Justin Gatlin
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Justin Gatlin ‘like Mike Tyson’ in Shanghai win; Diamond League recap

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Justin Gatlin said his coach is training him “like Mike Tyson” in the Olympic year. Gatlin continued to knock out all non-Usain Bolt opponents in his first Diamond League race of 2016 on Saturday.

The World silver medalist won a 100m in 9.94 seconds in Shanghai (video), topping a field that didn’t include Bolt or World bronze medalists Trayvon Bromell or Andre De Grasse.

Gatlin was slowed by a severely rolled ankle in the fall but looked smooth — if not especially fast — to move to 30-2 in outdoor 100m and 200m events since the start of 2014, according to Tilastopaja.org.

Those two defeats were stinging, runner-ups to Bolt in the 100m and 200m at the World Championships last August.

It took Gatlin plenty of time to get over those losses, but he sounded ultra confident after prevailing in Shanghai on Saturday.

“[My coach] is training me like Mike Tyson to knock out the opposition and keep swinging,” Gatlin said, according to the IAAF.

Gatlin’s time of 9.94 paled in comparison to his 9.74 in his Diamond League opener last year, run with a .9 m/s tailwind.

Bolt, who had an ankle injury of his own in the winter, will race for the first time since Worlds later Saturday in a 100m in the Cayman Islands.

Full Shanghai results

In other Shanghai events, Olympic and World champion and world-record holder David Rudisha was passed for the lead in the final straightaway of the 800m and faded to fifth (video).

Rudisha was not set when the starter’s gun went off and dawdled his first few strides, raising his arms and looking from side to side in confusion as an official had to back out of the lane to his outside about 10 meters ahead of him.

An upset Rudisha estimated he lost two seconds due to the premature start, according to the IAAF.

“There were high jumpers in the lane, and they start,” Rudisha said.

Fellow Kenyans swept the top three, while U.S. champion Nick Symmonds was 10th of 11 finishers in his first race since August, running with tape over a temporary T-Mobile tattoo on his right shoulder due to IAAF sponsor regulations.

Olympic champion Aries Merritt was disqualified from the 110m hurdles for having too quick of a reaction time, an unwelcome obstacle in his comeback from a Sept. 1 kidney transplant. Jamaican Omar McLeod won in 12.98 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.

The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller took the 400m. Miller ran an unimpressive 50.45 but remains the fastest woman in the world this year (49.69 from April 16) and the top rival to World champion Allyson Felix.

The 2011 World champion Jenny Simpson finished sixth in the 1500m, 7.74 seconds behind Kenyan winner Faith Kipyegon.

Sam Kendricks became the first U.S. man to win a Diamond League pole vault competition, clearing a personal-best 5.88 meters to upset Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France. Kendricks, 23, was the top American at 2015 Worlds in ninth place.

World champion Joe Kovacs was upset in the shot put by fellow American Kurt Roberts. Kovacs’ top throw was 20.82 meters. Roberts launched 21.40, which was .07 off his personal best.

Roberts is now in the mix for one of three spots on the Olympic team with Kovacs and Olympic medalists Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell, among others.

The Diamond League continues with a meet in Rabat, Morocco, on May 22.

VIDEO: Boy asks Usain Bolt what is 1 plus 2

Regan Smith swims another historic backstroke time at Pro Series meet

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Regan Smith, who last summer broke both backstroke world records, put up the fastest 100m back in history outside of a major international meet or trials competition on Saturday.

Smith, a 17-year-old Minnesota high school senior, clocked 58.26 seconds to win at a Pro Series meet in Knoxville, Tenn. It tied for the 12th-fastest time in history. None of the other fastest dozen came in January, six months out from when swimmers peak for the world’s biggest events like the Olympics.

Making it more impressive: Smith did it 27 minutes after finishing second in the 200m butterfly, which she’s also expected to contest at June’s Olympic trials in Omaha.

“It actually wasn’t as bad, as I was nervous it was going to be,” Smith, whose world record is 57.57, said of the double on NBCSN. Smith entered two events per day at the three-day Knoxville meet, in part to prepare for the trials, where she is slated to race six straight days in a bid to make the Olympic team in enough events to swim eight straight days in Tokyo.

On Saturday, Smith held off fellow 17-year-old Phoebe Bacon by six tenths. Bacon beat Smith at the U.S. Open in December, posting the second-fastest time among Americans in the event for 2019.

The teen emergence puts pressure on Kathleen Baker, the Rio Olympic silver medalist who had the world record before Smith took it at worlds.

Full Knoxville results are here. USASwimming.org live streams the last night of finals Sunday at 6:30 ET.

In other events Saturday, world silver medalist Hali Flickinger overcame Smith in the 200m fly, winning in 2:08.34. Smith, third-fastest among Americans last season, was .39 behind. The second-fastest American last year, Katie Drabot, was not in the field. The top two at trials make the Olympic team.

Erika Brown beat world champion Simone Manuel in a freestyle sprint for a second straight meet, taking the 50m free in 24.57 seconds.

Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, edged Manuel by .06 and took .01 off her personal best. Brown ranked third among Americans last year behind Manuel (24.05) and Abbey Weitzeil (24.47).

Brown also defeated Manuel in the 100m free at the U.S. Open in December, moving to fourth-fastest in the U.S. last year in that event. The top six in the 100m free at trials are in line to make the Olympic team, given relay spots.

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Mikaela Shiffrin nearly makes it three-way tie for World Cup win

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Mikaela Shiffrin came .01 shy of making it a three-way tie for a World Cup giant slalom win on Saturday, confirming GS has been the most up-for-grabs discipline for either gender in recent years.

Shiffrin, beaten in her last two slaloms, had the fastest second run to place third behind co-winners Italian Federica Brignone and Slovakian Petra Vlhova in Sestriere, Italy. The reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the GS rallied from fourth place and .42 behind after the first run.

Shiffrin still leads the World Cup overall standings by 233 points over Vlhova. The American last won Dec. 29. Though she made the podium in three of her four races since, Shiffrin expressed a lack of confidence heading into this weekend’s races at the 2006 Olympic venue.

“The most exciting thing for me is that people have stopped asking me, like, are you unbeatable?” said Shiffrin, who won a record 17 World Cup races last season and has four victories nearly halfway through this season, tied with Vlhova for most on tour. “I feel really good in GS. It’s just been a long time since [the last GS on Dec. 28].”

Vlhova earned her third victory this month after beating Shiffrin those last two slaloms. Brignone leads the GS season standings by 61 points over Shiffrin, seeking to become the sixth different woman to win that discipline title in the last six years. There are four more GS races left this season.

It’s the second straight season with a World Cup GS tie. Last Feb. 1, Shiffrin and Vlhova tied in Maribor, Slovenia.

It’s the first time the top three finishers were separated by such a small margin since the last three-way tie for a win in 2006, when Lindsey VonnMichaela Dorfmeister and Nadia Styger had the same super-G time, and fourth-place Kelly VanderBeek was .01 behind.

“Last season, I had the lucky side of the hundredths many times, so sometimes I’m not going to be on the lucky side, too,” said Shiffrin, who had three victories by .16 or tighter last season.

World Cup racing continues with a parallel giant slalom on Sunday at 5:45 a.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBC Sports Gold.

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