World track and field championships: Ten events to watch

2 Comments

Ten events to watch at the world track and field championships that start Friday in Eugene, Oregon, listed in chronological order …

Men’s 100m (Final July 16 10:50 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Marcell Jacobs (gold), Fred Kerley (silver), Andre De Grasse (bronze)
2022 World Rankings:
Kerley (9.76), Trayvon Bromell (9.81), Yohan Blake/Marvin Bracy-Williams/Ferdinand Omanyala (9.85)

Jacobs, the surprise Olympic champion from Italy, has been plagued by injuries and illness since winning the world indoor 60m title in March. He raced two meets this outdoor season with a best wind-legal time of 10.04, ranking 40th in the world this year. Kerley, who last year dropped down from the 400m to the 100m, ran the two fastest times in the world in 2022 in a two-hour span at the USATF Outdoor Championships — 9.76 and 9.77. If any of the six fastest men in the world this year take gold, it will mark a fourth different global champion (Olympics or worlds) since Usain Bolt descended from the throne.

TRACK WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule | U.S. Roster

Men’s Shot Put (Final July 17 9:27 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Ryan Crouser (gold), Joe Kovacs (silver), Tom Walsh (bronze)
2022 World Rankings: Crouser (23.12), Kovacs (22.87), Walsh (22.31)

Crouser, the world record holder (23.37), has the world’s top five throws this year, including his four most recent throws from the USATF Outdoor Championships. In Tokyo, the Olympic podium was a copy of the one from the previous Games, the first time that happened in any individual event in Olympic history, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org. But at 2019 Worlds, in the greatest shot put competition in history, Kovacs won by one centimeter on his final throw over his fellow American Crouser and Walsh.

Women’s 100m (Final July 17 10:50 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Elaine Thompson-Herah (gold), Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (silver), Shericka Jackson (bronze)
2022 World Rankings:
Fraser-Pryce (10.67), Jackson (10.77), Thompson-Herah (10.79)

After sweeping the medals in Tokyo, the Jamaican women are favored to do so again in Eugene. Thompson-Herah ran the second-fastest time in history (10.54) in Eugene at the August 2021 Pre Classic, but her pursuit of Florence Griffith-Joyner‘s world record (10.49) has cooled a bit as she’s managed minor injuries this season. Enter Fraser-Pryce, the 35-year-old mom who is bidding to become the oldest world champion in an individual event on the track, according to Mallon. She can also become the first person to win five world titles in an individual running event.

Men’s 200m (Final July 21 10:50 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Andre De Grasse (gold), Kenny Bednarek (silver), Noah Lyles (bronze)
2022 World Rankings: Erriyon Knighton (19.49), Lyles (19.61), Reynier Mena (19.63)

The Canadian De Grasse’s slow start to the season (best time of 20.38, ranked 74th in the world), gives way to a budding American rivalry between Knighton, who was fourth in Tokyo at age 17, and Lyles, the world’s fastest 200m runner in the last Olympic cycle. On April 30, Knighton ran that 19.49 to supplant Lyles as the fourth-fastest man in history behind Bolt, Yohan Blake and Michael Johnson, generating a bunch more comparisons to Bolt, whose best time at the same age was 19.93. Lyles, believing he was being doubted, decided to contest the final at nationals, even though he had a bye into worlds as reigning world champion. He ran down Knighton for the victory and, just before the finish line, celebrated with a point in the direction of Knighton and the scoreboard. Lyles said afterward that the point was not directed at Knighton, while Knighton prematurely walked out of a joint TV interview on the track with Lyles and third-place Kerley.

Men’s 400m Hurdles (Final July 19 10:50 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Karsten Warholm (gold), Rai Benjamin (silver), Alison dos Santos (bronze)
2022 World Rankings: dos Santos (46.80), Benjamin (47.04), Trevor Bassitt (47.47)

Last year, the Norwegian Warholm brought the longest-standing world record in men’s track races down from 46.78 (Kevin Young‘s time in the 1992 Olympic final) to 45.94. This year, he has raced once, stopping after one hurdle with a hamstring tear on June 5. But Warholm still eyes a three-peat at the world championships. Benjamin and dos Santos became the second- and third-fastest men in history in that epic Tokyo Olympic final. Benjamin recovered from a COVID-19 bout and tendinitis to win the national title last month in 47.04. But it’s Dos Santos, at 22 the youngest of the trio, who holds the 2022 No. 1 ranking.

Women’s 400m Hurdles (Final July 22 10:50 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Sydney McLaughlin (gold), Dalilah Muhammad (silver), Femke Bol (bronze)
2022 World Rankings: McLaughlin (51.41), Bol (52.27), Britton Wilson (53.08)

In her last four meets contesting the 400m hurdles, McLaughlin has lowered the world record three times, and in the outlier she ran the fourth-fastest time in history with one of the hurdles spaced incorrectly. She is a massive favorite despite the presence of the second- and third-fastest women in history in Muhammad, the 2016 Olympic champion and former world-record holder, and the Dutchwoman Bol. The drama lies in McLaughlin’s ability to lower the record even further, should she receive a little push from the other stars. McLaughlin’s legendary coach, Bob Kersee, said that she is going to eventually turn to the flat 400m and chase that (37-year-old) world record, perhaps after winning her first world title, NBC Sports analyst Ato Boldon said.

Men’s 5000m (Final July 24 9:05 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Joshua Cheptegei (gold), Mohammed Ahmed (silver), Paul Chelimo (bronze)
2022 World Rankings: Nicholas Kipkorir (12:46.33), Jacob Krop (12:46.79), Berihu Aregawi (12:50.05)

A gathering of reigning Olympic gold medalists in the 1500m (Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway), 5000m (Cheptegei) and 10,000m (Selemon Barega of Ethiopia). In Tokyo, Ingebrigtsen didn’t contest the 5000m as it overlapped with the 1500m. Barega wasn’t in the Olympic 5000m as no Ethiopian distance star entered multiple events. These three likely won’t be in the same field at the Paris Games. Ingebrigtsen said he asked Olympic schedulers to separate the 1500m and 5000m (they overlapped in Rio and Tokyo) and the request was denied, though the 2024 schedule hasn’t been published yet. At worlds, the 1500m final is two days before the 5000m heats.

Women’s 800m (Final July 24 9:35 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Athing Mu (gold), Keely Hodgkinson (silver), Raevyn Rogers (bronze)
2022 World Rankings: Mu (1:57.01), Ajeé Wilson (1:57.23), Mary Moraa (1:57.45)

In Tokyo, a 19-year-old Mu became the youngest American to win an individual Olympic track and field title in 49 years. Her last defeat in an outdoor 800m race was in 2019, but Wilson came seven hundredths shy of snapping that streak at nationals. Great Britain’s Hodgkinson, who is the same age as Mu, looked like more of a threat before Kenya’s Moraa beat her in the last Diamond League meet before worlds. The U.S. has an outside shot of a medals sweep with Rogers and Wilson.

Women’s 100m Hurdles (Final July 24 10 p.m. ET)
Tokyo Olympics: Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (gold), Keni Harrison (silver), Megan Tapper (bronze)
2022 World Rankings: Harrison (12.34), Alaysha Johnson (12.35), Camacho-Quinn (12.37)

Five of the 13 fastest women in history are entered. Harrison’s world record of 12.20 is under threat. Last year, the Puerto Rican Camacho-Quinn went undefeated (save one DQ) and ran 12.26 in the Olympic final, the best time ever into a headwind. This year, Camacho-Quinn has suffered a defeat. Harrison ran her best time in five years to win the U.S. title, also into a headwind. Johnson, who qualified for worlds as an unsponsored 25-year-old, has this year lowered her personal best from 12.69, going from outside the 130 fastest women in history to tied for 12th.

A distance race that Sifan Hassan enters

Hassan, an Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman, won gold in the 5000m and 10,000m and bronze in the 1500m at the Tokyo Olympics, an unprecedented triple. Last Friday, she raced for the first time since September, a rust-busting 5000m in Portland. She is entered in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m for worlds, but she is expected to drop at least one of those races. The 10,000m final is 18 hours after the 1500m heats and six hours before the 1500m semifinals. The 5000m heats are two days after the 1500m final. At the last worlds in 2019, Hassan won the 1500m and 10,000m and passed on the 5000m, which overlapped with the 1500m. The most intriguing possible head-to-head would be with Kenyan Faith Kipyegon, the two-time Olympic champion, in the 1500m.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup
Getty
0 Comments

The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new up-tempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

IOC looks for ways Russian athletes ‘who do not support war’ could compete as neutrals

Thomas Bach
Getty
0 Comments

GENEVA (AP) — Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday.

“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding, “We have to think about the future.”

Most sports followed IOC advice in February and banned Russian teams and athletes from their events within days of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.

With Russians starting to miss events that feed into qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, an exile extending into next year could effectively become a wider ban from those Games.

In an interview in Rome, Bach hinted at IOC thinking after recent rounds of calls with Olympic stakeholders asked for views on Russia’s pathway back from pariah status.

“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” he said. “On the other hand — and here comes our dilemma — this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”

Bach did not suggest how athletes could express opposition to the war when dissent and criticism of the Russian military risks jail sentences of several years.

Some Russian athletes publicly supported the war in March and are serving bans imposed by their sport’s governing body.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Yevgeny Rylov appeared at a pro-war rally attended by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak displayed a pro-military “Z” symbol on his uniform at an international event.

Russian former international athletes are being called up for military service in the current mobilization, according to media reports. They include former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev and soccer player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

Russians have continued to compete during the war as individuals in tennis and cycling, without national symbols such as flags and anthems, even when teams have been banned.

Bach told Corriere della Sera it was the IOC’s mission to be politically neutral and “to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity.”

“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” he suggested. “We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!