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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Football takes significant step in Olympic push

Flag Football
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Football took another step toward possible Olympic inclusion with the IOC executive board proposing that the sport’s international federation — the IFAF — be granted full IOC recognition at a meeting in October.

IOC recognition does not equate to eventual Olympic inclusion, but it is a necessary early marker if a sport is to join the Olympics down the line. The IOC gave the IFAF provisional recognition in 2013.

Specific measures are required for IOC recognition, including having an anti-doping policy compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency and having 50 affiliated national federations from at least three continents. The IFAF has 74 national federations over five continents with almost 4.8 million registered athletes, according to the IOC.

The NFL has helped lead the push for flag football to be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Flag football had medal events for men and women at last year’s World Games, a multi-sport competition including Olympic and non-Olympic sports, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Football is one of nine sports that have been reported to be in the running to be proposed by LA 2028 to the IOC to be added for the 2028 Games only. LA 2028 has not announced which, if any sports, it plans to propose.

Under rules instituted before the Tokyo Games, Olympic hosts have successfully proposed to the IOC adding sports solely for their edition of the Games.

For Tokyo, baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were added. For Paris, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved again, and breaking will make its Olympic debut. Those sports were added four years out from the Games.

For 2028, the other sports reportedly in the running for proposal are baseball and softball, breaking, cricket, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsports and squash.

All of the other eight sports reportedly in the running for 2028 proposal already have a federation with full IOC recognition (if one counts the international motorcycle racing federation for motorsports).

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Helen Maroulis stars in wrestling documentary, with help from Chris Pratt

Helen Maroulis, Chris Pratt

One of the remarkable recent Olympic comeback stories is the subject of a film that will be shown nationwide in theaters for one day only on Thursday.

“Helen | Believe” is a documentary about Helen Maroulis, the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion. It is produced by Religion of Sports, the venture founded by Gotham Chopra, Michael Strahan and Tom Brady. Showing details are here.

After taking gold at the 2016 Rio Games, Maroulis briefly retired in 2019 during a two-year stretch in which she dealt with concussions and post-traumatic stress disorder. The film focuses on that period and her successful bid to return and qualify for the Tokyo Games, where she took bronze.

In a poignant moment in the film, Maroulis described her “rock bottom” — being hospitalized for suicidal ideations.

In an interview, Maroulis said she was first approached about the project in 2018, the same year she had her first life-changing concussion that January. A wrestling partner’s mother was connected to director Dylan Mulick.

Maroulis agreed to the film in part to help spread mental health awareness in sports. Later, she cried while watching the 2020 HBO film, “The Weight of Gold,” on the mental health challenges that other Olympians faced, because it resonated with her so much.

“When you’re going through something, it sometimes gives you an anchor of hope to know that someone’s been through it before, and they’ve overcome it,” she said.

Maroulis’ comeback story hit a crossroads at the Olympic trials in April 2021, where the winner of a best-of-three finals series in each weight class made Team USA.

Maroulis won the opening match against Jenna Burkert, but then lost the second match. Statistically, a wrestler who loses the second match in a best-of-three series usually loses the third. But Maroulis pinned Burkert just 22 seconds into the rubber match to clinch the Olympic spot.

Shen then revealed that she tore an MCL two weeks earlier.

“They told me I would have to be in a brace for six weeks,” she said then. “I said, ‘I don’t have that. I have two and a half.’”

Maroulis said she later asked the director what would have happened if she didn’t make the team for Tokyo. She was told the film still have been done.

“He had mentioned this isn’t about a sports story or sports comeback story,” Maroulis said. “This is about a human story. And we’re using wrestling as the vehicle to tell this story of overcoming and healing and rediscovering oneself.”

Maroulis said she was told that, during filming, the project was pitched to the production company of actor Chris Pratt, who wrestled in high school in Washington. Pratt signed on as a producer.

“Wrestling has made an impact on his life, and so he wants to support these kinds of stories,” said Maroulis, who appeared at last month’s Santa Barbara Film Festival with Pratt.

Pratt said he knew about Maroulis before learning about the film, which he said “needed a little help to get it over the finish line,” according to a public relations company promoting the film.

The film also highlights the rest of the six-woman U.S. Olympic wrestling team in Tokyo. Four of the six won a medal, including Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s gold.

“I was excited to be part of, not just (Maroulis’) incredible story, but also helping to further advance wrestling and, in particular, female wrestling,” Pratt said, according to responses provided by the PR company from submitted questions. “To me, the most compelling part of Helen’s story is the example of what life looks like after a person wins a gold medal. The inevitable comedown, the trauma around her injuries, the PTSD, the drive to continue that is what makes her who she is.”

Maroulis, who now trains in Arizona, hopes to qualify for this year’s world championships and next year’s Olympics.

“I try to treat every Games as my last,” she said. “Now I’m leaning toward being done [after 2024], but never say never.”

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