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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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WATCH LIVE: U.S. Figure Skating Championships rhythm dance, women’s free skate

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Can Bradie Tennell hold off 14-year-old Alysa Liu? The U.S. Figure Skating Championships crowns its female medalists on Friday, live on NBC Sports.

Action starts with the rhythm dance at 4:30 p.m. ET for NBC Sports Gold subscribers, with NBCSN broadcast coverage joining in at 5. The women start at 7:25 on Gold, with NBC TV coverage starting at 8.

LIVE STREAM: Rhythm dance — Gold | NBCSN | Skate Order
LIVE STREAM: Women’s free skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Tennell topped Thursday’s short program with a clean slate of jumps, plus the highest artistic score.

She bettered Liu in the short program last year, too, but fell in the free skate to take silver. Liu, meanwhile, landed two triple Axels to win by 3.92 points and become the youngest U.S. champion in history.

Another skater to watch is Gracie Gold, the two-time U.S. champion competing at nationals for the first time in three years. Gold, lauded for her return from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety, struggled with jumps in the short and is in 13th place of 18 skaters.

In the rhythm dance, past U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates are expected to begin a duel that should come down to Saturday’s free dance.

Key Skate Times
5:32 p.m. — Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue
5:38 — Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker
5:44 — Madison Chock/Evan Bates
8:07 — Gracie Gold
10:03 — Karen Chen
10:11 — Amber Glenn
10:27 — Bradie Tennell
10:35 — Mariah Bell
10:43 — Alysa Liu

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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.

Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, who defected, eyes Tokyo Games as German or refugee

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LÜNEN, Germany (AP) — Iran’s only female Olympic medalist said Friday she wants to compete for Germany after defecting from her native country.

Kimia Alizadeh is trying to rebuild her life and career after she announced this month she had left Iran, citing sexism on the part of officials there.

“Even if I do not make it to the Olympics, it does not matter because I have made up my mind,” Alizadeh said at a meeting with journalists at a taekwondo club.

“I am sure that I will be judged by many, but I am just 21 years old and can attend world tournaments and future Olympics. However, I will spare no effort to get the best result at this time as well.”

She added she doesn’t expect ever to compete in Iran again.

Alizadeh was just 18 when she won bronze in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, catapulting her to instant fame at home. Despite Iran’s long history of victories in men’s wrestling and weightlifting, no Iranian woman had ever won a medal before.

However, Alizadeh was frustrated with life in Iran despite her Olympic success. In an Instagram post this month announcing she had left Iran, she accused Iranian officials of sexism and criticized wearing the mandatory hijab headscarf.

Alizadeh hasn’t given up hope of being able to compete at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo. However, getting there would require highly unusual exemptions from the usual rules on nationality switches and qualification, regardless of whether she tries to represent Germany or the International Olympic Committee’s refugee team.

Alizadeh spent time in the Netherlands before heading to Germany this week to meet with taekwondo officials there. The German Taekwondo Union has spoken up in favor of Alizadeh staying in the country in what it calls a first step toward her gaining nationality and becoming eligible to compete for Germany.

“If the German government assists me and I can go through this process as fast as possible, I might be able to make it to the Olympics, too,” she said.

In recent years, many Iranian athletes have left their country, citing government pressure. In September, the former world judo champion Saeed Mollaei moved to Germany after walking off the Iranian team at the world championships in Japan. He said Iranian officials had tried to force him to withdraw so as not to compete against an Israeli opponent.

Alireza Faghani, an Iranian international soccer referee, also left Iran for Australia last year.

Alizadeh said she just wants “a peaceful life,” and she’s not looking back.

“I have a great feeling to have made a decision for my life that would definitely change my future,” she said. “I think it is not even clear enough now and. in the years to come, I will understand what a good decision I made.”

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