Christian Coleman’s sprint reign begins with world indoor title (video)

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Christian Coleman‘s time is now.

The U.S. Olympian won the 60m at the world indoor championships in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Saturday, his first of what could be years’ worth of global gold medals.

Coleman clocked 6.37 seconds to top China’s Su Bingtian by .05 of a second. Coleman is the only man to run faster than 6.39 all time, and he’s done it three times in the last two months (twice under world-record conditions).

Coleman was merely a preliminary 4x100m relay runner in Rio after his sophomore year at the University of Tennessee, but his last year has been incredible:

*A 40-yard dash one tenth faster than the NFL Combine record
*Swept NCAA 60m, 100m and 200m titles
*Second at the 2017 U.S. Outdoor Championships in the 100m and 200m
*100m silver medal at 2017 World Outdoor Championships between Justin Gatlin and Usain Bolt
*
In 2018, ran faster than the 60m world record three times

Gatlin, who skipped the indoor season, is an aged 36. Bolt retired. Coleman, who turns 22 on Tuesday, has to be the early 2020 Olympic 100m favorite.

“I want to make sure I etch my name in history,” Coleman told media before taking a congratulatory phone call from 2000 Olympic 100m champion Maurice Greene, reportedly adding, “I have a good chance to lead the sport in the post-Bolt era.”

On Friday, Coleman said, “I don’t want to be the, you know, next Usain Bolt; I want to be Christian Coleman and, in a few years from now, maybe have people saying, ‘Who’s going to be the next Christian Coleman?'”

WORLD INDOORS: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

In other events Saturday, Kendra Harrison won her first global meet medal, a gold in the 60m hurdles. Harrison tied the American record of 7.70 seconds. She shockingly missed the 2016 Olympic team (then broke the 100m hurdles world record at her next meet) and was fourth at the 2017 World Outdoor Championships.

American Sandi Morris won the pole vault with a 4.95-meter clearance. Morris took silver at the most recent world indoor and world outdoor championships and the Rio Olympics.

Will Claye ended his silver streak in the triple jump, leaping 17.43 meters to edge the silver and bronze medalists by two and three centimeters, respectively. Claye took silver at the last two Olympics and last year’s worlds, all behind fellow American Christian Taylor, who is not entered at world indoors.

Courtney Okolo won the 400m in 50.55 seconds, making her the fourth-fastest American all time. Shakima Wimbley made it a U.S. one-two. None of the top five women from the 2016 Olympics or 2017 World Outdoor Championships were entered in Birmingham.

Sydney McLaughlin, who made the 2016 U.S. Olympic team in the 400m hurdles at age 16, remains the fastest woman in the 400m this season with her 50.52 from last week. McLaughlin is also not at world indoors.

Ethiopian world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba won the 1500m in 4:05.27, adding to her 3000m title from Thursday. Dibaba won either the 1500m or 3000m at the 2012, 2014 and 2016 World Indoors, but this was her first double.

American Drew Windle took silver in the 800m behind Poland’s Adam Kszczot. Windle was disqualified for obstruction shortly after the final and reinstated two hours later.

The original men’s 400m gold and silver medalists, Spain’s Óscar Husillos and Dominican Luguelín Santos, were also later disqualified. More than a dozen runners overall were disqualified for stepping on lane lines or obstruction through three days of the four-day meet.

World outdoor decathlon champion Kevin Mayer of France won the indoor equivalent heptathlon by a mere five points over Canadian Damian Warner.

World Indoors concludes Sunday on NBCSN, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and NBC Sports Gold.

World Indoors marks the lone global meet of the year, since outdoor worlds are held in odd-numbered years, and the next Olympics are in 2020.

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VIDEO: All runners disqualified in world indoors 400m race

10 takeaways from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Here, the NBC Sports figure skating contributors reflect on the standout moments of the 2020 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Nathan Chen and Alysa Liu of course come to mind, though there were plenty of other moments to remark upon along the way. 

Women

1. Alysa Liu proved that she could do it again. She validated her insistence that there was no more pressure in successfully defending a title compared to winning her first title. 

Plus, the amusement of seeing the 4-foot-10 14-year-old needing help ascending the top step of the awards podium doesn’t get old either. Mariah Bell and Bradie Tennell helped hoist her for the second year in a row. Liu next competes at world juniors, where she will take on a formidable pair of Russian “K’s”: Kamila Valieva and Ksenia Sinitsyna, both of whom outscored her on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. To win the crown, Liu may need a fully rotated quadruple Lutz, something that eluded her in Greensboro.

2. Speaking of Bell, she comes out of the championships with her already-improving confidence another notch higher after the free skate of her life and her best nationals finish ever, a silver medal. In tears before she even hit her final pose, she deservedly got an overwhelming standing ovation.

When asked how she felt about being the No. 1 senior U.S. woman, she said, “It’s a very special feeling. I haven’t had that before in my career, so that was awesome. The coolest thing about it was how into it the crowd was.” 

Now, let the calculations begin: can Bell and Tennell gain three U.S. women’s spots for next season’s world championships? To do so, the sum of their placements at the 2020 World Figure Skating Championships cannot be greater than 13 (for example, sixth and seventh).

3. Rounding out the memorable moments of the women’s event were the returns of Olympians Karen Chen and Gracie Gold. Chen, the 2017 national champion, missed the entirety of last season with a right foot stress fracture, and now is a freshman at Cornell. She finished fourth, and gained an assignment at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships early next month. With her competitive juices flowing again, Chen told reporters she was considering taking a gap year from college.

Two-time U.S. champion Gold, of course, triumphed simply by qualifying for her first national championships since 2017 after time away from the sport for treatment for depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. After a mediocre short program, Gold did a respectable free skate, and the crowd gave her a standing ovation, an emotional reward that left her with grateful tears. It moved Gold, who finished 12th, to vow she would continue her comeback for at least another season.

Men

4. Nathan Chen’s fourth straight U.S. title puts him in the company of five men since World War II, all of whom won Olympic gold medals, with Brian Boitano (85-88) the most recent. Chen, a Yale sophomore, was the first to do it in the IJS and quadruple jump eras (he went six-for-six in quads in the two programs), and the fourth came after a case of the flu bad enough he could practice only intermittently the first two weeks of January. “I don’t know anybody who could recover and do what he did after that sickness,” coach Rafael Arutunian said of Chen.

5. Tomoki Hiwatashi’s continued improvement: two clean programs with three clean quads for the bronze medal. His showmanship, including Russian split jumps, are to die for. Last season, Hiwatashi finished a surprise fourth at nationals but had disappointing 10th and fifth places in his debut competitions on the senior Grand Prix debut. The 2019 world junior champion has put himself into the mix for a 2022 Olympic team spot — if he can improve his consistency. 

6. Except for that pesky quad, Jason Brown put it all together at nationals for the first time since 2014. If he can execute all the elements as brilliantly as he did in Greensboro, a clean quad might put him in bronze medal contention at the 2020 World Championships, given the consistent inconsistency of all the top men after Chen and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.

7. In the past month, Vincent Zhou turned his life inside out, taking a leave from Brown University to focus on skating after completing the first semester of his freshman year and switching coaches to Lee Barkell and Lori Nichol in Toronto. Despite that upheaval and little intense training, the reigning world bronze medalist and 2019 U.S. silver medalist had two solid performances to finish fourth, strategically limiting his quads to one in each program. Although Zhou had skipped the Grand Prix season, his choice as a world team member over Hiwatashi was totally justified under the selection criteria in use.

Ice dance

8. Madison Chock and Evan Bates made ice dance — and figure skating — history when they became the first U.S. skater, couple or pair team to go five years between national titles since the 1920s. They topped two duos they train with, Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, to win their first title since 2015, also won in Greensboro. Their widely acclaimed slithering “Snake Charmer” free dance likely sets them up to glide to the world championship podium, but another showdown with Hubbell and Donohue awaits at Four Continents.

Pairs

9. Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson had a breakthrough moment in the pairs’ event with one of the most memorable free skates in the last 20 years. Calalang’s joyous disbelief was palpable when she and Johnson got their score (146.01, the highest ever at nationals) for a program that had the crowd out of its seats before it even ended

“In my head, I’m like, ‘We got 119 at Skate Canada. We got 120-something at Warsaw.’ So, I was like, ‘Okay, we did both jumps… maybe 130,” she said, recalling her mental play-by-play. “Then it’s 140. Ohmigod, I’ve never dreamed of getting this score. I didn’t think it was possible.” 

Added Johnson: “No one can take that moment away from us.” 

Especially poignant words as Calalang and Johnson were passed over in favor of Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc for the world championships teams. Calalang and Johnson are slated to participate at Four Continents, where they can continue to build a body of work that will impress U.S. Figure Skating’s International Selection Committee next time around.

10. Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim won their third U.S. pair title in Greensboro, joining such company as John Zimmerman and Kyoko Ina, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, and Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard. The couple skated a clean and memorable short program to “At Last,” including side-by-side triple toe loops. In the free skate, though, Knierim fell on his triple toe and the skaters doubled their planned triple Salchows. Despite their superior triple twist and lifts, in order to crack the top five in the world, Scimeca Knierim and Knierim need to get consistent on their jumps, and the California-based skaters are working with Arutunian to do so.

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U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Full Results | Women’s | Ice dance | Pairs | Men’s | Worlds roster

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.

China’s first Winter X Games postponed due to coronavirus

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A Winter X Games competition due to be held in Chongli, China, next month has been postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in China.

“Due to the ongoing coronavirus concerns, the X Games Chongli 2020 event will be postponed until a later date,” organizers announced via Twitter. “The safety of our athletes, staff and spectators is our top priority, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

The competition would have been the first Winter X Games held in China. Shanghai has hosted many X Games in the summer, including a event last June.

As with an Alpine skiing World Cup event that was canceled Wednesday, the X Games were due to take place at a 2022 Olympic venue, Chongli’s Secret Garden ski report. The venue hosted a World Cup snowboard event in December.

READ: First Alpine World Cup in China canceled

Several of the most decorated X Games and Olympic athletes, including two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion Jamie Anderson, were scheduled to compete in China.

The coronavirus outbreak has also affected qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics, with boxing and women’s soccer tournaments moved from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Asia-Oceania boxing qualifiers will be held March 3-11 in Amman, Jordan, with coverage on the Olympic Channel. The women’s soccer qualifiers, including traditional power China and a strong Australian team, were originally moved to Nanjing but then moved to Sydney, Australia.

China’s team has arrived in Australia but is under quarantine, putting the start of the qualifiers in doubt.

Aspen hosted the biggest X Games competition of the winter last week. Another X Games is scheduled for March 7-8 in Norway.

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