Molly Huddle

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Christian Coleman set to stare down elders Justin Gatlin and Yohan Blake in world championships

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Usain Bolt has moved on, but sprinters of a certain age are not yet ready to cede the spotlight just yet in the men’s 100 meters.

The world championship semifinals and final will be the marquee event of Saturday’s session in Doha, Qatar. The session also includes finals in the women’s hammer throw, men’s long jump and women’s 10,000 meters, all of which have U.S. medal contenders.

Justin Gatlin, who won the 2004 Olympic gold and 2005 world championship in the 100 meters before serving a lengthy suspension for a doping infraction, won his heat Friday to extend his effort to defend the world title he won two years ago at age 35. Now 37, Gatlin has posted the fourth-fastest time (9.87) in the world this year. (No. 2, Noah Lyles, is focusing on the 200 meters; No. 3, Divine Oduduru of Nigeria and Texas Tech, did not start Friday’s heats.)

Mike Rodgers, a fellow American in his mid-30s, advanced from his heat as well.

Another heat winner, Jamaica’s Yohan Blake, won’t turn 30 for another couple of months but has been around for years, winning the world title in 2011 when Bolt was disqualified.

But the fastest man in the world this year and the fastest man in Friday’s heats is from the next generation.

Christian Coleman, a 23-year-old sprinter who finished between Gatlin and Bolt to take silver in 2017, laid down an emphatic run in his heat Friday, blasting away from the pack and finishing in 9.98 seconds despite slowing down toward the end. No other runner broke the 10-second mark.

Coleman’s heat sent a message that he is ready to roll after missing time to deal with a drug-testing issue. He missed two Diamond League meets in late August, missing out on prize money and some opportunities to rev up for the world championships.

The Americans will be spread between the three semifinals — Coleman in the first, Gatlin alongside Blake and Canadian star Andre de Grasse in the second, Rodgers in the third. The top two in the each semifinal and the next two fastest runners across all three semis will advance to the final.

READ: Coleman wants apology after drug-test saga

The women’s hammer throw had three U.S. medal contenders who ranked first, second and third coming into the competition, but Brooke Andersen failed to advance from Friday’s qualification round. Gwen Berry, one of two athletes to draw attention to social issues with gestures on the podium at the Pan Am Games, also didn’t throw near her best but still advanced. DeAnna Price had no such issue, throwing 73.77m on her first effort to qualify automatically. Her throw stood as the day’s best.

READ: Berry raises fist, Imboden kneels at Pan Am Games

The men’s long jump will include Olympic champion Jeff Henderson, who has had an erratic season. The favorite is Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria, who has the best jump in the world this year and easily took top honors in the Diamond League.

In the women’s 10,000 meters, world and Olympic champion Almaz Ayana has withdrawn, but her fellow Ethiopians have the potential for a sweep. Letesenbet Gidey has the world’s fastest time this year. The U.S. contingent includes veteran Molly Huddle, who finished fourth in the 2015 world championships and sixth in the 2016 Olympics, and Emily Sisson, who has posted the fastest time in the world this year by anyone not from Ethiopia.

Huddle actually has the fastest career best in the field with her American record 30:13.17 in the 2016 Olympics.

READ: Ayana withdraws from championships

Other events in the evening session include qualification rounds in the women’s 100m, men’s discus, men’s 800m, men’s pole vault and men’s 400m hurdles. The women’s 800m semifinals, featuring Americans Ajee Wilson and Raevyn Rogers, also are on the schedule, as is the first round of the mixed 4x400m relay.

After the evening session, near midnight local time, the men and women will compete simultaneously in the 50km walk.

NBC will carry the men’s 100m final and other action from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. EDT, while earlier action will start on the Olympic Channel at 9:30 a.m. EDT. NBC Sports Gold will stream live coverage of every event over the 10-day meet.

TRACK AND FIELD WORLDS: TV Schedule | U.S. Roster

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Allyson Felix, admittedly far from her best, advances in first race as a mom

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Allyson Felix, at a professed far from her best, finished fourth in her 400m first-round heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships, her first race in more than one year and since having daughter Camryn via emergency C-section at 32 weeks on Nov. 28.

Felix, the most decorated female Olympic track and field athlete with nine medals and six golds, clocked 52.20 seconds. She reached Friday’s semifinals with the 11th-fastest time of 16 qualifiers. Her personal best is 49.26 from 2015.

“It felt rusty. Kind of to be expected,” Felix, who ran unsponsored but in Nike shoes, told media in Des Moines. “It’s not quite up to my standards.

“Even though it wasn’t a great result for me, it’s a starting point. My biggest goal is next year. I know that I’m capable. Now I have time on my side. I can get where I need to go.”

USATF OUTDOORS: TV Schedule | Full Results

Before the race, Felix posted on Instagram that making it to the start line was “a huge victory.”

“Almost 8 months ago this was my entire world. staying in the NICU all day & night watching my baby girl fight,” she wrote. “I can still hear the beeping and alarms of the machines. the uncertainty. The fear. There were a lot of days i wasn’t sure this was going to be possible. I worked harder than i even knew i could. there were tears, frustration and doubt. At times it felt like everything was against me.”

Felix must likely finish in the top six in Saturday’s 400m final, should she advance from Friday’s semifinals, to make her ninth straight world championships team. That should get her on the 4x400m relay. A top-three finish is required to make the individual 400m at worlds in Doha in two months.

Later Thursday, Molly Huddle captured her fifth straight 10,000m national title by holding off training partner Emily Sisson. In the men’s 10,000m, 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer Lopez Lomong won by more than 17 seconds.

Others winners included Sam Mattis (discus), Ariana Ince (javelin) — edging American record-holder Kara Winger — and Keturah Orji, who captured her fourth straight triple jump crown.

Earlier Thursday, the favorites advanced in the men’s and women’s 100m, which have semifinals and finals Friday. That includes Christian Coleman, the world’s fastest man this Olympic cycle, Justin Gatlin, who has a bye into worlds as defending champion and defending U.S. champion Aleia Hobbs.

Same went for the women’s 800m (Ajee WilsonRaevyn Rogers) and 1500m (Jenny SimpsonShelby Houlihan) and men’s 400m hurdles (Rai BenjaminKerron Clement) and 800m (Donovan BrazierClayton Murphy).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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MORE: Olympic champions, world-record holder to miss USATF Outdoors

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today i’ll step on the starting line for the first time in over a year. it might sound cliche, but making it there for me is a huge victory • almost 8 months ago this was my entire world. staying in the NICU all day & night watching my baby girl fight. i can still hear the beeping and alarms of the machines. the uncertainty. the fear • there were a lot of days i wasn’t sure this was going to be possible. i worked harder than i even knew i could. there were tears, frustration and doubt. at times it felt like everything was against me • so today i’m far from my best, but i’m grateful for this opportunity and to experience the joy of competing again • more than anything i thank God we are healthy.

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U.S. Olympic marathon team outlook heading toward trials

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A look at the U.S. men’s and women’s marathon rankings at the end of the spring majors with 10 months until the Olympic trials in Atlanta (NAMES IN BOLD HAVE MET IAAF STANDARD TO BE GUARANTEED ELIGIBLE FOR OLYMPICS)

Men (since 1/1/2018)
1. Galen Rupp — 2:06:07 (Prague 2018)
2. Galen Rupp — 2:06:21 (Chicago 2018)
3. Scott Fauble — 2:09:09 (Boston 2019)
4. Jared Ward — 2:09:25 (Boston 2019)
5. Elkanah Kibet — 2:11:51 (Boston 2019)
6. Jared Ward — 2:12:24 (New York City 2018)
7. Scott Fauble — 2:12:28 (New York City 2018)
8. Elkanah Kibet — 2:12:35 (Chicago 2018)
9. Augustus Maiyo — 2:12:40 (Boston 2019)
10. Shadrack Biwott — 2:12:52 (New York City 2018)

Rupp easily beat the IAAF Olympic standard time of 2:11:30 in both of his 2018 marathons, but that was before the IAAF window began on Jan. 1. The 2016 Olympic bronze medalist missed the spring marathon season after foot surgery, but if it turns out the Olympic standard is a requirement to make the Tokyo Games, he would be expected to hit it in a fall marathon or possibly at trials, though that course is hilly and could be hot. … Fauble, a former University of Portland runner who made his marathon debut in 2017, and Ward, sixth in Rio, are the only U.S. men with the IAAF standard and clearly the early favorites to join Rupp in the top three at trials. … Keep an eye on five-time Olympic track runner Bernard Lagat‘s second career marathon on July 7 in Gold Coast, Australia. Lagat, already the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history, debuted with a 2:17:20 in New York City on Nov. 4.

Women (since 1/1/2018)
1. Amy Cragg — 2:21:42 (Tokyo 2018)
2. Emily Sisson — 2:23:08 (London 2019)
3. Kellyn Johnson — 2:24:29 (Duluth 2018)
4. Jordan Hasay — 2:25:20 (Boston 2019)
5. Sara Hall — 2:26:20 (Ottawa 2018)
6. Shalane Flanagan — 2:26:22 (New York City 2018)
7. Molly Huddle — 2:26:33 (London 2019)
8. Molly Huddle — 2:26:44 (New York City 2018)
9. Aliphine Tuliamuk — 2:26:50 (Rotterdam 2019)
10. Des Linden — 2:27:00 (Boston 2019)

The U.S. women are much deeper and stronger internationally than the men. Consider that the IAAF women’s Olympic standard time is 2:29:30, which 14 Americans have hit since the start of 2018, including six since the IAAF window began on Jan. 1. … Hasay, the top-finishing American in all three of her marathon starts (all majors), and Sisson, who just ran the second-fastest U.S. debut marathon ever, have the most momentum after the spring season. … Cragg, Flanagan, Huddle and Linden are the veteran Olympians at different stages: Cragg, 35 and the 2016 Olympic Trials winner, tops the rankings but looks like she will go more than 18 months between her last marathon and her next one. … Flanagan, 37 and the 2017 New York City Marathon winner, is undecided on whether she will resume her career after knee surgery last week. … Huddle, 34 and the greatest American distance runner ever between the 5km and half marathon, was disappointed to only PR by 11 seconds in London. … Linden, 35 and the 2018 Boston champ, hasn’t announced her plans after placing fifth in her defense, but she hasn’t been beaten by three Americans in a marathon since the 2008 Olympic Trials.

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MORE: 2019 London Marathon Results