LaShawn Merritt, Justin Gatlin joined in 200m final by high schoolers

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Those two high schoolers really can fly. So can that relative newcomer to the 200 meters, LaShawn Merritt.

Be ready, Justin Gatlin, they’ll be chasing you.

A pair of 18-year-olds, Michael Norman and Noah Lyles, turned heads Friday after blistering performances in the semifinals at the U.S. Track and Field Trials. Norman won his heat over Gatlin. Lyles wasn’t really challenged in his heat.

Moments later, Merritt stole the show; the runner known more for the 400 turned in a 200 time of 19.74 seconds, the fastest mark in the world this season.

“These kids, man, they’re good,” the 34-year-old Gatlin said. “They’re good at what they do. They’re strong. They’re brave man.

“Got to compete against them like they’re real competitors.”

Oh, they’re real all right. Maybe a little in awe and perhaps still a little green, but definitely real.

After crossing the line in 20.21 seconds, Norman reached over and shook Gatlin’s hand. He leaned in and said, “Do you remember me?”

Gatlin sure did. They once hung out at a Nike Elite camp. Norman thought about bringing up their encounter before the race, but didn’t want to interrupt the sprinter who figures to be the biggest threat to Usain Bolt at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Probably a wise move. Gatlin was all business.

“They’re coming out to be giant killers,” he said.

And Gatlin would be the giant in the final Saturday. Or perhaps it’s Merritt, given the time he ran.

“Came off the curve with everybody, felt good so I made a move,” said Merritt, who’s dabbling in the 200 after already earning a spot by winning the 400. “The key was to win the race. That’s what I did.”

Track and Field Trials: Results Daily Schedule | TV Schedule

Norman is from Murrieta, California, and plans to go to Southern California this fall. Lyles hails from Alexandria, Virginia, and will attend Florida.

They have a friendly rivalry on the junior circuit, with Norman beating out Lyles for the Gatorade Athlete of the Year award. But it was Lyles who beat Norman in the only 200 race in which they’ve squared off – at USATF Junior National Championships in 2015.

“We’re pretty close. We talk to each other all the time,” Norman said.

Feed off each other, too.

“Watch them in the call room, they look at each other, and you can tell they’re like, `We got this,”‘ Gatlin said. “I’m going to rise to the occasion when it’s time.”

Anything one does, the other tries to do better.

“Saw him going and I thought, `Oh, dang, he ran outside Gatlin. He just passed Gatlin,”‘ Lyles said. “I was like, `Oh, I got to get out there.’

“I don’t mean to brag, but we’re pretty extraordinary. We come out here and try to do our best, then try to show up for the crowd.”

Don’t be surprised if they earn a spot on the 200. They are that talented.

“Trying to go to the Olympics – it’s been a goal for four years and we’re trying to make it happen,” Lyles said.

Of course, Gatlin will have something to say about it. He’s already qualified in the 100, but hopes to earn a place in the 200, too. Merritt will be in the mix as well. He had the fastest 200 time coming in and has only gotten stronger despite running three rounds of the 400 earlier at trials.

“Just have to stay humble, stay grounded, get some rest and come out tomorrow and do it all over again,” Merritt said.

Merritt could be in line to try to become the first man to win a 200-400 Olympic double since Michael Johnson in 1996. But that’s a decision for down the road.

“I’m just trying to take it a race at a time,” Merritt said.

Flying under the radar are Ameer Webb and veteran Tyson Gay, who didn’t make the team in the 100.

“That’s two rounds down, one more to go,” Lyles said. “We’re just trying to make something cool happen.”

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

U.S. men’s gymnastics team named for world championships

Asher Hong
Allison and John Cheng/USA Gymnastics
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Asher Hong, Colt Walker and world pommel horse champion Stephen Nedoroscik were named to the last three spots on the U.S. men’s gymnastics team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Brody Malone and Donnell Whittenburg earned the first spots on the team by placing first and second in the all-around at August’s U.S. Championships.

Hong, Walker and Nedoroscik were chosen by a committee after two days of selection camp competition in Colorado Springs this week. Malone and Whittenburg did not compete at the camp.

Hong, 18, will become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009. He nearly earned a spot on the team at the U.S. Championships, but erred on his 12th and final routine of that meet to drop from second to third in the all-around. At this week’s camp, Hong had the lowest all-around total of the four men competing on all six apparatuses, but selectors still chose him over Tokyo Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus.

Walker, a Stanford junior, will make his world championships debut. He would have placed second at nationals in August if a bonus system for attempting difficult skills wasn’t in place. With that bonus system not in place at the selection camp, he had the highest all-around total. The bonus system is not used at international meets such as world championships.

Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympic team to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse last fall. Though he is the lone active U.S. male gymnast with a global gold medal, he was in danger of missing this five-man team because of struggles on the horse at the U.S. Championships. Nedoroscik, who does not compete on the other five apparatuses, put up his best horse routine of the season on the last day of the selection camp Wednesday.

Moldauer, who tweeted that he was sick all last week, was named the traveling alternate for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. It would be the first time that Moldauer, who was fourth in the all-around at last fall’s worlds, does not compete at worlds since 2015.

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

The U.S. women’s world team of five will be announced after a selection camp in two weeks. Tokyo Olympians Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles are in contention.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024
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The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
Lafayette
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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