Andre De Grasse ‘booted’ from Usain Bolt race, coach says

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Andre De Grasse was left out of a potential Diamond League 100m race against Usain Bolt in Monaco on Friday, per Bolt’s wishes, the coach of De Grasse reportedly said.

De Grasse, the Olympic 100m bronze medalist and 200m silver medalist, is entered in the 4x100m relay only in Monaco (Friday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

“We were in the [100m] race. We got booted out. That’s all on Bolt,” Stuart McMillan said, according to CBC. “Let’s just say he wanted not such an elite field against him.”

“The fastest guy in the world gets to choose the field,” McMillan added, according to the Canadian Press. “But I don’t blame him at all. This is his last year, he’s only raced twice. I totally understand that he doesn’t want to increase the pressure prior to worlds by going in with a potential loss.

“If anyone deserves the right to choose the field, it’s Bolt.”

A deleted tweet from De Grasse’s account on Wednesday said McMillan’s reasoning was “believable.”

“He’s got to be smarter this late in his career,” the tweet read. “He and his coach know he has to pick his spots. His aim is worlds. The story is believable.”

Bolt’s team denied playing a role in De Grasse’s exclusion, according to the Telegraph.

Bolt, who is on a four-year winning streak going into the last two meets of his career in Monaco and at August’s world championships, is known for rarely facing his chief rivals outside of major meets.

De Grasse, in addition to sharing the Rio medal podium with Bolt three times, has run the fastest 100m this year under all conditions (9.69 seconds with a massive tailwind). De Grasse has failed to break 10 seconds in five wind-legal races this year, but so has Bolt in his two starts against lackluster competition.

In 2012, Bolt reportedly said he did not think he should race countryman and training partner Yohan Blake, then his biggest threat, more than once or twice a year.

“You play the rivalry down if you always compete against each other,” Bolt said in September 2012, according to Reuters. “Top athletes should compete maybe two or three times maximum. If you always compete people get bored, and they know who’ll win.”

In 2012, Blake cited “big money” for why he and Bolt didn’t race each other more often, though Bolt’s agent has said it’s not about that.

Appearance fees and sponsors can complicate top sprinters from facing each other. Bolt and De Grasse both wear Puma.

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MORE: Bolt: Nobody is running fast this year

Chicago Marathon features Emily Sisson’s return, Conner Mantz’s debut, live on Peacock

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At Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, Emily Sisson makes her return, nearly three years after Olympic Trials disappointment. Conner Mantz makes one of the most anticipated U.S. men’s debuts in 26.2-mile racing.

It is not the norm, but an American will be one of the spotlight runners in both the men’s and women’s elite races at a major marathon. Peacock airs live coverage at 8 a.m. ET.

Sisson, 30, starts her first mass marathon since dropping out of the Olympic Trials on Feb. 29, 2020, her legs “destroyed” on the hilly Atlanta course where she started as arguably the favorite. She ran the virtual New York City Marathon later in 2020, but that was solo (and not in New York City). Her 2:38:00 isn’t recorded in her official results on her World Athletics bio.

Since, Sisson won the Olympic Trials 10,000m on the track and was the top American in Tokyo in 10th place. She moved back to the roads, winning national titles at 15km and the half marathon and breaking the American record in the latter.

Sisson vaulted into the elite group of U.S. female marathoners in 2019, when she clocked the second-fastest debut marathon in American history, a 2:23:08 on a windy day in London, where the early pace was slow.

At the time, it was the 12th-best performance in U.S. history. In the last two years, Keira D’Amato, 37, and Sara Hall, 39, combined to run seven faster marathons. At Chicago, a flat course that produced a world record three years ago, Sisson can answer them and perhaps get close to D’Amato’s American record 2:19:12.

“I’m hoping sub-2:20,” coach Ray Treacy said, according to LetsRun.com. “With the [super] shoes and the training behind her, I would think that’s [worth] at least three minutes.”

It is less likely that Sisson can challenge for the win on Sunday given the presence of Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich, the 2019 World champion and defending champion in the Windy City. The 28-year-old mom is the fifth-fastest woman in history with a personal best of 2:17:08. And Ethiopian Ruti Aga, a podium finisher in Berlin, New York City and Tokyo with a best time of 2:18:34, though she has one marathon finish since the pandemic (a seventh place).

Like Sisson, Mantz has shown strong recent road racing form. The American men’s debut marathon record of 2:07:56 (Leonard Korir) is in play. If he can break that, Mantz will be among the five fastest U.S. marathoners in history.

Rarely has a U.S. male distance runner as accomplished as Mantz moved up to the marathon at such a young age (25). At BYU, he won NCAA cross-country titles in 2020 and 2021 and placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 10,000m, then turned pro and won the U.S. Half Marathon Championships last December.

“If everything goes as planned, I think sub-2:08 is realistic,” Mantz said in a Citius Mag video interview last month. “If everything goes perfect on the day, I think a sub-2:07, that’s a big stretch goal.”

The men’s field doesn’t have the singular star power of Chepngetich, but a large group of East Africans with personal bests around 2:05. The most notable: defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and 2021 Boston Marathon winner Benson Kipruto of Kenya.

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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