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

Katie Ledecky swims fastest at U.S. Open from B final

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For what must have been the first time in seven years, Katie Ledecky failed to qualify for an A final in one of her primary events on Friday morning. No matter, she swam the fastest 200m freestyle at the U.S. Open from the B final at night.

Ledecky, owner of 20 combined Olympic and world titles, clocked 1:56.24 to win the B final by nearly three seconds in Atlanta. In the very next race, American record holder Allison Schmitt touched first in the A final in 1:56.47.

Full results are here. The final day of the meet airs live on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Ledecky has rarely lost domestically in freestyles from 200m through 1500m since she made her first Olympic team at age 15 in 2012.

She kept the streak intact, giving her a sweep of the 200m, 400m and 800m frees in the first three days of the U.S. Open, what could be the deepest domestic meet before the Olympic trials in June.

Internationally, Ledecky faced challengers in the 200m free in this Olympic cycle, unlike the last one. Italian veteran and world-record holder Federica Pellegrini won the last two world titles, with Ledecky missing the event this summer due to her mid-meet illness.

Ledecky ranks seventh in the world in the 200m free this year but likely would have been faster if she was able to race at her best at world champs.

Domestically, Simone Manuel has crept up, clocking 1:56.09 to lead off the 4x200m free relay at worlds to rank second among Americans in 2019. Manuel was the third-fastest American on Friday, recording 1:57.21, her fastest time ever outside of a major summer meet.

In other events Friday, Phoebe Bacon upset world-record holder Regan Smith in the 100m backstroke. Bacon, who like Smith is 17 years old, overtook Smith in the last 25 meters and prevailed by .05 in 58.63. Bacon, while shy of Smith’s world record 57.57, took .39 off her personal best to become the fifth-fastest in the world this year.

Olympic and world champion Lilly King dominated the 100m breaststroke, beating a strong field by .62 of a second in 1:05.65.

Chase Kalisz won a potential Olympic trials preview in the 400m individual medley in 4:13.07. Kalisz, the Rio silver medalist, held off 18-year-old Carson Foster by 1.69 seconds. Ryan Lochte, the 2012 Olympic champion in the event, was fifth, 6.65 seconds behind.

Rio Olympian Townley Haas won the men’s 200m free in 1:45.92, his fastest time since August 2018. Haas, the 2017 World silver medalist, improved to the second-fastest American in the event this year behind Andrew Seliskar.

Torri Huske won the 100m butterfly on the eve of her 17th birthday. Huske clocked 57.48, taking .23 off her personal best to move from sixth fastest to third fastest in the U.S. this year.

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Ester Ledecka stuns again, wins World Cup downhill from bib No. 26

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Consider 26 a lucky number for Ester Ledecka.

Ledecka, the snowboard champion who stunningly captured the PyeongChang Olympic super-G from bib No. 26, won her first World Cup ski race on Friday — also from bib No. 26.

Ledecka was fastest in a downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta.

She kept Swiss Corinne Suter from her first World Cup win by .35 of a second. Austrian Stephanie Venier was third. Mikaela Shiffrin was 10th in her weakest discipline. Full results are here.

“I am for sure more shocked than everybody here,” Ledecka said. “I was a little bit, not disappointed about the run, but I was not super satisfied. Then I was really surprised about the time.”

Ledecka, an Olympic and world champion in Alpine snowboarding from the Czech Republic, had a previous best Alpine skiing World Cup finish of seventh. The top-ranked racers all go in the top 20 of the start list.

Last season, Ledecka raced more World Cup skiing events than snowboarding events for the first time. She was forced to choose between world championships in skiing and in snowboarding due to schedules and picked the former with a top finish of 15th.

She’s undecided about her upcoming schedule. She could continue on the Alpine skiing tour with a super-G in Switzerland next weekend, or she could fly to Italy for a snowboarding event.

The women race another downhill and a super-G in Lake Louise the next two days. A full TV and live stream schedule for the weekend races is here.

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