Bradie Tennell (USA) and Alexia Paganini (SUI) — 9 points, Laurine Lecavelier (FRA) — 7 points.

Outlook: It’s a near-lock that the Grand Prix Final will be an all-Russian and Japanese affair. The biggest question across all disciplines this week is whether the Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Medvedeva can earn one of the three available spots. She is definitely in with a win. If she’s second, it likely comes down to a tiebreak among at least Medvedeva, Sakamoto and Samodurova, looking at who had the most total points between their two Grand Prix starts. If she’s third, she’s almost definitely out of the Final. The U.S. champion Tennell is one of six women who qualify automatically with a win this week.

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Natalya Zabiyako/Alexander Enbert (RUS) — 30 points (qualified)
3. Peng Cheng/Jin Yang (CHN) — 26 points (qualified)
4. Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise (ITA) — 26 points (qualified)
5. Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin (RUS) — 22 points (bubble)
6. Alisa Efimova/Alexander Korovin (RUS) — 20 points (bubble)

Competing this week: Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) — 15 points, Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitriy Kozlovskiy (RUS) — 9 points, Ryom Tae-Ok/Kim Ju-Sik (PRK), Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea (USA) and Minerva Fabienne Hase/Nolan Seegert (GER) — 7 points.

Outlook: With none of the Olympic medalists competing this fall, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers from PyeongChang have been the most impressive thus far — Tarasova and Morozov and James and Cipres. The French make it to the Final by finishing fifth this week. For either the North Koreans or the Americans to make the Final, they almost definitely have to win. That’s a very tall order against the French in Grenoble.

Ice Dance
1. Madison Hubbell/Zach Donohue (USA) — 30 points (qualified)
2. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 30 points (qualified)
3. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri (ITA) — 26 points (qualified)
4. Tiffany Zahorski/Jonathan Guerreiro (RUS) — 24 points (bubble)
5. Sara Hurtado/Kirill Khaliavin (ESP) — 22 points (bubble)
6. Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter (USA) — 20 points (bubble)

Competing this week: Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) — 15 points, Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) — 13 points, Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) and Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 11 points, Marie-Jade Lauriault/Romain Le Gac (FRA) — 9 points, Olivia Smart/Adrián Díaz (ESP) — 7 points, Allison Reed/Saulius Ambrulevičius (LTU) — 5 points.

Outlook: This week’s favorites have no chance at the Final. That’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who missed their first Grand Prix due to Cizeron’s back injury. The anticipated showdown between the three-time world champions and Olympic silver medalists from France and world silver medalists Hubbell and Donohue must wait until the world championships in March. Their absence could open the door for multiple U.S. dance couples to qualify for the Final for a fifth straight year, despite the absence this fall of Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (indefinite break) and Madison Chock and Evan Bates (injury). Hawayek and Baker are into the Final with a fourth or better this week.

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