Ten memorable races from world track and field championships (video)

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Ten memorable races from the world track and field championships, including Usain Bolt‘s last events before retirement …

Usain Bolt upset by Justin Gatlin in 100m finale (Day 2)

For the first 95 meters, eyes were glued on Bolt trying to catch young American Christian Coleman. But it would be Justin Gatlin, out in lane 8, who shocked everyone with an incredible late surge to win his first global title in 12 years.

Women’s marathon ends in close sprint, U.S. medal (Day 3)

The top four finishers were separated by 10 seconds. The silver and bronze medalists finished in the same time after 26.2 miles on the roads of London, ending on Tower Bridge. Amy Cragg snagged third with her final kick, the first U.S. marathon medal at worlds since 1993.

Tori Bowie’s perfect lean steals 100m (Day 3)

In three years, Tori Bowie went from last place in the world indoor championships long jump to fastest woman in the world. The soft-spoken Mississippi native used a textbook lean — showing poise of a sprinter with two or three times her experience — to beat Ivorian Marie-Josée Ta Lou by .01.

A 1500m sprint for the ages (Day 4)

The women’s 1500m was billed as perhaps the most competitive final of the meet. It delivered. The last 100 meters were chaotic to say the least. Kenyan Faith Kipyegon won, but American Jenny Simpson again proved her racing acumen, moving up on the rail for silver in a race that also included Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya (bronze) and world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba (12th).

Duck splashes in women’s 400m (Day 6)

The rematch between Allyson Felix and Shaunae Miller-Uibo provided another incredible finish. However, neither the defending world champion nor the reigning Olympic champion took gold in the London rain. Miller-Uibo came off the final turn in the lead, with Felix the primary chaser. But the Bahamian tripped after looking at the scoreboard. Felix didn’t have that extra gear. Instead, Phyllis Francis surged past both of them for her first individual global medal, a gold. Francis, a former University of Oregon standout, attributed her experience in Eugene for preparing her to race in wet, chilly conditions.

Wayde van Niekerk misses double on Turkey Day (Day 7)

Wayde van Niekerk’s admirable attempt to match Michael Johnson‘s 400m-200m double from the 1995 World Championships and 1996 Olympics came up two hundredths of a second short to an unknown.

Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev (born in Azerbaijan) stunned the Olympic Stadium by holding off Van Niekerk in the last strides of the 200m final. Guliyev came off the turn with a step on favorites Van Niekerk and Isaac Makwala — but the two Africans ran out of gas. Van Niekerk, tired from racing six times in six days, tightened up before his lean. Makwala, tired from his medical controversy and having raced a pair of 200m the night before, faded earlier in the stretch.

Shocking one-two in women’s steeplechase (Day 8)

In a meet full of upsets, you can make a strong argument this one-two was the most unforeseen. Americans Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs topped the strongest women’s 3000m steeplechase field of all time. Four years ago, the U.S. put no women in the world steeplechase final. Three years ago, Coburn was such an afterthought that East Africans thought she was a pacer in a Diamond League race. But in London, the Olympic bronze medalist Coburn lowered her American record and Frerichs set a personal best by 15 seconds. The next four finishers, all Kenyan-born, were four of the five fastest women of all time in the event.

Mo Farah beaten in last championship track race (Day 9)

For Mo Farah, it ended in tears. In his last global championship track race, the Brit lost at an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2011. He had won the previous 10 straight Olympic and world championships 5000m and 10,000m. But Ethiopian Muktar Edris relegated Farah to silver in the 5000m and celebrated with his own version of Farah’s famous “Mobot.” Farah, 34, intends to move to road running and the marathon after this season.

Usain Bolt tumbles in last career race (Day 9)

It was not a fairytale ending to Usain Bolt’s career. It was a disastrous one. Bolt pulled up with a hamstring injury and tumbled to the track while anchoring Jamaica’s 4x100m relay. He lay face down, his hands covering his eyes in pain. Bolt later got up and was helped across the finish line by his teammates.

One last surprise in 4x400m (Day 10)

Fittingly, worlds ended with a first-time champion upsetting a global power. Trinidad and Tobago, a twin-island nation of some 1.5 million people, won the 4x400m with an anchor-leg surge past the U.S., population 320 million.

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MORE: U.S. ties world championships medal record

Carreira, Ponomarenko understand the depth of U.S. ice dance at nationals

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GREENSBORO, N.C. Heading into the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro this week, up-and-coming ice dancers Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko focused on their “quads” not four-revolution jumps, but still pretty tough to execute.

“(Our coaches) have us doing double run-through weeks, triple run-throughs, even quadruple run-throughs, to make sure we’re fully ready,” Carreira said. “We’re drilling a lot more, so at nationals we go in 100 percent confident.”

Pasquale Camerlengo, who trains the team along with primary coach Igor Shpilband, agreed that the run-up to Greensboro has been grueling for the skaters from Novi, Mich.

“We always plan a week we call the quads, performing (programs) four times,” Camerlengo said. “We’re trying to make them ready physically and work their stamina, to handle their programs in competition, which is a little bit different than in practice. Physically, they’re ready for it.”

Tough practices are just one component of what’s been a challenging but productive sophomore senior season for the two-time world junior medalists, fifth in the U.S. in 2019.

Thus far, they’ve competed at six international competitions, stretching from Lake Placid, N.Y., in August to NHK Trophy in Sapporo, Japan, in late November. Six is a lot, considering other top teams they’ll compete against in Greensboro have competed three to five times so far this season.

“Igor wants to get more experience at the senior level, and also more world points,” Carreira, 19, said. “For that we have to compete. We get out there and compete as much as we can, so our programs feel more trained.”

Those programs – a rhythm dance to Cole Porter’s “It’s Too Darn Hot” and flamenco free dance to “Farrucas” – stretch their abilities far more than last season’s routines. Competing every two weeks or so left little time to make adjustments, so the past six weeks were the key to their preparation for Greensboro.

“We pushed a lot of changes we needed to make until after NHK, to smooth out the programs and really train them,” Ponomarenko, 19, said.

He added that the grueling first half of 2019-20 was a necessary ice dance rite of passage.

“It’s very different from our first season. We really didn’t know what to expect. Now we kind of know where we’re at and how we can improve. We definitely feel the sophomore slump this year, but we just want to compete and keep putting our good performances.”

On paper, Carreira and Ponomarenko’s 2018 Grand Prix results – which included a bronze medal at Rostelecom Cup – look more impressive than the sixth-place finishes they earned at Skate America and NHK this season. But the skaters don’t think the placements tell the full story.

“Last season, results-wise, it might have looked better, because a lot of (top) teams took the Grand Prix season off last season,” Carreira said. “This season, I feel our programs are more difficult and we’re skating better. We want to improve our consistency so that we can compete with the top teams.”

It doesn’t take much to lose points in an ice dance routine, especially on step sequences and “twizzles,” a series of fast rotations moving across the ice. A few slips here – including a small mistake on their twizzles in the rhythm dance at Skate America – can easily drop teams out of the top group.

“They always have the feeling they could do more,” Camerlengo said. “But the season is a progression. They’re getting better and better. That’s the goal, to have them (be) more reliable.”

“They need to do what they’re capable of,” he added. “They just have to do what they’ve learned, with no fear, and just go for it.”

In Greensboro, Carreira and Ponomarenko will have to throw caution to the wind to grab one of the three U.S. ice dance spots at the 2020 World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal this March.

With Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates, very likely battling for gold, the Michigan skaters have their sights set on bronze. It’s a herculean task, considering the reigning U.S. bronze medalists, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, qualified for the Grand Prix Final last season and notched career-best scores at Skate Canada this fall.

All three of those teams train together in Montreal. 

But Carreira and Ponomarenko think their programs, strengthened by adjustments and all of those quadruple run-throughs, give them a fighting chance.

“(A bronze medal) is more realistic now than last season,” Carreira said.

“I believe we’ve really grown as skaters,” Ponomarenko said. “Our programs are much more difficult, which has really helped us improve. I believe the podium at nationals is very reasonable. It could be achieved with some good skating.”

Other teams could be in the mix. Last season, Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter placed a strong fourth, but injuries forced them to withdraw from one of their Grand Prix events this fall. A new pairing, Caroline Green and Michael Parsons, has gelled quickly, winning two medals at Challenger Series international events.

“The level of U.S. ice dance level is high, the depth in the U.S. is really the top worldwide,” Camerlengo said. “But the podium, it is reasonable for Christina and Anthony. They have been working hard and they have a very good level to fight for the medal. We’ll see how they will perform here. They’re ready for it.”

Not all of the team’s challenges are on the ice. The Montreal-born Carreira – who has lived and trained in Novi since she was 13 – faces hurdles gaining her U.S. citizenship, without which the couple cannot compete at the Olympics. Last May, she petitioned U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be deemed an “alien with extraordinary ability” under the immigration code, which would help smooth the way for legal permanent residency status. She was denied and filed suit against the USCIS, later dropping the action.

Carreira is still working to achieve a pathway to U.S. citizenship and prefers not to discuss the issue.

“I can’t really say anything,” she said. “We’re working on it, we’re hoping for the best.”

Citizenship issues never entered the skaters’ minds when they teamed up in the spring of 2014. Ponomarenko and his parents, 1988 Olympic ice dance champions Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, had long admired Carreira’s skating. When he and his former partner Sarah Feng split after the 2014 U.S. Championships, he tried out with Carreira in Novi.

“We really worked well together from the beginning,” Ponomarenko said. “I had wanted to skate with Christina for a really long time even before getting together, so it was no-brainer. The bump in the road (citizenship) can be worked through.”

“There were so many good factors it would be, I think, stupid to let something that can be fixed get in the way of (our partnership),” Carreira said. “We didn’t even think about it.”

The ice dance competition in Greensboro kicks off with the rhythm dance on Friday afternoon, with medalists decided with the free dance on Saturday night.

MORE: 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships TV, live stream schedule

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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Coronavirus forces Olympic soccer and boxing qualifiers to move

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Olympic qualifying events in two sports were moved from the Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday because of an outbreak of a deadly viral illness.

A four-nation Asian qualifying group for the women’s soccer tournament was switched from the city at the center of the health scare to Nanjing.

The Asia-Oceania boxing qualifying tournament scheduled for Feb. 3-14 in Wuhan was cancelled. No new plans were announced.

The decisions followed Chinese health authorities telling people in Wuhan to avoid crowds and public gatherings.

The Asian Football Confederation said the round-robin group — featuring host China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand — will be played on Feb. 3-9, retaining the same dates, in Nanjing.

More than 500 people have been infected and at least 17 killed since the outbreak emerged last month. The illness comes from a newly identified type of coronavirus.

Cases have also been reported in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. All involve people from Wuhan or who recently traveled there.

In the soccer qualifiers in China, two teams advance to a four-nation playoff round in March. That will decide which two teams from Asia join host Japan at the Tokyo Olympics.

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