Justin Gatlin speeds up in Eugene, but another gear needed against Usain Bolt

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EUGENE, Ore. — Justin Gatlin says there’s more left in the tank for Rio. He will need it if Usain Bolt, after recovering from his hamstring injury, is the Bolt of 2015.

As expected, Gatlin won the 100m at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday afternoon. He is now the world’s fastest man for 2016, but he is also slower than his torrid pace from 2015.

“I think there’s more there,” Gatlin said.

In the final, Gatlin clocked 9.80 seconds with a significant tailwind — 1.6 meters per second.

He became the oldest man to make a U.S. Olympic team in a sprint event (100m, 200m or 400m) since 1912.

Gatlin will be joined in Rio by Trayvon Bromell, the 2015 World Championships co-bronze medalist racing at his first meet since suffering a grade-one Achilles tear one month ago.

Bromell clocked 9.84 seconds for second place Sunday, matching his personal best to become, at age 20, the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s 100m runner since 1984.

Marvin Bracy, who passed up playing football for Florida State to pursue a professional track career in 2013, took third in 9.98 seconds.

Several other stars made the Olympic team Sunday. Allyson Felix fought through an ankle injury to win the 400m, halfway to her planned Olympic 200m-400m double. Ashton Eaton prevailed in the decathlon, also while not 100 percentVashti Cunningham became the youngest U.S. track and field Olympian in 36 yearsEnglish GardnerTianna Bartoletta and Tori Bowie provided the fastest women’s 100m podium of all time, all sub-10.80 seconds.

Track and Field Trials
Live Results | Daily Schedule | TV Schedule

But the sport’s marquee event is the men’s 100m. And Bolt-Gatlin is the premier (and one-sided) rivalry.

If Gatlin proved anything Sunday, it’s that he is still the world’s top challenger to Bolt. There were doubts coming into this meet, as his best time this year was 9.93 seconds (fifth in the world).

The last two days, Gatlin ran 10.03 in the first round, 9.83 in the semifinals and then the 9.80 final. He now owns the two fastest times in the world this year, though slower than his 9.74 and 9.75 from spring 2015.

“Last year was all about time and running fast and being consistent,” said Gatlin, who suffered a significant ankle injury in the offseason. “This year is about rising to the occasion, rising to the moment.”

And it is unknown how Gatlin will handle the moment in Rio next month. In 2015, Gatlin went to the world championships favored to beat Bolt on the strength of those spring times and injuries to the Jamaican legend the previous year. Many rooted against him, because Gatlin was five years removed from a four-year doping ban and because of the universal admiration for Bolt.

Gatlin led the 100m final until the last few strides. Bolt closed the gap two lanes to his left, and Gatlin made what Michael Johnson called “a Bolt-forced error,” stumbling slightly, flailing his arms and unfurling his usually crisp form.

Bolt won in 9.79. Gatlin was second in 9.80, into a slight headwind.

On Sunday, Gatlin again ran 9.80, but with that tailwind and no late breakdown. NBC Olympics analyst Ato Boldon said that won’t cut it in Rio.

“You can think, oh, Bolt’s not 100 percent this year, and maybe it won’t take 9.6 to win this time, I think you do that at your peril,” Boldon told the House of Run podcast Sunday evening. “Unless you’re going to Rio with designs on running better than 9.70 or thereabouts, the medal you go home with is not going to be gold.”

Gatlin had little intention of getting caught up in Bolt talk Sunday evening. On the Hayward Field track, Lewis Johnson asked Gatlin about having to go through the Jamaican in Rio.

“First of all, I’ve got to face these young bucks right here,” Gatlin responded, standing next to Bromell and Bracy.

Later in the mixed zone, Gatlin was asked if he had any words for Usain. There were none, only a thumbs-up.

Gatlin said his last race before the Olympics will be the 200m here later this week. The next time he races the 100m, it will be in Rio, where Bolt may again be standing a lane or two away.

How does Gatlin plan to change the outcome from last summer?

“Don’t get greedy,” he said Saturday. “If I get greedy … you’re reaching for something that’s not there. You’re reaching for more. Once you’re up there trying to get it, you’re going to fall down.”

MORE: Cunningham becomes youngest U.S. track and field Olympian in 36 years

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

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Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

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