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Noah Lyles can break Usain Bolt record; Diamond League Brussels TV, live stream info

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Noah Lyles still has a ways to go to challenge Usain Bolt‘s 200m world record, but over the next month he can finish a campaign that rivals Bolt’s greatest seasons.

Lyles headlines the Diamond League Finals in Brussels on Friday. NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage at 12:20 p.m. ET. NBCSN airs coverage at 11 p.m.

The 22-year-old phenom can break his tie with Bolt for the most times breaking 19.8 seconds in the 200m in one year.

Bolt did it four times in 2009 (actually broke 19.7 four times), when he lowered the world record to 19.19 seconds. Lyles broke 19.8 in four meets in 2018 and is now on four occurrences in 2019 with three weeks before the world championships. Perhaps Bolt would have done it more often, but he was known for keeping his races to a minimum.

Lyles has shown little restraint, dipping down to the 100m to challenge (and beat) Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman. He’s lost just one outdoor 200m since placing fourth at the 2016 Olympic Trials out of high school.

He is a huge favorite at his first worlds in Doha, given his 19.50 clocking on July 5, the eighth-fastest in history and .37 faster than anybody in Friday’s field has recorded this year.

Lyles could be in for something special in Brussels. At last year’s Diamond League Finals (in Zurich), he had his most impressive performance of the year, a 19.67 into a slight headwind.

In Lyles’ last 200m, in Paris on Aug. 24, he broke Bolt’s 200m meet record and then Instagrammed, “Bolt who?” The accompanying photo had Lyles holding an index finger to his mouth in a shushing gesture.

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

Thursday
11:10 a.m. — Men’s Shot Put

Friday
12:23 p.m. — Women’s Discus
1:02 — Women’s Long Jump
1:24 — Women’s Pole Vault
1:45 — Women’s High Jump
2:03 — Men’s 400m
2:12 — Women’s 100m
2:18 — Men’s Discus
2:20 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
2:37 — Men’s 200m
2:45 — Women’s 5000m
2:46 — Men’s Triple Jump
3:11 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
3:18 — Men’s 1500m
3:33 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
3:41 — Women’s 800m
3:53 — Women’s 400m Hurdles

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 1:24 p.m. ET
The third meeting among the last two Olympic champions (Katerina Stefanidi and Jenn Suhr) and the Olympic and world silver medalist Sandi Morris this season, but none of the three were winners at the previous stops. Six different women have won Diamond League stops, and Suhr, who has the best clearance this year, isn’t one of them. Favorite status for worlds is there for the taking.

Men’s 400m — 2:03 p.m. ET
Michael Norman, world’s fastest man this Olympic cycle, races for the first time since suffering his first 400m defeat in years at the USATF Outdoor Championships in July. The man who ended that streak, Fred Kerley, is also in the field. In fact, Brussels could be statement meet for the U.S. men. Norman, Kerley and Nathan Strother could sweep the 400m on Friday and at worlds with Olympic champion and world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk still sidelined after his 2017 knee tear. Should any of them win Friday, Vernon Norwood gets added to the 400m team for worlds.

Men’s 200m — 2:37 p.m. ET
Nobody here has ever beaten Lyles. It includes surprise 2017 World champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey and Olympic silver medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada, but Lyles was absent from both of those major meets. Some of the other men with the highest ceilings for worlds — Coleman (who rarely races 200m) and Divine Oduduru and Kenny Bednarek, who have been slow since their NCAA seasons ended — are not in Brussels.

Women’s 5000m — 2:45 p.m. ET
A meeting of the world 5000m champion (Kenyan Hellen Obiri) and the world-record holders in the mile (Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan) and the 3000m steeplechase (Beatrice Chepkoech). Chepkoech is an underdog and an unknown, having finished just two 5000m races in her career (and none this year). Obiri beat Hassan in their four head-to-heads, including the last two that turned out to be the two fastest 5000m races in history when accounting for the top four finishers.

Men’s Triple Jump — 2:46 p.m. ET
Will Claye, who took silver or bronze behind Christian Taylor at two Olympics and two world championships, has a chance to draw nearly even with Taylor in their all-time head-to-head in the triple jump. Taylor currently leads 25-24, but Claye is having the better summer and bettered him in Paris two weeks ago for his first Diamond League win in five years. Taylor once dominated, but four different men have won the four Diamond League events this season, and all of them are in Brussels.

MORE: Christian Coleman cleared of drug-testing charge

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Rafael Nadal wins Australian Open first round; Maria Sharapova exits

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal says he’s thinking about his next opponent … and his next practice session … and trying to recreate the superb tennis he played in his straight-set victory in the Australian Open’s first round.

What he insists is not on his mind is the number 20 — as in Roger Federer’s record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, which Nadal would equal by claiming the trophy at Melbourne Park.

“I don’t care about 20 or 15 or 16. I just care about (trying) to keep going, keep enjoying my tennis career. It’s not like 20 is the number that I need to reach. If I reach 20, fantastic,” Nadal said Tuesday, raising his hands in the air. “If I reach 21, better. If I (stay at) 19? Super happy about all the things that I did in my tennis career, no?”

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

He must have been pleased with the way his 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 win over Hugo Dellien went.

That was built with a 38-15 edge in winners and breaks in eight of Dellien’s 11 service games.

Nadal, at age 33 the oldest No. 1 in ATP history, owns 19 major championships, but only one came in Australia, 11 years ago.

Twelve, of course, were collected at the French Open, four at the U.S. Open and two at Wimbledon.

“I won the U.S. Open a few months ago, and I was super happy in that moment. But today I’m happier than if I didn’t win the U.S. Open? Probably not,” Nadal said with a hearty laugh. “The only thing I can do is put all my efforts on (trying) to keep going the best way possible. The rest of the things, the future will see.”

Former No. 1-ranked Maria Sharapova’s run of first-round exits at the majors continued with a 6-3, 6-4 loss to 19th-seeded Donna Vekic.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam title winner, was given a wild card for the main draw at Melbourne Park after her year-end ranking slipped to 136 in 2019 after a season interrupted by injuries. Her ranking falls outside the top 300 now.

The 2008 Australian Open winner reached the fourth round here last year, missed the French Open and then lost in the first rounds at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

A few young Americans were also eliminated Tuesday.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, seeded fourth after his U.S. Open runner-up, took out 2019 Australian Open quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Fast-rising teenager Amanda Anisimova played her first Grand Slam match since her father, who also coached her, died last year. His sudden passing came just before the U.S. Open, so she withdrew from that tournament.

Anisimova reached the semifinals of the French Open in 2019 at age 17, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to get that far at a major. She was ranked 51st at the time and unseeded.

Now 18, she was seeded 21st at Melbourne Park, but was beaten 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 by Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

Credit Fabio Fognini with a career Grand Slam of comebacks: His 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) rain-interrupted victory across two days against Reilly Opelka of the U.S. gave the 12th-seeded Italian a total of eight wins in matches after dropping the opening two sets.

And now that he’s done it at the Australian Open, Fognini has a full collection, with at least one such reversal at each of the four major tournaments. According to the International Tennis Federation, only 11 other men have done it at each Slam, a group that includes Federer, Rod Laver and Boris Becker, but not Nadal or Novak Djokovic.

The most famous example of an 0-2 comeback by Fognini came against Nadal at the 2015 U.S. Open. Fognini said he doesn’t recall all of his turnaround victories, but he sure does remember that one.

So does Opelka, who rued the fact that play was halted against Fognini because of showers Monday after the initial game of the third set.

Opelka said that Nadal match wasn’t really on his mind, but “if anything, it was just more to have me prep to expect (Fognini) to want to win and believe in himself that he can win. Clearly, he did.”

Felix Auger-Aliassime is considered a future star of men’s tennis, a 19-year-old from Canada who was seeded 20th at the Australian Open — and is already out after a first-round loss against Ernests Gulbis, who once was a young up-and-comer himself.

Back when he was in his 20s, Gulbis reached the French Open semifinals and earned a spot in the top 10 of the ATP rankings. A series of injuries waylaid his career, including a back problem in 2019; he entered Tuesday ranked only 256th and needed to go through qualifying just to get into the main draw.

Made the most of it, though, beating Auger-Aliassime 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

“We saw the good Gulbis today,” Auger-Aliassime said.

The 31-year-old Gulbis, who is from Latvia, described himself as “emotional when I was walking back to the locker room, because it’s not easy. Its not easy to come back. It’s not easy to play Challengers. But these moments are really worth it.”

MORE: Top U.S. male tennis player to skip Tokyo Olympics

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40 years ago today: Jimmy Carter lays plan for Olympic boycott

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On Jan. 20, 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter said he would not support sending a U.S. team to the Moscow Olympics later that summer if the Soviet Union did not withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Carter detailed his stance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” airing that Sunday. A transcript:

Bill Monroe: Assuming the Soviets do not pull out of Afghanistan any time soon, do you favor the U.S. participating in the Moscow Olympics, and if not, what are the alternatives?

Carter: No. Neither I nor the American people would support the sending of an American team to Moscow with Soviet invasion troops in Afghanistan. I’ve sent a message today to the United States Olympic Committee spelling out my own position that unless the Soviets withdraw their troops within a month from Afghanistan that the Olympic Games be moved from Moscow to alternate site or multiple sites or postponed or canceled. If the Soviets do not withdraw their troops immediately from Afghanistan — within a month — I would not support the sending of an American team to the Olympics. It’s very important for the world to realize how serious a threat the Soviets’ invasion of Afghanistan is. I do not want to inject politics into the Olympics, and I would personally favor the establishment of a permanent Olympic site for both the Summer and the Winter Games. In my opinion, the most appropriate permanent site for the Summer Games would be Greece. This will be my own position, and I have asked the U.S. Olympic Committee to take this position to the International Olympic Committee, and I would hope that as many nations as possible would support this basic position. One hundred and four nations voted against the Soviet invasion and called for their immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan in the United Nations, and I would hope as many of those as possible would support the position I’ve just outlined to you.

Monroe: Mr. President, if a substantial number of nations does not support the U.S. position, would not that just put the U.S. in an isolated position without doing much damage to the Soviet Union?

Carter: Regardless of what other nations might do, I would not favor the sending of an American Olympic team to Moscow while the Soviet invasion troops are in Afghanistan.

Three days later, Carter said in his State of the Union address, “I have notified the Olympic Committee that with Soviet invading forces in Afghanistan, neither the American people nor I will support sending an Olympic team to Moscow.”

The Soviets did not withdraw troops.

Though Carter did not have the authority to order a boycott, the U.S. Olympic Committee did decide on April 12 not to send a team.

The U.S. was among more than 60 nations that were invited to the Moscow Games and did not participate (for various reasons). Other notable absences included Canada, West Germany, Japan and China.

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