Elaine Thompson-Herah beats Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce; Olympic sprint picture jumbles

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Elaine Thompson-Herah upset Tokyo favorite Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in a meeting of the last two women to win the Olympic 100m at the Gyulai István Memorial in Hungary on Tuesday.

It was the highlight race of a meet that clouded the Olympic medal forecast in most of the flat sprints.

Thompson-Herah clocked 10.71 seconds, .01 off her personal best. Fraser-Pryce was second in 10.82, one month after running 10.63 to become the second-fastest woman in history.

The Olympic favorites are Thompson-Herah, Fraser-Pryce and Brit Dina Asher Smith (not in Tuesday’s race), following American Sha’Carri Richardson‘s suspension. Richardson clocked 10.72 in April.

The track and field season continues with a Diamond League meet in Monaco on Friday, live on NBCSN at 2 p.m. ET.

Also Tuesday, world champion Steven Gardiner beat American Michael Norman in a battle of the two fastest 400m sprinters in this Olympic cycle. Gardiner, who in a May race fell to the track and was carried into the infield, won in 44.47 seconds. Norman, who won the Olympic Trials in 44.07, was third in 44.65 behind Bryce Deadmon.

South African Wayde van Niekerk, the Rio gold medalist and world-record holder, was a late scratch. Van Niekerk, coming back from tearing an ACL and meniscus in his right leg playing celebrity tag rugby in 2017, tweeted that he had lower back discomfort in his warm-up.

South African Akani Simbine won the men’s 100m in an African record 9.84 seconds to become second-fastest in the world this year. Only U.S. Olympic Trials champion Trayvon Bromell has gone faster in 2021 (9.77). Bromell was not in the field in Hungary.

Going into Tuesday, the seven fastest men in the world this year were Americans. Now, Simbine, fifth in Rio, has eyes on becoming the first person from an African nation to win an Olympic 100m medal since Namibian Frankie Fredericks‘ back-to-back silvers in 1992 and 1996.

Jamaican Shericka Jackson won the women’s 200m in 21.96 seconds, distancing Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo (22.15). Miller-Uibo was defeated in a 200m that she finished for the first time since the 2017 World Championships.

Miller-Uibo, the Rio Olympic 400m champion, is preliminarily entered in both the 200m and the 400m for Tokyo but has said she will race only the 200m. Both events, however, changed drastically in recent weeks.

The seven fastest 400m women in the world since the start of 2019 are all not expected to race the event at the Olympics. The eighth-fastest woman since the start of 2019 — American Wadeline Jonathas — has a top time of 49.60 in that span, which is 1.23 seconds slower than Miller-Uibo’s best.

In the 200m, American Gabby Thomas ran the third-fastest time in history at the Olympic Trials, a 21.61 that is .13 better than Miller-Uibo’s personal best.

In the men’s 200m on Tuesday, Canadian Andre De Grasse won in 19.97, edging the second- and third-place finishers from the U.S. Olympic Trials. Kenny Bednarek ran 19.99, and 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton crossed in 20.03, both slower than their Trials times.

Grant Holloway, who at U.S. Olympic Trials was .01 off the 110m hurdles world record, won in Hungary against a field of Olympic medal contenders.

Holloway, the world champion, prevailed in 13.08 seconds, well off the 12.80 world record but clearly ahead of Olympic silver medalist Orlando Ortega of Spain (13.15) and Sergey Shubenkov of Russia (13.19).

The field lacked Rio gold medalist Omar McLeod, who finished last at the Jamaican Olympic Trials and was not named to the team.

Shubenkov is the only man other than Holloway and McLeod to break 13 seconds in this Olympic cycle, with a best of 12.92 in that span.

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico confirmed her Olympic favorite status by winning the 100m hurdles in 12.34. Camacho-Quinn is the only woman to break 12.4 seconds this year, and she’s done it three times.

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Faith Kipyegon breaks second world record in eight days; three WRs fall in Paris


Kenyan Faith Kipyegon broke her second world record in as many Fridays as three world records fell at a Diamond League meet in Paris.

Kipyegon, a 29-year-old mom, followed her 1500m record from last week by running the fastest 5000m in history.

She clocked 14 minutes, 5.20 seconds, pulling away from now former world record holder Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia, who ran 14:07.94 for the third-fastest time in history. Gidey’s world record was 14:06.62.

“When I saw that it was a world record, I was so surprised,” Kipyegon said, according to meet organizers. “The world record was not my plan. I just ran after Gidey.”

Kipyegon, a two-time Olympic 1500m champion, ran her first 5000m in eight years. In the 1500m, her primary event, she broke an eight-year-old world record at the last Diamond League meet in Italy last Friday.

Next year in the 1500m, Kipyegon can bid to become the second person to win the same individual Olympic track and field event three times (joining Usain Bolt). After that, she has said she may move up to the 5000m full-time en route to the marathon.

Kipyegon is the first woman to break world records in both the 1500m and the 5000m since Italian Paola Pigni, who reset them in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m over a nine-month stretch in 1969 and 1970.

Full Paris meet results are here. The Diamond League moves to Oslo next Thursday, live on Peacock.

Also Friday, Ethiopian Lamecha Girma broke the men’s 3000m steeplechase world record by 1.52 seconds, running 7:52.11. Qatar’s Saif Saaeed Shaheen set the previous record in 2004. Girma is the Olympic and world silver medalist.

Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway ran the fastest two-mile race in history, clocking 7:54.10. Kenyan Daniel Komen previously had the fastest time of 7:58.61 from 1997 in an event that’s not on the Olympic program and is rarely contested at top meets. Ingebrigtsen, 22, is sixth-fastest in history in the mile and eighth-fastest in the 1500m.

Olympic and world silver medalist Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic won the 400m in 49.12 seconds, chasing down Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who ran her first serious flat 400m in four years. McLaughlin-Levrone clocked a personal best 49.71 seconds, a time that would have earned bronze at last year’s world championships.

McLaughlin-Levrone is expected to race the flat 400m at July’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, where the top three are in line to make the world team in the individual 400m. She also has a bye into August’s worlds in the 400m hurdles and is expected to announce after USATF Outdoors which race she will contest at worlds.

Noah Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 100m in 9.97 seconds into a headwind. Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy was seventh in 10.21 in his first 100m since August after struggling through health issues since the Tokyo Games.

Lyles wants to race both the 100m and the 200m at August’s worlds. He has a bye into the 200m. The top three at USATF Outdoors join reigning world champion Fred Kerley on the world championships team. Lyles is the fifth-fastest American in the 100m this year, not counting Kerley, who is undefeated in three meets at 100m in 2023.

Olympic and world silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson won the 800m in 1:55.77, a British record. American Athing Mu, the Olympic and world champion with a personal best of 1:55.04, is expected to make her season debut later this month.

World champion Grant Holloway won the 110m hurdles in 12.98 seconds, becoming the first man to break 13 seconds this year. Holloway has the world’s four best times in 2023.

American Valarie Allman won the discus over Czech Sandra Perkovic in a meeting of the last two Olympic champions. Allman threw 69.04 meters and has the world’s 12 best throws this year.

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Novak Djokovic tops cramped Carlos Alcaraz, into French Open final with records at stake

2023 French Open - Day Thirteen

Novak Djokovic is headed to a French Open final with all sorts of history at stake after eliminating a cramping Carlos Alcaraz in a showdown semifinal.

Djokovic, a 22-time major champion, took out the top seed Alcaraz 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1, but the match was even when Alcaraz began showing signs of right leg cramping. The 20-year-old Spaniard attributed it to the “tension” of the match, saying he was nervous for his first time facing Djokovic at a major.

“I have never felt something like I did today,” he said, adding that it was full-body cramps. “If someone says that he get into the court with no nerves playing against Novak, he lies.”

Alcaraz stopped play at 1-all in the third set and had trouble walking. He forfeited the next game, stipulated by the rules for receiving medical treatment for severe muscle cramping when not at a change of ends or end of a set.

Djokovic then won the next nine games. Alcaraz played with limited mobility and without the charismatic magic that’s charmed the tennis world.

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“First and foremost, I have to say tough luck for Carlos. I feel for him. I feel sorry,” Djokovic said to begin an on-court interview. “I told him at the net he knows how young he is. He’s got plenty of time ahead of him, so he’s going to win this tournament, I’m sure, many, many times.”

Djokovic was told of Alcaraz’s reasoning for the cramps.

“I have experienced that several times,” he said. “Early in my career I was struggling quite a bit physically. I can understand the emotions and circumstances that affect you mentally and emotionally.”

The semi was billed as perhaps the greatest inter-generational match in men’s tennis history, the first time that Alcaraz played a member of the Big Three at a major.

Their 16-year age gap was the largest to take place for men this deep in a major since the 1991 U.S. Open (Jim Courier d. Jimmy Connors) and the largest age gap for any major match between Slam champs since 2006 Wimbledon (Rafael Nadal d. Andre Agassi).

Unlike Friday, most of the previous torch-passing meetings took place when one man was not yet at his peak or the other was past his prime.

Typically, the younger player wins these types of duels. Djokovic, by prevailing over a foe 16 years younger this late in a major, broke the Open Era men’s age gap record of 14-plus years set by Roger Federer, who beat Hyeon Chung at the 2018 Australian Open.

Now, Djokovic heads to Sunday’s final as an overwhelming favorite against Norwegian Casper Ruud, a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 winner over German Alexander Zverev in the later semifinal. Ruud was runner-up to Nadal at last year’s French Open and runner-up to Alcaraz at last year’s U.S. Open.

Djokovic can break his tie with Nadal for the most men’s major titles. He can become the first man to win all four majors at least three times. He can break Nadal’s record as the oldest French Open singles champion.

“I’ve been very fortunate that most of the matches in tournaments I’ve played in the last few years, there is history on the line,” he said. “The motivation is very high, as you can imagine.”

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