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Without Bolt, a new 200 world champ will take crown for first time since 2007

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LONDON (AP) Usain Bolt will surrender another world title. This one, without even taking the track.

The Jamaican great is skipping the 200 meters at the world championships, bringing an end to his string of four straight titles in his favorite event.

This was planned. The loss to Justin Gatlin – along with up-and-coming sprinter Christian Coleman – in the 100 meters? Not so much.

So far, Bolt’s farewell tour in London hasn’t exactly going according to design, and he’ll be only a spectator when the heats of the 200 begin Monday. He still has the 4×100 relay at the end of the meet.

“I’m just disappointed I couldn’t do better for (the fans), but that’s how it goes sometimes,” Bolt said after his bronze-medal finish on Saturday. “The support has been outstanding throughout the years.”

With no Bolt, the 200 is wide open for the first time since, well, Tyson Gay, held off a rising Bolt at the 2007 worlds in Osaka, Japan.

Waiting in the wings is Wayde van Niekerk, the South African who is currently the world and Olympic 400-meter champion. He’s one of the favorites in the 200 as well. The semifinals are on Wednesday and the final is Thursday.

Like Van Niekerk, Isaac Makwala of Botswana is trying his hand at the 200-400 double. He has the top time in the 200 this season and a healthy amount of respect for Van Niekerk.

“Wayde van Niekerk is my brother. We want to conquer the world together and make the final for Africa,” Makwala said. “He is so friendly and a lovely guy.”

MORE: Tori Bowie wins 100 meters by .01

A look at the events from Day 4 of the world championships:

SLAM DUNK: Polish hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk‘s best toss this season is more than 6 meters (20 feet) better than anyone else. The two-time Olympic champion will be the overwhelming favorite to defend her world title.

OF MERRITT: Aries Merritt is one of the feel-good stories of the championships. He won a bronze medal in the 110-meter hurdles with a failing kidney in 2015. Now, with a functioning kidney thanks to a transplant from his sister, Merritt is back in the final. Another hurdler earning a lane is reigning champion Sergey Shubenkov, the Russian who’s competing as an independent with his country’s team suspended because of a doping scandal. “It will be an interesting final,” Merritt said.

HOP, SKIP & JUMP: Caterine Ibarguen of Colombia almost never loses in the triple jump. She’s looking for her third straight world title against a field that includes Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela. Ibarguen edged Rojas for gold at the Olympics in Brazil.

FOUR LAPS: Olympic 800-meter champion Caster Semenya of South Africa stepped up to the 1,500 meters and will be a contender for a medal. She’s been embroiled in the controversial debate in track and field over women with very high levels of testosterone being allowed to compete. Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia is the defending champion in the event.

TAYLOR MADE: American triple jumper Christian Taylor begins his quest for a third straight world title. He’s focused on breaking the world record of 18.29 meters (just over 60 feet), set by Jonathan Edwards of Britain in 1995. Taylor’s top mark is 18.21 (59-9). Should he ever achieve that, Taylor hinted he might switch over to the 400 meters. “I love the 400,” Taylor said. “I would just run with pure joy then, knowing that everything on my bucket list was really ticked off.”

MORE: Men’s marathon | Women’s marathon

Elaine Thompson beats Tori Bowie in first 100m match up since Rio

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In their first match-up since the Rio Olympics, Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson handily topped the U.S.’ Tori Bowie in the 100m at the second Diamond League meet of the season in Shanghai.

Thompson, the 100m and 200m gold medalist in Rio, raced to 10.78 seconds. Bowie – who took the silver medal in Rio – clocked a season’s best, 11.04, for second place.

“I made a great start and I was able to bring it home,” Thompson told media. “I am pleased with the time.”

Thompson added that her next stop will be to compete in the Jamaica Invitational later in May, followed by more world championships preparation.

Two-time Olympic 200m gold medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown from Jamaica finished sixth in 11.23 and Olympic long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta of the U.S. was last in 11.49.

In the men’s 100m hurdles, Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica came out ahead of Spain’s Orlando Ortega, 13.09 to 13.15. China’s Xie Wenjun was third in 13.31, followed by Hansle Parchment of Jamaica and Sergey Shubenkov clocking 13.35. Aries Merritt finished sixth in 13.36.

“I didn’t get out that great and that did not allow me to control the race,” McLeod said after the race, despite winning. “I didn’t execute that well and it turned into a bit of scrap. I know [Ortega] is a great competitor, so I’m pleased to win. Every time you go out to the track and win, it is a confidence booster. You don’t want to be defeated as that throws your confidence off.”

The U.S.’ Noah Lyles equaled the world’s fastest time this year at 19.90 in the 200m, ahead of teammate LaShawn Merritt who clocked 20.27.

Lyles, the 2016 world junior champion in the 100m, told media he believes the 200m is his strong suit. He plans to focus on that when competing in the Diamond League Rome meet, the Adidas meet, and the U.S. Trials.

MORE: Eatons discuss longer runs, retirement, drug testing in Q&A

Aries Merritt misses Rio spot by .01 seconds; Oregon WR wins Olympic Trials

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Most guys clear 10 hurdles. Devon Allen took an extra leap.

The University of Oregon receiver and hurdler for the Ducks track team became a U.S. Olympian on Saturday.

Allen won the 110-meter hurdles at trials and celebrated by racing over to the seats and jumping into the stands to hug his family.

“It was a really exciting moment for me,” said Allen, who became the first man to win the 110 hurdles at trials and NCAA championships since 1956. “It’s something I wanted to share with my family. I’m glad they could be here.”

Allen won in a school-record time of 13.03 seconds, holding off runner-up Ronnie Ashand Jeff Porter. The rest of the results were as surprising as the three qualifiers for Rio.

Defending Olympic champion Aries Merritt finished fourth, falling just short of making the team after a kidney transplant. Jason Richardson, 2012 Olympic silver medalist, was fifth, and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver withdrew just before the final with a tweaked left hamstring.

“It seemed like age didn’t give you the experience factor that you’re used to,” the 30-year-old Richardson said. “It seemed like it was more of a handicap. Tried to will myself to this last Olympics.”

Merritt won a bronze medal at the 2015 world championships in Beijing on a kidney that was working at 10 percent capacity. After receiving a new one from his sister in September and going through another surgery because of complications in October, he hurt his groin five weeks ago and wasn’t in top form.

“For me to be where I am is a miracle,” said Merritt, the world-record holder in the event. “It’s a pity that I’m not going to the Games. I know in six weeks times I’ll be in much better shape and probably pull off something similar as I did in Beijing. However, that’s not the case.”

Still, his doctor said what Merritt pulled off is a medical marvel. To run so quick after the transplant was amazing. To run that quick and almost make the team? Indescribable.

“Every time Aries does something else, somehow gets to the next round, is one more thing to stand back and just say, ‘Wow,'” said Dr. Les Thomas, who treated Merritt at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona and was on hand for the trials. “Just for him to be here is unbelievable.”

Oliver was understandably disappointed, issuing a statement after the race: “Devastated I couldn’t run the final, hurt left hammy in the semi, but that’s part of the game. Hats off to the great guys we’re sending!”

Indeed, in Oregon, where the fans love track as much as football, the day’s final race was all about the Ducks.

The cheers by the Hayward Field crowd were so loud that Allen almost felt like he was playing down the road at Autzen Stadium. It’s the sort of roar reserved for football games.

“Can’t hear yourself talk,” Allen said.

After the race, he tossed T-shirts into the stands that had a picture of Allen on the front and the words “Team Allen” on the back.

Could be a valuable souvenir someday, if the Olympics turn out as good as the trials.

More than likely, Allen will miss the start of football camp to make the trip to Rio. He had nine catches for 94 yards last season as he eased back into action after tearing a ligament in his right knee during the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015.

Asked if he’s now a hurdler who plays football or the other way around, he just laughed.

“I’m just an athlete who likes to play football and run track,” Allen said. “Keep doing that while I can.”

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