Second-fastest 400m hurdles ever, steeplechase spill at NCAA track champs (video)

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USC junior Rai Benjamin tied Edwin Moses with the second-fastest 400m hurdles time ever, headlining a highlight day at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Friday.

Benjamin clocked 47.02 seconds in the rain at the last major meet at Hayward Field, which will be demolished and rebuilt for 2020. Only 1992 Olympic champion Kevin Young‘s world record of 46.78 seconds is faster. Benjamin lowered his personal best from 47.98.

The legendary Moses, a two-time Olympic champion who won 122 straight races in the 1980s, also ran 47.02 in 1983.

Benjamin is a runner without a country, reportedly born in the Bronx to parents from Antigua and Barbuda. The IAAF lists Benjamin with Antigua, but he said Friday that he’s still in the process of trying to switch to the U.S. The IAAF currently has a freeze on nation transfers, though, so Benjamin cannot compete at the USATF Outdoor Championships in two weeks.

NCAAS: Full Meet Results

Also Friday, USC sophomore Michael Norman ran the 11th-fastest 400m ever, winning in 43.61 seconds. Norman, fifth in the 2012 Olympic Trials 200m at age 18, now ranks sixth all-time in the event.

Norman trails Wayde van Niekerk (43.03), Michael Johnson (43.18), Butch Reynolds (43.29), Jeremy Wariner (43.45) and Quincy Watts (43.50) in 400m history.

Finally in the men’s steeplechase, Houston’s Brian Barraza crashed hard off a barrier on the last lap after leading the whole race. He finished 10th.

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Swim meet canceled after FINA’s threat to ban athletes

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GENEVA (AP) — Amid growing conflict between swimmers and their world governing body, an international swimming meet was canceled on Thursday after threats to ban athletes who took part seeking better prize money.

The Italian swim federation called off the Dec. 20-21 competition it was organizing in Turin, saying it acted to protect athletes from FINA.

The Turin meet was linked to a proposed International Swimming League, a privately run operation which aims to operate outside FINA’s control and pay higher prize money.

“FINA declared the event ‘non-approved,’ threatening sanctions against the participating athletes,” Italian officials said in a statement.

FINA, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some Olympic champions have long criticized FINA, believing swimmers should be better rewarded, have more say in decisions, and could create their own union.

Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Britain wrote on Thursday on Twitter he was “incredibly disappointed” by the cancellation.

The politics involved will “galvanize swimmers, not break them,” wrote Peaty, who holds 50m and 100m breaststroke world records.

Peaty has previously supported Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu in her public criticism of FINA, and calls to create a swimmers’ union.

Italian organizers said Peaty, Hosszu and other Olympic champions including Chad le Clos of South Africa and Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden were due to take part in their 25-meter pool event. It was scheduled days after the short-course world championships being staged in Hangzhou, China.

The clash of events seemed to provoke FINA into finding more prize money for its worlds event in the smaller pool.

On Nov. 6, FINA added to its promised prize fund for China by almost doubling the total to $2.07 million.

FINA wrote to member federations on Oct. 30 warning of bans of up to two years for taking part in Turin.

However, a European Commission decision last year suggests swimmers could successfully challenge any attempt to limit their right to race and earn money.

The European Union’s executive arm ruled the International Staking Union in breach of anti-trust laws by threatening severe bans for speed skaters who wanted to compete in a South Korean-organized event in Dubai.

The ISU’s threats “also serve to protect its own commercial interests,” the European officials said.

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Simon Ammann believes ski jumping career end is near

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Simon Ammann, the most decorated active ski jumper with four Olympic gold medals, said it is hard to imagine competing beyond this season, according to Swiss newspaper Blick.

Ammann, 37, swept the individual Olympic titles in 2002 and 2010 to join retired Finn Matti Nykänen as the only four-time Olympic ski jumping champs.

In PyeongChang, his sixth Olympics, Ammann placed 11th and 13th, one month after making his first World Cup podium in nearly three years. He decided after those Winter Games that he would continue at least one more season, but has no plan to go all the way to a seventh Olympics in 2022, according to Blick.

Ammann has teased retirement since at least 2011 and even said going into the 2014 Sochi Olympics that he was “99 percent sure” they would be his final Games.

The now-father of two first gained crossover celebrity with his surprise Salt Lake City 2002 gold medals, his first wins in top-level international competition. The bespectacled Ammann’s victory screams and resemblance to Harry Potter helped land him on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and one of Europe’s biggest shows, sitting next to Shakira.

Fellow ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan holds the Winter Olympic record of eight appearances. Kasai, 46, has said he plans to go for a ninth participation at Beijing 2022.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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