Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix to end season with major tests; Brussels preview

Allyson Felix, Dafne Schippers
AP
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One year ago in Brussels, Justin Gatlin and Allyson Felix put up their best performances since the London Olympics.

Gatlin pulled off perhaps the greatest single-day sprint double of all time. Felix put any torn hamstring concerns behind her with the fastest 200m in the world since her 2012 Olympic title.

The two marquee U.S. sprinters of the moment return to the Belgian capital for the final Diamond League meet of the season Friday. Their tests this year will be greater than in 2014.

Gatlin, 33 and five years removed from a four-year doping ban, races for the first time since he was beaten by Usain Bolt in the 100m and 200m at the World Championships in Beijing last month.

“You cannot dwell on races that are behind you,” Gatlin said Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

He will compete twice in Brussels, without Bolt in either field, as he did in 2014. Gatlin is slated to run a 100m and then, 62 minutes later, a 200m.

In 2014, Gatlin ran a then-personal-best 100m (9.77) and then his second-best 200m (19.71) an hour later in Brussels.

This year, he will have to show he can bounce back from the stinging Worlds defeats. His primary competition in the Brussels 100m and 200m is stronger than in 2014 as well.

Felix, who won the 400m at Worlds to cap a comeback from tearing a hamstring in the 2013 Worlds 200m final, will race the 200m in Brussels for a second straight year.

In 2014, Felix entered the Brussels 200m as quite arguably an underdog. Three other women coming into the race had run faster over 200m that season, and it was Felix’s last chance that year to prove she was over the injury.

She came through, shaving .32 off her fastest time of 2014 and setting her up for a dominant 2015. However, Felix’s superiority over 200m is again in question on the eve of Brussels.

That’s because she sat out the World Championships 200m, to focus on the 400m, and saw the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers race to victory in the fourth fastest time ever.

Felix and Schippers will go head to head at 200m in the most anticipated race in Brussels on Friday.

“I’ve always loved to race against the best athletes, because it pushes you, it makes you have better performances,” Felix told media in Brussels. “I’m always up for the challenge.”

Here are the full entry lists and schedule. Here are five events to watch (all times Eastern):

Men’s Shot Put — 12:25 p.m.

It’s American Joe Kovacs versus German David Storl in a meeting of the last three World Championships winners. Kovacs, in his first outdoor global championship, kept Storl from a Worlds three-peat in Beijing. The two have combined for the top 13 throws in the world this year.

Two-time reigning Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland and Olympic bronze medalist Reese Hoffa are also in the field.

Men’s 100m — 2:14 p.m.

Though Gatlin lost to Bolt at Worlds, he was still the fastest man in the world that day (running 9.77 in the semifinals to Bolt’s 9.79 in the final) and over the last two years.

In Brussels, Gatlin will not face Bolt, who withdrew from this meet Monday, citing fatigue, and is done for the season. Gatlin will see the former world-record holder Asafa Powell, who is the third fastest man this year behind Gatlin and Bolt.

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:29 p.m.

What does Christian Taylor have left? The Olympic and World champion triple jumped 18.21 meters in Beijing, the No. 2 mark all time behind Brit Jonathan Edwards‘ world record of 18.29.

Taylor will benefit from the presence of Cuban rival Pedro Pablo Pichardo, who has jumped 18.08 and 18.06 meters this year, making him the No. 4 triple jumper all time.

Women’s 200m — 2:32 p.m.

Felix and Schippers have gone head to head four times since the start of 2014 and split the meetings, according to the track stats website Tilastopaja.org. This race is their most anticipated yet.

Felix has said she will definitely race the 200m at the Olympic trials in July to try to defend her Olympic title in Rio, even though she did not contest the 200m at Worlds last month. Schippers’ winning time at Worlds was .06 faster than Felix’s personal best from 2012.

If Schippers beats Felix in Brussels, it’s pretty easy to make the argument that the Dutchwoman is the clear Olympic 200m favorite heading into the Olympic year.

Jamaican Elaine Thompson could also win this race. At Worlds, she was .03 slower than Schippers and .03 faster than Felix’s personal best. She’s the youngest of the trio and the least experienced on the international stage.

Men’s 200m — 3:16 p.m.

If Bolt had stayed in this field, it would have marked the first time the reigning World champions in the 100m, 200m and 400m went head to head since 2009, when Bolt and LaShawn Merritt dueled.

Instead, the showdown will be the Worlds 100m and 200m silver medalist Gatlin against the Worlds 400m gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk. Gatlin has the fastest time this year among the field at 19.57, with the South African van Niekerk third at 19.94. Jamaicans Rasheed Dwyer and Nickel Ashmeade are also in the mix.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Video: Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin’s first race from 2005

U.S. women’s basketball team scores most points in FIBA World Cup history

Brionna Jones
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SYDNEY — A’ja Wilson and the U.S. put on quite a show, breaking the World Cup scoring mark in a record rout of South Korea.

Brionna Jones scored 24 points and Wilson added 20 to help the U.S. beat South Korea 145-69 on Monday. Shakira Austin’s layup with 9 seconds left helped the Americans break Brazil’s record of 143 points set in 1990.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said. “This is crazy, we put up 145 points. I think when you look at us and just knowing how talented we are, we just came together and we play together very, very well.”

The U.S. always has the most talented and deepest roster of any team in the World Cup with 12 WNBA stars on the roster. Still, the Americans had never come close to that sort of offensive output during it’s storied World Cup history. The previous team record was 119 points against Angola in 2014 and China in 2006. The scoring margin was also the biggest in U.S. history as well surpassing the 75-point win over Angola in 2014.

The win was also the 26th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals when they fell to Russia. The U.S. also won 26 in a row from 1994-2006. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-1986.

MORE: FIBA World Cup Results

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Breanna Stewart and Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.

The U.S. (4-0), which has been playing stellar defense, was challenged by South Korea early. The teams were trading baskets for the first 8 minutes and it was tied at 21 before the Americans took control, scoring the final 11 points of the period.

Kahleah Copper came off the bench for the first time of the tournament and scored six points during that spurt. The Americans kept the streak going to start the second quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points to put the game away.

By the time the game reached the half the U.S. was up 68-40, including scoring 44 points in the paint against the undersized Koreans.

“We were trying to get the ball inside,” Jones said. “We had an advantage there.”

The only suspense in the second half was how many records the Americans could break. They took down their own scoring mark on Sabrina Ionescu’s 3-pointer with 6:15 left in the game and kept putting up points with Austin’s layup capping off the contest.

Other records broken on Monday included the 62 field goals made, 36 assists and 94 points in the paint.

“Our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The Americans were well rested for the game after having their first day off of the tournament on Sunday.

Despite the rout, South Korea (1-3) can still advance to the quarterfinals with a win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday.

Leeseul Kang, who had 37 points in a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, scored 10 points. Hyejin Park had 17 to lead the team.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final