Diamond League season opens with Olympic rematches in Doha; TV, live stream schedule

Noah Lyles, Andre De Grasse
Getty
2 Comments

The first Diamond League track and field meet of 2022 will conjure Olympic memories with eight events featuring clashes between medalists from the Tokyo Games.

Competition in Doha airs live on Peacock on Friday at 12 p.m. ET. CNBC airs coverage Saturday at 10 a.m.

Olympic rematches include the men’s high jump (co-gold medalists Mutaz Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi) and 200m (gold medalist Andre De Grasse and bronze medalist Noah Lyles) and women’s 400m (gold medalist Shaunae Miller-Uibo and silver medalist Marileidy Paulino) and 100m hurdles (silver medalist Keni Harrison and bronze medalist Megan Tapper).

Most American athletes are preparing for June’s USATF Outdoor Championships, where the top three in most events qualify for July’s world championships at the same site in Eugene, Oregon. Some, like Lyles, have a bye into worlds as a reigning world champion or Diamond League champion.

Doha will provide the best glimpse yet this year of medal prospects.

Here are the Doha entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

11:10 a.m. — Men’s Pole Vault
11:23 — Women’s Triple Jump
11:25 — Women’s Shot Put
12:04 — Women’s 400m
12:15 — Men’s High Jump
12:17 — Women’s 3000m
12:35 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
12:43 — Men’s Javelin
12:49 — Men’s 800m
1:02 — Women’s 100m Hurdles
1:12 — Men’s 200m
1:23 — Men’s 1500m
1:36 — Women’s 200m
1:47 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s Pole Vault — 11:10 a.m. ET
Olympic champion Mondo Duplantis, a Louisiana-raised Swede, already upped his world record by one centimeter on two separate occasions in March. He opens his outdoor season in Doha against American Chris Nilsen, who took silver in Tokyo. Nilsen was the last man to win a pole vault competition with Duplantis in the field, at a post-Tokyo Diamond League meet, and also beat him at the 2019 NCAA Championships.

Women’s 400m — 12:04 p.m. ET
Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas leads a field of four of the top five finishers from Tokyo, missing only bronze medalist Allyson Felix. Miller-Uibo’s lone defeat over one lap since the 2017 World Championships was at the 2019 Worlds to Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser, who is banned into 2023 in a case of missed drug tests from 2019. The Dominican Republic’s Paulino, a 100m/200m runner pre-pandemic, lowered her personal best by .79 of a second in Tokyo. Her final time — 49.20 — would have won gold at the previous four Olympics, but was still a distant .84 behind Miller-Uibo. In her one race so far this year, Paulino lowered her personal best in the 200m.

Men’s 400m Hurdles — 12:35 p.m. ET
Five of the top six from the Tokyo Olympics, but missing gold medalist and world-record smasher Karsten Warholm. American Rai Benjamin, who also went under the world record in Tokyo, likely will not face Warholm before July’s worlds. He will nonetheless face a challenge in Doha in Brazilian Alison dos Santos, the third-fastest man in history with his Olympic bronze-medal performance.

Men’s 200m — 1:12 p.m. ET
How will De Grasse and Lyles respond to 18-year-old Erriyon Knighton‘s 19.49-second scorcher from two weeks ago? Knighton, fourth at the Olympics, zoomed past both men into fourth place on the all-time list behind Usain BoltYohan Blake and Michael Johnson. De Grasse clocked a personal-best 19.62 into a headwind to win the Olympics. Lyles ran 19.50 in 2019 and then 19.52 two weeks after the Olympic final. Both could be upstaged in Doha by Olympic 100m silver medalist Fred Kerley, who ranks in the top three so far this year in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

Men’s 3000m Steeplechase — 1:47 p.m. ET
The day’s final event features the best field of the meet — the top five from the Olympics. Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali took gold in Tokyo in the absence of Kenyan Conseslus Kipruto, who won the 2016 Olympics, 2017 Worlds and 2019 Worlds. Kipruto did not finish the Kenyan Olympic Trials and, up until placing fifth in a Saturday race, had not finished a steeple since winning the 2019 World title by one hundredth of a second. Kipruto is not in the Doha field, but silver medalist Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia and bronze medalist Benjamin Kigen of Kenya are.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Germany opens bobsled worlds with double gold; Kaillie Humphries gets silver

Laura Nolte Bobsled
Getty
0 Comments

Germans Laura Nolte and Johannes Lochner dethroned the reigning Olympic and world champions to open the world bobsled championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, this weekend.

Nolte, the Olympic two-woman champion driver, won the four-run monobob by four tenths of a second over American Kaillie Humphries, who won the first world title in the event in 2021 and the first Olympic title in the event in 2022. Another German, Lisa Buckwitz, took bronze.

In the two-man, Lochner became the first driver to beat countryman Francesco Friedrich in an Olympic or world championships event since 2016, ending Friedrich’s record 12-event streak at global championships between two-man and four-man.

Friedrich, defeated by 49 hundredths, saw his streak of seven consecutive world two-man titles also snapped.

Lochner, 32, won his first outright global title after seven Olympic or world silvers, plus a shared four-man gold with Friedrich in 2017.

Swiss Michael Vogt drove to bronze, one hundredth behind Friedrich. Geoff Gadbois and Martin Christofferson filled the top American sled in 18th.

Americans Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton were the last non-Germans to win a world two-man title in 2012.

Bobsled worlds finish next weekend with the two-woman and four-man events.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Novak Djokovic wins 10th Australian Open, ties Rafael Nadal for most men’s Slam titles

Novak Djokovic Australian Open
Getty
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic climbed into the Rod Laver Arena stands to celebrate his 10th Australian Open championship and record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title Sunday and, after jumping and pumping his fists with his team, he collapsed onto his back, crying.

When he returned to the playing surface, Djokovic sat on his sideline bench, buried his face in a white towel and sobbed some more.

This trip to Australia was far more successful than that of a year ago, when he was deported from the country because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19. And Djokovic accomplished all he could have possibly wanted in his return: He resumed his winning ways at Melbourne Park and made it back to the top of tennis, declaring: “This probably is the, I would say, biggest victory of my life.”

Only briefly challenged in the final, Djokovic was simply better at the most crucial moments and beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5). As a bonus, Djokovic will vault from No. 5 to No. 1 in the ATP rankings, a spot he already has held for more weeks than any other man.

“I want to say this has been one of the most challenging tournaments I’ve ever played in my life, considering the circumstances. Not playing last year; coming back this year,” Djokovic said, wearing a zip-up white jacket with a “22” on his chest. “And I want to thank all the people that made me feel welcome, made me feel comfortable, to be in Melbourne, to be in Australia.”

The 35-year-old from Serbia stretched his unbeaten streak in Melbourne to 28 matches, the longest run there in the Open era, which dates to 1968. He adds trophy No. 10 to the seven from Wimbledon, three from the U.S. Open — where he also was absent last year because of no coronavirus shots — and two from the French Open, to match rival Rafael Nadal for the most by a man.

Only two women — Margaret Court, with 24, and Serena Williams, with 23 — are ahead of him.

This was also the 93rd ATP tour-level title for Djokovic, breaking a tie with Nadal for the fourth-most.

“I would like to thank you for pushing our sport so far,” Tsitsipas told Djokovic.

Djokovic was participating in his 33rd major final, Tsitsipas in his second — and the 24-year-old from Greece also lost the other, at the 2021 French Open, to Djokovic.

On a cool evening under a cloud-filled sky, and with a soundtrack of chants from supporters of both men prompting repeated pleas for quiet from the chair umpire, Djokovic was superior throughout, especially so in the two tiebreakers.

He took a 4-1 lead in the first, then reeled off the last three points. He led 5-0 in the closing tiebreaker and, when it finished, he pointed to his temple before screaming, a prelude to all of the tears.

“Very emotional for us. Very emotional for him,” said Djokovic’s coach, Goran Ivanisevic. “It’s a great achievement. It was a really tough three weeks for him. He managed to overcome everything.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Tsitsipas was willing to engage in the kind of leg-wearying, lung-searing back-and-forths upon which Djokovic has built his superlative career. How did that work out? Of points lasting at least five strokes, Djokovic won 43, Tsitsipas 30.

Then again, on those rare occasions that Tsitsipas did charge the net, Djokovic often conjured up a passing shot that was too tough to handle.

It’s not as though Tsitsipas played all that poorly, other than a rash of early miscues that seemed to be more a product of tension than anything.

It’s that Djokovic was too unyielding. Too accurate with his strokes, making merely 22 unforced errors, 20 fewer than his foe. Too speedy and flexible chasing shots (other than on one second-set point, when, running to his left, Djokovic took a tumble).

“I did everything possible,” said Tsitsipas, who also would have moved to No. 1 with a victory, replacing Carlos Alcaraz, who sat out the Australian Open with a leg injury.

Perhaps. Yet Djokovic pushes and pushes and pushes some more, until it’s the opponent who is something less than perfect on one swing, either missing or providing an opening to pounce.

That’s what happened when Tsitsipas held his first break point — which was also a set point — while ahead 5-4 in the second and Djokovic serving at 30-40. Might this be a fulcrum? Might Djokovic relent? Might Tsitsipas surge?

Uh, no.

A 15-stroke point concluded with Djokovic smacking a cross-court forehand winner that felt like a statement. Two misses by Tsitsipas followed: A backhand long, a forehand wide. Those felt like capitulation. Even when Tsitsipas actually did break in the third, Djokovic broke right back.

There has been more than forehands and backhands on Djokovic’s mind over the past two weeks.

There was the not-so-small matter of last year’s legal saga — he has alternately acknowledged the whole thing served as a form of motivation but also said the other day, “I’m over it” — and curiosity about the sort of reception he would get when allowed to enter Australia because pandemic restrictions were eased.

He heard a ton of loud support, but also dealt with some persistent heckling while competing, including applause after faults Sunday.

There was the sore left hamstring that has been heavily bandaged for every match — until the final, that is, when only a single piece of beige athletic tape was visible.

And then there was the complicated matter of his father, Srdjan, being filmed with a group of people with Russian flags — one with an image of Vladimir Putin — after Djokovic’s quarterfinal. The tournament banned spectators from carrying flags of Russia or Belarus, saying they would cause disruption because of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Djokovic and his father said it was a misunderstanding; Srdjan thought he was with Serbian fans.

Still, Srdjan Djokovic did not attend his son’s semifinal or the final.

No matter any of it, Djokovic excelled as he so often has.

“He is the greatest,” Tsitsipas said, “that has ever held a tennis racket.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!