Fred Kerley edges Michael Norman in USATF Golden Games classic

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Fred Kerley, the Olympic 100m silver medalist, ran down former 400m rival Michael Norman to win the men’s 200m, the marquee event of the USATF Golden Games at Mt. SAC in California on Saturday.

Kerley, who turned heads last year by moving from the 400m to the 100m and 200m, clocked 19.80 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year, to bolster his argument as the top U.S. male flat sprinter.

Norman, passed in the final meters, was second in 19.83 in his first 200m in nearly three years.

USATF GOLDEN GAMES: Full Results

Kerley and Norman were the top U.S. 400m sprinters until last year, when Kerley moved down in distance.

Kerley grabbed the third and final spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 100m, then ran a personal best in the Olympic final (9.84) to take silver behind surprise Italian Marcell Jacobs.

Kerley was fourth in the Olympic Trials 200m, missing that team by one spot. After Saturday’s performance, he may be favored to finish in the top three in both sprints at the USATF Outdoor Championships in June to vie for medals at the world championships in July. Both meets are in Eugene, Oregon.

The last U.S. man to contest both the 100m and 200m at a global championship was the recently retired Justin Gatlin at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Gatlin was also the last U.S. man to earn a medal in both events, doing so at the 2015 Worlds.

Norman has more to prove than Kerley. He ran the world’s fastest 400m of the last Olympic cycle. It came not at a championship meet, but at Mt. SAC in April 2019. He then didn’t earn an individual medal at the 2019 World Championships (ran injured) or the Tokyo Olympics.

The 200m and 400m overlap at the world championships, so Norman is expected to focus solely on the 400m this summer. But he still wasn’t happy with Saturday’s race, even though he did beat training partner and Olympic 400m hurdles silver medalist Rai Benjamin for second place.

“I was like, I just don’t have it,” in the final meters against Kerley, Norman said on CNBC. “It’s a really big disappointing feeling.”

Christian Coleman, the 2019 World 100m champion who missed the Tokyo Games due to a missed-drug-tests ban, was initially entered in the 200m but withdrew before the race.

In other events, Allyson Felix competed for the first time in her farewell season, running the second leg of a victorious 4x400m with Shamier LittleDalilah Muhammad and Athing Mu.

Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas took the women’s 200m in 22.02, the world’s second-fastest time this year. She beat a field that included 2019 World silver medalist Brittany Brown and two-time Olympian Jenna Prandini.

Thomas’ biggest competition come the summer should be Jamaican Elaine Thompson-Herah, who won the 100m and 200m at the last two Olympics. Thompson-Herah had the fastest time in the 100m heats on Saturday (10.89), then scratched the final won by American Twanisha Terry in a wind-aided 10.77.

Micah Williams took the men’s 100m in a wind-aided 9.83.

Tonea Marshall upset Olympic silver medalist Keni Harrison in the 100m hurdles, 12.46 to 12.56. Only Olympic gold medalist Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico has run faster this year.

Michael Cherry ran the world’s fastest 400m of 2022, taking that event in 44.28 seconds.

Earlier at Mt. SAC on Thursday, 2016 Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager finished a steeplechase for the first time since 2018, taking second in 8:34.89. Last year, it took 8:22.05 to make the Olympic team.

The track and field season continues Monday with the Boston Marathon (broadcast schedule here). The top-level Diamond League season starts next month.

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Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi said immediately after winning her fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo that she might try for a record sixth in Paris.

It’s still on her mind 17 months out of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s something that it’s on my radar,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday after the first day of a USA Basketball training camp in Minnesota, her first national team activity since Tokyo. “I’m still competitive, still driven, still want to play, I still love being a part of USA Basketball.”

Taurasi will be 42 at the time of the Paris Games — older than any previous Olympic basketball player — but said if she’s healthy enough she’d like to give it a go.

“If the opportunity comes to play and be a part of it, it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” said Taurasi, who shares the record of five Olympic basketball gold medals with the retired Sue Bird. “When you get to my age at this point in my career, you just try to win every day. Right now this is a good opportunity to be part of this team moving forward we’ll see what happens.”

She said she would have played at the FIBA World Cup last year in Australia, but had a quad strain that kept her out of the end of the WNBA season.

“I got hurt a little bit before. I had a good conversation with Coach (Cheryl) Reeve and (USA Basketball CEO Jim) Tooley. I felt like I hadn’t played enough basketball to be out there and help,” Taurasi said. “That’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball is being able to help the team win.”

Reeve said Monday that when she succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach a few months after Tokyo, she wasn’t sure whether Taurasi would play for the national team again. That was before her conversation with Taurasi.

“I look forward to having a chance to have her be around and be, as I told her, a great voice,” Reeve said. “Obviously, the competitive fire that she competes with is something that we all do well with.”

In Tokyo, Taurasi started all six games and averaged 18.8 minutes per game, sixth-most on the team (fewer than backup guard Chelsea Gray). Her 5.8 points per game were her fewest in her Olympic career, though she was dealing with a hip injury.

Taurasi is an unrestricted free agent although she is expected to return back to Phoenix where she’s spent her entire career since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Phoenix still has things they need to work out,” the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer said.

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Alexis Pinturault wins world championships combined; American in fourth

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France’s Alexis Pinturault won the world Alpine skiing championships combined at his home venue after defending world champion Marco Schwarz blew a lead in the final seconds of his slalom run.

Pinturault, a 31-year-old who hadn’t won a race in nearly two years (the longest drought of his distinguished career), prevailed by one tenth of a second over the Austrian Schwarz in Courchevel, France.

“I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago,” Pinturault said.

Austrian Raphael Haaser took bronze in an event that combined times from a morning super-G run and an afternoon slalom run, one day after his older sister took bronze in the women’s combined.

River Radamus was fourth, a quarter of a second from becoming the first U.S. man to win an Alpine worlds medal since 2015. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom, which is scheduled for Feb. 17 at worlds.

“It’s nice, but honestly, you don’t come to world championships hoping to get fourth,” Radamus said.

Five skiers finished within 2.98 seconds of the winner in an event that has been dropped from the annual World Cup schedule and is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Pinturault had the fastest super-G run by six hundredths over Schwarz. Schwarz, a slightly better slalom skier than Pinturault, erased that deficit early in the slalom and had a three tenths lead at the last intermediate split.

He gave it all away about six gates from the finish, slamming on the brakes. Moments later, he crossed the finish line one tenth behind Pinturault, who reacted by pumping his fists in the air.

The Frenchman earned his first race victory since the March 2021 World Cup Finals giant slalom, where he clinched his first World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Last season, Pinturault went winless on the World Cup for the first time since he was a teenage rookie in 2011, plus went medal-less at the Olympics.

Pinturault, who grew up in Courchevel and now co-owns the family’s five-star Hotel Annapurna there, had retirement cross his mind in the offseason, according to Eurosport. He skipped a pre-worlds Sunday press conference due to illness.

Nonetheless, Pinturault was on the front page of French newspapers this week, including L’Equipe on Tuesday. In a sports cover story for Le Figaro, Pinturault said that, given the circumstances, it would be almost a “nice surprise” to go for a medal at these worlds.

Olympic champion Johannes Strolz of Austria skied out of the slalom after tying for 29th in the super-G.

Olympic silver and bronze medalists Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway and Jack Crawford of Canada were among the speed specialists who did not start the slalom. They essentially used the event as a training run for Thursday’s super-G.

Worlds continue Wednesday with the women’s super-G, where Mikaela Shiffrin is a medal contender but not the favorite. She can tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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