Allyson Felix wins 400m heat, advances as she starts fifth Olympic Trials

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The crowd at Hayward Field roared for Allyson Felix before the race even started, and the track legend did not disappoint as she cruised to first place in her 400m heat.

“It felt really great,” Felix told reporters of the applause. “It’s always a warm welcome here, it’s nice to be back.”

Advancing past the first round at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials may seem minute for the nine-time Olympic medalist, but it was a significant step for Felix as she attempts to make a fifth consecutive Olympic team.

Already with the most World medals in track and field history, Felix is one medal shy of the most Olympic track and field medals by an American and could match or surpass Carl Lewis’ 10 if she makes it to Tokyo.

Felix, now 35, has run in Eugene, Oregon, for most of her Olympic Trials (the 2004 Trials were in Sacramento, California) but this one is different.

This time, Felix has husband Kenneth Ferguson and 2-year-old daughter Camryn cheering for her in the stands.

“It’s really cool,” Felix said of her daughter being old enough to watch and understand. “Initially, I was so disappointed to have everything postponed (due to the pandemic), and then I started to see the silver lining in everything and that’s one of the big ones – she’s so aware and she’s able to enjoy this as well.”

Plus, Felix knows this Trials is her last.

“I think more than anything [this time is different because] it’s the last time around – just wanting to savor it and also be smart,” she said. “I really want to make this team, so just being smart through the rounds.”

TRACK AND FIELD TRIALS: TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview

Felix won the first heat without breaking much of a sweat and advanced with the fourth-fastest time of 50.99 seconds. Wadeline Jonathas, 23, was fastest, winning the third of four heats in 50.64. Phyllis Francis, the 2017 World champion, Jessica Beard, a five-time World champion in relays, and Natasha Hastings, a two-time Olympic champion in relays and now mother to 22-month-old Liam, are among the other semifinalists. Courtney Okolo, the 2018 World indoor champion, and Francena McCorory, the 2014 World indoor champion, did not advance.

Sixteen advanced to Saturday’s semifinals, where the top three per heat and two next fastest will then advance to Sunday’s final. A top-six finish in the final would likely put her on the Olympic team for the relay pool.

Felix is also entered in the 200m, which starts Thursday, June 24. Her plan for the past two years has been to run both events at Trials, in hopes of “having a decision to make, but just kind of see how things play out.”

She won the 2012 Olympic gold in the 200m, plus 2004 and 2008 silver medals at that distance. In her first Olympic 400m race, Felix took silver in 2016 behind Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who dove for the win in Rio.

In the men’s 400m, Trevor Stewart had the fastest time in 44.75 seconds with Michael Norman – who is fourth-fastest on the all-time list with a 43.45 in 2019 – was fourth in 45.18 seconds.

LaShawn Merritt, who turns 35 later this month, eked out a spot in the semifinals as the 16th and final qualifier. Merritt won the 2008 Olympic gold and 2016 Olympic bronze in this race.

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Svetlana Romashina, seven-time Olympic champion artistic swimmer, retires

Svetlana Romashina
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Russian Svetlana Romashina, the most decorated artistic swimmer in Olympic history with seven gold medals, announced her retirement at age 33.

Romashina entered seven Olympic artistic swimming events and won all of them, starting in 2008. She won four Olympic titles in the team event and three in the duet (two with Nataliya Ishchenko and one with Svetlana Kolesnichenko).

The Tokyo Games marked her last major competition.

Romashina is the only woman to go undefeated in her Olympic career while entering seven or more events. The only man to do so was American track and field athlete Ray Ewry, who won all eight of his Olympic starts from 1900-08, according to Olympedia.org.

Romashina also won 21 world championships medals — all gold, second in aquatics history behind Michael Phelps‘ 26.

She took nearly two years off after giving birth to daughter Alexandra in November 2017, then came back to win three golds at her last world championships in 2019 and two golds at her last Olympics in 2021.

Romashina is now an artistic swimming coach, according to Russian media.

Russian swimmers swept the Olympic duet and team titles at each of the last six Olympics.

Russians have been banned from international competition since March due to the war in Ukraine.

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Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races. At the Olympics, she skied out within the first 13 seconds in each instance. On Monday, she was more than 40 seconds into her run.

“I was thinking, now I’m going to go through the mixed zone. and everyone’s going to ask, ‘Oh, is this Beijing again?'” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t really think about that for myself, but more for the people asking. But I also said before, coming into this world champs multiple times, I’m not afraid if it happens again. What if I don’t finish every run? What happened last year, and I survived. And then I’ve had some pretty amazing races this season. So I would take the season that I’ve had with no medals at the world championships. If it’s either/or, then I would take that. I’m happy with it. But I’m going to be pushing for medals, because that’s what you do at world champs. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and you go for it. I’m not afraid of the consequences, as long as I have that mentality, which I had today.”

NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said what happened Monday was “completely different” from the Olympics, calling it “an error of aggression.”

“It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out,” Porino said on the Peacock broadcast. “This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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