Elaine Thompson-Herah, world record the buzz of Birmingham; Diamond League TV info

Elaine Thompson-Herah

Update (May 19): Elaine Thompson-Herah withdrew before Saturday’s Diamond League meet.

Last year, Elaine Thompson-Herah staked her claim as the greatest female sprinter in history by sweeping the Olympic 100m and 200m for a second time. This year, many are wondering whether she will break Florence Griffith-Joyner‘s 100m world record, though the Jamaican has made it clear it is not her focus.

Thompson-Herah races her first Diamond League meet of the year in Birmingham, Great Britain on Saturday (9 a.m. ET, CNBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock).

Maybe it’s too early in the season for Thompson-Herah to target Griffith-Joyner’s world record from the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials of 10.49 seconds, which has been scrutinized over a potentially faulty wind reading of 0.0 on an otherwise blustery day in Indianapolis.

But the talk has been there since last summer, when Thompson-Herah ran consecutive personal bests in the Olympic final (10.61 seconds into a headwind) and then at the Pre Classic in Eugene, Oregon (10.54, the second-best time in history).

On her arm is a tattoo that reads in cursive, “Nothing is impossible. Even the word impossible says, ‘I’m Possible.'”

In an interview published last month, Thompson-Herah told World Athletics that she believes the world championships this summer, also in Eugene, are an opportunity to break the 34-year-old record.

“I have run two PBs on that track,” she said then, noting a 10.84 in 2015, though that was at the old Hayward Field.

Later in the same answer, Thompson-Herah braked.

“I will not put the world championship on the spot and say I’m going to break the record on the world championship day,” she said. “If it takes two years, five years, I will still try to break it, but I will not apply any pressure to myself because the work has to continue. I think, last year I ran everything relaxing, not thinking about world titles or world records. And if I can repeat that, not putting any pressure on myself, and repeat what I have done last year, doing even better, I think it’s reachable.”

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

8:21 — Women’s Discus
8:24 — Men’s High Jump
8:47 — Women’s Pole Vault
9:04 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
9:17 — Women’s 1500m
9:25 — Women’s Long Jump
9:29 — Men’s 100m
9:37 — Men’s 800m
9:46 — Women’s 100m
9:53 — Men’s Discus
9:55 — Men’s 400m
10:03 — Women’s 5000m
10:28 — Men’s 1500m
10:41 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
10:51 — Women’s 800m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 8:47 a.m. ET
The world’s top four eligible women gather: 2021 Olympic champion Katie Nageotte of the U.S., 2016 Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, three-time Olympic or world silver medalist Sandi Morris of the U.S. and Brit Holly Bradshaw, who took bronze in Tokyo. With Russian Anzhelika Sidorova out due to that nation’s ban, the Birmingham winner will likely become the favorite for worlds.

Women’s Long Jump — 9:25 a.m. ET
Malaika Mihambo of Germany is the Olympic gold medalist, but she will not be the main attraction at this meet. Katarina Johnson-Thompson competes in her home nation for the first time since withdrawing during the Olympic heptathlon with a leg injury, two years after winning the world title, and then withdrawing during the world indoor championships pentathlon in March as she works her way back into form. A healthy KJT is an exceptional long jumper, having won a world junior title and a senior world indoor silver medal.

Men’s 100m — 9:29 a.m. ET
American Trayvon Bromell and Canadian Andre De Grasse, two of the many men with legit world championships medal chances, go head-to-head here. Bromell entered the Olympics as the world’s fastest man for the year, then was eliminated in the semifinals. A month later, he ran 9.76 to finish the year with world’s top time. He could be targeting 9.85 seconds, the world’s top time this year turned in by Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala on May 7. De Grasse took 100m bronze and 200m gold in Tokyo. He has yet to break 10 seconds in the 100m or 20 seconds in the 200m in three races this season, but is known for turning it on come championship meets. 

Women’s 100m — 9:46 a.m. ET
One of the variables that can produce fast times is strong competition. Thompson-Herah should get it in Birmingham. The field also includes Olympic bronze medalist Shericka Jackson of Jamaica, world silver medalist Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain and Americans Gabby Thomas (Olympic 200m bronze medalist) and Cambrea Sturgis, who ranks third in the world this year at 10.87. The time to keep in mind: 10.67, which two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce ran (into a headwind) at altitude in Kenya two weeks ago. It’s the fastest 100m ever run before June.

Men’s Discus — 9:53 a.m. ET
The deepest field of the meet featuring the top six from the Olympics, led by Swede Daniel Ståhl, the reigning Olympic and world champion whose last Diamond League defeat was in June 2019. Ståhl may soon face a challenge from 19-year-old Cal freshman Mykolas Alekna, the son of 2000 Olympic champion Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania. Alekna is not entered in Birmingham, but on Sunday threw 68.73 meters, ranking him second in the world this year behind the 29-year-old Swede.

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Taylor Fritz becomes crowd enemy at French Open

Taylor Fritz French Open

The French Open crowd was not happy with American player Taylor Fritz after he beat one of their own — indeed, their last man in the bracket — so they booed and whistle relentlessly. Fritz’s response? He told them to shush. Over and over again.

Fritz, a 25-year-old from California who is seeded No. 9 at Roland Garros, got into a back-and-forth with the fans at Court Suzanne Lenglen after his 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory over 78th-ranked Arthur Rinderknech in the second round on Thursday night.

Rinderknech attempted a lob that landed long on the last point, and Fritz, who had been running toward the baseline to chase the ball, immediately looked up into the stands and pressed his right index finger to his lips to say, essentially, “Hush!”

He held that pose for a bit as he headed back toward the net for a postmatch handshake, then spread his arms wide, wind-milled them a bit as if to egg on the rowdiness, and yelled: “Come on! I want to hear it!”

During the customary winner’s on-court interview that followed, more jeers rained down on Fritz, and 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli kept pausing her attempts to ask a question into her microphone.

So Fritz again said, “Shhhhh!” and put his finger toward his mouth, while Bartoli unsuccessfully tried to get the spectators to lower their decibel level.

More boos. More whistles.

And the awkwardness continued as both Bartoli and a stadium announcer kept saying, “S’il vous plaît” — “Please!” — to no avail, while Fritz stood there with his arms crossed.

A few U.S. supporters with signs and flags drew Fritz’s attention from the front row, and he looked over and said to them, “I love you guys.”

But the interview was still on hold.

Bartoli tried asking a question in English, which only served to draw more boos.

So Fritz told her he couldn’t hear her. Bartoli moved closer and finally got out a query — but it didn’t seem to matter what her words were.

Fritz, who has been featured on the Netflix docuseries about tennis called “Break Point,” had his hands on his hips and a message on his mind — one reminiscent of Daniil Medvedev’s contretemps with fans at the 2019 U.S. Open.

“I came out and the crowd was so great honestly. Like, the crowd was just so great,” Fritz said, as folks tried to drown out his voice. “They cheered so well for me, I wanted to make sure that I won. Thanks, guys.”

And with that, he exited the stage.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

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French Open: Coco Gauff to face younger opponent for first time at a Grand Slam

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff‘s first 49 Grand Slam main draw singles matches were all against older opponents. Her 50th will be against a younger one.

The sixth-seeded Gauff reached the French Open third round by beating 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday. Gauff, 19, next plays 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in the round of 32 on Saturday.

“I don’t see age as a factor,” said Gauff, who has practiced with Andreeva. “When you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff made her major debut at age 15 in 2019 by beating Venus Williams at Wimbledon. In her 15 majors, Gauff has usually been the youngest male or female singles player, including most recently at 2022 Wimbledon. She is still the lone teenager in the WTA top 49.

But that may soon change. Youngsters from the Czech Republic and Russia are on the rise. Such as Andreeva, who, at No. 143 in the world and climbing, is the highest-ranked player under the age of 18. And she doesn’t turn 17 until next April. Andreeva dropped just six games in her first two matches, fewest of any woman.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

But Gauff is still in a class of her own among her generation, having at last year’s French Open become the youngest major finalist since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon at 17. She somehow flew somewhat under the radar into Paris this year with a 4-4 record this spring and in between full-time coaches.

She has now won back-to-back matches for the first time since March, rallying past 71st-ranked Spaniard Rebeka Masarova in the first round and then dispatching an error-prone Grabher, a runner-up at a low-level clay event last week.

The other three seeds in Gauff’s section have all lost, so she would not play a seed until the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who has won all 12 sets they’ve played, including in last year’s French Open final.

“I lost that final, and like for like a week or two, I really thought it was the worst thing ever,” Gauff said. “There’s no point in me revisiting last year. It’s in the past. It was a great tournament, but I’m looking forward for more this week.”

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

The top four seeds — Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan — all reached the third round without dropping a set.

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