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Noah Lyles vs. Olympic, world medalists in Lausanne; preview, TV schedule

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Noah Lyles may have just lost to a countryman, but something closer to a world championships preview could come at Friday’s Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Streaming starts at 1 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, with TV coverage at 2 p.m. on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

Lyles is the fastest man in this Olympic cycle in the 200m (19.65 seconds from last year), but he lost for the first time since the 2016 Olympic trials three weeks ago.

Michael Norman edged him, 19.70 to 19.72, but Norman is expected to focus strictly on the 400m at the USATF Outdoor Championships in three weeks. That would keep him out of the 200m at worlds in Doha in late September.

So Lyles must look elsewhere for competition. He will find it in Lausanne by way of 2016 Olympic silver medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada and 2017 World champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey.

The field was even more formidable. But it was hurt by two withdrawals: Nigerian Divine Oduduru, who won the NCAA title for Texas Tech in 19.73, and Akeem Bloomfield, the fastest Jamaican (19.81) since Usain Bolt gave up the 200m after Rio.

Guliyev is 0-6 lifetime against Lyles, according to Tilastopaja.org. De Grasse lost his only head-to-head with the 21-year-old American. If Lyles gets through Lausanne unblemished and then past Christian Coleman and anybody else at USATF Outdoors, it’s hard to imagine him relinquishing the favorite tag at worlds.

Here are the Lausanne entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

Thursday
12:30 p.m. — Women’s Pole Vault

Friday
1 p.m. — Women’s Javelin
1:05 — Women’s Shot Put
1:20 — Women’s Triple Jump
1:54 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
2:03 — Women’s 400m
2:10 — Men’s Pole Vault
2:10 — Women’s 200m
2:18 — Women’s 800m
2:25 — Women’s High Jump
2:28 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
2:37 — Men’s 800m
2:45 — Men’s Long Jump
2:46 — Women’s 100m
2:55 — Men’s 5000m
3:15 — Men’s 100m
3:23 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
3:32 — Men’s 1500m
3:42 — Men’s 200m

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s Pole Vault — 2:10 p.m. ET
For the second straight week, the reigning Olympic, world and European champions and the world-record holder convene. Louisiana-born Swede Mondo Duplantis prevailed at Pre, beating American Sam Kendricks for the second time in 11 head-to-heads. Duplantis and Kendricks are also both entered in next week’s meet in Monaco as they continue to vie for world champs favorite status.

Women’s 100m — 2:46 p.m. ET
Two of the most anticipated events at Pre were the women’s 100m and 200m, but none of the superstars put up an impressive time. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Dafne Schippers and Dina Asher-Smith get another chance here, taking on the surprise 100m winner at Pre — Marie-Josee Ta Lou. The key time is 10.73, the fastest in the world this year shared by 2016 Olympic champion Elaine Thompson (not in this field) and 2008 and 2012 gold medalist Fraser-Pryce.

Men’s 5000m — 2:55 p.m. ET
Couldn’t ask for a much better marquee now that Mo Farah is done track racing. Lausanne pits the Olympic silver medalist behind Farah (American Paul Chelimo), the man who beat Farah at 2017 Worlds (Ethiopian Muktar Edris), the active 5000m runner with the fastest personal best (Ethiopian Selemon Barega) and the fastest in the world this year (Ethiopian Telahun Bekele). Barega, 19, and Bekele, 20, are the favorites. The former has finished first or second in his five Diamond League 5000m the last two seasons. The latter lowered his personal best by 11.65 seconds to edge Barega in Rome on June 6.

Men’s 1500m — 3:32 p.m. ET
What once was shaping up as a two-man fight for best in the world has shifted in the last five weeks. Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot‘s only three losses since the start of 2018 were to countryman Elijah Manangoi at the Commonwealth Games, African Championships and this season’s Diamond League opener in Doha. But Manangoi was 10th and 12th in his last two outings, both won by Cheruiyot, who is now the clear world champs favorite. Manangoi is absent from Lausanne, but Cheruiyot could have his hands full with Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman and Norwegian brothers Filip and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who were second, third and fourth at the Pre Classic.

Men’s 200m — 3:42 p.m. ET
Lyles has to be targeting sub-19.7 to take the fastest time in the world this year from his friend Norman. He ran 19.69 at this meet last year, one of four times he broke 19.7 in 2018 (Bolt is the only other runner to do that in one year). That should easily be enough for the win, given nobody has been faster since Bolt’s 2015 World title. Nobody else in the Lausanne field has broken 19.9 in his career.

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Collin Morikawa jumps into projected Olympic golf field

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Collin Morikawa would not have qualified outright for the Tokyo Olympics had they been held this summer. Now, after winning the PGA Championship, he is third overall in global qualifying for the Tokyo Games in 2021.

Morikawa, a 23-year-old who took the same number of PGA Tour starts to win his maiden major as Tiger Woods (29), went from an alternate for the expected four-man U.S. Olympic team to No. 2 among Americans in the early qualifying standings, according to golf rankings guru @VC606 on Twitter.

Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed are the other Americans in qualifying position, according to @VC606.

Morikawa, whose father is of Japanese descent, turned professional in June 2019 and made his first 22 cuts, a feat bettered only by Woods.

The 23-year-old could become the youngest U.S. Olympic male golfer since 1904 (important note: golf was not part of the Olympic program from 1908 through 2012). Come next summer, he will still be younger than all but seven men from the Rio Olympic golf field of 60, according to Olympedia.org.

Olympic golf qualifying standings will fluctuate significantly. There are five major championships left in the qualifying window, starting with the U.S. Open in September and finishing with next summer’s U.S. Open, both airing on NBC Sports.

How tough will it be to make the U.S. Olympic team? Consider that the three Americans to win majors in 2019 — Woods, Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland — are currently not in Olympic qualifying position.

The U.S. has seven of the top nine in the Official World Golf Ranking, which is calculated differently than Olympic qualifying.

MORE: Nosferatu is golf’s Olympic rankings guru. Who is he?

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He controversially beat Roy Jones Jr. for Olympic gold. He wishes he had silver.

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The last South Korean boxer to win an Olympic gold medal has spent the past 32 years wishing it was a silver.

Entering the men’s light-middleweight final against an American teenager named Roy Jones Jr. on the last day of the 1988 Games in Seoul, Park Si-Hun fantasized about etching his name in the pantheon of South Korean sports legends in front of a delirious home crowd.

He did get his gold three rounds later, but not the way he envisioned.

Park’s win by a 3-2 decision remains as one of the most controversial moments in boxing history, as Jones had seemed to dominate the fight from start to finish.

The outcome drew instant criticism and disdain, even from South Koreans, who heckled Park at the podium and bombarded local TV stations with phone calls protesting that the country’s home advantage had gone too far.

Jones went on to have a phenomenal professional career, retiring in 2018 with a 66-9 record that cemented him as one of the sport’s all-time greats. He is now a boxing commentator and is planning to fight Mike Tyson in an exhibition of retired greats later this year.

Deeply shaken and scarred, Park quietly retired at the end of the Seoul Games and spent the next 13 years as a middle- and high-school teacher in a rural seaside town before making a return to competitive boxing as a coach.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Park said his dream was to see one of his boxers pull off a convincing gold-winning performance in a future Olympics, which he said would possibly give him some sense of redemption and closure.

After three decades, it still stings that his gold is seen as a smudge on the image of the Games his country still glorifies as its coming-out party to the world.

“There’s hardened resentment built up in me that I will probably carry for the rest of my life,” said Park, 54, who now coaches the small municipal boxing team of Seogwipo City in the island province of Jeju.

“I didn’t want my hand to be raised (after the fight with Jones), but it did go up, and my life became gloomy because of that.”

Park still grimaces when talking about his match with Jones.

Desperate for Olympic glory, Park had gutted out the tournament with a broken right hand he suffered during training. He said it didn’t really matter until he met Jones, the one opponent in Seoul who was quicker than him.

With the injury taking away his right-hand, Park simply had no chance at slowing Jones, who was coming at him with “excellent speed, power and technique.”

“I was pretty quick for a middleweight, but Jones was at a different level,” Park recalled. “A boxer just knows whether he had won or lost a match. I thought I lost because I didn’t put up a fight deserving of a win.”

Park said he felt “confused” when the referee raised his hand. Wearing a stunned look on his face, Park awkwardly embraced and held up an expressionless Jones into the air.

He said he couldn’t wait to get off the podium, where he smiled weakly and slowly waved a bouquet of flowers toward the stands as fans let out hesitant cheers and scattered boos.

An even more humiliating moment came when a South Korean national broadcaster invited all of the country’s 12 gold medalists to a live TV celebration shortly after the Games. The host treated Park like he wasn’t there while interviewing each of the other 11.

There was an outpouring of media criticism and what Park described as “unspeakable” insults, which included derisive public calls for him to forfeit his medal.

The emotional distress “was like being hit with a hammer on the back of your head, again and again.”

“I keep thinking how my life would have been happier had I finished second,” Park said. “A gold medal is important, but isn’t any Olympic medal satisfying and glorious?”

Park said the sense of defeat and depression sometimes led to suicidal urges. He credits his wife for helping him navigate out of his darkest moods. The couple contemplated moving to a different country before deciding to stay after they had children.

Their youngest child, Rei, now a 20-year-old college student in Louisiana, has his own athletic ambitions, training as a javelin thrower with dreams of competing in the 2024 Olympics.

Park said he keeps his Olympic gold framed on a wall at his home in mainland South Korea, along with other awards he won in amateur competition. He doesn’t recall ever bringing it out of the house.

While Park doesn’t have many regrets about never going pro, saying he probably wouldn’t have gone far with an evasive style built for efficiency and avoiding hits but not for initiating pain, he still watched Jones’ post-Olympic triumphs with envy.

He wondered whether the public would ever forget the fiasco surrounding his gold medal, which the South Korean media brought up after almost every Jones fight or whenever there was controversy in any Olympic sport. He would try to laugh it off whenever students asked about his gold at school.

After overlooking him for years, South Korea’s boxing association reached back to Park in 2001, asking him to coach the national team following years of disappointing performances in international events, which reflected a dearth of talent in the sport.

During his on-and-off coaching stints with the national team since then, Park trained several boxers who performed decently in various events, but they never came close to an Olympic gold.

Park had the highest hopes for Lee Ok-Song, who won the men’s 51kg division in the 2005 World Championships. But Lee failed to reach the quarterfinals of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and retired after the Games.

Park said he had occasionally kept in touch with Jones, including a brief telephone conversation with him in 2004 while visiting Atlanta for an international event.

The International Olympic Committee in 1997 concluded it had found no evidence to support bribery allegations against the judges who voted in favor of Park in the Seoul Games.

The U.S. Olympic Committee had called for an investigation in 1996 after documents belonging to East Germany’s Stasi secret police revealed reports of judges being paid to vote for South Korean boxers.

While Park left South Korea’s national team after the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, he hasn’t given up on his goal of winning an Olympic gold as a coach.

Among the four boxers he trains in Seogwipo, Park is most impressed with Kang Hyeon-Bin, who competes in the men’s 64kg division, and Cho Hye-Bin, a woman in the 51kg category.

“I am constantly looking for a raw stone I could polish into a jewel,” he said. “I want to sculpt a true Olympic gold medalist with my own hands and see that fighter take the highest spot on the podium. That would restore my honor and allow me to leave the boxing ring for good.”

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