Vashti Cunningham, daughter of Randall Cunningham, wins World Indoor high jump title

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Teenager Vashti Cunningham‘s upcoming to-do list includes prom, a trip to Disneyland and graduation.

Turning pro and making the American team in the high jump for the Rio Olympics rank pretty high up there, too.

The daughter of longtime NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham may even be one of the favorites this summer, especially after winning gold at the World Indoor Track and Field Championships on Sunday.

“I’m excited on the inside and keeping it calm on the outside,” said Cunningham, who cleared 6 feet, 5 inches to become the youngest female ever to capture a title at World Indoors. “It means a lot to be the world champion this young. I did not think that I would not be here right now at 18 years old.”

This is the latest honor in the rapid rise of Cunningham, who set the American high school record in the event at the U.S. Indoor Championships last weekend.

Randall Cunningham, who is also his daughter’s coach, leapt to his feet when she was pronounced the winner — along with the rest of the crowd at the Portland Convention Center.

“The people have been so supportive of her,” Randall Cunningham said in a phone interview afterward. “Vashti has never had people clap when she’s about to jump. And they know exactly when to clap. They’re like the Seattle Seahawks — the 12th man.”

The United States finished the event with a record 23 medals, including 13 golds, in a meet that didn’t include Russia, which was absent because of pending doping charges. Other American gold medalists on the final day of the championship included Matthew Centrowitz in the 1500m and Marquis Dendy in the long jump.

The U.S. also won both the men’s and women’s 4x400m relay.

Just like the week before at Nationals, Cunningham stole the show. Ruth Beitia of Spain, who is 18 years older than Cunningham, claimed the silver and Kamila Licwinko of Poland finished third.

Afterward, Cunningham announced she is strongly leaning toward going pro instead of college. She’ll now try to make the U.S. team for the Olympics this summer in Brazil. She would be younger than any U.S. Olympic track and field competitor since 1976, according to sports-reference.com.

But first she has to graduate from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas — and no, her new title doesn’t get her excused from class.

“She has to go back to school tomorrow,” her father said.

Centrowitz celebrated his victory by pointing to the USA emblazoned across his jersey. He became the first American man to win the 1500m with a final-lap surge that pulled him in front of silver medalist Jakup Holusa of the Czech Republic. New Zealand’s Nick Willis poured it on down the stretch to finish with the bronze.

“Now it’s time to go get an Olympic medal,” Centrowitz said.

Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, who holds the indoor world record in the 3000m, fell to the back of a conservative pack at the start of Sunday’s final, but pulled out in front about halfway through and defended her title easily in 8:47.43. Countrywoman Meseret Defar, coming off an extended break for the birth of her daughter, was second, and American Shannon Rowbury was third.

Rowbury, an Olympian who trains in Portland, won the U.S. indoor championship last week, moving up from her usual 1500m.

“The end of the race was tough, but the crowd carried me through to the finish,” Rowbury said.

On the men’s side, Ethiopian teenager Yomif Kejelcha won the gold in 7:57.21, but American Ryan Hill had a thrilling surge to move up from fifth on the final lap to finish with the silver. Kenya’s Augustine Kiprono Choge took the bronze.

Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi held off American Ajee’ Wilson to finish the women’s 800m in 2:00.01 for her nation’s first gold and the world’s best time in the event this year. Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera Wambui finished third.

Dendy, who also won last week at nationals, topped silver medalist Fabrice Lapierre of Australia and bronze winner Changzhou Huang of China with a leap of 27 feet, 1 1/4 inches.

Jamaica’s Omar McLeod topped the podium in the 60m hurdles in a world-leading 7.41 seconds, followed by France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and Dimitri Bascou.

The event in a cavernous hall at the Oregon Convention Center was well attended, selling out Saturday night’s session and Sunday with more than 7,000 fans. But track has traditionally done well in Oregon, the home of the late track legend Steve Prefontaine and the birthplace of Nike.

The U.S. Indoor Championships in Portland last weekend before the worlds kicked off a busy year for the sport in Oregon. Eugene’s Hayward Field will host the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer, which will determine the Americans who make the team for the Rio Games. This year’s NCAA championships will also take place at Hayward.

But the timing — at least for an American audience — wasn’t the greatest for the international championship, bumped up against the NCAA basketball tournament.

Vin Lananna, president of meet organizer TrackTownUSA, acknowledged there’s no getting around the fact that the World Championships are held in March.

“I think we would have liked the emphasis to be just on this,” he said. “[But] I think in the United States March madness is a big deal. I think we have the opportunity to do both.”

MORE: Cunningham follows dad’s footsteps in high jump

Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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