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

Erin Hamlin to run New York City Marathon

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Erin Hamlin, the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist and Team USA flag bearer at the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony, will run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.

Hamlin, a 2014 Olympic bronze medalist who retired after her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang at age 31, is running to fundraise for the Women’s Sports Foundation. So is Marlen Esparza, who in 2012 became the first U.S. Olympic women’s boxing medalist (flyweight bronze).

Hamlin has no marathon experience, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation.

“Being challenged in sport is something I am very familiar with,” Hamlin said in a mass email Wednesday, according to TeamUSA.org. “Long distance running is something I most certainly am not!! It will be difficult, mentally and physically daunting, but a way to test my abilities in a sport so far out of my comfort zone.”

Many Olympians in non-running sports have raced the New York City Marathon.

Bill Demong, the 2010 U.S. Olympic Closing Ceremony flag bearer and only U.S. Olympic Nordic combined champion, ran the 2014 NYC Marathon in 2:33:05, crushing eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno‘s 3:25:14 from 2011.

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Softball set to return to Olympics as first event on Tokyo 2020 schedule

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Softball, returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, is scheduled to kick off the 2020 Tokyo Games, two days before the Opening Ceremony.

The preliminary master schedule for the Tokyo Olympics was published Wednesday, with the first softball game scheduled for 10 a.m. local time on the Wednesday before the Opening Ceremony.

The first game is scheduled to be held in Fukushima, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami 155 miles north of Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster

Traditionally, soccer has been the first sport to have action at a Summer Olympics, one or two days before the Opening Ceremony. While soccer is again scheduled to have matches that same Wednesday, they start later than 10 a.m.

The Tokyo 2020 schedule is subject to change and certainly not a final version — swimming, diving and synchronized swimming schedules are still to be determined, but those sports do not typically start before the Opening Ceremony.

Softball was added in 1991 to the Olympic program to debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won the first three gold medals before softball and baseball were narrowly voted off the Olympic program in 2005/06 (a 52-52 IOC vote for softball, with a majority needed to stay in the Olympics), with the 2008 Beijing Games being the last edition. Japan won the last Olympic softball gold medal 10 years ago.

Then on Aug. 3, 2016, baseball and softball were among five sports added for the 2020 Tokyo Games only, at the request of Tokyo Olympic organizers. Baseball and softball are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program in Paris in 2024.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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