Two months from COVID-19 fight, Joey Mantia hopes to see his stock rise at World Championships

ISU World Cup Speed Skating - Heerenveen
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As if Joey Mantia hasn’t faced enough unpredictability this season, the two-time Olympic speed skater decided to add even more volatility to his life.

Mantia has been learning how to trade stocks by watching YouTube videos while holed up in a hotel in Heerenveen, Netherlands. With athletes in the protective bubble having 10 days off between their two World Cups in January and the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships, Mantia decided to study the stock market “on a whim.”

In a couple of day trades to test the waters, he made “six or seven bucks” and has more in play. “I haven’t lost any money yet, so that’s good,” Mantia said.

He’s hoping for good returns on his speed skating investment when competition starts Thursday. But after a bout with COVID-19 in December, Mantia, who turned 35 on Sunday, has no idea how his body will respond.

As the week began, Mantia said he is “feeling great on the ice technically,” but his “body is still a little weird.”

“You never know what’s going to happen on race day,” he added, “so I’m very optimistic still.”

Despite the pandemic, Mantia came into the 2020-21 season with high hopes. Last February, he won his first world championships medal in a time trial event – the bronze in the 1500m – to go along with his two golds in the mass start in 2017 and 2019.

Early races at the Utah Olympic Oval outside Salt Lake City went well, and Mantia felt strong and capable. Then he came down with COVID.

“I’m a little bit sad that I didn’t get to see that through, but I can’t control that now,” he said. “I can only focus on what’s ahead.”

Yet Mantia is still dealing with the effects of the virus. In early December, he thought his body aches were the result of hard training. But Mantia had chills, too, then a headache and “slept like garbage.” After that, he said, “I felt like a million bucks. I’m sure my white blood cell count was through the roof.”

That was “a Superman effect,” his immune system reacting to the virus.

Knowing that one of his teammates had tested positive, Mantia took his weekly test. That afternoon, while on the phone with his former coach back home in Ocala, Florida, Mantia noticed that he couldn’t smell a fragrant candle. A few hours later, his trainer called to say he’d tested positive.

“I did two weeks of absolutely nothing, which is pretty detrimental to an athlete regardless of having any kind of virus or not,” Mantia said.

He barely got up from his couch, sleeping 13 hours a night. But Mantia did find time to research myocarditis, knowing he had to be careful when resuming training to avoid long-term damage to his heart.

Once he returned to the ice, Mantia eased in for the first week and a half, then had a week of tough workouts.

“I don’t know if there’s any correlation between COVID and the nervous system,” he said, “but I felt like I was starting to have a hard time controlling my motor functions after a hard effort.”

In race situations, Mantia couldn’t finish with any kind of intensity. “That was kind of an ‘uh-oh’ moment for me,” he said. “But at that point I was already committed to coming to the World Cups and the World Championships, so I was like, ‘Well, I’ll just figure it out as I go and hopefully every week gets a little bit better.’”

Arriving in Europe, Mantia felt unfit, a rarity for him. In the past, if he hadn’t done well in a race, it was because his technique was off. “It’s a really weird feeling to feel the exact opposite now where I feel like the skating is really, really good, but my body is just failing me,” he said.

In the first World Cup of this abbreviated season, Mantia was seventh in the 1500m and 15th in the mass start. On Instagram, Mantia wrote that he was “trying to keep the smile, even though it’s obnoxious trying to race when feeling like this.”

In the second World Cup, he dropped to 17th in the 1500m but moved up to fourth in the mass start.

Mantia said he was in a perfect position strategically in the 16-lap event. “I skated the race great, but I just had nothing left at the end of the race to make any kind of move,” he said. “That’s normally not like me at all.”

He’s also had to cope with feeling groggy, as if he had concussion-like symptoms, following racing or hard training. “It almost feels hypoglycemic, in a sense that I feel I need some sugar,” he said. “That may or may not be linked to the COVID thing.”

However, even sugar itself has proven bittersweet. When the World Championships organizing committee generously provided a birthday cake for Mantia’s small celebration with teammates, it was decorated with a photo of him with his former roommate’s dog.

“Made me smile, but also pretty sad,” Mantia said. “She was hit by a car and died a couple of days before I came here.”

Another unpredictable event. Luckily for Mantia, he found a refuge in YouTube University. “I think pretty much everything I’ve learned since high school I’ve learned from YouTube,” he said, “renovating my house by myself, learning the piano…”

Mantia has been playing the piano in the hotel lobby some nights, with a repertoire that includes “Piano Man” by Billy Joel and some John Lennon and Evanescence. An athlete or two might stop and listen, but he’s usually just playing for himself or the front desk clerk. “For the most part,” he said, “I’m just playing for my own sanity.”

Mantia had planned to peruse some cooking books in his spare time, then got caught up in the stock market frenzy.

“I’m a pretty big math nerd and I like probability,” he said, noting that he was hooked “once I started learning that you could have a pretty good strategy for making money over the long term if you manage your risk. I think I would probably be losing my mind a little bit if we were stuck in these rooms and all I had to do was think about skating and how unpredictable it is right now for me.”

At least one variable has been removed. Unlike previous world championships, the 1500m and the mass start will not be held on the same day.

“If I was a betting man, I would say the mass start is probably my only hope right now at even looking at the podium,” Mantia said. “I’ll know with about three laps to go if it’s going to be a good day or the bad day.”

He’s aware that the rest of the field knows he’s had COVID-19 and hasn’t been performing the way he normally does, “so they’re a little more aggressive in the race pace,” he said. “That could just be my perception.”

But he allowed that if the skate was on the other foot, “I would do the same thing.”

No matter how it goes at worlds, Mantia will move into preparations for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Because of COVID restrictions, he said the U.S. had not held any mass start training this season, which could also have played a role in his fitness issues. Mantia has resolved to find a way to train for the event next season even if restrictions are still in place “because that’s definitely my best shot at the gold medal at the Olympics,” he said, “followed by the 1500 and team pursuit.”

Mantia, whose top Olympic finish was fourth place in the 1000m in PyeongChang three years ago – his first major result in that event – said he thinks he’s better at mass start than time trials because he’s never really gotten comfortable with starting on the ice.

“I had one of the best starts on the planet when it came to inline skating,” said Mantia, who won 28 world titles on wheels before switching to speed skating, “but I have a very weak start on the ice.

“I feel like most athletes who grew up in the sport have their start kind of dialed in. That’s just never been me. On top of that, I’ve never been great at time trialing by itself. I’m a racer at heart, and the mass start is basically everything that I am.”

After Beijing, Mantia will continue racing mass start events if he’s in a position where he still can win, “which I don’t see a reason why I couldn’t be,” he said.

“I would continue because I do enjoy this life. I think it’s a good alternative to clocking in and having a 9-to 5 job, which is something I’ve never really desired. So if I can do a little day trading and be a speed skater for the rest of my life, I’m going to take that route.

“It’s not a bad one.”

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Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone’s defining race; Paris Diamond League TV, live stream info

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, what happens in her first outdoor race of 2023 on Friday could dictate the rest of her season. It may impact her 2024 Olympic plans, too.

McLaughlin-Levrone strays from the 400m hurdles — where she is the reigning Olympic and world champion and four times broke the world record — to race her first flat 400m in two years at a Diamond League meet in Paris.

Peacock streams it live from 3-5 p.m. ET. CNBC airs coverage Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

What we know is this: On Friday, McLaughlin-Levrone will race against the Olympic and world silver medalist in the 400m (Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic) and the 2019 World champion (Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain).

Next month, McLaughlin-Levrone will race the flat 400m at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, the qualifying meet for August’s world championships. She is racing that flat 400m at USATF Outdoors at least in part because she already has a bye into the 400m hurdles at worlds as defending champion.

What we don’t know: which race McLaughlin-Levrone will enter at worlds. Her coach, Bobby Kersee, said last month that she will choose between the 400m and 400m hurdles for worlds, should she finish top three in the 400m at USATF Outdoors to qualify in that second event. She will not try a 400m-400m hurdles double at worlds.

McLaughlin-Levrone was asked Thursday which event she would pick if given the choice.

“Is it bad to say I don’t know?” she said in a press conference. “Honestly, ask me after tomorrow. I don’t know. I’ve got to run this one first and see how it feels.”

McLaughlin-Levrone also doesn’t know what she will try to race at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Next year, the 400m-400m hurdles double is more feasible given one could do both events without ever racing more than once per day.

“We’re still focused on 2023,” McLaughlin-Levrone said. “One step at a time, literally. Obviously that’s something as the season comes to an end we’ll kind of start to look and figure out what our plan is for next year.”

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

12:57 p.m. ET — Women’s Shot Put
1:35 — Women’s High Jump
2:15 — Women’s Discus
2:20 — Women’s Pole Vault
3:04 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
3:15 — Women’s 800m
3:19 — Men’s Long Jump
3:24 — Women’s 5000m
3:42 — Women’s Javelin
3:52 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
4:02 — Women’s 400m
4:12 — Men’s 100m
4:22 — Women’s 200m
4:32 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
4:51 — Men’s 800m

Here are six events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 2:20 p.m. ET
Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won the first two Diamond League meets and again faces some of her biggest domestic and international challengers in Paris. That includes fellow American Sandi Morris, who won the first three Diamond League meets last year, then took silver behind Moon at worlds on count back. Plus 34-year-old Slovenian Tina Sutej, who ranks second in the world this season.

Women’s 5000m — 3:24 p.m. ET
Includes the world record holders at 1500m (Kenyan Faith Kipyegon in her first 5000m since 2015), 3000m steeplechase (Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech) and the 5000m and 10,000m (Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey). Plus new American 10,000m record holder Alicia Monson, who is third on the U.S. all-time 5000m list at 14:31.11. Shelby Houlihan has the American record of 14:23.92.

Men’s 110m Hurdles — 3:52 p.m. ET
The three members of the U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo — Grant HollowayDevon Allen and Daniel Roberts — could face off for the first time in nearly a year. Holloway, who has a bye into worlds as defending champion, overcame a rare defeat in the Diamond League opener in Rabat to win his last two races. He is the fastest man in the world this year at 13.01 seconds. Allen isn’t far behind at 13.12, while Roberts has yet to race the hurdles this outdoor season.

Women’s 400m — 4:02 p.m. ET
Could very well determine the favorite for worlds. Reigning Olympic and world champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas is on maternity leave. Paulino is the only other woman to break 49 seconds since the start of the pandemic, and she’s done it each of the last two years. Naser is the only other active woman to have broken 49 seconds, doing so in winning the 2019 World title (before she was banned for two years, through the Tokyo Olympics, for missing drug tests). McLaughlin-Levrone’s personal best from 2018 is 50.07 seconds, but she was just 18 years old then and focusing on the hurdles. Still, that time would have won the 2022 U.S. title. Last month, University of Arkansas junior Britton Wilson ran the fastest time by an American since 2009 — 49.13 — but she might bypass the flat 400m to focus on the hurdles this summer.

Men’s 100m — 4:12 p.m. ET
Could be a meeting between the reigning Olympic men’s 100m champion (Marcell Jacobs of Italy) and world men’s 200m champion (American Noah Lyles), which hasn’t happened since the 2009 World Championships 100m final, where Usain Bolt lowered the world record to 9.58 seconds and American Tyson Gay was second in a then-American record 9.71. Later in that meet, Bolt won his first world 200m title, a crown he held concurrently with his Olympic 100m titles through his 2017 retirement. But Jacobs, citing nerve pain, scratched out of the last two Diamond League meets, which were to be showdowns with world 100m champion Fred Kerley. Jacobs did show up for Thursday’s press conference. Lyles has a bye onto the world team in the 200m, but also wants to make the four-man U.S. team in the 100m. He ranks fifth among Americans by best time this season — 9.95.

Men’s 800m — 4:51 p.m. ET
The top five from the world championships are entered, led by Olympic and world champion Emmanuel Korir of Kenya. This event was in an international doldrums for much of the time since Kenyan David Rudisha repeated as Olympic champion in 2016, then faded away from competition. But the emergence of 18-year-old Kenyan Emmanuel Wanyonyi has injected excitement this season. Wanyonyi is the world’s fastest man this year. The second-fastest, Kenyan Wycliffe Kinyamal, is also in this field.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported the TV window for the meet broadcast. The CNBC broadcast begins at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, not 3.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw


Top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland faces 43rd-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova in the French Open women’s singles final, live on NBC Sports,, the NBC Sports app and Peacock on Saturday at 9 a.m. ET.

Swiatek can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 last week, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

Swiatek didn’t lose a set en route to the final, losing just 23 games in her first six matches, exactly how she marched to her first Roland Garros final in 2020.

In the final she gets a surprise. Muchova upset No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the semifinals to reach her first major final.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round. No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who has three wins over Swiatek this year, withdrew before her third-round match due to illness.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, was the last American to be eliminated (by Swiatek in the quarterfinals). The last American woman to win a Grand Slam singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 12-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw