Justin Gatlin nearly upset by new U.S. sprint sensation in Rome

Justin Gatlin, Ameer Webb
IAAF
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Justin Gatlin nearly lost to a countryman for the first time since 2013 at a Diamond League meet in Rome on Thursday.

Gatlin, the reigning World 100m and 200m silver medalist, won a 100m in the Italian capital in 9.93 seconds, edging Ameer Webb by .01.

Gatlin moved to 33-0 in competitions not including Usain Bolt since the start of 2014, according to Tilastopaja.org, but his time was much slower than his 9.75 in Rome last year, continuing an unimpressive overall start relative to 2015.

“I want to start slow and then progress steadily,” Gatlin said, according to the IAAF.

Webb extended his torrid start to 2016 by nearly sweeping the 200m and 100m in 80 minutes on Thursday. The 26-year-old who has never made an Olympic or World Championships team won the 200m in 20.04 seconds and came back to nearly upset Gatlin.

Full Rome results are here.

Webb came to Rome already owning two of the three fastest 200m times in the world this year. His 100m personal best set Thursday ranks him No. 4 in the world in that event this year.

Another U.S. sprinter, World 100m co-bronze medalist Trayvon Bromell, is under greater scrutiny after finishing seventh in the 200m behind Webb on Thursday. Following a breakout 2015, Bromell has not put up any 100m or 200m times this year that would make him a favorite to make the Olympic team individually, though he still has one month before the Olympic Trials.

Also Thursday, controversial South African Caster Semenya matched her fastest time in the world this year in winning the 800m in 1:56.64. In typical style this spring, Semenya took the lead with a little less than 100 meters to go and quickly opened up a large gap. She won by a comfortable 1.56 seconds.

“I did a lot of traveling with very little rest,” Semenya said, according to the IAAF. “I am trying to keep up the shape. It is not easy.”

Ethiopian World champion Almaz Ayana won the 5000m with the second-fastest time ever — 14:12.59 — 1.44 seconds off Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record from 2008.

In the long jump, Olympic champion Greg Rutherford of Great Britain held off Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. Rutherford leaped 8.31 meters to Goodwin’s 8.19 meters, but Goodwin still has the best jump in the world this year at 8.45 meters from May 14.

Jamaican Elaine Thompson won the 100m in 10.87 seconds, with American English Gardner taking second in 10.92. American Tori Bowie owns the fastest time in the world this year at 10.80, while Olympic and World champion Shelly Ann-Fraser-Pryce has been slowed by a toe injury. Neither Bowie nor Fraser-Pryce was in the Rome field.

World champion Wayde van Niekerk won the 400m in 44.19 seconds against a field that did not include the last two Olympic champions, Kirani James and LaShawn Merritt. James is fastest this year with a 44.08 from April 29.

Colombian triple jumper Caterine Ibarguen extended the longest winning streak in the sport with her 34th straight victory since taking silver at the London Games, according to Tilastopaja.org.

The Diamond League continues with a meet in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Sunday.

PHOTOS: Justin Gatlin to race on track over water

Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record with slopestyle gold

Mark McMorris
Getty
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“I think I was just not ready to deliver at that day,” Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen, said on NBC. “I was really so confident, I think I sort of overthought everything and tried to get ahead of myself. But I think it’s all right.”

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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