Wayde van Niekerk

Ten best performances from World Track and Field Championships

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Here are the 10 best performances from the World Track and Field Championships, not counting Usain Bolt‘s triple gold effort in Beijing:

10. Julius Yego becomes third farthest javelin thrower ever

Yego, who honed his throwing by watching YouTube javelin videos, became the first Kenyan to win an Olympic or Worlds medal in a field event. His golden throw, 92.72 meters, was the farthest in the world since 2001, eighth farthest all time and made him the No. 3 javelin thrower ever.

9. Anita Wlodarczyk’s second farthest hammer throw ever

The women’s hammer throw does not get much visibility in the U.S., but Wlodarczyk is undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in the sport. The Pole broke the world record each of the last two years and came within 10 inches of her best in winning her second World title with an 80.85-meter heave.

8. Jamaica runs second fastest women’s 4x100m relay ever

The 100m gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce anchored the Jamaicans to a comfortable win in 41.07 and by .61 over the Americans, but at least the U.S. still owns the world record (40.82) from the London Olympics.

7. Allyson Felix runs third fastest 4x400m relay leg ever

Felix, now with 13 Worlds medals (most by an American), won the 400m in a personal-best 49.26 seconds. Three nights later, Felix’s split on the 4x400m relay was 47.72, the third fastest split all time. She made up a 1.99-second deficit to start her leg and handed the baton off with a .48 advantage.

6. Wayde van Niekerk runs sixth fastest 400m ever

The South African ran 43.48, a time so exhausting that he had to be stretchered off the track. Van Niekerk would have beaten Michael Johnson at the 1996 Olympics. Only Johnson (43.18 world record, 43.39, 43.44), Harry Reynolds (43.29) and Jeremy Wariner (43.45) have covered one lap quicker.

5. Dafne Schippers runs fourth fastest 200m ever

Schippers, the 2013 World bronze medalist in the heptathlon, is now a full-time sprinter. She chose wisely. The flying Dutchwoman earned 100m silver and, four days later, gold in the 200m. Schippers’ 200m time, 21.63 seconds, knocked four tenths off her personal best. She is now the third fastest woman ever in the distance, behind world-record holder Florence Griffith-Joyner (21.34, 21.56) and Marion Jones, who ran 21.62 at altitude in 1998, before the stretch when her times were wiped out for doping.

4. Genzebe Dibaba’s final 800 meters of the 1500m

The Ethiopian, who broke the 1500m world record July 17 with a 3:50.07, won the World Championship in a much more tactical race — in 4:08.09, the slowest to take gold in Worlds history. But her final two laps were absolutely stifling. Dibaba covered the final 800 meters in 1:57.2, which would have won the 800m at Worlds by eight tenths of a second.

3. Aries Merritt wins bronze medal with kidney function less than 20 percent

Merritt won the Olympic 110m hurdles title and broke the world record in 2012, but his performance in Beijing was even more incredible. Merritt finished third, four days before he was set to receive a kidney from his sister. He announced he had kidney failure just before Worlds and noted how taxing it was to have to race in three rounds with that condition.

2. Christian Taylor’s second farthest triple jump ever

Jonathan Edwards‘ world record of 18.29 meters from 1995 is under serious threat after the Olympic champion Taylor leaped 18.21 in Beijing. Taylor’s jump left Edwards in astonishment, as the British commentator smiled with his jaw agape and shook his head from the media tribune inside the Bird’s Nest.

1. Ashton Eaton breaks decathlon world record

Which was more impressive, Eaton breaking his world record by six points, or Eaton breaking the decathlon 400m world record by six tenths of a second? The world’s greatest athlete was so exhausted after his two-day, 10-event journey that he had to kneel and rest his head against the video board as he posed for photos next to his 9,045-point score.

Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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Primoz Roglic, ex-ski jumper, wins Vuelta a Espana

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In a year of new talent in cycling, a former world junior champion ski jumper won the last Grand Tour.

Primoz Roglic, a 2007 World junior team ski jumping champion, won the Vuelta a Espana, becoming the first Slovenian to capture a Grand Tour. He prevailed by 2 minutes, 16 seconds over Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde after Sunday’s final stage, a largely ceremonial ride into Madrid.

“Not much words to say about it,” Roglic said in a speech atop the podium. “See you next races.”

Roglic, 29, became the fifth straight first-time Grand Tour champion dating to Geraint Thomas‘ 2018 Tour de France title.

Roglic benefited from Thomas and other stars like Chris Froome skipping the Vuelta, but he also had the credentials, having finished fourth in the 2018 Tour and third in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

Valverde deserves acclaim, too, having, at age 39, made his ninth Grand Tour podium and seventh at the Vuelta. Valverde, the reigning world road race champion, has gone 16 years between his first and most recent Vuelta podium. He also had a record-breaking 19th Grand Tour top 10, according to Gracenote.

Then there’s third-place finisher Tadej Pogacar, a 20-year-old Slovenian who became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

Roglic, who suffered this scary crash before leaving ski jumping, joined Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and Colombian Egan Bernal as this year’s Grand Tour winners. All ride for different teams.

Roglic is with Jumbo-Visma, which also includes this year’s Tour de France third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk and will include, starting in 2020, 2018 Tour de France runner-up Tom Dumoulin.

Kruijswijk abandoned the Vuelta with a knee injury in the fourth stage. Dumoulin did not start the Vuelta.

The road cycling season continues with the world championships in Yorkshire, Great Britain, later this month.

MORE: Chris Froome: Pre-Tour de France crash like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ scene

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