Allyson Felix
Getty Images

Elaine Thompson beats Allyson Felix in Zurich; Diamond League recap

Leave a comment

Allyson Felix‘s return to her trademark event, the 200m, ended in defeat at a Diamond League finals meet in Zurich on Thursday.

Felix was beaten by Jamaican Elaine Thompson in a matchup of the last two Olympic 200m champions and Felix’s first race since the Rio Games.

Thompson won in 21.85 seconds (video here), the fastest time in Diamond League history, her second victory in as many races since sweeping the Olympic 100m and 200m titles in Rio.

The Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers was second, .01 behind, one year after beating Thompson by .03 in the world championships 200m.

Felix took third in 22.02 seconds on Thursday. She was nearly even with Thompson coming around the curve, but the Jamaican opened up a short lead at the start of the final straight. Felix was unable to close the gap.

Felix improved mightily on her Olympic Trials 200m time of 22.54 seconds, when she was slowed by a toe injury and missed the Olympic team by .01.

Had Felix ran 22.02 at the Olympic Trials, she would have finished second and made the Olympic team in that event. Had Felix ran 22.02 in Rio, she would have earned bronze behind Thompson and Schippers.

Of course, Felix won the 400m at the Olympic Trials and went on to take silver in Rio behind diving Bahamian Shaunae Miller.

Full Zurich Diamond League results are here.

In other events, South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya won the 800m in 1:56.44, leading the final lap and holding off silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi by .32. Semenya’s time in Rio, a national record, was 1:55.28.

Keni Harrison won the 100m hurdles in 12.63, well of her world record of 12.20.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Shannon Rowbury won the 1500m with a late surge and post-finish-line dive in 3:57.78 (video here), beating Great Britain’s Laura Muir by .07. U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Simpson was fourth. Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya was seventh.

U.S. Olympic 3000m steeplechase silver medalist Evan Jager led for much of the 5000m but was caught on the final lap and finished third. Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet won in 13:14.82, following up his Olympic 5000m silver medal. Two-time Olympic champion Mo Farah of Great Britain was not in Thursday’s race.

New Zealand’s Tom Walsh won the shot put among a field that included the top seven from Rio. Walsh, the Rio bronze medalist, beat U.S. Olympic gold and silver medalists Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs for the second time in six days.

The Diamond League season concludes in Brussels on Sept. 9.

MORE: 2008 Olympic silver medalist stripped after doping retest

Elaine Thompson, Dafne Schippers, Allyson Felix

Richard Callaghan, figure skating coach, banned for life

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Richard Callaghan, a figure skating coach best known for helping Tara Lipinski earn 1998 Olympic gold, was ruled permanently ineligible for violations including sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Callaghan can still appeal the sexual misconduct violation, according to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a watchdog for U.S. Olympic sports organizations that updated Callaghan’s status Wednesday.

He was first suspended in March 2018 pending an investigation into allegations first made against him more than 20 years ago.

Earlier this month, another former skater, Adam Schmidt, said in a lawsuit that he was sexually molested as a teenager by Callaghan starting in 1999.

Callaghan was previously accused of sexual misconduct in April 1999 by Craig Maurizi, one of his former students and later an assistant to him in San Diego and Detroit.

Maurizi told The New York Times that Callaghan had engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with him beginning when he was 15 years old. The alleged misconduct had begun nearly 20 years earlier. Callaghan denied the allegations.

In March 2018, Callaghan told ABC News: “That’s 19 or 20 years ago. I have nothing to say.”

Maurizi’s previous grievance against Callaghan with the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the precursor to U.S. Figure Skating, was dismissed on procedural grounds.

He was Callaghan’s assistant at the Detroit Skating Club until they split after Lipinski turned pro, left Callaghan and decided to train with Maurizi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Eight matchups to watch in figure skating Grand Prix Series

Pita Taufatofua, Tonga flag bearer, finishes last in kayak debut

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pita Taufatofua, the Tonga Olympic flag bearer who went viral in Rio and PyeongChang, began his quest to make a third straight Olympics in a third different sport with a last-place finish in his opening-round heat at the world sprint kayak championships in Hungary on Wednesday.

The start of the heat appeared delayed as Taufatofua struggled to get his kayak into position in the water. He was left at the start as the other six kayakers raced out and finished between 33 and 40 seconds. Taufatofua took 58.19 seconds, the slowest of 53 finishers among seven total heats.

“Well that was slightly better than the first time I competed in Taekwondo or skiing,” was tweeted from Taufatofua’s account. “Would have liked to start facing the right way but that’s life.”

Taufatofua, 35, was the oldest athlete in the heat by nearly a decade. He is also entered in doubles races with Tonga canoe federation president Malakai Ahokava with heats Thursday and Friday.

Taufatofua hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in taekwondo, where he competed in Rio, and in sprint kayak.

But he hasn’t competed in taekwondo in three years and just started training kayak this spring. At worlds, Taufatofua told the BBC he is still having trouble staying afloat in the water.

Taufatofua said in announcing the new sport in April that it would be “largely impossible” to qualify for Tokyo. He could be the first athlete to compete in a different sport in three straight Olympics (Summer and Winter) since the Winter Games began in 1924, according to the OlyMADMen.

“It’s certainly going to be the greatest challenge that I’ve ever had to embark on,” he said then.

Taufatofua’s results at worlds this week has little bearing on his Olympic qualifying prospects. Rather, he just needed to compete in Hungary to stay eligible for the Olympics.

The key will be an Oceania qualifying event early next year, where one Olympic bid is available. He will likely have to beat the best kayakers from Australia and New Zealand to grab it. Australian Stephen Bird placed eighth at the Rio Olympics and 11th at the 2018 World Championships.

If Taufatofua fails, he could receive a special tripartite invitation sometimes offered to smaller nations like Tonga.

Taufatofua became a social-media celebrity by marching into the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony shirtless and oiled up. He then lost in the first round via mercy rule in his taekwondo tournament.

He made a quixotic bid for the PyeongChang Winter Games in cross-country skiing — and accomplished the feat, barely, in a sport that has lenient qualifying requirements for nations with a lack of Winter Games depth.

Taufatofua finished 114th out of 116 in his 15km Olympic cross-country skiing race, nearly 23 minutes behind the winner.

If Taufatofua is able to carry the Tongan flag at a third Opening Ceremony, he will definitely be shirtless again, in a similar outfit to what he wore in Rio and PyeongChang, he said last year.

MORE: Five-time Olympic kayak medalist banned four years

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!