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Oslo Diamond League preview, broadcast schedule

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Caster Semenya and Andre De Grasse headline a Diamond League meet in Oslo, live on Thursday starting at 12:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold and 2 p.m. on NBCSN.

The Olympic champion Semenya puts her 16-meet winning streak on the line in the 800m against the Rio silver and bronze medalists.

De Grasse, a three-time Olympic medalist for Canada, could be the top challenger to Usain Bolt in Bolt’s final individual race at the world championships in August. But De Grasse finished fourth and fifth in his first two Diamond League 100m races this season. He needs a win in Oslo to stay in the gold-medal conversation.

U.S. athletes in Oslo are preparing for the national championships in Sacramento, Calif., next week. At nationals, the top three per event will qualify for worlds.

Oslo start lists are available here. Here’s the schedule (all times Eastern):

12:15 p.m. — Women’s pole vault
1:57 — Men’s discus
1:57 — Women’s discus
2:03 — Men’s 400m
2:12 — Men’s high jump
2:17 — Women’s 100m hurdles
2:20 — Women’s long jump
2:45 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
3:03 — Men’s 100m
3:10 — Women’s 800m
3:25 — Men’s 400m hurdles
3:40 — Women’s 200m
3:50 — Men’s 1500m

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s/Women’s Discus — 1:57 p.m. ET

The men’s and women’s discus events are held simultaneously this season for the first time. The last four Olympic champions are represented in Oslo — German brothers Robert and Christoph Harting and Croatian Sandra Perkovic, the 2012 and 2016 women’s gold medalist.

Neither Harting has been particularly impressive in limited action so far this season. Instead, Jamaican Fedrick Dacres owns the two best throws of 2017. Jamaica reigns in the sprints, but it has never had a Diamond League winner in a throwing event.

Perkovic puts her 15-meet winning streak on the line against Rio silver medalist Mélina Robert-Michon of France and Rio bronze medalist Denia Caballero of Cuba.

Men’s High Jump — 2:12 p.m. ET

The best field of the meet. The top five from the Rio Olympics are entered, led by gold medalist Derek Drouin of Canada. But Drouin no-heighted in his 2017 Diamond League debut in Shanghai.

Instead, the favorite Thursday is Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim. The Rio silver medalist has won all four of his competitions this year, clearing heights that nobody in the world has matched in 2017.

Men’s 100m — 3:03 p.m. ET

De Grasse, the Olympic 100m bronze medalist and 200m silver medalist, could really use a win here. Only one man in the field has broken 9.90 in his career or 10.0 this season, and it’s not the Canadian phenom. It’s veteran Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut.

In De Grasse’s favor: His fourth- and fifth-place 100m finishes earlier this season were against stronger fields, and he’s coming off a 200m win last week in Rome. He may be rounding into form as the Canadian Championships approach in early July.

Women’s 800m — 3:10 p.m. ET

The scrutinized Semenya hasn’t lost since 2015, but she’s looking vulnerable. Kenyan Margaret Wambui, who took bronze in Rio 1.6 seconds behind Semenya, closed the gap in their first two meetings this season.

Wambui made Semenya run hard through the line in Doha (losing by a respectable .42) and then scared Semenya in Eugene three weeks later (losing by one tenth of a second). This time last year, Semenya was winning races by one second, so relaxed it looked like she could have gone one or two seconds faster.

Now, Wambui is a worthy challenger in Oslo.

Women’s 200m — 3:40 p.m. ET

Olympic silver medalist Dafne Schippers is the class of the field. Nobody else is ranked in the top 35 in the world this year, so the Dutchwoman is more racing against the top 200m times posted elsewhere in 2017.

The target will be to get near Tori Bowie‘s world-leading 21.77 seconds set at the Pre Classic, where Schippers was fourth in 22.30, her lowest 200m finish in five years.

A more realistic goal for Schippers would be to break 22 seconds, which she did in winning Oslo last year.

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Bernard Lagat commits to Olympic marathon trials, eyes age record

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Bernard Lagat, a 44-year-old, five-time Olympian, reportedly said he will race the Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 29 in a bid to break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner.

“I feel like I can still improve,” Lagat said, according to Runner’s World. “I’m going to give it my best.”

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist, moved to the marathon after becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history at the Rio Games, placing fifth in the 5000m.

He clocked 2:17:20 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 New York City Marathon. He lowered it to 2:12:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 7 but did not previously commit to entering the trials.

If Lagat finishes in the top three at the marathon trials, he is in line to become the third-oldest U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. The oldest are race walker John Deni (49 years old in 1952) and hammer thrower Matt McGrath (48 years old in 1924), according to the OlyMADMen.

Lagat ranks outside the top 20 among U.S. marathoners in this Olympic cycle. The fastest are Galen Rupp (2:06:07), Leonard Korir (2:07:56, from Sunday’s Amsterdam Marathon) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09).

No American has competed in six Olympics in track and field. Lagat’s first two Olympic appearances were for Kenya.

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Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic luge champion, will not race this season

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For the first time in eight years, there will be a new World Cup women’s luge champion.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger — the seven-time defending champion and two-time defending Olympic singles gold medalist — announced that she isn’t sliding this season because she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.

“Our happiness is on the way,” Geisenberger said on her Facebook page.

Geisenberger plans to return next season and still has hopes to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she could match fellow German great Georg Hackl’s feat of winning three consecutive singles golds.

With Geisenberger not sliding this season, the top returning women from last year’s World Cup standings now are Julia Taubitz of Germany and Summer Britcher of the U.S. — second and third, respectively, in 2018-19.

Geisenberger has a luge record-tying four Olympic golds in all, being part of Germany’s victories in the team relays in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018 as well.

Her 49 World Cup singles wins are another record, and she’s one of two sliders to win seven consecutive World Cup titles — Austria’s Markus Prock took the men’s championships each year from 1990-91 through 1996-97.

Geisenberger’s break from sliding only adds to how the World Cup standings — and the German roster — will look very different this season. Dajana Eitberger, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings, is also pregnant and expecting a baby in February. And Tatjana Huefner, who was sixth overall last season, has retired.

Huefner won five consecutive World Cup titles before Geisenberger took over and began her seven-year streak of championships. Geisenberger earned medals 11 times in 12 singles races last year — six golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“We are so happy for you even though we will miss you this season!” two-time Olympic singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany wrote in a message to Geisenberger on Instagram.

Geisenberger has been in the top three of the World Cup standings in 12 consecutive seasons. She was third in 2007-08, finished second in each of the next four seasons, and then began her title streak in 2012-13.

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