Usain Bolt ‘not worried’ heading into showdown with Justin Gatlin

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Going by times the last two years, Justin Gatlin ought to be a heavy favorite over Usain Bolt in the World Championships 100m final in Beijing.

“He’s been doing his thing,” Bolt said of Gatlin to NBC on Thursday. “I can’t complain because if you train to be the best, then it is what it is. … It’s my duty to prove that I can be better.”

But even the confident Gatlin cautions those who are sure that Bolt is set to suffer his first global championship 100m defeat Sunday (not counting the 2011 Worlds false start).

This year, Gatlin has repeatedly noted the case of 2012, when Bolt was beaten in the Jamaican Olympic trials and entered the London Olympics vincible.

Bolt revved up in the 2012 Olympic semifinals, clocking a casual 9.87 while swerving his head to look at other lanes halfway through the race. Later that night, Bolt ran the second fastest 100m of all time, 9.63, to repeat as Olympic champion.

“Usain woke up in the semifinals in London in 2012,” Gatlin said, according to Agence France-Presse. “I predict [he’ll be planning to do] the same thing for Beijing.”

Bolt agreed.

“I haven’t gotten a lot of races in [this year], but I think running through the rounds [heat, semifinal, final in Beijing], I’ll get going,” Bolt told media in Beijing on Thursday. “I think I have to run probably the first 50 [meters] quick, to really get my body into running up to speed. So I’ll be all right. I’m not worried.”

World Championships: Men’s events to watch | Women’s events to watch | Broadcast schedule

Bolt, who turns 29 on Friday, has spent more time being checked out by a German doctor than racing on the track since the start of 2013. He ran 400 meters total in competition last year, a season cut short due to foot surgery that March.

He went more than a month between competitions early this summer, citing a left leg injury that required him to visit Munich again.

Bolt silenced some of the growing doubters in his return July 24, when he clocked 9.87 seconds twice in a little over an hour at the London Olympic Stadium. 

“It shows that I still have speed,” Bolt told NBC in Beijing. “The only problem that I have is the fact that I didn’t get to run more to get that race rustiness out.”

London marked his only meet since June 13, when he ran his slowest 200m final since 2006, two years before he burst onto the scene by breaking the 100m world record.

Bolt said what he does during the season pales in comparison to global championships like the Olympics or Worlds.

“When I get here, I always feel a different vibe, especially when I get into the stadium, the energy,” Bolt told NBC. “I just transform.”

So his goal at the World Championships next week remains the same.

“Win three gold medals [100m, 200m, 4x100m relay], that’s always my aim coming into a championship [Worlds or Olympics],” Bolt said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday. “To break the stadium record [Bolt’s then-world record 9.69 in the 100m at the Beijing Olympics] would even be better.”

Stats say Gatlin, who is 33 years old and five years removed from a four-year doping ban, has a better chance of beating that time.

Gatlin, running faster than ever, has clocked 9.80 or better six times since the start of 2013 and is undefeated in that span. Nobody else in the world has done 9.80 or better once since September 2013.

“I never really look at statistics because it’s track and field, you never know what’s going to happen, really,” Bolt told media in Beijing on Thursday.

The Bolt-Gatlin showdown will be their first head to head since 2013, which is partly why Bolt said he doesn’t feel like he’s chasing Gatlin.

“I wasn’t there competing against him, but now I’m here,” Bolt said.

The showdown is being billed by many as good versus evil.

Bolt, who has run .11 faster than anybody in history, has never failed a drug test. Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion and 2012 bronze medalist, is criticized by many who wish he received a lifetime doping ban for a failed drug test in 2006.

“People [say] that I need to win for the sport,” Bolt told media in Beijing. “There’s a lot of other athletes out there that are running clean. … It’s not only just on me, because I can’t do it by myself.”

Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt eyeing Olympic farewell in Rio

Canada wins men’s hockey world title; Latvia wins first medal

IIHF Hockey World Championship

TAMPERE, Finland — Samuel Blais scored two goals to rally Canada to a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the world men’s hockey championship on Sunday.

It’s a record 28th world title for Canada, and its second in three years. Russia has 27 while Germany has never won the trophy.

Blais netted with a backhand 4:51 into the final period for a 3-2 lead for Canada, which was playing in its fourth straight final.

“It feels really good,” Blais said. “We’ve been in Europe for a month and we’ve all waited for that moment to play for the gold medal game. And we’re lucky enough to have won it.”

Lawson Crouse, Tyler Toffoli and Scott Laughton also scored for Canada, Peyton Krebs had two assists and goaltender Samuel Montembeault stopped 21 shots.

Toffoli stretched the lead to 4-2 from the left circle with 8:09 remaining and Laughton made it 5-2 with an empty net goal.

Adam Fantilli became only the second Canadian player after Jonathan Toews to win gold at the world juniors and world championship the same year.

Canada had to come back twice in the final.

John Peterka wristed a shot past Montembeault from the left circle 7:44 into the game. It was the sixth goal for the Buffalo Sabres forward at the tournament.

Blais was fed by Krebs to beat goaltender Mathias Niederberger and tie it 1-1 at 10:47.

Daniel Fischbuch put the Germans ahead again with a one-timer with 6:13 to go in the middle period.

Crouse equalized on a power play with 2:32 remaining in the frame.

It was the first medal for Germany since 1953 when it was second behind Sweden.

The two previously met just once in the final with Canada winning 6-1 in 1930.


Defenseman Kristian Rubins scored his second goal 1:22 into overtime to lead Latvia to a 4-3 victory over the United States and earn a bronze medal earlier Sunday.

It’s the first top-three finish for Latvia at the tournament. Its previous best was a seventh place it managed three times.

The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game for the second straight year. The U.S. team was cruising through the tournament with eight straight wins until it was defeated by Germany in the semifinal 4-3 in overtime.

Rubins rallied Latvia with his first with 5:39 to go in the final period to tie the game at 3 to force overtime.

Roberts Bukarts and Janis Jaks also scored for Latvia.

Rocco Grimaldi scored twice for the U.S. in the opening period to negate Latvia’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

Matt Coronato had put the U.S. 3-2 ahead 6:19 into the final period.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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