Reigning Olympic, world champions not entered in U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials

Kerron Clement
Getty Images
1 Comment

Kerron Clement, the Rio Olympic 400m hurdles gold medalist, and Nia Ali, the reigning world 100m hurdles champion, are among several recent global medalists who did not enter the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

The entry deadline was Tuesday night for the meet in Eugene, Oregon, that starts next week. The most notable athletes not on the current entry lists (and not expected to be added given it’s past deadline):

Clement: The 2016 Olympic champion and 2007 and 2009 World champion in the 400m hurdles last competed on July 23, 2020, and last ran a 400m hurdles at the 2019 USATF Outdoor Championships, placing eighth. Clement does not have the automatic qualifying time for Olympic Trials (49.50 since Jan. 1, 2019).

Ali: The 2016 Olympic silver medalist and 2019 World champion in the 100m hurdles last competed July 29, 2020. She last ran a 100m hurdles at the 2019 Worlds, where she lowered her personal best in the semifinals and final. Ali, who earned Rio Olympic silver a year after having son Titus, earned her first world title a year after having daughter Yuri. In April of this year, her partner, Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, said that he and Ali were expecting a baby in May, according to the Canadian Press.

Aries Merritt: 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder in the 110m hurdles. In 2015, he earned world bronze with kidney function at less than 20 percent. He underwent a transplant after returning home, receiving a kidney from sister LaToya. Ten months later, Merritt missed the Rio Olympic team by .01 at Trials. Merritt raced four times since the start of 2019 and has not hit the automatic qualifying time for Trials. He said in April 2020 that Tokyo would be his final Olympic bid.

Tori Bowie: Converted from the long jump in 2014 and earned a sprint medal of every color in Rio. Then she won the 100m at 2017 Worlds. Bowie re-added the long jump, placing fourth at 2019 Worlds. This spring, she strictly sprinted with a best 100m of 11.36 seconds (wind aided), racing as recently as May 30.

Tyson Gay: The world’s top sprinter before Usain Bolt ascended. Gay swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 2007 Worlds. He’s since been set back by injuries and was suspended one year in 2013 for doping for which Gay and his teammates were stripped of their 2012 Olympic 4x100m silver medals. In 2016, Gay appeared to win his first Olympic medal, a 4x100m bronze, but the U.S. was disqualified minutes after the final for a baton exchange out of the zone. Now 38, Gay’s best 100m since the start of 2019 was 10.36, well off the automatic qualifying time for Trials of 10.05. Gay said in an interview published in February that he planned for 2020 to be his last Olympic bid, before the one-year postponement.

Kori Carter: Rebounded from missing the 2016 Olympic 400m hurdles team by one spot to win the 2017 World title. Carter switched to the 100m hurdles for 2018, placing sixth at nationals. She last finished a 400m hurdles race in July 2019.

Other notables entered Olympic Trials without automatic qualifying standards for their events but could be added to fields by early next week. They include 2008 Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt, 2016 Olympic 100m hurdles bronze medalist Kristi Castlin and Chaunte Lowe, who in 2017 was upgraded from sixth place to bronze in the 2008 Olympic high jump due to other jumpers’ doping. Lowe returned to competition this year for the first time since 2017.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Chloe Kim, Elana Meyers Taylor among Olympians to join presidential sports council

Elana Meyers Taylor, President Joe Biden

Chloe Kim and Elana Meyers Taylor are among the Olympic and Paralympic medalists set to join the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition.

President Joe Biden intends to appoint the snowboarder Kim, bobsledder Meyers Taylor, retired Olympic medalists Chaunté Lowe (track and field) and Tamika Catchings (basketball) and Paralympic medalist Melissa Stockwell (triathlon) to the council, among other athletes and people in the health and fitness fields, it was announced Friday.

Stephen and Ayesha Curry are also on the list.

The council “aims to promote healthy, accessible eating and physical activity for all Americans, regardless of background or ability.”

Last year, Biden appointed basketball gold medalist Elena Delle Donne a co-chair of the council.

Kim, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, sat out this past season but is expected to return to competition for a third Olympic run in 2026.

Meyers Taylor, the most decorated U.S. Olympic bobsledder in history with medals in all five of her Olympic events, sat out this past season due to pregnancy. She took her first bobsled run in 13 months this past week in Lake Placid, New York.

There is a long history of Olympians and Paralympians serving on the council, which was created in 1956.

In 2017, Barack Obama appointed medalists including gymnast Gabby Douglas, soccer player Carli Lloyd and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Others to previously be on the council include sprinter Allyson Felix, figure skater Michelle Kwan and swimmer and triathlete Brad Snyder.

Members serve for two years and can be reappointed.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Kaori Sakamoto wins figure skating worlds; top American places fourth


Kaori Sakamoto overcame a late error in her free skate to become the first Japanese figure skater to win back-to-back world titles and the oldest women’s world champion since 2014.

Sakamoto, 22, totaled 224.61 points on home ice in Saitama to prevail by 3.67 over Lee Hae-In of South Korea in the closest women’s finish at worlds since 2011.

Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx took bronze, edging 16-year-old American Isabeau Levito for a medal by 2.77 points.

Sakamoto is the oldest women’s singles world champion since Mao Asada (2014), who is now the only Japanese skater with more world titles than Sakamoto.

She appeared en route to an easier victory until singling a planned triple flip late in her free skate, which put the gold in doubt. She can be thankful for pulling off the second jump of that planned combination — a triple toe loop — and her 5.62-point lead from Wednesday’s short program.

“I feel so pathetic and thought, what was all that hard work I put into my training?” Sakamoto said of her mistake, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “But I was able to refocus and do my best till the end.

“Because I have this feeling of regret at the biggest event of the season, I want to make sure I don’t have this feeling next season. So I want to practice even harder, and I want to make sure to do clean, perfect performances at every competition.”

Lee, who had the top free skate, became the second South Korean to win a world medal in any discipline after six-time medalist Yuna Kim.

Hendrickx followed her silver from last year, when she became the first Belgian women’s singles skater to win a world medal.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, last year’s world junior champion, had a chance to become the youngest senior world medalist since 2014.

After a solid short program, she fell on her opening triple Lutz in the free skate and left points on the table by performing two jump combinations rather than three. The Lutz was planned to be the first half of a combination with a triple loop.

“I am severely disappointed because I’ve been nailing my Lutz-loop for a really long time, and this is the first time I’ve messed it up in a while, and of course it had to be when it actually counted,” Levito said, according to the ISU. “But I’m pretty happy with myself for just trying to move past it and focusing on making the most out of the rest of the program.”

Levito entered worlds ranked fourth in the field by best score this season. She matched the best finish for a U.S. woman in her senior global championships debut (Olympics and worlds) since Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan took silver and bronze at the 1991 Worlds. Sasha Cohen, to whom Levito is often compared, also placed fourth in her Olympic and world debuts in 2002.

“I feel very proud for myself and grateful for my coaching team for helping me get this far so far in my skating career, and I’m just very proud to be where I am,” Levito said on USA Network.

American Amber Glenn was 12th in her world debut. Two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell was 15th. They had been 10th and eighth, respectively, in the short program.

The U.S. qualified two women’s spots for next year’s worlds rather than the maximum three because the top two Americans’ results added up to more than 13 (Levito’s fourth plus Glenn’s 12th equaled 16). The U.S. was in position to qualify three spots after the short program.

Glenn said after the short program that she had a very difficult two weeks before worlds, including “out-of-nowhere accidents and coincidences that could have prevented me from being here,” and boot problems that affected her triple Axel. She attempted a triple Axel in the free skate, spinning out of an under-rotated, two-footed landing.

Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022, had several jumping errors in the free skate.

“This season has been like one thing after another,” said the 25-year-old Tennell, who plans to compete through the 2026 Winter Games. “I’m really excited to get back and work on some stuff for the new season.”

Earlier, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates topped the rhythm dance, starting their bid for a first world title in their 12th season together and after three prior world silver or bronze medals.

“We skated as best we possibly could today,” Bates said, according to the ISU, after they tallied the world’s top score this season.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the lone U.S. ice dancers to win a world title, doing so in 2011 and 2013.

Worlds continue Friday night (U.S. time) with the free dance, followed Saturday morning with the men’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!