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.

Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele
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LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Bekele
Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Kipchoge
Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Bekele
Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Kipchoge
Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw
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Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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