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

Usain Bolt
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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

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”