The athlete with the oldest world record in men’s track wants it to fall

Leave a comment

The longest-standing world record in men’s track races, set at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, recently came under threat for the first time. It could go down this season, perhaps as early as Saturday. Ask the man who has owned it for nearly 27 years, and he’ll say it’s past expiration.

“My world record should have been broken years ago by Angelo Taylor, and then it should have been broken by Kerron Clement,” Kevin Young said of the winners of three of the last five Olympic 400m hurdles. “They’re supposed to be able to with their talent level.”

But they haven’t. Up until last June, nobody had run within two tenths of a second of Young’s 46.78 seconds since he clocked it atop majestic Montjuïc at the Barcelona Games.

American Rai Benjamin and Qatari Abderrahman Samba could better it on Saturday at a Diamond League meet in Shanghai (preview and TV/stream info here). They ran 47.02 and 46.98 in separate meets last June, the second- and third-fastest 400m hurdles in history.

“It might survive this week,” NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon said, “but it may also get destroyed.”

Boldon, then an 18-year-old Olympic rookie for Trinidad and Tobago, was so eager to be around Young and Quincy Watts that he offered to carry their bags in Barcelona. He watched the 400m hurdles final at the stadium.

“The only record left that’s probably better is Mike Powell‘s long jump,” he said.

Young had to wait his turn in the 1980s behind Edwin Moses, who won the 1984 Olympics amid a 122-race win streak. In fact, he spent the five years before the Barcelona Olympics carrying a magazine article that called him Moses’ heir, NBC Sports’ Craig Masback said.

“Edwin’s the GOAT. I’m the FOAT,” the fastest of all time, Young said by phone from his home in Georgia, where he still teaches clinics and follows the pro scene closely. Young understands Moses may never lose that title, but that his own days are numbered.

“I’m OK with that,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of firsts. First one under 47 seconds. First one to win an ESPY in track and field. No one saw me coming but me.”

Young woke every morning in the Barcelona Olympic Village staring at the number 46.89, which he wrote in pencil near his headboard. It was .13 faster than Moses’ world record at the time.

When Young clocked a hand-timed 46.68-second 400m on the practice track, the first half without hurdles and the second half with the 36-inch-high barriers, he knew sub-47 was possible come the full event.

Young said he still remembers his step pattern between the 10 hurdles in the final — 13, 13, 12, 12, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13. Tall (6 feet, 4 inches) and leaner than Moses, he was born for this event and nicknamed “Spiderman.”

“I knocked over the last hurdle, set the world record, kept running around the track and everybody went home to go visit the president,” he said. “I had to stay in Europe to go to the rest of my meets.” Young met Prince Albert of Monaco and, reportedly, the King and Queen of Sweden.

Benjamin said in an interview last year that he’s messaged with Young, who congratulated him on winning the 2018 NCAA Championships in 47.02 seconds for USC (Benjamin transferred from UCLA, which was where Young walked on to the track team).

“I told Rai that he needs to get all the money he can from shoe companies,” Young said. Benjamin turned pro last June, forgoing his last year at USC. “Don’t take less than $5 or $6 million because he deserves it. Save your money, get an insurance policy and invest it now.”

Young believes Benjamin and Samba are primed to break the record. He noted Benjamin breaking 20 seconds in the 200m in his first professional, international race, after a long college season. Samba, who didn’t become a serious 400m hurdler until 2017, broke 47 seconds a total of nine times last year with a last 150 meters that put Young on notice.

“The two of them should just concentrate on racing and put the record thing in the back of their mind, don’t even think about it,” Young said. “If they focus on competing and run fast, the record will go down.”

MORE: Allyson Felix: I stand with Caster Semenya

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

Leave a comment

Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

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.

Mikaela Shiffrin, with 66th World Cup win, moves one shy of career dream

Leave a comment

Mikaela Shiffrin has said one of her career dreams is to win in every discipline in one season. She is now one victory shy of realizing it.

Shiffrin earned her 66th World Cup victory — and her second in three days — at a super-G in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Sunday.

She prevailed by .29 of a second over Italian Marta Bassino and .70 over Swiss Lara Gut-Behrami. Gut-Behrami, the last skier other than Shiffrin to win a World Cup overall title back in 2016, earned her first podium in exactly one year.

Full results are here.

“Perfect weekend for me,” said Shiffrin, who moved one shy of recently retired Austrian Marcel Hirscher for third place on the World Cup career wins list. “The whole team is excited about the whole weekend, but especially today.”

She is en route to a fourth straight World Cup overall title. And she is a combined victory away from wins in all five disciplines in one season. Only Marc GirardelliPetra KronbergerJanica Kostelic and Tina Maze have done it.

“The thing that I’m most proud of right now is that I know how to win in slalom, [giant slalom], super-G and downhill, which I never expected that would really happen,” she said.

Shiffrin struggled with confidence during a winless stretch in early January, trying not to compare herself to last season, when she won a record 17 times. She still leads the men’s and women’s tours with six victories this season, a little more than halfway through.

“Every race is such a big fight, and I haven’t been the one on top of this fight every time,” she said. “Certainly I’ve been like sometimes the expectations that I have or that other people might have, I’m not quite living up to that. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like I’m failing sometimes, even though this is still just an incredible season.”

There are two combined races left this season for Shiffrin to achieve the dream — Feb. 23 in Switzerland and March 1 in Italy. While combined — mixing a speed run and a technical run — might seem perfect for Shiffrin, she has one victory in four starts in the discipline between the World Cup and Olympics.

And Shiffrin is careful about her race schedule. She is undecided on entering a downhill and super-G next weekend at the 2014 Olympic venue in Russia.

“After this weekend my brain is a little bit dead,” she joked.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule