Bershawn Jackson
AP

Bershawn Jackson runs with heavy heart, silver bullet around neck

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Bershawn Jackson‘s dad used to call him a speeding bullet.

That explains the necklace the 400-meter hurdler wears when he races.

Jackson’s dad, Jeffrey Felton, died of a heart attack in October at the age of 53. Jackson’s tribute to the man who rarely missed a track meet is to wear a hollowed-out silver bullet filled with his dad’s ashes when he competes.

”He’s always with me,” Jackson said after winning his first-round heat Thursday at the U.S. Track and Field Trials. ”He was my No. 1 support team.”

Being here, in Eugene, is difficult for Jackson. His dad was at Hayward Field in 2012 at the trials, when Jackson finished a disappointing fourth – one spot away from making the team – and needed comforting. He was here last year, too, watching as Jackson earned a spot on the world squad headed to Beijing.

”Never missed a track meet since I was 6 years old,” said Jackson, who was returning from Europe when he found out about his father’s death. ”He always gave me advice before a race.”

The message was typically the same.

”He would say, ‘Just go do what you do best,”’ recounted Jackson, a bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Jackson took that advice to heart, finishing a rain-soaked race in 49.91 seconds. Not bad considering the trouble he ran into earlier in the week. Just before trials, Jackson was opening a drawer when he cut his right finger on a blender blade. It made crouching down and placing his hand on the track at the starting line a little painful.

Track and Field Trials: ResultsDaily Schedule | TV Schedule

”But I don’t need my finger to run,” said the sprinter, who goes by the nickname ”Batman.”

These days, he’s pushed in practice by training partner, Johnny Dutch, who also advanced.

”We make each other better. We complement each other,” said the 33-year-old Jackson, who grew up in Miami and now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. ”He’s a technician. I’m a speedster. It’s a great situation for both of us. It would be great if we both could make the team.”

If it happens, the silver bullet will be on the ride to Rio.

”He was a great father. He supported me in everything I did, from school to track and field,” Jackson said. ”He was just always there.”

MORE: LaShawn Merritt eyes Michael Johnson-like double in Rio

2020 French Open women’s singles draw, results

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If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.

Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.

Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.

If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.

Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.

The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.

Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.

The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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2020 French Open men’s singles draw, results

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Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.

Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.

The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

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