Justin Gatlin, Andre De Grasse beaten in Diamond League opener

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South African Akani Simbine is looking like the biggest threat to Usain Bolt this season.

Simbine dusted the Olympic silver and bronze medalists, Justin Gatlin and Andre De Grasse, to open the Diamond League season in Doha on Friday. Bolt, in his final season, is expected to race for the first time since Rio on June 10.

Simbine clocked 9.99 seconds into a 1.2 meter/second headwind on Friday. Former world-record holder Asafa Powell was second in 10.08, with Gatlin fourth (10.14) and De Grasse fifth (10.21).

Full Doha results are here. NBCSN will air Diamond League highlights on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Simbine owns five of the eight fastest times in the world this year and has broken 10 seconds a total of six times. Nobody else has done it more than once. The 23-year-old has risen steadily the past few years, breaking 10 for the first time in 2015 and then finishing fifth in Rio.

Gatlin and De Grasse raced individually outdoors for the first time this year on Friday. They did not impress.

Gatlin, 35, finished outside the top three of a 100m for the first time since 2013. It also marked Gatlin’s slowest 100m time against a full field in a final since 2011, according to Tilastopaja.org.

De Grasse, 22, notched the second-slowest 100m final time of his two-year professional career. He looked much more impressive two weeks ago, overtaking Gatlin in an IAAF World Relays 4x100m heat anchor leg.

In other events, South African Caster Semenya eased to win a loaded 800m in 1:56.61, the fastest time in the world this year.

The Olympic champion Semenya and Rio bronze medalist Margaret Wambui pulled away in the final 100 meters. Genzebe Dibaba, the 1500m world-record holder making her 800m debut, faded behind them to fifth in 1:59.37.

Jamaican Elaine Thompson outdueled Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers in a matchup of the Rio Olympic 200m gold and silver medalists, 22.19 to 22.45 into a 2.3 meter/second headwind. Rio bronze medalist Tori Bowie, who was not in the Doha field, has the fastest time this year at 22.09.

In the javelin, Rio Olympic champion Thomas Roehler of Germany launched 93.9 meters, making him the No. 2 performer all time. Czech Jan Zelezny, the Olympic champion in 1992, 1996 and 2000, owns the world record (98.48) and the five best throws of all time.

The Diamond League continues in Shanghai on May 13, with live streaming coverage on NBC Sports Gold.

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid
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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

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LA 2028
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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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