Usain Bolt
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Usain Bolt ‘almost falls over,’ beats Yohan Blake, Asafa Powell

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Usain Bolt nearly fell but still beat his two biggest domestic rivals, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell, in a pre-Jamaica Olympic Trials showdown in Kingston on Saturday night.

Video of the race is here.

Bolt, the six-time Olympic champion, clocked 9.88 seconds in a 100m race, his fastest time this early in a year since 2012. Bolt stumbled in his first several steps (reminiscent of the 2015 Worlds semifinals) but overtook Blake and Powell with ease in the middle of the race, shutting down before the finish line.

“I almost fall over,” Bolt said in a TV interview shortly after the race. “I was trying to control it, but it was just one of those things. It comes and goes. I think I dragged my foot too hard, then I just tried to correct myself, and I tried not to panic, and I made my way through.”

Nickel Ashmeade took second in 9.94, followed by Blake in the same time and Powell in 9.98 seconds.

Bolt’s time is the second-fastest in the world this year behind a 9.86 from France’s Jimmy Vicaut from Tuesday. More importantly, Bolt’s biggest rival, Justin Gatlin, has been slower this year than last, with a top time of 9.93 so far.

“It means that I’m in very good nick,” Bolt said of his time, which came with a 1.0 meters/second tailwind. “The more I run, the faster I’ll get, the smoother my running will come.”

Both Bolt and Gatlin dealt with offseason injuries since they were separated by .01 in the World Championships 100m final in Beijing on Aug. 23.

Bolt’s winning streak by days is the longest of his career — 1,102 days — but he has rarely faced this kind of competition since his last defeat to Gatlin on June 6, 2013.

Blake was Bolt’s biggest rival in 2012, when Blake beat Bolt in the 100m and 200m at the Jamaican Olympic Trials and took second to Bolt in both races at the London Games. Blake has since been slowed by injuries.

Powell, the world-record holder before Bolt swiped it in 2008, was the preeminent Jamaican sprinter until Bolt emerged before the Beijing Olympics.

Bolt, Powell and Blake, three of the four fastest men of all time, were last in the same race in the 2012 Olympic 100m final. Bolt and Blake last went head-to-head in the 2012 Olympic 200m final.

Bolt, Blake and Powell will likely race again at the Jamaican Olympic Trials from June 30-July 3 in Kingston, where the top three finishers per sprint event make the Olympic team individually.

“I was happy to compete against them, because it gives you insight, I would say, to see where you are at [ahead of] trials and what you need to work on,” Bolt said.

VIDEO: Bolt asked how many girlfriends he has in kids’ press conference

Alysa Liu, attempting unprecedented jump list, takes silver at Junior Grand Prix Final

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Alysa Liu took silver at the biggest international competition of her young career, attempting a historic set of jumps at the Junior Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy.

Liu, the 14-year-old who in January became the youngest U.S. senior champion in history, attempted two triple Axels and two quadruple Lutzes in her free skate Friday. She fell on the first Axel, and the other three landings were judged as under-rotated.

Earlier this season, Liu became the first woman to land both a triple Axel and a quad of any kind. She was attempting Friday to become the first woman to land two triple Axels and two quads in one program.

Liu, the leader after Thursday’s short program, was overtaken in the free skate by Russian Kamila Valieva, who was not alive when Turin hosted the 2006 Olympics. Valieva is the latest star pupil of coach Eteri Tutberidze, who guided Olympic and world champions Alina Zagitova and Yevgenia Medvedeva.

Valieva, who has a quad in her arsenal, was recently injured, according to the ISU broadcast, and did not attempt a four-revolution jump. She relied on artistry and other elements, tallying 207.47 points. She beat Liu by 2.82 points to become the 10th straight Russian to win the event.

Liu became the first U.S. woman to earn a Junior Grand Prix Final medal since Hannah Miller took silver in 2012.

Liu, previously undefeated in her first junior international season, appears likeliest to disrupt the Russians come the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. First, she must compete at the junior international level through next season. She is expected to defend her senior national title in January.

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Caroline Wozniacki sets tennis retirement

Caroline Wozniacki
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Former No. 1 and 2018 Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki will retire from professional tennis after competing in Melbourne next year.

The 29-year-old from Denmark wrote in an Instagram post on Friday that she wants to start a family with her husband, former NBA player David Lee, and work to raise awareness about rheumatoid arthritis.

Wozniacki said her decision to stop playing “has nothing to do with my health.” She announced in October 2018 that she has rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition that can cause pain and swelling in the wrist and other joints.

“I’ve always told myself, when the time comes, that there are things away from tennis that I want to do more, then it’s time to be done,” Wozniacki wrote. “In recent months, I’ve realized that there is a lot more in life that I’d like to accomplish off the court.”

She is currently ranked No. 37 after going 20-15 without a singles title in 2019.

Coached for much of her career by her father, Piotr, a former professional soccer player, Wozniacki used tremendous court coverage — she ran in the New York City Marathon — and uncanny ability to get back shot after shot from opponents in a counter-punching style to win 30 WTA titles, including the season-ending tour championships in 2017.

She also reached three Grand Slam finals.

At just 19, Wozniacki was the runner-up to Kim Clijsters at the 2009 U.S. Open, then again was the runner-up at Flushing Meadows in 2014 to her good friend Serena Williams.

Wozniacki claimed her first major championship in her third such final, and 43rd appearance in a Grand Slam tournament, at last year’s Australian Open. She beat Simona Halep in a three-set final to return to the top of the rankings after a six-year absence, a record.

As someone who had played so well, for so long, without ever quite claiming one of her sport’s most important trophies until then, Wozniacki was thrilled to set aside all of the questions about whether she ever would win a major title.

She has earned more than $35 million in prize money — along with millions more in endorsements — and owns a win-loss record of 630-262. She spent 71 weeks at No. 1 and competed in three Olympics, carrying the flag for Denmark at the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony.

“I’ve accomplished everything I could ever dream of on the court,” she wrote.

The Australian Open begins on Jan. 20.

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I’ve played professionally since I was 15 years old. In that time I’ve experienced an amazing first chapter of my life. With 30 WTA singles titles, a world #1 ranking for 71 weeks, a WTA Finals victory, 3 Olympics, including carrying the flag for my native Denmark, and winning the 2018 Australian Open Grand slam championship, I’ve accomplished everything I could ever dream of on the court. I’ve always told myself, when the time comes, that there are things away from tennis that I want to do more, then it’s time to be done. In recent months, I’ve realized that there is a lot more in life that I’d like to accomplish off the court. Getting married to David was one of those goals and starting a family with him while continuing to travel the world and helping raise awareness about rheumatoid arthritis (project upcoming) are all passions of mine moving forward. So with that, today I am announcing that I will be retiring from professional tennis after the Australian Open in January. This has nothing to do with my health and this isn’t a goodbye, I look forward to sharing my exciting journey ahead with all of you! Finally, I want to thank with all my heart, the fans, my friends, my sponsors, my team, especially my father as my coach, my husband, and my family for decades of support! Without all of you I could have never have done this!

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