U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials: Women’s events to watch

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Eight
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At the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, the most exciting events don’t always include the biggest stars. That’s because third place is as sufficient as first when three Olympic spots are at stake.

Yet the leading American women are, for the most part, in the most anticipated events in Eugene, Oregon.

Sha’Carri Richardson, the 21-year-old phenom looking to bring the U.S. its first Olympic women’s 100m title in 25 years, is one of the biggest favorites to qualify for the team. But what time can she produce in the 100m to answer Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce? Fraser-Pryce, a 34-year-old mom and 2008 and 2012 Olympic 100m champion, two weeks ago clocked the world’s fastest 100m in history outside of Florence Griffith Joyner.

Allyson Felix, a 35-year-old mom, has to like her chances to qualify at least for 4x400m relays. But can she mow down higher-ranked women to reach the top three in either the 200m or the 400m?

Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin are in a class of their own in the 400m hurdles. But the field is so deep that an Olympic or world medalist is guaranteed to not make the team.

In field events, veteran Olympic champions like Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese (long jump), Michelle Carter (shot put) and Jenn Suhr (pole vault) look to hold off youngsters to return to the Games in their 30s.

That in mind, five events to watch at the Olympic Trials …

TRACK AND FIELD TRIALS: TV Schedule | Men’s Events

100m (Trials final June 19)
2016 Olympics: Tori Bowie (silver), English Gardner (seventh), Tianna Bartoletta (semis)
2019 Worlds: Teahna Daniels (seventh), Morolake Akinosun (semis), Gardner (semis), Bowie (semis)
2021 U.S. Leaders: Sha’Carri Richardson (10.72), Twanisha Terry (10.89), Aleia Hobbs (10.91), Cambrea Sturgis (10.92)

Bowie converted to long jump after winning the 2017 World title and didn’t enter Trials in any event. Enter a new generation. All but two of the 11 fastest Americans this year are 25 and younger, led by Richardson, who turned pro after one season at LSU. In April, she clocked the fastest 100m in the world in nearly 10 years and looked like the Tokyo favorite until Fraser-Pryce went 10.63 on June 5. But at Trials, Richardson doesn’t have to worry about Fraser-Pryce or Rio gold medalist Elaine Thompson, also of Jamaica. After Richardson, the next six fastest Americans this year are separated by .08.

400m (Trials final June 20)
2016 Olympics: Allyson Felix (silver), Natasha Hastings (fourth), Phyllis Francis (fifth)
2019 Worlds: Wadeline Jonathas (fourth), Francis (fifth), Kendall Ellis (semis), Shakima Wimbley (semis)
2021 U.S. Leaders: Athing Mu (49.57), Shamier Little (49.91), Quanera Hayes (49.92), Lynna Irby (50.28)

Mu and Little aren’t entered in the 400m at Trials, focusing on the 800m and 400m hurdles, respectively. The U.S. has none of the world’s top five since the start of 2019. So there’s an opening for Felix, even if she has yet to come within a second of her 2016 Olympic time since returning from life-threatening November 2019 childbirth. Jonathas just missed the medals at worlds at age 21, but she ranks 10th in the U.S. this year. Remember, it’s expected that at least the top six at Trials make the team for the 4x400m and mixed-gender 4x400m relays.

400m Hurdles (Trials final June 27)
2016 Olympics: Dalilah Muhammad (gold), Ashley Spencer (bronze), Sydney McLaughlin (semis)
2019 Worlds: Muhammad (gold), McLaughlin (silver), Spencer (sixth), Kori Carter (first round)
2021 U.S. Leaders: McLaughlin (52.83), Shamier Little (53.12), Muhammad (54.50), Anna Cockrell (54.68)

The strongest event. The U.S. boasts the six fastest women in this Olympic cycle. Four of them are entered at Trials, including the two fastest women in history in Muhammad and McLaughlin. An Olympic medal contender will be left off this three-woman team. Little, the 2015 World silver medalist, missed the 2019 World team by one spot but on May 31 ran her fastest time in four years. Spencer is the third-fastest American since the start of 2019. Cockrell just won NCAA titles in the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles for USC.

Long Jump (Trials final June 26)
2016 Olympics: Tianna Bartoletta (gold), Brittney Reese (silver), Janay DeLoach (13th)
2019 Worlds: Tori Bowie (fourth), Sha’Keela Saunders (ninth), Reese (13th), Jasmine Todd (14th)
2021 U.S. Leaders: Tara Davis (7.14 meters), Kendell Williams (7.00), Saunders (6.90), Malaina Payton (6.89)

Reese and Bartoletta combined to win all but two of the 10 Olympic and world titles between 2005 and 2017. This year, Reese ranks seventh among Americans. Bartoletta is outside the top 20. Davis, the NCAA champion from Texas with 167,000 Instagram followers, fulfilled potential and then some this season by upping her personal best from 2017 by more than a foot. The 2015 World Youth champion ranks second in the world this year. Bowie didn’t enter Trials.

800m (Trials final June 27)
2016 Olympics: Kate Grace (eighth) Ajee’ Wilson (semis), Chrishuna Williams (heats)
2019 Worlds: Raevyn Rogers (silver), Wilson (bronze), Ce’Aira Brown (eighth)
2021 U.S. Leaders: Athing Mu (1:57.73), Sabrina Southerland (1:58.82), Wilson (1:58.93), Grace (1:59.04)

Mu, 19, broke NCAA records in the 400m and the 800m as a freshman in what will likely be her only season for Texas A&M. She ranks Nos. 4 and 2 in the world this year in the 400m and 800m, respectively, and chose the two-lap event for her first Olympic Trials. How will she navigate three rounds over four days against the top pros? With that question out there, the American record holder Wilson may well be the favorite. Rogers, whose likeness is on a 188-foot-tall tower overlooking Hayward Field, ranks seventh in the U.S. this year.

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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