Warren Weir

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Yohan Blake sweeps Jamaica Trials sprints; Fraser-Pryce, Thompson miss 200m final

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Yohan Blake completed a Jamaican Olympic Trials sprint sweep, while Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Elaine Thompson did not contest the women’s 200m final in Kingston on Sunday.

Blake, the reigning Olympic 100m and 200m silver medalist, swept the 100m and 200m at the Jamaican Olympic Trials for a second straight time. He won the 100m in 9.95 seconds on Friday and the 200m in 20.29 on Sunday, coming back from a series of hamstring injuries the last three years.

“I’ve been working miracles in my life,” Blake said, according to The Associated Press. “This is what miracles are all about.”

This year, Blake won without having to face Usain Bolt, who withdrew before the 100m final Friday night due to a grade-one hamstring tear. Bolt is expected to be named to the Jamaican Olympic team in the 100m and 200m despite not competing at Trials, potentially knocking out the third-place finishers.

Fraser-Pryce, the two-time reigning Olympic 100m champion, and Thompson, the world 200m silver medalist, qualified for the 200m final but did contest it due to reported injuries. They both submitted medical exemptions like Bolt, according to Reuters.

Thompson won the 100m on Friday night in 10.70, matching Fraser-Pryce’s national record. It was the fastest time in the world since Fraser-Pryce’s repeat 100m title at the 2012 London Games. Fraser-Pryce finished second Friday night, so they are both on the Olympic team in the 100m.

Veronica Campbell-Brown, a two-time Olympic 200m champion, finished second in the 200m final Sunday. She has been a longtime rival of Allyson Felix. Campbell-Brown missed the team in the 100m, finishing fourth, but will likely be on the 4x100m relay team.

Asafa Powell, the former 100m world-record holder, did not make the Olympic team individually but could race the 4x100m relay after finishing fourth in the 100m on Friday.

Warren Weir, the Olympic 200m bronze medalist, was fourth on Sunday and looks like he will not be able to contest the event in Rio.

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Warren Weir calls Ryan Bailey ‘a little nobody’ after Usain Bolt taunt

Warren Weir
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Jamaican sprinter Warren Weir criticized U.S. sprinter Ryan Bailey for disrespecting track and field and Usain Bolt after mocking Bolt’s “To Di World” pose with a throat-slash gesture (video here) at the IAAF World Relays in Nassau, Bahamas, on Saturday night.

“Especially when you are a little nobody, you really are to show more respect to those who are leading the way and those who have accomplished way more than you have,” Weir said, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

“He disrespected track and field. He also said that Bolt is ‘somewhat of an icon,’ he is an icon and he was not showing enough respect, not just to Bolt, but to the sport. As an athlete, I feel like he was disrespecting me and as a member of this Jamaican team, I also felt upset and disrespected about it. This is just the beginning.”

Weir, the 2012 Olympic 200m bronze medalist, and Bailey also went back and forth on social media.

Bailey and the U.S. beat Bolt and Jamaica in the 4x100m relay on Saturday, a race that Weir was not a part of. Bailey received the baton for his anchor leg with a lead on Bolt. Bolt ran a faster leg but could not make up the entire deficit. It was the first time the U.S. defeated Bolt in a global championship race since 2007.

The next night, Weir anchored Jamaica to a 4x200m relay victory without Bolt, who reportedly sat out as a precaution due to a minor hamstring injury. Bailey was not part of the 4x200m relay. The Jamaican team celebrated on the medal stand by doing Bolt’s “To Di World” pose.

The U.S. and Jamaican 4x100m teams, likely with Bolt, perhaps with Bailey and unlikely with Weir, could go head to head again at the World Championships in Beijing in August.

Ryan Bailey hopes health yields return to Olympic form

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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