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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.

Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s road back through destruction, death

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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