Curtis Mitchell

Jeneba Tarmoh

Jeneba Tarmoh, Oregon WR win USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships

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Jeneba Tarmoh left no doubt at the U.S. Championships on Sunday, two years after her famous tie with Allyson Felix at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

University of Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen and World bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell also won track titles in Sacramento, Calif., where on-track temperatures reportedly topped 120 degrees.

Tarmoh won the 200m in 22.06 seconds. Last year’s U.S. champion, Kimberlyn Duncan, was second in 22.1 with a 3.8 m/s tailwind.

“I really just tried to stay focused on my finish,” Tarmoh told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “My coach told me to stay relaxed. That’s exactly what I did.”

In 2012, Tarmoh and Felix tied for third in the 100m at the Olympic Trials, where three women make the Olympic Team in the event. There were no tiebreaker procedures in place, officials determined a runoff to decide the spot, and Tarmoh ceded it to Felix rather than run.

Tarmoh still made the Olympic Team in the 4x100m relay that won gold (Tarmoh ran in the first round to earn her medal but not the final). She went on to finish fifth in the 200m at the 2013 World Championships. Felix tore her hamstring and fell to the track in the same race.

Now, Tarmoh, at 24, is a U.S. champion for the first time. She owed her ability to focus at such a big meet to her experience.

“It’s very hard, but I think it’s practice, being a professional for probably three years now,” Tarmoh said. “It doesn’t happen in one year. It definitely takes time.”

The track and field season continues with the resumption of the Diamond League in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday. There, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay will face off in the 100m in Gay’s return from a doping suspension.

In other events Sunday, University of Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen followed his NCAA Championship with the U.S. title in the 110m hurdles. Allen’s dip at the line earned him a victory over 2013 U.S. champion Ryan Wilson in a photo finish — 13.155 to 13.160 (video here).

Allen’s time, rounded up to 13.16, was the same mark he set to win the NCAA title in Eugene, Ore., two weeks ago.

Allen, a redshirt freshman at Oregon last year, caught two touchdowns in the school’s May spring game and was named MVP. Allen said football was his priority after he won the NCAA title.

In the men’s 200m, the heat slowed World bronze medalist Curtis Mitchell, but not until after he won the race.

Mitchell edged two-time Olympian Wallace Spearmon and grabbed his right hamstring shortly after crossing the finish line in 20.13, .09 faster than Spearmon.

“I’m fine, just hot conditions out here,” Mitchell said. “I’ll be OK.”

The 2011 World champion Jenny Simpson comfortably won the 1500m in 4:04.96. Mary Cain, a professional who graduated high school one week ago, was second in 4:06.34.

Bershawn Jackson, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, fell after the first hurdle in the 400m hurdles and was helped off the track. Johnny Dutch won his first U.S. title (in his seventh try) about 350m later in 48.93.

Duane Solomon, an Olympic and World finalist, quickly took the lead in the 800m and was not challenged down the stretch. He won by 1.67 in 1:44.3.

The 2012 World Junior champion Ajee’ Wilson captured the 800m in 1:58.7. World bronze medalist Brenda Martinez was fifth.

The 2013 NCAA champion Kori Carter won the 400m hurdles in 53.84, the second fastest time in the world this year. Only Jamaican Kaliese Spencer has run faster.

Inika McPherson outlasted three-time Olympian Chaunte Lowe and Olympic and World silver medalist Brigetta Barrett to win the high jump with a personal best 2m clearance.

Olympian Evan Jager won the 3000m steeplechase in 8:18.83.

Two-time reigning NCAA champion Sam Kendricks took the pole vault by clearing 5.75m.

Olympian Gia Lewis-Smallwood won her second straight U.S. discus title with a 65.96m throw. London teammate Sean Furey threw 81.1m to prevail in the javelin.

Jeff Henderson leaped 8.52m to win the long jump.

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Diamond League season set to open in Doha; preview

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
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Usain Bolt might not race until June. Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell are suspended. Allyson Felix withdrew from her first two scheduled meets of the season.

The absence of stars (to a U.S. audience) as the Diamond League season begins in Doha, Qatar, on Friday is a reminder that this is what athletes call the “off year” in track and field.

There are no Olympics or World Outdoor Championships for the only time in the four-year cycle. It’s a season for Rio Olympic medal hopefuls to dabble in different events, rest and/or play it safer than normal to avoid injury.

But this spring and summer could also see the emergence of new names to watch as we cross the halfway point between the London and Rio Games.

It was in 2010 that the Diamond League debuted. Also that year, Yohan Blake ran his first sub-9.9 100m and jumped from No. 83 to No. 4 in the world in the 200m. He would win World Championships 100m gold in 2011 and Olympic 100m and 200m silver in 2012. London Olympic champions David Rudisha and Ashton Eaton also broke their first world records in 2010.

Doha marks the first of 14 Diamond League meets over the next four months. Universal Sports will have coverage beginning at 12 p.m. ET. The full schedule and entry lists can be found here. Here’s the schedule of events Friday (all times Eastern):

10:25 a.m. — Men’s long jump
10:30 — Men’s discus
10:35 — Women’s shot put
11:10  — Women’s pole vault
11:40 — Men’s high jump
12:04 p.m. — Women’s 400m hurdles
12:10 — Women’s javelin
12:14 — Men’s 1500m
12:26 — Men’s 400m
12:30 — Women’s triple jump
12:35 —  Women’s 800m
12:46 — Men’s 110m hurdles
12:56 — Men’s 800m
1:09 — Women’s 100m
1:18 — Men’s 3000m steeplechase
1:36 — Men’s 200m
1:45 — Women’s 3000m

Here are five events to watch:

Men’s high jump

The event is missing 2013 world champion and world record chaser Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine. But it includes London Olympic gold, silver and bronze medalists — Ivan Ukhov (Russia), Erik Kynard (U.S.) and Derek Drouin (Canada).

Drouin has impressed in the early season, winning the Drake Relays with a personal-best 2.40m, becoming the 10th man ever to clear that mark.

Men’s 400m

Reigning world champion LaShawn Merritt takes on the Dominican Republic’s Luguelin Santos in what could be a budding rivalry.

The previous two seasons had been about the Merritt-Kirani James showdowns, but it was the world bronze medalist Santos who edged Merritt in Kingston, Jamaica, on Saturday.

World Championships silver medalist Tony McQuay is also in the field.

Women’s 100m

Jamaican Olympic and world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is the headliner in Doha. She said at a press conference Thursday that she’s focusing on improving her 200m this season, but she’ll start off her Diamond League campaign in her bread and butter event.

The top competition should come from 2013 U.S. champion English Gardner, 2008 Olympic silver medalist Kerron Stewart of Jamaica and Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare.

Okagbare won a 100m in 11.19 seconds in Kingston on Saturday, beating Stewart (11.32) and Gardner (11.50).

Fraser-Pryce went sub-11 seven times last season, including a 10.71 at the World Championships.

Men’s 200m

Jamaican Olympic bronze medalist Warren Weir is the favorite here after taking fourth in a 100m in Kingston on Saturday.

The current world-leading time for 2014 is 19.97, a time Weir beat in five races last season.

If anybody is to upset Weir, it could be American Curtis Mitchell, the upstart bronze medalist at last year’s World Championships.

Women’s 3000m

The final event features perhaps the hottest athlete of the indoor season, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba.

Dibaba blew away the 3000m field by 2.68 seconds at the World Indoor Championships in February after breaking the world record in February.

Friday’s field includes several other major meet medalists, including Kenyan Mercy Cherono and Ethiopian Almaz Ayana, who won 5000m silver and bronze at the 2013 World Championships.

The 3000m is not an event run at the Olympics or World Outdoor Championships.

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Justin Gatlin wins in Kingston; Merritt, Richards-Ross beaten

Justin Gatlin
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Justin Gatlin won his first 100m of the season in 10.11 seconds at the Jamaica International Invitational in Kingston on Saturday night.

Gatlin, 32, edged Jamaicans Andrew Fisher (10.21) and Nesta Carter (10.22) running into a headwind, according to TV announcers. Gatlin and Carter won silver and bronze behind Usain Bolt in the 2013 World Championships 100m. Bolt might not make his season debut until June.

“I knew to get ready for that wind in my face, so to drive hard, once I came up, just attack,” said Gatlin, who said he ran competitively in Jamaica for the first time in his career. “I think I’m a bridge for the gap of the generations. I dueled with Maurice Greene. I watched Michael Johnson run. I ran with the great Usain Bolt. Also, [Yohan] Blake. So I’m just very blessed to be here with the best crowd in the whole world.”

Jamaican Olympic and world 200m medalist Warren Weir was fourth in 10.30. American Walter Dix, won won sprint medals at the 2008 Olympics and 2011 World Championships, was seventh in 10.45.

Triple 2013 world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 200m in 22.53, .08 better than U.S. champion Kimberlyn DuncanJeneba Tarmoh was third in 22.69.

“Tonight was all about seeing where I am and looking forward to the rest of the season,” said Fraser-Pryce, who was .26 off the world-leading time for 2014.

Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, an Olympic and world long jump medalist, won the women’s 100m in 11.19. 2008 Olympic silver medalist Kerron Stewart took second in 11.32. U.S. champion English Gardner was seventh in 11.50.

Olympic champions Sanya Richards-Ross and LaShawn Merritt were beaten in their 400m races. Richards-Ross, plagued by toe problems since the London Games, was fifth in 51.62. World indoor champion Francena McCorory prevailed in a world-leading 50.24.

Merritt was beaten at the lean by 2012 Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, 44.82 to 44.86.

“No disappointment,” Merritt said. “I’m a champion.

“I think I ran a little bit too conservative throughout the first part of the race. Then I just kind of ran to get tired.”

Two-time Olympic 400m hurdles champion Felix Sanchez passed 2013 world champion Jehue Gordon after the final hurdle to win in 49.21. Gordon, who at 22 is 14 years younger than Sanchez, came in second in 49.32.

“I’m an old man,” said Sanchez, who slapped his chest before crossing the finish line, “but I’ve still got something left.”

2008 Olympic silver medalist Christian Cantwell won the shot put with a throw of 21.85m, a 2014 world lead and a distance that would have won the 2013 World Championship. Cantwell missed much of last season due to injury.

2012 Olympic bronze medalist Hansle Parchment won the 110m hurdles in 13.42 seconds in front of a home crowd, edging American world silver medalist Ryan Wilson by .03. World Championships bronze medalist Tiffany Porter of Great Britain took the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.92, one day after Lolo Jones ran a reported 12.89 in Bloomington, Ind.

American Curtis Mitchell, the world 200m bronze medalist, came in second in the 200m behind Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer, 20.53 to 20.54.

The meet lost two Olympic gold medalists earlier this week with the withdrawal of 2008 Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and 2012 Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix. Felix missed the meet due to a reported injury and was scheduled to next race at the Cayman Invitational on Wednesday.

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