Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt anchors Jamaica to 4x100m relay gold after U.S. mishap

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Usain Bolt completed a triple gold World Championships performance, anchoring the Jamaican 4x100m relay team to victory over the disqualified U.S. in Beijing on Saturday.

Also Saturday, Ashton Eaton broke his world record in the decathlon by six points. More on Eaton’s feat here.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have World Track and Field Championships coverage Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

The U.S. earned two medals Saturday, gold from Eaton and silver behind Jamaica in the women’s 4x100m relay. The U.S. leads the medal standings with 16 total and trails Jamaica and Kenya in golds (six to five) with one day of competition left at the Bird’s Nest.

U.S. track and field has won at least 22 medals at each of the last eight Olympics or World Championships, but it’s unlikely to reach that mark Sunday, even with likely medals in both 4x400m relays.

Bolt, who won the 100m on Sunday and 200m on Thursday, both over American Justin Gatlin, received the baton for the final leg of the 4x100m relay and cruised to win while the U.S. fumbled its last exchange, as it did at the 2013 World Championships.

“We were talking about it,” Bolt said of the American disqualification on Eurosport, “and it’s called pressure.”

Tyson Gay‘s handoff to American anchor Mike Rodgers came too late and out of the zone. The Americans were disqualified several minutes after the race. Gay had pulled even with Rodgers in his lane before Rodgers finally got out with the baton.

“I don’t think the pressure got to me,” Rodgers told media in Beijing. “I was very cool, calm and collected.”

By contrast, Nickel Ashmeade‘s handoff to Bolt was clean, and Bolt ended up winning it for Jamaica by .41 over the U.S., before the disqualification became official. China moved up to silver and Canada bronze.

“I saw the mess after 300 meters and was happy we were not in it,” Bolt said, according to The Associated Press.

The U.S. led Jamaica early in the relay, after Gatlin’s second leg, and would have been about even with Bolt had the Gay-Rodgers exchange gone smoothly.

Gatlin did not anchor the U.S. because he is more used to running the second leg, as he did at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas on May 2, when the U.S. defeated a Jamaican team with Bolt anchoring.

In that meet, Rodgers was the leadoff man with Ryan Bailey anchoring for the U.S., but Bailey did not make the U.S. team for Worlds. Trayvon Bromell, the 20-year-old co-World 100m bronze medalist, was inserted into the leadoff spot with Rodgers moving to anchor.

Bolt has won 17 straight Olympic and World Championships races he’s finished, dating to the 2008 Olympics. Bolt’s only loss in that span was a false-start disqualification in the 2011 World Championships 100m.

The U.S. men haven’t won an Olympic or Worlds 4x100m relay since the 2007 World Championships, which was Bolt’s last defeat in a race he finished at an Olympics or Worlds.

Full Saturday results are available here.

Earlier Saturday, Olympic and World 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce anchored Jamaica to 4x100m gold and the second fastest women’s 4x100m relay ever. They won in 41.07 seconds, shy of the world record 40.82 put up by the U.S. to win the 2012 Olympics.

The U.S. was .61 back for silver, missing World 100m bronze medalist Tori Bowie, who was not put on the team because she missed a relay training camp earlier this summer. Bowie’s presence likely wouldn’t have made a difference given the margin of victory.

Allyson Felix was on the U.S. quartet to earn her 12th career World Championships medal, extending her American record. She could earn a 13th in the 4x400m relay Sunday.

In the men’s 5000m, Mo Farah won his fifth career World Championship, passing Kenyan Caleb Ndiku coming into the final straightaway. Farah clocked 13:50.38. Ndiku took silver in 13:51.75, followed by Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet for bronze in 13:51.86.

Farah, who said he overcame a hamstring injury, swept the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2012 Olympics, 2013 Worlds and 2015 Worlds.

Russian Maria Kuchina captured the high jump for her first global outdoor championship medal, clearing a personal best 2.01 meters. Two-time World champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia earned silver, with Russian Olympic champion Anna Chicherova capturing bronze.

Belarus’ Maryna Arzamasova also bagged her first global championship medal, gold in the 800m in 1:58.03. She upset 2013 World champion Eunice Sum of Kenya, who ended up with bronze in 1:58.18. Canadian Melissa Bishop finished between them in 1:58.12.

Poland discus thrower Piotr Malachowski won his first global title following one Olympic silver and two Worlds silvers. He threw 67.40 meters in the absence of injured German Robert Harting, the 2009, 2011 and 2013 World champion and 2012 Olympic champion.

World Championships: Segway cameraman apologizes, gives present to Usain Bolt

World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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