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

Hirscher leads by 0.56 seconds after first run in World Champs slalom

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Marcel Hirscher swept into the finish area and wagged his finger triumphantly in front of the camera.

The message was clear: The ski king is back.

The Austrian produced an emphatic response to relinquishing his giant slalom title two days earlier at the world championships by taking a 0.56-second lead after the first run of the slalom on Sunday.

Only Alexis Pinturault of France was within a second of Hirscher, who was on course to win a record-tying seventh career gold medal at the worlds.

Marco Schwarz of Austria was in third place, 1.22 seconds off the lead.

Hirscher, the seven-time overall World Cup champion, showed no ill-effects from the cold that has been affecting him this week. After the giant slalom on Friday, he said he would be going straight back to bed to rest up for the slalom.

He looked in good working order on Sunday.

As the third skier on the course, Hirscher took 1.70 seconds off No. 2 starter Henrik Kristoffersen, who beat Hirscher to GS gold on Friday, and more than two seconds off Clement Noel, who came to the worlds in form after wins in Wengen and Kitzbuehel.

Save for Hirscher crashing, only Pinturault looks capable to denying the Austrian a third slalom gold at the worlds — something only the great Ingemar Stenmark has achieved. Pinturault was only 0.06 seconds behind Hirscher at the third checkpoint but he went wide at the first turn on the final descent and lost half a second.

“I’m still in the fight,” Pinturault said, “and still have a chance in the second leg. That’s the essential (thing).”

Daniel Yule of Switzerland was 0.28 behind Hirscher at the last split before falling at the start to the final descent.

Hirscher also won the slalom at the 2013 and 2017 worlds. A seventh career gold at the worlds would tie the men’s record held by compatriot Toni Sailer from the late 1950s.

Austria, a storied Alpine skiing nation, needs Hirscher to deliver in the final event to avoid finishing the world championships without a gold medal for the first time since Crans Montana, Switzerland, in 1987. The women’s team has already finished with no medals and that hasn’t happened since Schladming, Austria, in 1982.

Watch an encore presentation of the first run on NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET. The second and deciding run can be seen live starting at 8:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold.

Mikaela Shiffrin proving she’s in league of her own

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There are ski racers, and then there is Mikaela Shiffrin.

NBC Sports essayist Tim Layden calls Shiffrin the “rarest creature,” a prodigy who continues to get better with age.

Shiffrin’s stardom took off with her heart-stopping slalom gold medal in the 2014 Olympics. It looked like she would ascend to an even higher level four years later in PyeongChang when she claimed a gold medal in the giant slalom, but then she lost a battle with her nerves and failed to win a medal in the slalom. She did capture a silver in the combined event.

That Olympic disappointment has fueled her historic World Cup season. She became the youngest skier to pass the 50 win mark. She broke the women’s career record for slalom victories, and she became the first skier ever to win four-straight world championship titles in a single event.

A true prodigy indeed.