Five events to watch at Rabat Diamond League

Marquise Goodwin
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Of all the current and former NFL players eyeing the Rio OlympicsMarquise Goodwin has the best shot at making it to Brazil in August.

Goodwin, a Buffalo Bills wide receiver who placed 10th in the 2012 Olympic long jump, returned to track and field in 2015 after nearly three years off.

And on Saturday, he jumped a personal-best 8.45 meters in a small meet in Guadeloupe. That distance would have won the London Olympic title and ranked him second in the world in 2015.

Goodwin is one of the headliners at Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco. Sprint superstars Usain BoltJustin GatlinShelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Allyson Felix are skipping the meet.

Here are the Rabat start lists and schedule on Sunday (all times Eastern):

11 a.m. — Women’s shot put
11:15 — Women’s triple jump
11:20 — Women’s javelin
11:25 — Women’s pole vault
11:30 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
11:35 — Men’s high jump
11:45 — Men’s 1500m
12:04 p.m. — Women’s 400m hurdles
12:15 — Women’s 100m
12:25 — Men’s 800m
12:33 — Men’s 3000m steeplechase
12:45 — Men’s long jump
12:52 — Men’s 110m hurdles
12:55 — Men’s discus
1 — Men’s 3000m
1:15 — Men’s 200m
1:25 — Women’s 800m
1:35 — Men’s 400m
1:45 — Women’s 5000m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s triple jump — 11:15 a.m.

Colombia’s Caterine Ibargüen has the longest active streak in track and field with 32 straight triple jump victories since she took silver at the London Olympics.

She likely won’t be challenged in Rabat, since nobody else from the top eight in the world last year is in the field.

Women’s 100m — 12:15 p.m.

Carmelita Jeter is the second-fastest woman of all time, having run the 100m in 10.64 seconds. But that was seven years ago.

The 2011 World champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist competes at her first Diamond League meet since tearing her left quadriceps in the 2015 U.S. Championships 100m final, where she finished seventh before falling to the track in pain.

In Rabat, Jeter will be an underdog against past Worlds 200m medalists Elaine Thompson and Blessing Okagbare. Jeter’s best time in two 100m races this season is 11.34, and she likely needs to be sub-11 at the Olympic Trials on July 3 to make the Rio team individually.

Men’s long jump — 12:45 p.m.

Goodwin can notch the biggest international win of his career. His competition includes World silver medalist Fabrice Lapierre of France, but neither Lapierre nor anyone else in the field has matched Goodwin’s personal best from Saturday.

Goodwin’s sights are set on the U.S. Olympic Trials final July 3 in Eugene, Ore., where he must finish in the top three to return to the Games.

Women’s 800m — 1:25 p.m.

Olympic silver medalist Caster Semenya faces her toughest test since her startling return to form this year. The field includes World champion Marina Arzamasova of Belarus and Kenyan Eunice Sum, who ran the fastest time in the world in 2015.

Semenya, also famous for a gender-testing controversy of 2009 and 2010, swept 400m, 800m and 1500m titles in one day at the South African Championships in April but is expected to race solely the 800m at the Rio Olympics.

Men’s 400m — 1:35 p.m.

Beijing Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt headlines a field that is without World champion Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa and 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada.

Merritt, who owns the fastest 200m in the world this year at 19.78, has run 44.22 for 400m this year, ranking third behind James (44.08) and van Niekerk (44.11).

In Rabat, Merritt’s closest challenger could be Botswana’s Isaac Makwala, who ran the third-fastest time in the world in 2015.

MORE: Bolt analyzes ‘slow’ win in Ostrava

Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)

There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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