Bolt, De Grasse easily qualify for 200 final, USA’s Gatlin misses out

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Usain Bolt on the track has been must-see television for quite some time, with the question not being whether or not he’ll win but by how much.

Wednesday night the Jamaican sprint king did what was expected in the semifinals of the 200, qualifying for the final with a time of 19.78 seconds. He slowed down towards the end of his heat, smiling at Canada’s Andre De Grasse as they approached the finish line with De Grasse finishing in 19.80 seconds. Bolt and De Grasse posted the two fastest times of the semifinal heats, with American LaShawn Merritt finishing in 19.94 seconds.

WATCH: Bolt, De Grasse move on to 200 final with a few smiles

While Bolt is looking to complete the 100/200 double for the third consecutive Olympics, there’s also his stated desire to break his world record of 19.19 seconds to keep in mind ahead of Thursday’s final.

Posnanski: Bolt’s smile does not tell the full story

Merritt did manage to get into the final, the same can’t be said for countrymen Justin Gatlin and Ameer Webb. Gatlin, who took silver in the 100, posted a time of 20.13 seconds and missed out on the final by three one-hundredths of a second. As for Webb, his time of 20.43 seconds ranked 19th among the 24 semifinalists.

WATCH: Merritt surges to make 200 final

WATCH: Gatlin fails to qualify for 200 final

Also held Thursday night were the qualifying rounds of the men’s javelin, and USA Track and Field did not enjoy good fortune there. None of their three competitors managed to qualify for the final round, with Cyrus Hostetler’s throw of 79.76 meters being the best attempt produced by he, Sam Crouser and Sean Furey. Hostetler ranked 20th among the competitors, with Crouser and Furey finishing 34th and 35th, respectively.

The fact that the U.S. would struggle in the javelin isn’t a major surprise, as they haven’t had a medalist in the event since Bill Schmidt took silver in 1972.

Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago led the way with a throw of 88.68 meters, and defending Olympic gold medalist Julius Yego ranked sixth among the 12 men who qualified for Saturday’s final. Germany will have three finalists, with Johannes Vetter and Julian Weber ranking second and third, respectively, and Thomas Rohler ranking ninth.

The men’s 5000 meters were also run Wednesday night, and thanks to the successful appeal of an IAAF ruling the U.S. will have three runners in the final. Hassan Mead, who was originally ruled out of the final after falling in his heat and thus not posting a time good enough to qualify, was cleared for the final following a video review of his heat. Mead joins Bernard Lagat and Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo in the final, with Chelimo posting the fastest qualifying time of 13:19.54.

Two of the three medalists in the 5000 at last year’s World Championships will also be in the final, with world champion Mo Farah of Great Britain and third-place finisher Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia making the cut.

Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.

Oleksandr Abramenko, Ukraine’s top Winter Olympian, tears knee, career in question

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Aerials skier Oleksandr Abramenko, who won both of Ukraine’s medals over the last two Winter Olympics, is out for the season after a knee ligament tear and said he might not return to competition at all, according to Ukrainian media.

Abramenko, 34, won gold at the 2018 Olympics — Ukraine’s second-ever individual Winter Olympic title after figure skater Oksana Baiul in 1994 — and silver last year.

He competed once this season, placing 10th at a World Cup in Finland on Dec. 4, and then flew with the Ukrainian national team to stay in Utah ahead of World Cups in Canada in January and at the 2002 Olympic venue in Park City this weekend. The area also hosted many Ukraine winter sports athletes this past summer.

Abramenko missed the competition in Canada two weeks ago due to injury and then wasn’t on the start list for today’s aerials event in Park City. He is set to miss the world championships later this month in Georgia (the country, not the state).

Abramenko said he needs surgery, followed by a nine-month rehabilitation process, similar to an operation on his other knee six years ago, according to Ukraine’s public broadcaster. He said he will see how the recovery goes and determine whether to return to the sport at age 35, according to the report.

Abramenko is already the oldest Olympic men’s aerials medalist and come the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games will be older than all but one male aerialist in Olympic history, according to Olympedia.org.

At last year’s Olympics, Abramenko, Ukraine’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, was hugged after the aerials final by Russian Ilya Burov, who finished one spot behind Abramenko for a bronze medal. A week later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

A week after that, Abramenko posed for a photo sitting on a mattress in a Kyiv parking garage with his wife and 2-year-old son published by The New York Times.

“We spend the night in the underground parking in the car, because the air attack siren is constantly on,” Abramenko texted, according to the newspaper. “It’s scary to sleep in the apartment, I myself saw from the window how the air defense systems worked on enemy missiles, and strong explosions were heard.”

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