Five events to watch at Diamond League finals at Zurich

Allyson Felix
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Led by one of the greatest women’s sprint lineups of all time on Thursday, the track and field season culminates with two Diamond League finals meets in the next nine days.

Allyson Felix races for the first time since the Rio Olympics in Zurich on Thursday. She returns to her trademark event, the 200m, to face the reigning Olympic and world champions, plus her longtime rival.

Several other Olympic and world champions are in action with Diamond League season titles on the line. More on the Diamond League standings, event by event, is here. Full start lists are here.

Here are five events to watch Thursday:

Men’s Pole Vault — 12:45 pm. ET

The top five from the Olympics are in this field, which means a rematch between gold medalist Thiago Braz of Brazil and silver medalist Renaud Lavillenie. Remember, Lavillenie was booed in Rio, where he went in as the odds-on favorite. As Braz cleared his personal-best height and became a gold-medal threat, the home crowd got behind him and started audibly rooting against the Frenchman Lavillenie.

Lavillenie later compared the jeers to those Jesse Owens received at the 1936 Berlin Games, but he later apologized and rescinded the comment. The boos continued at the medal ceremony the next day, causing Lavillenie to weep.

Men’s Shot Put — 2:05 p.m. ET

The top seven from the Olympics compete here, led by U.S. gold and silver medalists Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs. Kovacs, the 2015 World champion, went into the Olympics ranked No. 1 in the world for the year. But Crouser unleashed the three best throws of his life for the upset in Rio.

Crouser and Kovacs went head to head in Paris last Saturday, but the winner was New Zealand Olympic bronze medalist Tom Walsh. Crouser was second, with Kovacs a concerning eighth.

Women’s 200m — 2:34 p.m. ET

The field includes three of the six fastest women of all time — 2012 Olympic champion Allyson Felix, 2015 World champion Dafne Schippers and 2016 Olympic champion Elaine Thompson. Plus, 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown.

It’s the first race since Rio for Felix, who missed the U.S. Olympic team in the 200m by .01 at Trials, when she was slowed by an ankle injury. The Zurich field is certainly more formidable than what Felix faced in the 400m in Rio, where she lost to a diving Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas.

Women’s 800m — 3:02 p.m. ET

All eight from the Olympic final return, led by gold medalist Caster Semenya. As usual, all eyes will be on the South African in her first race since breaking her national record in Rio.

Semenya clocked 1:55.28 at the Olympics, where it was thought she could have challenged the 33-year-old world record of 1:53.28. Semenya has lowered her times consistently this year. She’s now ranked No. 11 all time in the 800m. Another .02 drop from her Olympic clocking will move her into the top 10.

Women’s 100m Hurdles — 3:12 p.m. ET

American Keni Harrison has been nearly as dominant as Semenya this year, except for at the U.S. Olympic Trials, where she finished sixth and shockingly missed the Rio team.

Harrison, one of 11 siblings, didn’t let the failure faze her. She broke the world record at her next meet July 22 and then returned after an Olympic break to easily win in Lausanne and Paris. She now owns eight of the nine fastest times in the world this year. Like in Lausanne and Paris, Harrison will not face any of the Rio Olympic medalists — Americans Brianna RollinsNia Ali and Kristi Castlin are sitting out.

MORE: Devon Allen weighs turning pro in track and field

Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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