Christian Coleman, the world’s fastest man for years, returns to spotlight at Millrose Games

Christian Coleman

When Christian Coleman returned from an 18-month suspension last year, he found that men’s sprinting evolved in his absence. He changed, too.

So after Coleman placed sixth in defense of his 100m title at last July’s world championships, his first global outdoor meet in three years, he was reflective.

“The last 100 meters I ran competitively was in Doha in 2019. I was 23 years old. The next 100 meters I ran competitively I was 26,” said Coleman, who won the 2019 World title in a personal-best 9.76 seconds, then ran 10.01 for sixth at the 2022 Worlds. “So I knew this season was going to be a grind, just getting my feet back underneath me, just getting my race pattern down. Just getting back into the groove of competing at a high level.”

Coleman left the mixed zone that night with two succinct lines regarding his future. “I’m back at square one,” he said. “I don’t like to come up short of my goals.”

The man listed in his Georgia high school yearbook as “most likely to receive a Nike endorsement” spent the offseason working on facets of his profession beyond putting one foot in front of the other. In his words, he soul searched.

He relied on a chef to better his diet with organic foods. He is leaner, improved in the weight room and feels like an elite sprinter again.

“He felt he had to reprove himself,” last season, said Tim Hall, Coleman’s coach for eight years. “That can weigh heavy on a kid.”

Coleman returns to top-level track at the Millrose Games in New York City on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, NBC,, the NBC Sports app and Peacock). He is in the headline race, the 60m, in a showdown with Noah Lyles. It conjures 2019, when a Coleman-Lyles rivalry stoked men’s sprinting.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, is coming off a personal-best 6.51 seconds in the 60m at last Saturday’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. He upset past world 60m champion Trayvon Bromell and then said he was coming for Usain Bolt‘s 100m and 200m world records in the spring and summer outdoor season.

Coleman owns the three fastest indoor 60m times in history, all from 2018, including the world record of 6.34.

“I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily trying to make a statement,” Coleman said of Saturday’s race while acknowledging the motivation to “run against guys you know are going to be at the top come this summer.”

Coleman had a bye onto last summer’s world outdoor championships team as the reigning world 100m champion. This year, he must earn one of three spots at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, in July.

In 2021 at Eugene’s Hayward Field, Coleman watched the Olympic Trials from spectator seats as three other Americans made the team for Tokyo. In 2022 at Eugene’s Hayward Field, Coleman was first out of the blocks in the world championships 100m final, then reeled in by the field and passed by five men, including three Americans who swept the medals.

“I’m not looking at last season as a huge representation of who I am as an athlete,” Coleman said last week. “I know I can be better.”

He’s not looking to the more distant past, either. Coleman was the world’s fastest man in the 100m in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and over the entire five-year Tokyo Olympic cycle.

He began that stretch as the Tennessee Volunteer who ran a 40-yard dash one tenth faster than the NFL Combine record. Over the years, he shed doubts of whether he could maintain enough speed over 100 meters to succeed Bolt as sprint king.

Since Coleman’s ban in 2020 and 2021 for missing drug tests (he never tested positive for a banned substance), Bromell and new world 100m champion Fred Kerley have matched Coleman’s 100m personal best of 9.76.

“I feel like I’m on a totally different timeline,” Coleman said when asked of his pre-suspension self. “So it’s just really hard to compare where I’m at now with what I was feeling like in 2019.”

He began last year with a world indoor championships silver medal in the 60m, clipped by Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy by three thousandths. He ran 9.87 in the 100m at nationals, his best time of the year, ranking eighth in the world.

Coleman summed up last season as “decent.” Hall labeled it “nothing short of amazing,” given the circumstances.

“To be out of the rigors of competing with some of the best athletes in the world, you kind of lose your rhythm, your timing. You lose a lot of things. You lose that competitive edge,” Hall said, adding that Coleman trained through the ban. “Once we got in the world championship, he made the best of the opportunity he had.”

Coleman is younger than all of the men’s 100m medalists at the Tokyo Olympics and 2022 World Championships with less injury history than most of them, too.

In high school, Coleman kept a goal sheet on his wall. He stopped doing that as a professional. Coleman and Hall had the same answer when asked aspirations for 2023.


“[Fast] times will take care of itself,” Hall said. “I told him we have nothing to prove to anyone.”

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Ilia Malinin eyed new heights at figure skating worlds, but a jump to gold requires more


At 18 years old, Ilia Malinin already has reached immortality in figure skating for technical achievement, being the first to land a quadruple Axel jump in competition.

The self-styled “Quadg0d” already has shown the chutzpah (or hubris?) to go for the most technically difficult free skate program ever attempted at the world championships, including that quad Axel, the hardest jump anyone has tried.

It helped bring U.S. champion Malinin the world bronze medal Saturday in Saitama, Japan, where he made more history as the first to land the quad Axel at worlds.

But it already had him thinking that the way to reach the tops of both the worlds and Olympus might be to acknowledge his mortal limits.

Yes, if Malinin (288.44 points) had cleanly landed all six quads he did instead of going clean on just three of the six, it would have closed or even overcome the gap between him and repeat champion Shoma Uno of Japan (301.14) and surprise silver medalist Cha Jun-Hwan (296.03), the first South Korean man to win a world medal.

That’s a big if, as no one ever has done six clean quads in a free skate.

And the energy needed for those quads, physical and mental, hurts Malinin’s chances of closing another big gap with the world leaders: the difference in their “artistic” marks, known as component scores.

Malinin’s technical scores led the field in both the short program and free skate. But his component scores were lower than at last year’s worlds, when he finished ninth, and they ranked 10th in the short program and 11th in the free this time. Uno had an 18.44-point overall advantage over Malinin in PCS, Cha a 13.47 advantage.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Chock, Bates, and a long road to gold | Results

As usual in figure skating, some of the PCS difference owes to the idea of paying your dues. After all, at his first world championships, eventual Olympic champion Nathan Chen had PCS scores only slightly better than Malinin’s, and Chen’s numbers improved substantially by the next season.

But credit Malinin for quickly grasping the reality that his current skating has a lot of rough edges on the performance side.

“I’ve noticed that it’s really hard to go for a lot of risks,” he said in answer to a press conference question about what he had learned from this competition. “Sometimes going for the risks you get really good rewards, but I think that maybe sometimes it’s OK to lower the risks and go for a lot cleaner skate. I think it will be beneficial next season to lower the standards a bit.”

So could it be “been-there, done-that” with the quad Axel? (and the talk of quints and quad-quad combinations?)

Saturday’s was his fourth clean quad Axel in seven attempts this season, but it got substantially the lowest grade of execution (0.36) of the four with positive marks. It was his opening jump in the four-minute free, and, after a stopped-in-your tracks landing, his next two quads, flip and Lutz, were both badly flawed.

And there were still some three minutes to go.

Malinin did not directly answer about letting the quad Axel go now that he has definitively proved he can do it. What he did say could be seen as hinting at it.

“With the whole components factor … it’s probably because you know, after doing a lot of these jumps, (which) are difficult jumps, it’s really hard to try to perform for the audience,” he said.

“Even though some people might enjoy jumping, and it’s one of the things I enjoy, but I also like to perform to the audience. So I think next season, I would really want to focus on this performing side.”

Chen had told me essentially the same thing for a 2017 Ice Network story (reposted last year by about his several years of ballet training. He regretted not being able to show that training more because of the program-consuming athletic demands that come with being an elite figure skater.

“When I watch my skating when I was younger, I definitely see all this balletic movement and this artistry come through,” Chen said then. “When I watch my artistry now, it’s like, ‘Yes, it’s still there,’ but at the same time, I’m so focused on the jumps, it takes away from it.”

The artistry can still be developed and displayed, as Chen showed and as prolific and proficient quad jumpers like Uno and the now retired two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan have proved.

For another perspective on how hard it is to combine both, look at the difficulty it posed for the consummate performer, Jason Brown, who had the highest PCS scores while finishing a strong fifth (280.84).

Since Brown dropped his Sisyphean attempts to do a clean quad after 26 tries (20 in a free skate), the last at the 2022 U.S. Championships, he has received the two highest international free skate scores of his career, at the 2022 Olympics and this world meet.

It meant Brown’s coming to terms with his limitations and the fact that in the sport’s current iteration, his lack of quads gives him little chance of winning a global championship medal. What he did instead was give people the chance to see the beauty of his blade work, his striking movement, his expressiveness.

He has, at 28, become an audience favorite more than ever. And the judges Saturday gave Brown six maximum PCS scores (10.0.)

“I’m so happy about today’s performance,” Brown told media in the mixed zone. “I did my best to go out there and skate my skate. And that’s what I did.”

The quadg0d is realizing that he, too, must accept limitations if he wants to achieve his goals. Ilia Malinin can’t simply jump his way onto the highest steps of the most prized podiums.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to

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Shoma Uno repeats as world figure skating champion; Ilia Malinin tries 6 quads for bronze


Japan’s Shoma Uno repeated as world figure skating champion, performing the total package of jumps and artistry immediately after 18-year-old American Ilia Malinin attempted a record-tying six quadruple jumps in his free skate to earn the bronze medal.

Uno, 25 and the leader after Thursday’s short program, prevailed with five quad attempts (one under-rotated) in Saturday’s free skate.

He finished, fell backward and lay on home ice in Saitama, soaking in a standing ovation amid a sea of Japanese flags. Japan won three of the four gold medals this week, and Uno capped it off with guts coming off a reported ankle injury.

He is the face of Japanese men’s skating after two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu retired in July and Olympic silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama missed most of this season with leg and ankle injuries.

“There were many shaky jumps today, but I’m happy I was able to get a good result despite not being in a good condition these past two weeks,” Uno said, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “I know I caused a lot of concerns to everyone around me, but I was able to pay them back and show my gratitude with my performance today.”

Silver medalist Cha Jun-Hwan became the first South Korean man to win a world championships medal. Cha, a 21-year-old who was fifth at the Olympics, had to change out broken skate boots before traveling to Japan, one year after withdrawing from worlds after a 17th-place short program, citing a broken skate boot.


Malinin, ninth in his senior worlds debut last year, planned the most difficult program of jumps in figure skating history — six quads, including a quad Axel. Malinin is the only person to land a quad Axel in competition and did so again Saturday. He still finished 12.7 points behind Uno and 7.59 behind Cha.

Malinin had the top technical score (jumps, spins, step sequences) in both programs, despite an under-rotation and two other negatively graded jumps among his seven jumping passes in the free skate.

His nemesis was the artistic score, placing 10th and 11th in that category in the two programs (18.44 points behind Uno). Unsurprising for the only teen in the top 13, who is still working on that facet of his skating, much like a young Nathan Chen several years ago.

“After doing a lot of these jumps — hard, difficult jumps — it’s really hard to try to perform for the audience,” said Malinin, who entered worlds ranked second in the field by best score this season behind Uno.

Chen, who is unlikely to compete again after winning last year’s Olympics, remains the lone skater to land six fully rotated quads in one program (though not all clean). Malinin became the youngest U.S. male singles skater to win a world medal since Scott Allen in 1965. He was proud of his performance, upping the ante after previously trying five quads in free skates this season, but afterward weighed whether the risk was worth it.

“Sometimes going for the risk, you get really good rewards, but I think that maybe sometimes it’s OK to lower the risks and try not to take as much risk and go for a lot cleaner skate,” he said. “I think that’ll be beneficial to do next season is to lower the standards a bit.”

Malinin was followed by Frenchman Kévin Aymoz, who before the pandemic was the world’s third-ranked skater behind Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu, then placed ninth, 11th and 12th at the last three global championships.

Jason Brown, a two-time U.S. Olympian, was fifth in his first international competition since last year’s Olympics. He was the lone man in the top 15 to not attempt a quad, a testament to his incredible artistic skills for which he received the most points between the two programs.

“I didn’t think at the beginning of the year that I even would be competing this year, so I’m really touched to be here,” the 28-year-old said, according to the ISU. “I still want to keep going [competing] a little longer, but we’ll see. I won’t do promises.”

Earlier Saturday, Madison Chock and Evan Bates became the oldest couple to win an ice dance world title and the second set of Americans to do so. More on that here.

World championships highlights air Saturday from 8-10 p.m. ET on NBC, and the NBC Sports app.

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