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.

Nathan Chen calls 3 quads at Skate America ‘a given’

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When Nathan Chen won Skate America in 2017, he competed two quadruple jumps in the short program and one downgraded quad in the free skate.

When Chen won the event in 2018, he did one under-rotated quad (which was also given an edge call) in the short and three in the free.

For Skate America this weekend (Oct. 18-20, streaming live on the NBC Sports “Figure Skating Pass”), two-time and reigning world champion Chen told reporters on Monday’s media teleconference that three quads in the free skate was “a given.”

“Honestly, I don’t really know exactly,” Chen said, after admitting he gets asked this question a lot and usually ends up giving a “vague” answer. “I have ideas. I want to push three. I want to push four… As of now, I think three is a given. But beyond that, we’ll see.”

Chen completed six quads to win the free skate at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where he ultimately finished fifth.

He’ll skate to La Boheme for the short program in Las Vegas, choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne, and selections from “Rocket Man” for the free skate, choreographed by Marie-France Dubreuil. Bourne is a former ice dancer and choreographs programs for many singles skaters as well as pair teams. Dubreuil is a noted former ice dancer and current dance coach, training the top teams in the world at her school in Montreal.

Chen explained that both of the choices were the choreographers’ picks, and he had to sit on the music for a day or two before committing to skating to it. Ultimately, he likes when choreographers are able to find something that they think suits him.

“I love to listen to Elton John,” Chen said. “I don’t necessarily feel as though I’m an embodiment of his character, per se. But I do feel that no matter how you listen to music there are always many ways to interpret it. The way that we’re approaching it is not necessarily that I’m trying to be Elton John but mostly that we’re trying to interpret his music and share his music.”

And compared to last season, when he was a freshman at Yale University, classes this time around are “a lot harder,” the sophomore said. In general though, he’s a lot more comfortable trying to balance both skating and his studies.

“Skating is always tough, always a challenge,” he said. “But I would say, relative to last season, skating might be a little bit on the easier side. I think classes are definitely a lot harder… You have to really grind for a long period of time or else you don’t do well.”

Luckily for Chen, Skate America is aligned with Yale’s scheduled fall break.

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Check out a free trial of the Figure Skating Pass during Skate America from Oct. 18-20. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Simone Biles reveals one thing she cannot do: Wear all her medals at once

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Three days after raising the record for world championship medals to 25, Simone Biles said her career total is a bit too much to wear at once.

“I’ve worn all five of them (from one world championship) for one time, but they’re pretty heavy, so I can’t imagine 25,” Biles said Wednesday on the “Today” show.

MORE: Mother and daughter share world championship experience

Last week, Biles became the first gymnast to win five gold medals at the world championships. She and her teammates ran away with the team gold, and she won the all-around by a staggering 2.1 points. She then won the vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Only a fifth-place finish in the uneven bars kept her from a sweep.

One event that stood out for her was the ever-challenging balance beam.

“Out of all of my performances this past week, the beam performance was one of my favorites, because I did it exactly like practice, and that’s what I’ve been training to do,” Biles said. “So it definitely helped my confidence.”

GYM WORLDS: Finals Results

Biles had her breakout performance at age 18, her first year in senior competition, in the 2013 world championships with a four-medal performance, including gold in the all-around and floor exercise. In 2014, she won those events again, along with the team event and the balance beam, and added a fifth medal on the vault. She matched that performance in 2015, then switched the vault and beam in her four-gold, five-medal performance in the 2016 Olympics.

After a post-Olympic break, she returned for the 2018 world championships to win medals in all six events, including four golds and a silver on the uneven bars, historically her least successful event.

She didn’t win six medals this year, but she took five golds for the first time. This year’s championships are also special because they’re almost certainly her last, with next year’s Olympics expected to be her last major competition.

Given all that, she’ll make more of an effort to go back and watch what she did.

“Most of the time I don’t want to see it, but this world championships was one of the best out of all five of them, so I definitely wanted to see my performances, so afterward, I would go and try to find it with my coach,” Biles said.

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