Juan Miguel Echevarria

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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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Noah Lyles overtakes Justin Gatlin for Diamond League 100m title

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Noah Lyles beat Justin Gatlin for the first time, overtaking a struggling 37-year-old in the last 20 meters to win the Diamond League 100m title in Zurich on Thursday.

Lyles, who will not race the 100m at next month’s world championships to focus on the 200m, clocked 9.98 seconds into a .4 meter/second headwind. He remains the second-fastest man in the world this year (and this Olympic cycle) behind Christian Coleman.

“The race was not as fast as I wanted,” said Lyles, who has run 9.86 and went on to perform a song in a closing ceremony with Olympic silver medalist pole vaulter Sandi Morris on Thursday night. “Today was like a world championships final for me.”

Coleman, who has clocked 9.79, 9.81 and 9.82 the last three years, was not in Zurich as he as contests a charge of missing three drug tests that could lead to a suspension.

Gatlin led at about 70 meters before slowing to fourth place in 10.08. He came to Zurich as the world championships favorite with Coleman’s status in limbo, but now the likes of 2012 Olympic silver medalist Yohan Blake (third on Thursday) have to be considered.

The Diamond League season concludes with the second of two finals meets in Brussels on Sept. 6. Lyles is expected to race the 200m.

In other events Thursday, Norwegian Karsten Warholm ran the second-fastest 400m hurdles in history, clocking 46.92 seconds. Only Kevin Young‘s 27-year-old world record of 46.78 was faster. Warholm, the 2017 World champion, outdueled American Rai Benjamin, who ran 46.98 to move into a share of third place on the all-time list.

Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo ran the world’s fastest 200m in four years, winning in 21.74 seconds. The Bahamian is undefeated at all distances for two years but will not race the 200m at worlds because it overlaps with the 400m. The IAAF is reviewing Miller-Uibo’s request to change the 2020 Olympic schedule to better accommodate a 200m/400m double. More on that process here.

With Miller-Uibo absent from the worlds 200m, the favorites are Brit Dina Asher-Smith, who was runner-up in 22.08 on Thursday, and Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who is ranked second this year at 22.00 and was third in 22.44 in Zurich.

Sydney McLaughlin ran away from world-record holder Dalilah Muhammad in the 400m hurdles. McLaughlin clocked 52.85 to win by 1.01 seconds, while Muhammad was third in 54.13, well her record-breaking 52.20 from the USATF Outdoor Championships last month. Muhammad and McLaughlin are the only women to break 53 seconds this year, making them the clear gold-silver favorites at worlds.

“I’m shocked and amazed,” McLaughlin said, adding that she must improve after hitting two hurdles. “I didn’t expect to come out here and win.”

Donavan Brazier surged past a gassed Nijel Amos to win the 800m in 1:42.70, one tenth off Johnny Gray‘s 34-year-old American record. Brazier, who notched his first Diamond League win in June, is now a gold-medal contender for worlds. No American has earned an Olympic or world title at 800m since Dave Wottle prevailed in a hat in Munich in 1972.

Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser won the 400m in 50.24 seconds against a field lacking Miller-Uibo. Naser hasn’t been beaten by anyone other than Miller-Uibo in two years.

World-record holder Beatrice Chepkoech won a 3000m steeplechase that included four of the six fastest women in history, plus reigning world champion Emma Coburn. Chepkoech, whose world record is 8:44.32, won in 9:01.71 to consolidate world championships favorite status. Coburn was 8.3 seconds slower in sixth and faces a difficult task to beat two of the four Kenyans at worlds next month to get back on the podium.

Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan followed up her mile world record from last month by winning the 1500m over a field including world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba. Hassan clocked 3:57.08, well off the world’s fastest time of 2019 that she owns (3:55.30). Hassan has range from 800m through the 10,000m, and it’s unknown what her world championships schedule will be.

American record holder Sam Kendricks won the pole vault over a field that included the world-record holder (Renaud Lavillenie of France) and Rio Olympic champion (Thiago Braz of Brazil). Kendricks, who leads the world this year with a 6.06-meter clearance, needed only to get past 5.93 for his second Diamond League title.

Cuban 21-year-old Juan Miguel Echevarria won the long jump with an 8.65-meter leap, farthest in the world this year.

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MORE: David Rudisha OK after car crash

U.S. Olympic medalists eye responses in Rabat; stream schedule, preview

Clayton Murphy, Jenny Simpson
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Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy just watched a countryman notch his first Diamond League win. Olympic 1500m bronze medalist Jenny Simpson just saw her longtime rival clock her fastest time since 2015.

Murphy and Simpson get chances to answer at a Diamond League stop in Rabat, Morocco, on Sunday (live at 1 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold).

In Rio, Murphy became the first U.S. Olympic 800m medalist in 24 years. At 21, he looked like the American face of the event for years to come. But Donavan Brazier, who is two years younger, won the 2017 U.S. title in Murphy’s absence, then broke the U.S. indoor record on Feb. 9.

Last week in Rome, Brazier did something Murphy has yet to accomplish, winning a Diamond League race. Murphy was fourth, falling to 0-3 in his career against Brazier, according to Tilastopaja.org.

Rabat provides a chance for Murphy ahead of next month’s USATF Outdoor Championships, where the top three per event are in line to make the team for the fall world championships. Brazier is not in the Rabat field, but the only two men to run faster than Murphy in 2018 are — Kenyan Emmanuel Korir and Botswana’s Nijel Amos.

The women’s 1500m is another marquee event in Rabat with Simpson facing world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia.

Only once has Simpson won a race that involved Dibaba, and that was five years ago. The 32-year-old American was fourth in Rome last week, 4.9 seconds behind Dibaba, who clocked her fastest time since her world-record run four years ago.

Like Murphy, Simpson recently relinquished her domestic hold of the 1500m to a younger runner, Shelby Houlihan, who was second-fastest in the world last year to Dibaba but is not in Rabat. Houlihan hasn’t raced anywhere since Feb. 24 but is entered in the Pre Classic in two weeks.

For Simpson, getting the better of Dibaba would be a heck of a message to send before nationals. Houlihan snapped Simpson’s four-year national title streak in 2018.

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

1:01 p.m. — Women’s Pole Vault
1:03 — Women’s Discus
1:38 — Men’s High Jump
2:04 — Women’s 400m
2:11 — Men’s 1500m
2:25 — Women’s 100m
2:31 — Men’s Long Jump
2:33 — Men’s 800m
2:41 — Men’s Discus
2:41 — Women’s 1500m
2:54 — Men’s 200m
3:02 — Men’s 5000m
3:28 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
3:37 — Women’s 800m
3:47 — Men’s 300m Steeplechase

Here are five events to watch:

Women’s Discus — 1:03 p.m.
Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic is the headliner, but the Olympic and world champion ranks just 13th in the world this year after missing a discus podium for the first time in eight years at her season debut two weeks ago, according to Tilastopaja.org. The world’s top four women are in Rabat to challenge her, including American Valarie Allman, who in April launched the best throw by a U.S. woman since 2014.

Women’s 400m — 2:04 p.m.
Two of the four Americans to break 50 seconds since August 2017 are here, but the favorite has to be world silver medalist Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain, who hasn’t lost to anybody other than Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo since the 2017 World Championships. But the 2017 World champion is in this field, American Phyllis Francis. As is Kendall Ellis, who is in her first pro season. Miller-Uibo, not in this field, is the lone woman to break 50 this year.

Men’s Long Jump — 2:31 p.m.
Olympic champ Jeff Henderson, world champ Luvo Manyonga and 2018 world leader Juan Miguel Echevarria gather for the second time this season. Last time out, they were all beaten. Still, Henderson and Manyonga rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year, and nobody has approached the Cuban Echevarria’s monster 8.68-meter leap from last year.

Men’s 800m — 2:33 p.m.
Murphy has never won a race that involved Amos and has never finished ahead of Korir in six meetings, according to Tilastopaja. While Murphy remains likely to make the three-man world team, Brazier has to be the favorite for nationals unless Murphy can win here or beat Brazier’s time from Rome — 1:43.63.

Women’s 1500m — 2:41 p.m.
Dibaba is the overwhelming favorite after her 3:56.28 in Rome last week. The only woman to go faster since the start of 2017, Ethiopian-born Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan is also here with Simpson. Missing is Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya, who is working her way back from childbirth.

MORE: Caster Semenya says she’s blocked from Rabat

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