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Aries Merritt
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Aries Merritt hopes to make Tokyo Olympics his last

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Aries Merritt, an Olympic 110m hurdles champion and world-record holder who came back from a kidney transplant, said the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 will be his final Games, should he qualify.

“I’ll be way too old to do another Olympics,” Merritt, 34, said in an Instagram Live chat with Blake Boldon, the meet director for the Drake Relays, which would have been held this weekend if not for the coronavirus pandemic.

Merritt said he would probably compete in 2022 in a bid for the world championships in Eugene, Ore.

“But after that, I’m definitely going to retire,” he said. “That will be the end of my story as an athlete. … I’ll probably end up coaching because I love to coach and I love to give back to the sport that’s been so gracious to me. I’d love to dabble in that. Maybe some motivational speaking here and there.”

Merritt has quite a story to tell.

In 2015, he earned a world championships bronze medal with kidney function at less than 20 percent. He underwent a transplant after returning from Beijing — receiving a kidney from sister LaToya.

Ten months later, Merritt missed the Rio Olympic team by .01 at trials. In 2017, he finished second at the USATF Outdoor Championships and fifth at the world championships.

He competed just once in 2019, but said Friday that he was healthy and ready to race this season. He still trains three times a week in the Phoenix area but is being extra cautious as somebody who is immunosuppressed.

“I’m not even supposed to be running,” Merritt said at 2017 Worlds. “So just me being here in the final is definitely a blessing.”

In 2012, Merritt put up the best season in hurdles history. He came into the year having never broken 13 seconds. By the end, he had done it 10 times (two were not wind-legal), won the Olympic title and lowered the world record to 12.80 seconds, which still stands.

“I’m so happy I’m finally living up to my potential after all this time with injuries and hamstring tears and so many people telling me I should throw in the towel and get a normal job,” Merritt said after the world record.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Olympic champions, world-record holder to miss USATF Outdoor Champs

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Aries MerrittLaShawn MerrittEvan Jager and Tyson Gay are among the veteran Olympic and world medalists who will not compete at next week’s USATF Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

The registration deadline passed on Tuesday with Aries Merritt, Jager and Gay not listed among the entered athletes. LaShawn Merritt, the 2008 Olympic 400m champion (no relation to Aries), was listed as scratched from the 200m and 400m.

The agent for Aries Merritt and Gay confirmed they are out. Jager is out with a foot injury, his agent said, confirming a LetsRun.com report.

LaShawn Merritt, Aries Merritt (2012 Olympic 110m hurdles champion and world-record holder), Gay (2007 World 100m and 200m champion) and Jager (2016 Olympic silver medalist) have raced limited schedules in the last year, all or some due to injuries.

By missing nationals, none can qualify for the world championships in Doha in September and October.

All four men have lengthy streaks of competing at nationals in Olympic or world championships years: Gay since 2004, Aries Merritt since 2005, Jager since 2009 and LaShawn Merritt since 2012.

Lolo Jones, a Summer and Winter Olympian, is also not listed on the entries. Her agent said last month that Jones is “rehabbing and working herself back from a few injuries” as she works toward Tokyo 2020.

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Noah Lyles, Michael Norman finally meet again; Diamond League preview

Noah Lyles, Michael Norman
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Neither Noah Lyles nor Michael Norman has been to an Olympics or world championships, but their race in Lausanne is arguably the most anticipated sprint of the season.

The men’s 200m headlines Thursday’s Diamond League meet, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA (2-4 p.m. ET) and NBC Sports Gold (1:10-4).

The last time Lyles and Norman went head-to-head was the 2016 Olympic Trials, where they finished fourth and fifth in the 200m, just missing the three-man Olympic team as recent high school graduates.

Since, Lyles has gone undefeated in outdoor 200m races, but he missed last year’s world championships due to injury. Lyles, who turned pro after trials, also won the U.S. 100m title two weeks ago in the fastest time in the world for 2018 (9.88, since matched by countryman Ronnie Baker).

Norman, meanwhile, broke the indoor 400m world record on March 10 (44.52) running for the University of Southern California. He followed that with the fastest outdoor 400m time in the world this year (43.61) at the NCAA Championships on June 8.

Lyles and Norman both entered the 200m at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships two weeks ago, but Lyles chose not to race it while Norman withdrew before a final delayed three hours by a thunderstorm.

The Lyles-Norman show may become the premier act in track and field in the post-Bolt era. The sport’s other sprint names are either winding down their careers (Justin Gatlin and Allyson Felix) or injured (Wayde van Niekerk and Christian Coleman).

Lausanne marks their first race together of this Olympic cycle and, hopefully, the first of many.

Here are the Lausanne entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

1:10 p.m. — Women’s Javelin
1:15 — Women’s Long Jump
1:20 — Men’s Shot Put
2:02 — Women’s 400m
2:12 — Women’s 200m
2:15 — Women’s Pole Vault
2:22 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
2:30 — Men’s High Jump
2:32 — Women’s 800m
2:42 — Women’s 400m Hurdles
2:45 — Men’s Triple Jump
2:52 — Women’s 100m
3:02 — Men’s 5000m
3:18 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
3:28 — Women’s 1500m
3:38 — Men’s 200m

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 2:15 p.m. ET
The top six women in the world this year (indoors or outdoors) meet in a rematch of sorts of the Prefontaine Classic on May 26. Jenn Suhr, the 2012 Olympic champion, won at Pre, but then took third at USATF Outdoors behind Sandi Morris and Katie Nageotte. Olympic and world champion Katerina Stefanidi of Greece as well as New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney cleared season-best heights since Pre.

Men’s 110m Hurdles — 2:22 pm. ET
Russian Sergey Shubenkov injected some life into this event on Monday by clocking 12.92 seconds, the second-fastest time in the world since Aries Merritt‘s world-record 19.80 on Sept. 7, 2012. Shubenkov, the 2015 World champion, will try to beat not only Merritt here, but also 2016 Olympic and 2017 World champion Omar McLeod. Plus Ronald Levy, who won Jamaican nationals in McLeod’s absence and then won at the last Diamond League meet in Paris on Saturday. U.S. champion Devon Allen is also in this field.

Women’s 100m — 2:52 p.m. ET
U.S. and NCAA champion Aleia Hobbs tests herself against Olympic champion Elaine Thompson and the fastest women in the world this year in her senior international debut. Hobbs leads the world with seven sub-10 clockings in 2018, but Marie-Josée Ta Lou of Cote d’Ivoire has the two fastest times (10.85 and 10.88). World and U.S. 200m champions Dafne Schippers and Jenna Prandini also line up here.

Women’s 1500m — 3:28 p.m. ET
Caster Semenya is always a must-see, but what she did Saturday was eye-popping even by her standards. The South African Olympic and world champion lowered her 800m personal best by .91 in Paris, clocking the fastest time in the world in 10 years. Semenya is undefeated at 800m since September 2015 and also perfect at 1500m this year, having clocked the then-fastest time in the world for the season at her last two outings in April and May. If Semenya is to do that again, she’ll have to beat world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba‘s 3:56.68 from June 8. Dibaba is unfortunately not in this field, but Semenya could have her hands full with U.S. champion Shelby Houlihan, Brit Laura Muir and Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay, who lowered her personal best by nearly two seconds to win in Stockholm on June 10 in the world’s No. 2 time this year.

Men’s 200m — 3:38 p.m. ET
Lyles and Norman are each undefeated at 200m outdoors since the Olympic Trials, though Norman rarely raced it for USC. Each man has comfortably broken 20 seconds. They are the favorites here. But watch out for Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards, the world bronze medalist who had the fastest split in the 4x400m at worlds to help upset the U.S.

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