Usain Bolt, Mo Farah

Top ten storylines from World Track and Field Championships

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The top ten storylines from the World Track and Field Championships, the sport’s most prestigious competition outside of the Olympics:

10. American learns valuable lesson

Molly Huddle made the mistake of celebrating too early in the 10,000m. As she approached the finish line, she eased up and raised both of her arms. This allowed fellow American Emily Infeld to pass her on the inside and claim the bronze medal by .09 of a second (video here).

“I feel like it kind of slipped through my fingers,” Huddle told Universal Sports’ Lewis Johnson afterwards.

9. Emergence of Dafne Schippers

A lot has changed for Schippers of the Netherlands in the last two years.

At the 2013 Worlds, she was the bronze medalist in the heptathlon. This year, she established herself as a sprinting sensation. She won the 200m in 21.63 seconds, becoming the third fastest woman ever in the event (video here). She also claimed the silver medal in the 100m.

When asked about her future, Schippers told BBC Radio, “Now I’m a sprinter. I’m sure.”

8. Allyson Felix makes it look easy

Felix, the Olympic 200m champion, decided to focus on the 400m in Beijing. She easily won the one-lap race, clocking a personal best 49.26 seconds (video here). She has now won more Worlds gold medals than any other American.

Felix also claimed silver medals in the 4x100m and 4x400m, giving her 13 career Worlds medals.

7. Britain’s “Super Saturday” stars overcome adversity

August 4, 2012 is known as “Super Saturday” in Great Britain, as the nation won six Olympic gold medals in a single day, including three in track and field. All three of those track and field athletes overcame adversity to win gold medals at the 2015 Worlds.

Jessica Ennis-Hill, competing in her first global championship since 2012 after giving birth to her baby son, won the heptathlon title.

Mo Farah swept the 5000m and 10,000m, despite dealing with a sore hamstring and the distraction of having his coach, Alberto Salazar, accused of violating medical and anti-doping rules with his athletes.

Greg Rutherford leaped 8.41m to claim his first World Championship. Critics had dismissed his 2012 Olympic title as a fluke, citing that his victory jump of 8.31m was the shortest since 1972.

6. Sprinting’s future superstars

The 100m final featured the much-anticipated showdown between Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, but it also provided a glimpse of the next generation of sprinters.

American Trayvon Bromell and Canadian Andre De Grasse tied for bronze at 9.92 seconds. Both are only 20 years old. Bromell won the 2014 NCAA 100m title for Baylor, while De Grasse won the 2015 NCAA 100m title for USC.

World Championships: Top 10 performances | Ten memorable quotes

5. Well-rounded success for Kenya

Kenya is known for middle-distance running, but the nation triumphed in other events in Beijing.

Nicholas Bett won the 400m hurdles title to become the first Kenyan athlete to win a Worlds race shorter than 800m.

Julius Yego, who learned to throw the javelin by watching YouTube videos, became the first Kenyan to win a Worlds medal in a field event.

4. Ashton Eaton is back

Eaton did not show any rust in his first decathlon since 2013, easily winning the gold medal.

He needed to run 4:18.25 or better in the final event, the 1500m, to break his own world record. He did just that, clocking 4:17.52 (video here).

3. Aries Merritt’s inspirational performance

Despite racing with kidney function at less than 20 percent, Merritt claimed the 110m hurdles bronze medal (video here). The 2012 Olympic champion is scheduled to have a kidney transplant on Tuesday.

“This bronze medal is going to shine brighter than my gold,” Merritt told media in Beijing.

2. Mixed results for Team USA

Track and Field News predicted that the U.S. would finish with 31 medals. The U.S. topped the medal table with 18 total medals, its smallest medal haul at a World Championships since 2003.

The U.S. claimed six gold medals. Only Jamaica and Kenya went home with more.

1. Usain Bolt dominates

Bolt proved that he is still the world’s fastest man, conquering Gatlin in the 100m and 200m. He also helped Jamaica claim gold in the 4x100m.

The only thing that could take Bolt down? A Segway.

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

Transgender track and field athletes now face same standard that has kept out Caster Semenya

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Transgender athletes will have to reduce their testosterone level to the same level applied to Caster Semenya and other athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD), under a new policy enacted by World Athletics (formerly the IAAF).

As with DSD athletes, the threshold for middle-distance runners has been lowered from 10 nanomoles per liter to 5.

“These Regulations have been drafted to align with the Eligibility Regulations for the Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development) and include updates to reflect current medical standards and the legal framework,” World Athletics said in announcing the latest IAAF Council decisions.

The IAAF claimed a similar basis in medical standards last year when it announced its updated policy on DSD athletes: “No female would have serum levels of natural testosterone at 5 nmol/L or above unless they have DSD or a tumour.”

Semenya, a two-time Olympic champion at 800 meters, challenged that limit in the Court of Arbitration for Sport but lost her case in May. Given a brief reprieve by a Swiss court, she ran the fastest 800-meter time of the year (1:54.98), but a higher court overruled her appeal. She did not compete in the recent world championships.

MORE: Semenya laments lack of support

Another athlete affected by the DSD policy, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui, told the Olympic Channel she was struggling to find a new direction after the rule was passed.

“It affected me a lot,” Wambui said. “I didn’t want to train or do anything. …

“Caster has fought for us. She has done her level best. She has tried, but we failed.”

VIDEO: Wambui: “No one chose to be born the way they are”

Transgender athletes have not yet been prominent in international track and field, though controversies have arisen at other levels, particularly in a Connecticut case in which high school athletes filed a Title IX complaint after losing to transgender athletes. The athletes who filed the claim said they were potentially at a disadvantage in terms of earning college scholarships.

The new World Athletics policy insists that its stipulations for transgender athletes are actually generous. “The decision limit also takes into consideration that, for clinical purposes, the Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline for Endocrine Treatment of Gender-Dysphoric/Gender-Incongruent Persons recommends that transgender females should have serum testosterone levels of less than 50 ng/dL (i.e. approximately 1.7 nmol/L).”

But while DSD and transgender athletes face different issues, Semenya and other DSD athletes have set a precedent by withdrawing from competition rather than bring their levels down to the 5 nmol/L standard. In CAS proceedings, Semenya said she experienced regular fevers, night sweats, significant weight gain and constant abdominal pain while taking medication to meet the previous standard of 10 nmol/L.

The International Olympic Committee also put a 10 nmol/L limit in place for both transgender and DSD athletes in 2015. Some athletes have complained that transgender athletes still have an unfair advantage under that policy.

The World Athletics policy also addresses transgender men, granting them permission to take regulated testosterone supplements to bring levels within a typical range for men.

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U.S. men’s volleyball extends medal streak with bronze in World Cup

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With its medal-winning streak in jeopardy, the defending champion U.S. men’s volleyball team beat Egypt 22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13 on Tuesday in Hiroshima, Japan. Poland beat Iran later in the day to slip past the U.S. for silver behind unbeaten Brazil.

The experienced U.S. men have claimed a medal in the last four major international tournaments — gold in the 2015 World Cup, bronze in the 2016 Olympics, bronze in the 2018 world championships and bronze in this year’s World Cup. The men also placed second in the 2019 Nations League and third in the first Nations League in 2018, though the team failed to medal in the last two editions of the World League in 2016 and 2017.

Most importantly for next year, the U.S. men swept their Olympic qualification tournament in August.

Micah Christenson was named best setter of the tournament, as he was in the 2015 tournament and in the 2018 world championships. Middle blocker Max Holt was also named to the tournament “Dream Team.

VIDEO: U.S.-Egypt highlights

The U.S. team’s World Cup started with a five-set loss to Argentina, which went on to finish fifth. The U.S. rebounded to beat Italy, world champion Poland, host Japan, Tunisia and Iran before losing to eventual champion Brazil. Border rival Canada took the U.S. to five sets, but sweeps against Australia and Brazil put the team in position to clinch its medal.

Heading into next year’s Olympics, the U.S. team has several internationally accomplished players. In addition to Christenson’s multiple awards, Matt Anderson was named the best opposite hitter in the world championship and Nations League in 2018, and Aaron Russell was named to the Dream Team in the 2016 Olympics. Russell, playing for Italian team Trentino, also was named MVP of the World Club Championship in December.

The U.S. women’s team also won two medals this year gold in the Nations League, silver in the World Cup and swept its own qualification tournament.

This success comes despite the lack of a professional league in the United States. USA volleyball announced last week it has processed paperwork for 257 women and 82 men to play in foreign leagues for the 2019-20, with more players to follow.

The World Cup is contested every four years, the year before the Olympics. The world championship takes place in even non-Olympic years. Qualification for the World Cup is more difficult — only 12 teams reach the tournament, while 24 teams take part in the world championship. 

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