Usain Bolt stumbles in first race at worlds, still wins (video)

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Usain Bolt called his 100m first-round effort “very bad” after a minor stumble, yet he won in typical fashion at the world championships in London on Friday as he heads toward retirement.

“I stumbled a little bit coming out of my blocks,” Bolt said on the BBC. “I’m not really fond of these blocks. I think these are the worst blocks I’ve ever experienced. It was not a smooth start. I have to get this start together. I can’t keep doing this.”

Bolt came from behind to take the lead and shut it down in the final strides as he usually does in non-finals.

The top challengers also advanced, including the last two Olympic silver medalists, Justin Gatlin and Yohan Blake, and the fastest man in the world this year, Christian Coleman. Full results are here.

The semifinals and final are live Saturday on NBC Sports (broadcast schedule here). Bolt is expected to finish his career with the 4x100m relay on Aug. 12. Also Friday, Mo Farah stormed to his third straight world 10,000m title at his farewell worlds.

In the 100m heats, the 35-year-old Gatlin heard boos before and after easily winning his heat in 10.05 seconds. Gatlin is disliked by many fans for being Bolt’s top rival and having served a four-year doping ban.

“Just over the years, people never forget things,” Bolt told media in London. “But he’s a great competitor, and I know in the final he’s going to compete.”

Bolt and Gatlin joked Friday.

“I said, you’re going to take a year off, you’re going to party around the world, and you’re going to come back to track and field,” Gatlin told media in London. “And he laughed at me. We’ll see. I have a $100 bet on that.”

Blake got a poor start but recovered to finish second in his heat in 10.13. It marked Blake’s first race since June 25 after pulling out ahead of a July meet with a reported groin injury.

Coleman, who ran 9.82 at the NCAA Championships, clocked 10.01 to win the very first heat. Coleman cruised and slowed the final few strides before crossing the finish line in his first 100m outside of North America.

In other events, Olympic champion Jeff Henderson failed to qualify for Saturday’s 12-man long jump final. He was 17th in qualifying.

Jenn Suhr no-heighted in the pole vault at the stadium where she won Olympic gold in 2012.

All of the favorites advanced in the women’s 1500m heats, including Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya, world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, Olympic bronze medalist Jenny Simpson and Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya. The semifinals are Saturday and the final Monday.

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WORLDS: TV Schedule | 5 Men’s Races to Watch | 5 Women’s Races

Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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Sifan Hassan sets marathon debut

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Sifan Hassan, who won 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics in an unprecedented triple, will make her 26.2-mile debut at the London Marathon on April 23.

Hassan, a 30-year-old Dutchwoman, said she will return to the track after the race, but how the London Marathon goes will play into whether she bids for the Olympic marathon in 2024.

“I want to see what I can do on the marathon distance, to make future decisions,” she posted on social media. “We’ll see if I will finish the distance or if the distance will finish me.”

Exhausted by her Olympic feat, Hassan reportedly went at least seven months after the Tokyo Games between training in track spikes. She finished fourth in the 10,000m and sixth in the 5000m at last July’s world championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“I really needed a break after the Tokyo Olympics,” Hassan said at worlds. “I was mentally crashed. I didn’t even care about running.”

London, billed as the best women’s marathon field in history, also boasts Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya, world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, 2016 Olympic 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, 1500m world record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia and the two fastest Americans in history, Emily Sisson and Keira D’Amato.

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