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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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Kelly Slater has an Olympic decision to make

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Surfing icon Kelly Slater is in great position to qualify for his sport’s Olympic debut in 2020, but he’s undecided about making a required event appearance this summer to stay eligible.

The top two U.S. male surfers in this season’s World Surf League final standings are in line to qualify for the Olympics.

Slater, a 47-year-old, 11-time world champion, is ranked third among Americans through six of 11 events, but the No. 2, two-time world champion John John Florence, is likely out for the rest of the season after an ACL tear.

If Slater keeps up his current pace of results, he will pass Florence’s point total by the end of the season in December.

“It appears as though I have to make a decision [on the Olympics] sooner than that,” Slater said after being eliminated from South Africa’s J-Bay Open in ninth place on Wednesday. “I’ve really got to figure out all the factors around that and make a decision in the next few weeks.”

Slater’s concern is the ISA World Surfing Games in Miyazaki, Japan, in September, an event that top Olympic hopefuls on the WSL tour are required to attend, barring illness or injury.

“I think I have to surf that event, and if I don’t, it may disqualify me,” he said (the International Surfing Association, the sport’s governing body, later confirmed it would disqualify him). “But I’m not sure if I want to go to Japan and compete right now.”

The ISA Games take place in the week between the next two WSL events, the latter hosted by Slater’s Surf Ranch wave pool in California.

“I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the Olympics right now, anyways,” said Slater, who last year said he was “50-50” on the Olympics when noting his differing thoughts on the qualification process and venue. “The point is, I’m not really focusing on it at this point. I’m trying to get myself back in the flow of the tour.”

Slater missed 13 tour stops between the 2017 and 2018 seasons after breaking a foot and having multiple surgeries.

He finished fifth, third, ninth, ninth and ninth in his five most recent events to get into Olympic qualifying position. He expected more after placing third in the two contests he entered healthy last season. Slater said he competed at J-Bay after straining his back “really bad” on Sunday, keeping him from surfing the three days before the contest.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, at 48, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, via the OlyMADMen.

“Right now in my head the focus is more on this tour than it is on the Olympics, but we’ll see,” he said. “I was starting this year with a lot of pressure on myself to try and make the Olympic team and think, maybe I’ll retire there next year and that will be the end for me. It put so much pressure on the start of the year for me that I didn’t feel like I could freely compete. It was putting too many things in my head. I needed to let that take a backseat and not worry about it. I’m just not really thinking about it a lot.”

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

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China on brink of sweeping every gold medal at diving worlds

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Shi Tingmao joined Guo Jingjing as the only women to win three straight world titles in an individual diving event, giving China 11 gold medals in 11 events with two finals left in Gwangju, South Korea.

Shi, who swept the individual and synchronized springboard titles in Rio, claimed the 3m world title on Friday by 18.25 points with 391 total. Countrywoman Wang Han took silver, 5.8 points ahead of Australian Maddison Keeney.

Americans Sarah Bacon and Brooke Schultz missed the 12-woman final, placing 14th and 29th.

China, which has dominated the sport for two decades, is looking to sweep the golds at an Olympics or worlds for the second time after winning all 10 events in 2011. This year’s feat could be more impressive, should China win the last two events Saturday — a mixed-gender springboard and the men’s platform.

That’s because three mixed-gender events were added to the world program (but not the Olympic program) since 2011. And this year, China has not only won every gold but also taken every silver in the three individual Olympic program events thus far.

China is in strong position to go one-two in the men’s platform. Yang Jian and Yang Hao were nearly 70 points clear of the field in Friday’s semifinals.

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