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Olympian Christian Coleman takes in buzz after viral 40-yard dash

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — There’s video of a Tennessee athlete running the 40-yard dash faster than anyone ever has at the NFL combine.

Except he didn’t get drafted. He’s not even a football player anymore. He did it for fun and watched the video gain traction on social media.

This just might have signaled Christian Coleman‘s arrival as one of the top young American sprinters. At a time when the U.S. is seeking talented young sprinters as Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin enter their mid-30s, Coleman is an intriguing contender.

“I definitely look at the opportunity and hope I can take advantage of it,” Coleman said. “You’ve got older guys, they came in and really laid the groundwork for USA Track and Field. Those are some of the guys that I looked up to growing up running track.

“To be able to be looked at as one of the guys that can potentially come in and take their place as they move out of the sport, that’s a pretty cool opportunity.”

Coleman, who ran on the U.S. Olympic 4×100 team in a qualifying heat in Rio, won the NCAA indoor championships 60m (6.45) and 200m (20.11) titles in March. He is undefeated in individual events during the NCAA outdoor season heading into this week’s Southeastern Conference Championships at Columbia, S.C.

After his junior season concludes, Coleman will compete in the U.S. Championships next month in Sacramento, Calif. Coleman says he won’t decide until after the NCAA season whether to return to Tennessee for his senior year or turn pro.

Perhaps his best-known performance thus far didn’t even count.

Less than a week after the NCAA indoor championships, Tennessee filmed Coleman running the 40 in 4.12 seconds at the school’s indoor athletic facility. For comparison’s sake, the fastest 40 ever posted at the combine came this year from Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross, a first-round draft pick out of Washington, who ran it in 4.22 seconds.

Tennessee’s track program put the video of Coleman’s 4.12 40 on social media on May 1, two days after the conclusion of the NFL draft. The attention surrounding it has introduced Coleman to a much wider audience.

The video has been viewed more than 3.3 million times on Facebook over the last week. Coleman says he got “a couple thousand” more Twitter followers as the video went viral.

“When they were making the video, we figured it would get a lot of views because it was a pretty fast 40,” Coleman said. “I don’t know how I really feel about it. I got a lot of publicity for it. It was just a cool little deal.”

As impressive as Coleman looked in that video, he might be capable of much more.

Tennessee coach Beth Alford-Sullivan noted that the video was shot after Coleman had taken some time to rest his tired legs after the NCAA indoor championships.

“I think he can run even faster, but he’d taken (about) a week off at that point,” Alford-Sullivan said.

Coleman agrees.

“I wasn’t really in my best sprint form,” Coleman said. “We kind of just went out there and did it. I feel I could probably run faster, but you know, it’s pretty good.”

Other athletes noticed. U.S. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones tweeted: “This is great. Can football players please stop asking to race us trackies now? Matter settled.” Tennessee football coach Butch Jones retweeted the video and asked Coleman, “What’s your cleat size?”

Coleman is a former high school cornerback and receiver from Atlanta. He has two older brothers who played football at Harvard and Colgate, though Coleman realized he had a brighter future in track.

“I had a couple of (football) offers from really small schools – (Division) II, a couple of I-AA schools – but I had other opportunities, of course, to run at SEC schools for track. … It just seemed like the best situation for me.”

Coleman hasn’t looked back since.

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Yevgenia Medvedeva’s long shot is Rostelecom Cup; TV, live stream schedule

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Yevgenia Medvedeva‘s situation going into this week’s Rostelecom Cup: fend off her ex-coach’s newest young teenage jumper, or miss qualifying for the most exclusive competition in figure skating for a second straight year.

Medvedeva, who at this stage in the last Olympic cycle began her senior-level dominance, again searches for consistency at this week’s Grand Prix stop in Moscow, streaming live for NBC Sports Gold subscribers.

The 19-year-old last won a top-level international competition two years ago, her final victory of a two-year win streak that included two world titles. An Olympic silver medal followed, then a messy breakup with coach Eteri Tutberidze and a move to Toronto to train under Brian Orser.

Medvedeva failed to qualify for last season’s six-skater Grand Prix Final in her new environment. She rebounded to place third at the world championships, but the start of this Grand Prix season brought more short-program struggles.

She stumbled out of a double Axel landing, then fell and slid into the boards on a triple Lutz at Skate Canada three weeks ago. She ended up fifth overall, making her a long shot for December’s Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest competition of the year after March’s world championships.

To get to the six-skater Final, Medvedeva must win this week and get some help in the standings from other skaters either in Moscow or at next week’s NHK Trophy.

It’s a difficult task given the Rostelecom field includes the world’s top-ranked skater: Alexandra Trusova, a 15-year-old who is part of the Tutberidze group that also includes the other two Grand Prix winners this fall.

Trusova outscored Medvedeva by 31.4 points at Skate Canada, soaring to the title in her senior Grand Prix debut on the power of three quadruple jumps. She became the youngest Grand Prix winner in eight years and an early favorite to become the youngest world champion since Tara Lipinski in 1997.

Medvedeva racked up dominant wins in the last cycle by putting all of her triple jumps in the second half of programs (new rules since took away this bonus). But in the last year, skaters arrived on the senior scene armed with quads and triple Axels that neither Medvedeva nor Olympic champion Alina Zagitova have landed in competition.

Other notables in this week’s field include U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell, who will have a chance at the Grand Prix Final if she can make a second straight Grand Prix podium. And Japanese Satoko Miyahara, a two-time world medalist who was second at Cup of China last week.

The men’s field is wide open given headliner Shoma Uno, the Olympic silver medalist, is coming off an eighth-place finish at his last event. Russia has the top-ranked pairs’ and dance entries in Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy and Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov.

Rostelecom Cup Broadcast Schedule

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Friday 6 a.m. Men’s Short NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
8 a.m. Rhythm Dance NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
10:30 a.m. Women’s Short NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
12:30 p.m. Pairs’ Short NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
Saturday 5:30 a.m. Men’s Free NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
7:30 a.m. Free Dance NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
9:30 a.m. Women’s Free NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
11:45 a.m. Pairs’ Free NBC Sports Gold STREAM LINK
Sunday 12-1:30 p.m. Highlights NBC | STREAM LINK

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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U.S. beats Japan in Olympic baseball qualifier, may still need help

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The U.S. handed Japan its first loss in the Premier12 global Olympic baseball qualifier, at the Tokyo Dome no less, but now the Americans must root for the host nation.

The Americans, with a roster mostly of Double-A and Triple-A players, won 4-3 over a Japanese team that includes some of its domestic league’s biggest stars like two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru and veteran shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

Outfielder Jo Adell, MLB Pipeline’s top-ranked prospect on the U.S. team, starred by reaching base four times with a home run.

Japan is already qualified for baseball’s Olympic return as the host nation.

The U.S., meanwhile, has a sense of urgency at Premier12, the first of a possible three tournaments in which it could clinch an Olympic spot.

At Premier12, the top-ranked nation from North and South America qualifies for the Olympics. The tournament is at the super-round stage of the final six teams, and two are from the Americas: the U.S. and Mexico.

The top four nations after each has played five games advance to gold- and bronze-medal games.

Mexico already beat the U.S. and ran its super-round record to 3-0 on Tuesday, clinching a spot in the medal round.

The U.S. moved to 1-2 in the super round on Tuesday and must at least get into the same medal-round game as Mexico to keep its hope of finishing as the top team from the Americas.

Japan could help, since it plays Mexico on Wednesday. If Mexico beats Japan, the Mexicans clinch a spot in the gold-medal game, which would put more pressure on the U.S. to win its last two games (vs. Australia on Wednesday and Chinese Taipei on Friday). Even then, South Korea would get into the gold-medal game if it wins out.

If the U.S. is not the top team from the Americas at Premier12, it can still earn an Olympic berth in March. But then it faces trying to come up with a roster at the end of MLB’s spring training rather than during the offseason. MLB teams may be less inclined to release minor leaguers.

“That’ll be a delicate dance,” U.S. general manager Eric Campbell said before Premier12.

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