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Kohei Uchimura pulls out of world all-around, record streak ends

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MONTREAL — Kohei Uchimura‘s eight-year streak as world’s best gymnast came to an end Monday.

Uchimura pulled out of the world championships all-around qualification with a left ankle injury after three of six events at the 1976 Olympic Stadium.

He was given crutches to get around the arena, watching his countrymen finish the night.

“I feel very sorry for the people who came to support me,” Uchimura said, according to a translator. “I apologize to my teammates.”

The Japanese megastar won the last six world all-around titles and the last two Olympic all-around titles, the longest streak of dominance in gymnastics history.

Uchimura limped badly after his second event in qualifying, vault (video here).

Uchimura said he initially felt so much pain in his left leg that he thought of French gymnast Samir Aït Saïd, who broke his left leg on a gruesome vault landing in Rio. Aït Saïd was in the same qualifying session as Uchimura on Monday.

“After the vault, I couldn’t even walk,” Uchimura said. “I just wanted to keep trying to finish the competition.”

Uchimura moved to parallel bars. He landed his dismount awkwardly, keeping pressure off that left leg.

He then warmed up for his fourth event, high bar, but landed on his back rather than his legs and then hobbled off the competition floor. He decided not to go through with his full routine.

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A team official said later that Uchimura had dealt with left ankle pain since the 2015 World Championships, but he looked fine leading into these worlds.

After Uchimura suffered the injury on his vault, the official told Uchimura to play it safe with the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in mind.

Uchimura won every world all-around title in the last two Olympic cycles, plus the Olympic golds in 2012 and 2016. He became the first gymnast to repeat as Olympic all-around champion since countryman Sawao Kato in 1972.

Uchimura, 28, could have become the oldest Olympic or world all-around champion in at least 50 years this week.

Instead, the favorites are now Olympic silver medalist Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine and 2015 World silver medalist Manrique Larduet of Cuba.

Larduet had the top qualifying score through the first three of four qualifying sessions. U.S. champion Yul Moldauer had the seventh-best score with some gymnasts still to qualify Tuesday morning.

The all-around final is Thursday.

Uchimura’s days as an all-around gymnast are numbered. He said before the Rio Olympics that he may limit his focus to one or two events for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

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2018 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships broadcast schedule

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NBC Sports and NBC Sports Gold combine to air daily live coverage of the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships from Thursday through Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa.

Athletes will compete for national titles and spots on the team for the first Athletics World Cup in London next month. More details on Athletics World Cup qualifying here.

While veteran Olympic champions will miss the event, a new generation of sprinters headlines the entry lists. A full competition schedule is here.

Noah Lyles and Michael Norman, who were fourth and fifth in the 2016 Olympic Trials 200m as 18-year-olds, have been the most impressive U.S. male sprinters this season and go head-to-head for the first time in two years.

Sydney McLaughlin, who reached the Rio Olympic 400m hurdles semifinals as a 17-year-old, is entered in the 400m.

Olympic and world champions also scatter the distance races and field events, including Matthew Centrowitz and Jenny Simpson (1500m), Emma Coburn (3000m steeplechase), Christian Taylor (Olympic triple jump champ also entered in the 400m), Tianna Bartoletta and Jeff Henderson (long jump), Jenn Suhr (pole vault) and Michelle Carter and Ryan Crouser (shot put).

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Day Time (ET) Network Key Events
Thursday 2-11 p.m. NBC Sports Gold 100m first round, 10,000m finals
Friday 12:30-11 p.m. NBC Sports Gold 100m finals, 400m semifinals
11 p.m.-1 a.m. NBCSN, Gold
Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Finals: 400m, 1500m, 100m hurdles
4-6 p.m. NBC, Gold
Sunday 12:30-6 p.m. NBC Sports Gold Finals: 200m, 5000m, 110m hurdles
4-6 p.m. NBC, Gold

Allyson Felix among sprinters to miss USATF Outdoor Championships

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Olympic gold medalists Allyson FelixJustin GatlinTori BowieLaShawn MerrittBrianna McNealKerron Clement and Dalilah Muhammad are among the stars not entered in this week’s USATF Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

Christian Coleman, who took 100m silver at 2017 Worlds between Gatlin and Usain Bolt, will also miss the event.

Any athlete not on the current entry list will not compete.

Big-name absences aren’t shocking this year given it is the only year in the four-year cycle without an Olympics or world championships to qualify for at nationals.

Felix, Gatlin, Bowie and Coleman have all dealt with injuries or withdrawn from international meets this spring. Merritt hasn’t raced on the Diamond League circuit this season.

Felix, the American record holder with 25 combined Olympic and world outdoor championships medals, will not race at senior nationals for the first time since 2002, when she was 16 years old.

A new generation of sprinters will headline nationals, including Noah Lyles and Michael Norman in the 200m and Sydney McLaughlin in the 400m. Phyllis Francis, the world 400m champion, is entered in the 200m. Kori Carter, the world 400m hurdles champion, is in the 100m hurdles with world-record holder Kendra Harrison.

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