Athing Mu wins 800m thriller, world records fall, U.S. wins most track worlds medals ever

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Athing Mu‘s victory by eight hundredths of a second in the 800m highlighted a three-gold-medal final day of the world track and field championships for the U.S., which broke the record for most total medals at a worlds.

Nigerian Tobi Amusan (100m hurdles) and Swede Mondo Duplantis (pole vault) also broke world records Sunday.

Mu and the U.S. men’s and women’s 4x400m relays won on the last day of the 10-day meet in Eugene, Oregon, the first outdoor worlds to be held in the U.S.

In all, the U.S. earned five medals on Sunday to finish with 33, breaking the record of 31 medals won by East Germany in 1987. Its 13 gold medals are one shy of the record that the U.S. holds from 2005, 2007 and 2019.

Notably, the retiring Allyson Felix earned a records-extending 20th career world championships medal and 14th gold for her participation in Saturday’s preliminary heats of the women’s 4x400m.

Sydney McLaughlin anchored the final quartet with a split of 47.91 seconds, making her the seventh-fastest relay performer in history and second-fastest in the last 33 years behind Felix. It could be a sign of things to come as McLaughlin, who smashed her world record in the 400m hurdles on Friday, may move full-time to the flat 400m.

Mu became the first American woman to win a world 800m title, a year after becoming the second American woman to win an Olympic 800m title. She barely held off surging Brit Keely Hodgkinson, the Olympic silver medalist, to her inside over the last 100 meters. Mu is undefeated in outdoor 800m races dating to 2019. On Her Turf has more on the women’s 800m here.

“Today was kind of a rough day for me,” said Mu, who in Tokyo won by a more comfortable .67 of a second. “I just physically wasn’t where I would like to be. I just didn’t feel my best.”

Mu, at 20, became the youngest woman to own Olympic and world titles in an individual track and field event in history. The only younger man to do it was Kirani James of Grenada in the 400m in 2011 and 2012.

TRACK WORLDS: Results

Also Sunday, Amusan ran the two fastest women’s 100m hurdles times in history, though only one counted for a world record. More on Amusan here. Duplantis capped the meet by breaking his own pole vault world record, clearing 6.21 meters (20 feet, 4 inches).

“I did not touch it [the bar], so that gives you confidence that you can go higher,” said Duplantis, one of only two men to pole vault higher than 20 feet outdoors (Sergey Bubka).

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen added a world 5000m title to his Olympic 1500m crown, taking the lead with 900 meters left and pulling away in the final 200. American Grant Fisher was in third coming around the last curve, stumbled — could have been clipped by another runner — and dropped to sixth.

Ingebrigtsen wants to run the 1500m and 5000m at the Olympics, but ran solely the 1500m in Tokyo because the events overlapped. The 2024 Olympic track and field schedule has not been published, though Ingebrigtsen said before worlds that he petitioned for the events to be separated and that it was rejected.

Kenya finished worlds without a gold medal in any of the men’s and women’s 5000m, 10,000m, marathons and 3000m steeplechases for the first time since the first worlds in 1983.

World record holder Kevin Mayer of France earned his second world title in the decathlon, a day after Olympic gold medalist Damian Warner of Canada pulled up with a leg injury in the 400m. Mayer earned silver medals at the last two Olympics and has a home Games in two years in Paris.

Zach Ziemek took bronze to become the first American medalist in the decathlon since Ashton Eaton retired after his second Olympic title in 2016.

German Malaika Mihambo followed her Olympic gold by repeating as world champion in the long jump, edging Olympic bronze medalist Ese Brume of Nigeria by 10 centimeters.

The track and field season continues with the resumption of the Diamond League circuit with a meet in Poland on Aug. 6, with early commits including Duplantis and world 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica.

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Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record

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Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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