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Noah Lyles meets Justin Gatlin, fate in Monaco; TV, stream schedule

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Noah Lyles‘ immediate future in the 100m could ride on what happens in Monaco on Friday.

Lyles and world champion Justin Gatlin headline a Diamond League meet, two weeks before each is to appear at the USATF Outdoor Championships. Monaco streaming starts at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold, with TV coverage at 2 p.m. on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

Lyles, 21 and the world’s top 200m sprinter, will reportedly decide after the meet whether to enter both the 100m and the 200m or simply the latter at nationals, the qualifying meet for the world championships in Doha in late September/early October.

Lyles, who just missed the 2016 Olympic team out of high school and could not compete at 2017 Worlds due to injury, has long said he will focus on strictly the 200m at nationals and worlds.

“Until I see something in the 100m that is very definitive of, I can walk away with a [world championships 100m] medal and still be able to get away with a gold in the 200m, it’s going to be the 200m in Doha right now,” Lyles said last month.

The 100m final at worlds is Sept. 28. The 200m starts with heats Sept. 29.

Lyles ranks second in the world this year in the 100m behind world championships favorite Christian Coleman (who is not in Monaco). He is fastest in the world this year in the 200m by a comfortable two tenths of a second. And the world’s second-fastest 200m sprinter, Michael Norman, is expected to sit out the event in favor of the 400m.

Still, Lyles speaks like a man who has never competed at a global championship.

“The Gold isn’t mine till I physically hold it my hands,” Lyles tweeted after clocking that 19.50 on Friday, making him the fourth-fastest man in history behind Usain BoltYohan Blake and Michael Johnson. It was in response to NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon suggesting Lyles should double in the 100m and 200m as he is already expected to take the 200m crown.

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

Thursday
1 p.m. — Women’s Triple Jump

Friday
1:30 p.m. — Men’s Javelin
1:35 — Men’s Pole Vault
2 — Women’s High Jump
2:03 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
2:15 — Women’s 800m
2:25 — Men’s 400m
2:35 — Men’s 1500m
2:40 — Men’s Triple Jump
2:50 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
3 — Men’s 800m
3:10 — Women’s 200m
3:20 — Women’s Mile
3:35 — Men’s 100m
3:45 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s 400m Hurdles — 2:03 p.m. ET
Sydney McLaughlin, the 19-year-old hurdles wunderkind, puts her two-year win streak on the line against the last two world champions (countrywoman Kori Carter and Czech Zuzana Hejnová) and Olympic bronze medalist Ashley Spencer. McLaughlin won her Diamond League 400m hurdles debut in Oslo on June 13 despite hitting the first hurdle. Here she can take aim at the fastest time in the world this year, a 53.61 set by Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad, who is not in the Monaco field.

Men’s 1500m — 2:25 p.m. ET
Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot has strengthened his grip on this event in recent weeks. The world silver medalist won the Pre Classic mile and then clocked the world’s fastest 1500m in nearly a year in Lausanne last Friday. Challengers include 18-year-old Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who clocked the second-fastest time in the world this year in taking runner-up to Cheruiyot in Lausanne. Monaco has produced the fastest 1500m time in the world in six of the last seven years.

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:40 p.m. ET
Will Claye, silver medalist at the last two Olympics, spiced up the triple jump by leaping 18.14 meters on Jun 29 to join the 18 club and become No. 3 all-time in the event behind 2000 Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards and 2012 and 2016 gold medalist Christian Taylor. Taylor is in the Monaco field. As is the No. 3 active triple jumper, Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo.

Women’s 200m — 3:10 p.m. ET
Olympic 200m champion Elaine Thompson takes on Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo for the first time since April 2018. Thompson is fastest in the world this year at 22.00, while Miller-Uibo has clocked 21.88 back in 2017. This is the Bahamian Miller-Uibo’s first 200m of this season. She’s already the 2019 world leader in the 400m. But the 200m and 400m overlap at worlds, which forces Miller-Uibo to pick one event in Doha.

Men’s 100m — 3:35 p.m. ET
Lyles and Gatlin face off for just the second time. The first was in the 200m at the 2016 Olympic trials, where Gatlin won and Lyles finished fourth, just missing making the Olympic team at 18 years old. Two of the other top U.S. men, Mike Rodgers and Craven Gillespie, are in this field. As is Nigerian Divine Oduduru, the NCAA champion from Texas Tech.

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Maya Moore withdraws from Olympic consideration

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Maya Moore, the U.S. second-leading scorer at the Rio Olympics, withdrew her name from Tokyo Olympic consideration and will skip a second straight WNBA season.

Moore is on hiatus from competitive basketball to focus on criminal justice reform. Specifically, the case of a man who was sentenced to 50 years in prison but Moore believes is innocent, according to The New York Times.

USA Basketball confirmed Wednesday’s Times report that Moore took her name out of consideration for the 12-player Tokyo Olympic team, which is expected to be named in late spring or early summer.

“We are going to miss Maya tremendously, but we also respect her decision,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said, according to the report. “A player of Maya’s ability does not walk away from the gym lightly. Everyone feels it. The thing that makes her so special is her approach, her dedication, which has always been contagious for our team.”

Moore last played for the U.S. in major competition at the Rio Olympics. She was one of the leaders on a team that earned a sixth straight gold medal. Moore started all eight games and averaged 12 points per game, second on the team behind fellow former University of Connecticut star Diana Taurasi.

Breanna Stewart, another former UConn standout, entered the starting lineup at the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Moore’s absence and earned tournament MVP. Stewart is returning after missing the entire 2019 WNBA season with an Achilles tear.

Moore also started five games at the 2012 London Olympics as the team’s youngest player.

Moore, 30, said “this is not the time” to retire, according to the Times, but it’s unknown when she might return to the national team or to the WNBA, where she won four titles and an MVP with the Minnesota Lynx from 2011-18.

“I got to experience the best of my craft, and I did that multiple times,” Moore said, according to the report. “There is nothing more I wish I could experience.”

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Major League Baseball sponsors U.S. Olympic softball team

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NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is using its financial muscle to support the U.S. women’s softball team, which already is assured a spot in the Tokyo Olympics while the American men’s baseball team struggles to qualify.

MLB announced an agreement Thursday to become presenting sponsor of the women’s “Stand Beside Her” tour, a slate of exhibition games leading up to the Olympic tournament from July 22-28.

“We’re both bat and ball sports. Even though we’re not the same sport, there are so many similarities that you just can’t ignore,” said Kim Ng, MLB’s senior vice president for baseball operations. “It was important for us to make sure that they have this acknowledgment and recognition of their ability and their talent.”

Softball began as an Olympic sport for the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 with players that included Dot Richardson, Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza, then lost to Japan in the 2008 gold-medal game.

Baseball and softball were dropped for the next two Olympics, then restored for this year, when the U.S. and Japan will be joined by Australia, Canada, Italy and Mexico for games in Fukushima and Yokohama but not Tokyo. The sports are likely to be dropped for 2024 in Paris but could return four years later in Los Angeles.

The U.S. men’s baseball team stumbled in its first attempt to qualify, wasting a ninth-inning lead against Mexico in the final game of the Premier12 tournament in November and losing in the 10th. The U.S. has two more chances to join Israel, Japan, Mexico and South Korea in the Olympic field: an Americas tournament in Arizona from March 22-26 and a final tournament in Taiwan from April 1-5.

MLB is not allowing players on 40-man big league rosters to compete in qualifying, and few top pitching prospects were at the November tournament.

Softball has no such issues. The Olympics are the sport’s highest-profile event.

“The platform for us is 10 times bigger,” American outfielder Haylie McCleney said. “For us, it’s a great opportunity for people that have never watched softball before, people that have only followed it at the collegiate level, to really see how fun our game is to watch, how pure it is. If people are baseball fans, I guarantee they’re going to love softball because it’s pretty much just a faster game – it’s shorter, it’s quicker, it’s more entertaining to watch, in my opinion.”

The 2008 gold-medal softball game took 1 hours, 45 minutes — less than half the 3:45 average for this year’s World Series.

As part of the deal with MLB, the softball team’s official training facility will be at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida, the old Dodgertown spring training camp.

MLB Network will include programming from the tour, which currently starts Feb. 4 in Tampa and has about three dozen stops.

The U.S. women’s soccer team has attracted huge television audiences. MLB sees softball as an opportunity for the sport’s growth.

“These are world-class athletes,” Ng said. “Because we have not been in the Olympics for the last 12 years, they just haven’t had that stage. So it’s really important at this point that we show as much support as we can for them.”

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