David Rudisha
AP

David Rudisha beaten, Keni Harrison wins in Stockholm as Olympic Trials near

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Kenyan Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha was fourth, while rising U.S. hurdles star Keni Harrison prevailed Thursday in a cold and wet Stockholm, site of the final Diamond League stop before Olympic Trials meets.

Rudisha was passed in the final straightaway by countryman Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich, France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse and Poland’s Adam Kszczot.

“I am really in good form, so I am a bit sad I can’t run far in these conditions,” Rudisha said, according to the IAAF.

Rudisha, also the reigning World champion and world-record holder, was fifth in his previous 800m race on May 14, one that was marred by a faulty starter’s gun. The Kenyan Olympic Trials are June 30-July 1.

Full Stockholm results are here.

In the women’s 100m hurdles, Harrison remained undefeated this year. She clocked 12.66 seconds, her slowest time of 2016, into a slight headwind and on that wet track.

“Conditions slowed me down a little, but I’m happy,” Harrison said, according to the IAAF.

Nia Ali and Queen Harrison, Olympic hopefuls behind Harrison, were second (12.85) and third (12.87) against a weak field in Stockholm.

The U.S. Olympic Trials are July 1-10 in Eugene, Ore., (broadcast schedule here), with the women’s 100m hurdles semifinals and final July 8. The top three will make the Olympic team.

In the Stockholm men’s 400m hurdles, the fastest American from 2015 failed to start the race. And the fastest American from 2014 failed to finish it.

Bershawn Jackson, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, was disqualified for a false start.

Michael Tinsley, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, curiously stopped with a little more than 100 meters to go but was not noticeably limping.

In their absences, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Javier Culson of Puerto Rico won in 49.43 seconds. That time won’t worry American Johnny Dutch, who was not in Stockholm but owns the two fastest times in the world this year — 48.10 and 48.36.

Dutch appears a strong favorite going into the Olympic Trials, with Jackson and Tinsley among those in the mix to finish in the top three to make the Olympic team as well.

Serbian Ivana Španović prevailed in a meeting of every 2015 World Championships medalist, plus Olympic champion Brittney Reese, in the long jump. Španović leaped 6.90 meters, which is not among the best marks this year.

Reese placed second at 6.88 meters, with countrywoman and World champion Tianna Bartoletta third at 6.68 meters, continuing her underwhelming start to 2016.

French Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie won a head-to-head with Canadian World champion Shawn Barber in the pole vault. Lavillenie cleared 5.73 meters for the victory, with Barber failing all three attempts at that height.

“It wasn’t the worst conditions I have competed in, but it was one of the worst,” Lavillenie said, according to the IAAF.

American Sam Kendricks, who beat Lavillenie and Barber on May 14, wasn’t in Stockholm but remains the top-ranked vaulter this year with a clearance of 5.92 meters.

American Christian Taylor won his 10th straight triple jump competition, according to Tilastopaja.org. Taylor, the Olympic and World champion, registered 17.59 meters, which is farther than any other man has triple jumped this year.

Taylor’s best triple jump this year was 17.76 from the Pre Classic on May 28.

U.S. Olympic hopefuls Chris Carter (16.52 meters), Chris Benard (16.39) and Omar Craddock (16.29) struggled behind Taylor in the tough conditions.

The Diamond League resumes in Monaco on July 15.

MORE: Usain Bolt says ‘not a problem’ if he must return gold in Carter case

Simone Biles returns to the gym, going from mental drain to physical pain

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For Simone Biles, this was supposed to be the stretch run of a legendary career.

Instead, she returned to her gym on May 18 with long-term thoughts of waiting 14 months until the Tokyo Olympics. And the immediate aches of a world-class gymnast who just missed nearly two months of regular training.

“After that amount of time off, it kind of sucks because your body hurts and then you get really sore,” Biles said in a pre-recorded ESPNW interview that aired Thursday. “So you just have to get back into the swing of things. But it felt nice to see my coaches, my teammates, and just to be back on the equipment and in the environment.”

In that same Texas gym three months ago, Biles had a far different outlook. One that would have put fear into any gymnast who still harbored ambition of ending her near-seven-year win streak.

“I never felt more ready this early in the season,” she said. “I was so ready for the Olympics to be this year.”

Biles repeated in interviews the last two months that the Olympic postponement to 2021 was devastating. Thoughts zig-zagged: How do I go on another year, at age 23, in a sport recently dominated by (but not limited to) teenagers?

“I’m getting pretty old,” she said in the interview published Thursday. “Will I be at the top of my game?”

Biles proved the last two years — after a year off — that she can win — and comfortably — while not at her best. She grabbed the 2018 World all-around title by a record margin — with two falls. Last year, she became the most decorated gymnast in world championships history. In Tokyo, she can become the first woman to repeat as Olympic all-around champion, and the only one older than 20, in more than 50 years.

This for a gymnast whose early goal was to earn a college scholarship. Biles did, to UCLA, but had to give it up by turning professional.

“So I’ve exceeded that,” Biles said. “And then I wanted to go to world championships and Olympics, and I’ve been to five worlds and one Olympic Games. So, I’d be more than happy [to walk away].”

After gymnastics, Biles has another goal — to be a voice for foster kids. She was in foster care multiple times before being adopted at age 6 by grandparents Ron and Nellie.

Those plans, along with so much else for Biles and so many others, have been pushed back a full year.

“I was already being mentally drained and almost, not done with the sport, but just going into the gym and feeling tired and being like, OK, I’m going to get my stuff [done], get out,” she said. “We have this one end goal, and now that it’s postponed another [year], it’s just like, how are we going to deal with that? We’re already being drained, and so it’s to keep the fire in the sport within yourself alive.”

MORE: Top U.S. gymnasts disagree with Tokyo Olympic age rule

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2022 Pan Pacific Championships canceled as swimming calendar shifts

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The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, a quadrennial major international meet, will not be held in 2022 “out of respect for the recent changes to the international sporting calendar,” according to a press release.

The Pan Pacs’ charter nations — the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan — agreed to the move. The 2026 event will be held in Canada, which was supposed to be the 2022 host.

The decision came after the 2021 World Championships were moved to May 2022, following the Tokyo Olympics moving from 2020 to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The quadrennial multi-sport Commonwealth Games — which includes Australia and Canada, but not the U.S. or Japan — are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 7, 2022.

“Organizing a third major championships in that window presented several challenges,” according to the Pan Pacs release.

Pan Pacs mark the third-biggest major international meet for U.S. swimmers, held in non-Olympic, non-world championships years.

MORE: Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming.

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