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Donavan Brazier, after another U.S. 800m record, looks to David Rudisha

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NEW YORK — Donavan Brazier lowered the U.S. indoor 800m record again at the Millrose Games, but he’s hoping later this year to achieve a career first: line up in a race with David Rudisha.

Brazier, who won the world outdoor title in 2019 to stamp himself as Tokyo Olympic favorite, clocked 1:44.22 at the Armory in New York City on Saturday. He previously lowered a 26-year-old American record at last year’s Millrose Games, when he ran 1:44.41.

“When I saw the clock going 1:42, 1:43, I was like, oh, I have a chance,” Brazier said Saturday. “To get it by point-two seconds, there’s really not much room for error there.”

Brazier wasn’t the only American record-breaker Saturday. Ajee Wilson lowered her national 800m record from 1:58.60 to 1:58.29. Elle Purrier took down Mary Slaney‘s 37-year-old U.S. indoor mile record, clocking 4:16.85, the world’s second-fastest time in history.

Full Millrose Games results are here.

The indoor season wraps up with the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships in Albuquerque next weekend, airing on NBC Sports. The world indoor championships, traditionally in early March, were postponed due to the coronavirus in host nation China.

Indoor success is fantastic, but in an Olympic year the focus is outdoors. Last Oct. 1, Brazier broke a 34-year-old American outdoor record to become the first U.S. man or woman to win a world 800m title.

It came in the absence of Rudisha, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic champion and world-record holder who hasn’t competed since 2017, partly due to injury. Rudisha’s 2012 Olympic title, when he set the outdoor world record of 1:40.91, is considered by many the greatest race in the sport’s history as he carried the rest of the field to the fastest times in history for each placement.

Brazier, who was 15 in 2012, said he couldn’t remember watching that final live. But he said he’s watched it dozens of times on replay, more than any other race.

“It’s a work of art,” Brazier said. “He was probably in sub-1:40 shape.”

Brazier can’t fathom running as fast as Rudisha, whose world record is 1.43 seconds faster than Brazier’s American record. But he’s carried a simple mindset since being eliminated in the first round of the 2016 Olympic trials, when he was ranked third in the world for the season as a college freshman.

“If I can work as hard as I was the year before, I’ll just naturally get faster,” said Brazier, who last year ran the fastest indoor 600m in history, in addition to breaking the U.S. indoor and outdoor 800m records.

The success puts pressure on Brazier to become the first American to win an Olympic 800m title since Dave Wottle did so wearing a hat in Munich in 1972.

“I think the target’s on my back just because I won 2019, but it’s definitely not as big of a target as [Rudisha] had on his back post-2012,” Brazier said. “I’m not thinking that I’m like this David Rudisha takeover because I’m not really damn near close to his times, but I think, for now, I’ve got that small target on my back. I guess I’m just trying to make it as big as possible.”

Rudisha, if he returns to racing this year, looks questionable to defend his Olympic gold medals in Tokyo. Five of the nine fastest men in the world last year were Kenyans, and only three can go to the Games.

“He’s a hell of a racer,” Brazier said. “I don’t know how fast he’s going to be if he comes back.”

In other events Saturday, nine-time Olympic medalist Allyson Felix took sixth in a 60m won by American Javianne Oliver in 7.13. Felix’s time — 7.32 seconds in an off-event for her — was .03 faster than she ran last Saturday.

Felix is bidding to race the 200m and 400m at June’s Olympic trials, where her better chance is in the 400m, where at least six women will make the Olympic team due to the 4x400m relays.

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Briana Williams, Jamaican sprint phenom, withdraws from world championships

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Briana Williams, a 17-year-old Jamaican sprint phenom, withdrew from the world championships the day before the women’s 100m begins, despite being cleared of a potential ban for a positive drug test.

Williams posted on social media that she had not flown to Doha before a Jamaican panel decided not to punish her over a positive test from June. The panel reportedly ruled that she was not at fault for a guardian giving her a tablet that caused the positive.

Last month, Williams’ attorney said the sprinter took a legal cold medication and listed it on her doping control form. Via lab tests, tablets were found to contain a banned diuretic that was not listed among its ingredients.

“Considering the long trip to Doha and that the team has already started training for the relays. I am just relieved and thankful after what has been a very emotional summer,” was posted on her social media Friday. “I would like to once again express my gratitude to everyone right across Jamaica who reached out to show support.”

Williams ran the fastest 100m in history for an under-18 woman at the Jamaican Championships on June 21, taking third in 10.94 seconds with a fever behind the last two Olympic champions, Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. She ranks sixth in the world this year.

Thompson, Fraser-Pryce and Brit Dina Asher-Smith are the three fastest women in the field at worlds.

MORE: World Track and Field Championships TV Schedule

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Elaine Thompson, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce sizzle at Jamaican Championships

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Jamaica’s Olympic sprint queens Elaine Thompson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce showed Friday that they aren’t ceding the 100m throne to breakout American teen Sha’Carri Richardson.

Thompson, who turns 27 next Friday, and Fraser-Pryce, 32, went one-two at Jamaica’s world championships trials, as many expected.

Somewhat more catching were their identical times — 10.73 seconds to wrestle the 2019 world No. 1 ranking from Richardson.

Two weeks ago, the 19-year-old Richardson entered the all-time top 10 by winning the NCAA Championships in 10.75 seconds, the fastest time ever for a teenager. She then turned professional, setting her Diamond League debut for the Pre Classic on June 30, with Fraser-Pryce also in that field (live on NBC Sports).

Thompson, who swept the Rio Olympic 100m and 200m, consolidated her favorite status for the world championships in Doha in September. After going winless internationally in 2018, she has now won her last two starts with her two fastest times since August 2017.

“I’ve been battling with Achilles injury, and it’s been a tough season so to come out here and retain my national title means a lot to me as I’m not 100 percent,”  a tearful Thompson said, according to Reuters.

Fraser-Pryce, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic 100m champ, clocked her fastest time in nearly six years and since Aug. 7, 2017, childbirth. Nobody has run that fast at 32 years or older. She broke Russian Irina Privalova‘s record as the fastest mom in history.

“To be honest I’m defying odds,” she said, according to Reuters.

Also notable was third-place finisher Briana Williams, who clocked 10.94 seconds at age 17 with a fever, the fastest time ever for somebody that young.

In the men’s 100m, 2012 Olympic silver medalist Yohan Blake won in 9.96 seconds, ranking him sixth in the world this year. Former world-record holder Asafa Powell, now 36, did not start his semifinal.

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