Usain Bolt does not regret racing in 2017; no desire to compete again

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Usain Bolt was steadfast. Now is the right time to retire.

The 30-year-old said he did not race one year too many. He feels no need to compete again, to continue on and end his career with a victory.

“No, I think I’ve seen too many people retire and come back into the sport to really make it worse or to shame themselves,” Bolt said Sunday at the 2012 Olympic Stadium, where he came for one final lap of honor on the last day of the 10-day meet. “I personally won’t be one of those persons to come back.”

The eight-time Olympic champion can live with losing his last two races — to polarizing rival Justin Gatlin in the 100m at worlds in London on Aug. 5 — and tumbling to the track in the 4x100m relay on Saturday.

“I don’t think one championship is going to change what I’ve done,” he said. “I remember, after losing the 100m, someone said to me, ‘Usain, don’t worry, Muhammad Ali lost his last fight also.'”

Bolt said he would have an MRI on Monday to assess what he called a “pulled hamstring” that bit him about 15 strides into his relay anchor leg Saturday.

It’s certainly a different ending than what could have been. Bolt left the Olympic stage on top in Rio, sweeping the sprints and kissing the track rather than lying on it face down in pain.

In hindsight, should Bolt have retired one year ago?

“No, I’m fine,” he said. “As I’ve told you, my fans, they wanted to see me one more year. I told you guys, this was about my fans. … If I could come out here and give the fans a show, no matter how it ended, for me, I’m happy.”

Bolt’s immediate future?

“Party,” he said. “I need to go out and have a drink.”

In the following months and years could come more headlines about Bolt dabbling in soccer. Maybe a family.

“Hopefully three kids,” by 20 years from now, he said, adding that he wouldn’t force them into track and field.

Months before these worlds, Bolt wondered if the farewell would move him to tears. He had never cried at a track meet.

“I think I almost cried,” Bolt said. “It was close, but they [tears] didn’t come. I was just saying goodbye.”

That doesn’t mean it was not emotional.

“It’s just really sad that I have to walk away now,” he said.

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April Ross, Alix Klineman back atop Olympic beach volleyball qualifying

April Ross, Alix Klineman
FIVB World Tour
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Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross and new partner Alix Klineman moved back on top of the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball qualifying standings by winning an event in Itapema, Brazil this week.

Ross, who split from Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2017, and Klineman beat Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes 25-23, 18-21, 15-10 in Sunday’s final for their third title in 11 FIVB World Tour tournaments together.

“Every victory is important, but this counts for more,” Klineman said, according to the FIVB. “We want to send a message and we want to be consistently the best.

Ross and Klineman supplanted Walsh Jennings and her new partner, Brooke Sweat, for the lead in the early U.S. Olympic qualifying rankings with still more than a year of events ahead.

1. Ross/Klineman – 3,240 (5 events played)
2. Walsh Jennings/Sweat – 3,100 (7 events)
3. Day/Flint – 2,180 (5 events)
4. Hughes/Ross — 2,000 (4 events)
5. Larsen/Stockman — 1,840 (5 events)
6. Sponcil/Claes — 1,600 (3 events)

Each team’s 12 best results from Sept. 1, 2018, to June 14, 2020, go into the Olympic qualifying rankings. That means Ross and Klineman are comfortably in front, having played two fewer events than Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who lost in the quarterfinals in Itapema.

The top two U.S. pairs come June 15, 2020, provided they’re ranked high enough internationally, will qualify for Tokyo. Most of the qualifying events, including the ones with the most points available, are still to come this summer.

Ross, 36, picked up Klineman, 29, after Walsh Jennings didn’t join her in signing a domestic AVP contract in 2017. The 6-foot-5 Klineman primarily played indoor the previous decade, including at Stanford from 2007-10 after being the Gatorade National Player of the Year coming out of high school.

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Katie Ledecky extends 5-year win streak

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Katie Ledecky extended a five-year domestic win streak by taking the 200m freestyle at the Tyr Pro Swim Series at Bloomington on Saturday.

In her last full meet before July’s world championships, Ledecky clocked 1:55.80 to beat training partner Simone Manuel by 1.44 seconds for her second win in as many days. Ledecky is also entered in Sunday’s 800m free on the last day of the meet.

Ledecky, who also cruised to a 400m free victory on Friday, ranks third in the world in the 200m free this year, behind Australian Ariarne Titmus and Swede Sarah Sjöström (the Olympic silver medalist who is not expected to race the 200m free at worlds).

Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion, hasn’t lost a 200m, 400m, 800m or 1500m free final at a domestic meet since Allison Schmitt beat her in a 200m free on Jan. 18, 2014 when Ledecky was 16 years old.

BLOOMINGTON: Full Results

But Ledecky lost the two biggest 200m frees of this Olympic cycle so far, at the 2017 World Championships and the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. Italian veteran Federica Pellegrini handed Ledecky her first individual final defeat at a major international meet at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky dropped to third in the 200m free at Pan Pacs in Tokyo last year, beaten by younger swimmers Taylor Ruck of Canada and Rikako Ikee of Japan.

Ruck, who like Ledecky trains at Stanford, is in Bloomington, but she chose not to swim the 200m free on Saturday. She instead swam the 200m backstroke about 45 minutes after the 200m free and was upset by 17-year-old Regan Smith. Smith won in 2:06.47, moving to No. 3 in the world this year.

In other events Saturday, Ella Eastin captured the 400m individual medley in 4:37.18, taking 1.25 seconds off her personal best and moving to fifth in the world this year. Eastin is not on the world championships team after an untimely bout with mono before qualifying meets last summer.

Blake Pieroni won the men’s 200m free in 1:47.25. No American ranks in the top 20 in the world this year. World silver medalist Townley Haas did not enter Bloomington.

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