U.S. sweeps mixed-gender events at IAAF World Relays

Leave a comment

The U.S. dominated the opening night of the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan, highlighted by winning both finals in unusual mixed-gender events.

University of Oregon wide receiver turned Olympian Devon Allen anchored the shuttle hurdles relay, where two runners of each gender cover 110 meters per country. Each relay exchange (sans baton) is made at the opposite end of the track.

Allen received a lead from Christina Clemons, Freddie Crittenden and Sharika Nelvis, and the Americans won a two-team final over Japan by .63 of a second in 54.96. Jamaica withdrew before the final due to an injury, and Australia false-started out of the final.

Donavan Brazier and Ce’Aira Brown combined to win the 2x2x400m, essentially a 4x400m but with only two runners (one of each gender). Kenya had the early edge because it led off with its male runner, while Brown was the U.S.’ leadoff.

Brazier, the U.S. indoor 800m record holder, made up a 7.8-second deficit on Kenya’s female runner on the anchor split to win in 3:36.92, holding off Australia by .69.

The U.S. also advanced in all of the relays that have Sunday finals — both 4x100m, both 4x400m and the mixed 4x400m, which makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo. Sunday’s race schedule and TV/stream schedule is here.

Justin Gatlin headlined a 4x100m preliminary squad that had the fourth-fastest time from Saturday’s heats. Anchor Cameron Burrell, the son of former world-record holder Leroy Burrell, had to slow up to receive the baton from Isiah Young before the end of the exchange zone.

Noah Lyles, the world’s fastest 200m sprinter over the last two years, is expected to join the 4x100m for Sunday’s final. Olympic silver medalist Japan failed to advance after placing third in its heat due to one of the most impressive baton handoffs in history (that would get it disqualified).

U.S. champion Aleia Hobbs anchored the women’s 4x100m preliminary heat squad that advanced in 42.51 seconds, .52 ahead of second qualifier Germany. World 100m champion Tori Bowie was expected to lead this quartet, but she withdrew before the meet.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Justin Gatlin finds missing piece of his career at IAAF World Relays

David Boudia wins U.S. title, qualifies for worlds after break from diving

Leave a comment

David Boudia, after a year away from diving, two more children, a concussion and a goodbye to the platform, is back in familiar territory. He’s on the U.S. team for the world championships.

Boudia, a 30-year-old, four-time Olympic medalist, outscored fellow Rio Olympian Michael Hixon to win the springboard at the U.S. Championships on Saturday.

The top two per individual event by cumulative score at nationals go to July’s worlds in South Korea. Boudia was in third place going into the finals but had the top Saturday score by 23.35 to leap onto the team with Hixon.

“It’s relieving, but in my mind, as an athlete, there’s a lot of work to be done before 2020,” Boudia said on NBCSN. “I have to learn new dives if I want to contend with the best in the world.”

Later Saturday, Rio Olympian Amy Cozad Magaña and Delaney Schnell made the world team in the women’s platform, with Schnell helping knock out Rio Olympian Jessica Parratto. Competition concludes Sunday with the women’s springboard and men’s platform.

Boudia, whose 72 career Olympic dives all came off the platform, switched to the more forgiving springboard after a February 2018 concussion.

He considered retiring after a third Olympics in Rio, where he earned synchro silver and individual bronze after an individual gold at London 2012. He even began a real-estate job in Indiana. But he announced a diving comeback in September 2017, saying he didn’t want to have any “what ifs” later in life.

Boudia then beat Hixon at the 2018 Winter Trials, proving he could master the new event. The other Rio Olympian on the springboard, Kristian Ipsen, has retired.

Boudia has competed at every Olympics and world championships since 2005, except in 2017 of course, and is the only U.S. diver to earn a medal in an individual Olympic event at either meet since 2009.

“I don’t think I have been that nervous since 2005,” Boudia said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five.”

Cozad Magaña, 28, placed seventh in synchro at the Rio Olympics and plans to retire after 2020. Schnell, 20, was sixth individually at the 2016 Olympic Trials and second at the 2017 world trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Relive Greg Louganis diving board accident on 30th anniversary

U.S. men’s rugby team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. men's rugby sevens team
Mike Lee/KLC
Leave a comment

The U.S. became the first men’s rugby team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, clinching its spot Saturday during penultimate leg of this season’s World Series.

The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, mathematically secured a place in the top four of the World Series final standings by advancing out of pool play in London. The knockout rounds are Sunday, but a top-eight finish was all that was necessary for Olympic qualification.

Now the U.S. can focus on a goal it didn’t have at the start of the year: winning the nation’s first World Series season title. It entered London with a slim, three-point lead over Olympic champion Fiji, one that would be erased if Fiji and the U.S. advance to Sunday’s final and Fiji wins.

Regardless, the season champion will be decided at the 10th and final World Series stop in Paris next weekend.

The Americans held onto the standings lead despite being without two stars — two-time World Player of the Year Perry Baker and Danny Barrett — the last three World Series stops. Baker and Barrett returned from injuries for the London leg.

Four years ago, the U.S. needed to go to a continental qualifier to earn in its place in Rio. Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in 2016, 92 years after the traditional 15-a-side rugby last appeared at the Games. The Americans ended up ninth in Brazil, missing the quarterfinals on a tiebreaker.

World powers Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa are in position to join the U.S. as Olympic qualifiers through the World Series.

Seven more nations will qualify via continental tournaments later this year and a last-chance event in June 2020. Japan received an automatic spot as host nation.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Nate Ebner on transition from Olympic rugby back to NFL