Noah Lyles becomes fourth-fastest man in history in 200m

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Noah Lyles responded to his first outdoor 200m defeat in three years with his fastest time ever, a 19.50 bettered only by Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Michael Johnson.

Lyles cemented himself as the world’s dominant half-lapper in Lausanne on Friday with the world’s fastest 200m since Usain Bolt‘s 2012 Olympic title. It’s the eighth fastest in history overall, and it came into a slight headwind.

Incredible time. Impeccable timing for a statement race.

Lyles lost to fellow 21-year-old American Michael Norman in his last 200m in Rome on June 6 (19.70 to 19.72), blemishing his sterling record since finishing fourth at the 2016 Olympic trials and turning pro out of high school.

On Friday, Lyles wore socks inspired by the Japanese superhero manga series My Hero Academia. “It’s time to go Plus Ultra,” he posted on social media before the meet, referencing the motto of the hero academy U.A. High School.

Next up for Lyles is a Diamond League 100m in Monaco next Friday against world champion Justin Gatlin.

Lyles has said he will race strictly the 200m at the USATF Outdoor Championships in two weeks, where the top three per event are in line to make the team for this fall’s world championships, but with every super sprint many are calling for him to double in the 100m and 200m.

Lyles is the joint-second-fastest man in the world this year in the 100m at 9.86 seconds, trailing only Christian Coleman. Norman is not expected to enter the 200m at nationals (his focus is the 400m), clearing the path for Lyles to easily qualify in that event.

Full Lausanne results are here.

In other events, Gatlin earned his first Diamond League 100m victory since Lausanne two years ago, pulling away and shutting it down in 9.92. The 37-year-old clocked 9.92 seconds, breaking 10 for the second straight week.

Gatlin was runner-up to Coleman at the Pre Classic on Sunday in 9.87, his fastest time since the 2016 Olympic trials. Coleman, the fastest man in the world every year in this Olympic cycle, was not in Lausanne. Gatlin has a bye into worlds as defending champion.

Double Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 100m in 10.74, just .01 off the fastest time this year shared by Fraser-Pryce and countrywoman Elaine Thompson. Thompson, the Rio gold medalist, was not in the Lausanne field.

World silver medalist Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain needed every bit of the second-fastest time in the world this year (49.17) to hold off Niger’s Aminatou Seyni, who lowered her national record from 50.24 to 49.19.

Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who was not in Lausanne, remains fastest this year with a 49.05. Olympic silver medalist Allyson Felix has yet to race this season as she returns from childbirth.

Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha won the 5000m after countryman Hagos Gebrhiwet miscounted the laps and sprinted to the finish line as the bell rang signaling one lap left. Gebrhiwet briefly celebrated before realizing his error and ending up 10th, 9.03 seconds behind Kejelcha’s 13:00.56.

Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot won the 1500m in 3:28.77, the fastest time in the world since Cheruiyot’s personal-best 3:28.41 last July 20. Norwegian 18-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen lowered his personal best to 3:30.16 for second place.

Poland’s Piotr Lisek upset world champion Sam Kendricks and 2018 world leader Mondo Duplantis in the pole vault. Lisek had the world’s best clearance this year, 6.01 meters.

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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.”

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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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