Zuzana Hejnova

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Mixed results for World champions in Zurich

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce consolidated her status as world’s fastest woman, winning a 100m race at a Diamond League meet in Zurich on Thursday, 10 days after she captured her third World Championship in the sprint.

Other gold medalists from Beijing last week, including Wayde van Niekerk, David Rudisha and Genzebe Dibaba, were not as fortunate in the first top-level meet since Worlds. Full results are here.

Fraser-Pryce clocked 10.93 seconds in Zurich, pulling away from the field early and cruising over the last 20 meters. The two-time Olympic 100m gold medalist won her World Championship in 10.76 on Aug. 24 and has a personal best of 10.70.

Fraser-Pryce beat a field that included World bronze medalist Tori Bowie (third, 11.06) and two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown (sixth, 11.22).

“It is not easy to race again in such a close time,” after Worlds, Fraser-Pryce said, according to the IAAF. “I needed to adjust again, but we are used to it, we are professional athletes.”

Earlier, World 200m silver medalist Elaine Thompson won a separate 100m race in 11.06.

The Diamond League season concludes on Sept. 11 in Brussels, a meet that could include Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin (in a separate race from Bolt) and Allyson Felix, all of whom skipped Zurich.

Also Thursday, South African 400m World champion Wayde van Niekerk was no match for LaShawn Merritt in Zurich.

Merritt, the 2008 Olympic and 2009 and 2013 World champion, prevailed in 44.18. Reigning Olympic champion Kirani James was second in 44.28, followed by van Niekerk in 44.35. Van Niekerk won the World title in 43.48, the sixth fastest time ever, and was undefeated this season going into Zurich.

Olympic and World champion David Rudisha lost the 800m lead on the final lap and faded to fourth. That’s the first time this year Rudisha has been lower than second in a race he’s finished. Poland’s Adam Kszczot won in Zurich in 1:45.55 after placing second to Rudisha at Worlds.

Rudisha said he raced scared due to cold and wet weather, according to the IAAF.

“I was a little bit afraid of this,” he said.

Russian Sergey Shubenkov showed no fear in following his World title in the 110m hurdles with a victory in 13.14. The race was missing World silver medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica and bronze medalist Aries Merritt, the Olympic champion and world-record holder recovering from a kidney transplant.

The World champions in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m met up in the women’s 3000m. The 5000m title holder prevailed over the 1500m gold medalist. Ethiopian Almaz Ayana outsprinted countrywoman Genzebe Dibaba on the final lap to win in 8:22.34. American Jenny Simpson, the 2011 World 1500m champion, was fourth. Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot, the World 10,000m champion, was sixth.

Kenyan Asbel Kiprop took the men’s 1500m over countryman Elijah Manangoi, just as he did at Worlds. Kiprop clocked 3:35.79, prevailing by .22.

Evan Jager finished third in the 3000m steeplechase, an improvement over his disappointing sixth at Worlds. Jager clocked 8:18.39, 10.15 seconds behind Kenyan winner Paul Koech. Jager’s personal best is 8:00.45. Nobody from the Western Hemisphere has broken eight minutes in the event.

South Africa’s Anaso Jobodwana finished third in the 200m, just as he did at Worlds, but neither Bolt nor Gatlin raced in Zurich. Instead, Panama’s Alonso Edward prevailed in 20.03, followed by Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer (20.20) and Jobodwana (20.24).

Kenyan Eunice Sum won her sixth straight 800m at a Diamond League meet, after she was upset at the World Championships last week. Sum, who took bronze in Beijing, beat the World gold and silver medalists in Zurich.

Czech Zuzana Hejnova followed her second straight World title in the 400m hurdles with a victory in 54.47. World silver medalist Shamier Little wasn’t in the race, while World bronze medalist Cassandra Tate took fifth in 55.50.

Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford again held off the top Americans in the long jump. Rutherford, the Olympic and World champion, tied Marquis Dendy at 8.32 meters, but Rutherford’s second best jump was better than Dendy’s.

In the women’s long jump, World champion Tianna Bartoletta finished second to Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic. Bartoletta said she was still in pain from spraining her left ankle at the World Championships, according to the IAAF.

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Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin set up duel; South African stretchered off after 400m gold

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Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin set up another showdown, medal standings leader Kenya earned two more gold medals and a South African won the 400m in the sixth fastest time ever and then was taken off the track on a stretcher at the World Championships on Wednesday.

The U.S. won three medals Wednesday, but no golds, giving it one gold and nine total medals through five of nine days.

Kenya leads the medal standings with six golds and 11 total, including a men’s javelin gold Wednesday, its first ever Olympic or Worlds field event medal.

The U.S. will hope to gain and surpass Kenya in the final four days, but the biggest storyline Thursday will be another Bolt-Gatlin showdown in the 200m final. It comes 10 years after their first race together in the 2005 Worlds 200m final (video here).

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Bolt, the reigning two-time Olympic and three-time World champion, won his 200m semifinal in 19.95 seconds, appearing to spend time during his race looking up at a stadium video screen and, briefly, across to the second-place finisher.

That’s the first time the Jamaican has gone sub-20 in an Olympic or Worlds 200m semifinal and his first sub-20 since he won the 2013 World Championships in 19.66.

“A bit tired,” Bolt said on the BBC, repeating what he said after the first round Tuesday.

How much is left in the tank?

“I don’t know until we see tomorrow,” he said. “My 200m is my best event. I live for this. … I know I’m going to do well. It’s not even a question. … I’m not going to lose my favorite event.”

A few minutes earlier, Gatlin clocked 19.87, the fastest time of all the semifinalists. Gatlin came into Worlds having clocked 19.57, 19.68, 19.68 and 19.71 since the start of 2014, the four fastest times in the world in that span.

On Sunday, Bolt beat Gatlin by .01 in the 100m final in a time slower than Gatlin’s semifinal clocking earlier that night. Gatlin struggled to keep his form in the last several meters of the final, costing him gold.

Is Gatlin, after tearing up following the 100m final, ready to face Bolt again?

“Of course, ready for a matchup with anybody,” Gatlin told Lewis Johnson on Universal Sports.

Thursday’s final will not include Olympic bronze medalist and 2013 Worlds silver medalist Warren Weir, who failed to advance out of the semifinals.

Later Wednesday, South African Wayde van Niekerk won the 400m in 43.48 seconds, a time that would have beaten Michael Johnson at the 1996 Olympics. Johnson set the world record of 43.18 on this date 16 years ago.

Van Niekerk was taken off the track on a stretcher later after minutes of celebrating around the Bird’s Nest. He went to a hospital as a precaution, according to the BBC.

The 2013 World champion LaShawn Merritt finished second in a personal best in 43.65, followed by Grenada Olympic champion Kirani James in 43.78. It marked the first time three men went sub-44 in a 400m race.

Merritt earned his 10th career Worlds medal, matching Carl Lewis and Allyson Felix for the most in U.S. history. Felix can win her 11th in the women’s 400m final Thursday.

Earlier, the Czech Republic’s Zuzana Hejnova became the first woman to repeat as World champion in the 400m hurdles, prevailing in 53.50, the fastest time in the world this year.

“It’s very hard to be favorite, and I was very nervous before the final,” Hejnova said on the BBC.

Americans Shamier Little (53.94) and Cassandra Tate (54.02) won silver and bronze in their global championship debuts. Little, who had the fastest time in the world coming into Beijing, was in tears Monday after squeaking into the final in the eighth and last spot.

“Yesterday I was saying I deserved to be here,” Little, 20, told Johnson on Universal Sports. “I showed that today.”

U.S. Olympic champion Jenn Suhr tied for fourth in the pole vault, failing to clear 4.80 meters. Suhr also failed to clear 4.80 at the 2012 Olympics in poorer weather conditions in London. Cuban Yarisley Silva cleared 4.90 meters on her third and final attempt to take gold after 2012 Olympic silver and 2013 Worlds bronze.

Julius Yego won the javelin, becoming the first Kenyan to earn an Olympic or Worlds medal in a field event. Yego threw 92.72 meters, the farthest in the world since 2001. Yego, who learned the javelin by watching YouTube videos, is now the third best javelin thrower of all time.

Kenya’s Hyvin Jepkemoi won the women’s 3000m steeplechase (video here), while American Emma Coburn dropped to fifth after being in second place on the final lap. Coburn hoped to become the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic or Worlds steeplechase medal.

Two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown advanced to the 200m semifinals despite shifting into the lane to her outside coming around the curve of the race, as she did at the 2005 World Championships. Campbell-Brown would have been disqualified if she impeded the runner in that lane.

Neither the Olympic champion Felix nor 2013 World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are competing in the 200m at Worlds. Fraser-Pryce won the 100m on Monday. Felix was the fastest qualifier into Thursday’s 400m final.

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce wins 100m; U.S. runner loses 10,000m bronze with early celebration

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Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Molly Huddle raised arms in the air before they crossed the finish line in separate races at the World Championships on Monday night.

Only one of them won a medal.

Fraser-Pryce becoming the first woman to win three World titles in the 100m and Huddle prematurely celebrating and losing a bronze medal to a countrywoman in the 10,000m highlighted action at the Bird’s Nest.

In the 100m final, Fraser-Pryce clocked 10.76 seconds with yellow flowers on her forehead and long green hair running down her back. She raised her right arm and index finger with a few meters left and victory locked up. She wished she ran faster.

“I get tired of 10.7s, honestly,” Fraser-Pryce, who has run in the 10.7s in her career 11 times but never faster than 10.70, said with a laugh on the BBC. “Hopefully, my next race, I’ll get it together.”

She will share the podium with the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers (silver in 10.81, national record) and American Tori Bowie (bronze in 10.86, full results here).

Fraser-Pryce, like countryman Usain Bolt, owns 2009, 2013 and 2015 World titles and 2008 and 2012 Olympic titles in the 100m. The biggest separator between Fraser-Pryce and Bolt (aside from the hair and Bolt’s 17-inch height advantage) are world records, of which Fraser-Pryce has none.

Bowie’s rise to a Worlds 100m medal came in the last 18 months. The soft-spoken Mississippian competed in the long jump at the 2014 World Indoor Championships and, by the end of 2014, was the world’s fastest woman in the 100m for that year.

“Of course, we all want the gold medal, but it’s a stepping stone,” Bowie, with a purple streak in her hair and in her first World Outdoor Championships, told Lewis Johnson on Universal Sports. “I’ll come back even better next year.”

Fraser-Pryce entered Worlds as the fastest woman this year (10.74) and became an even bigger favorite for the final after she sprinted a comfortable 10.82 to win her semifinal earlier Monday, easing up considerably for her final few strides.

Also in that semifinal, American English Gardner was sixth, missing the final despite coming into the meet as the second fastest woman in the world this year.

For the first time ever, fewer than two U.S. women made the Worlds 100m final.

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About 30 minutes before Fraser-Pryce’s early celebration, American Molly Huddle lost a bronze medal in the 10,000m after she raised both of her arms before the finish line, easing up in her final few strides.

Countrywoman Emily Infeld, running her third 10,000m ever, passed Huddle on her inside to nab the bronze by .09 of a second.

“It’s painful to watch,” Huddle told Johnson on Universal Sports. “Emily slipped on the inside as I eased up a little bit. She had this once-in-a-lifetime moment. I feel like it kind of slipped through my fingers. … The Olympics are typically a hard race, not a tactical one, so this probably won’t ever come around again.”

Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot won the race in 31:41.31, after sweeping the 5000m and 10,000m at the 2011 Worlds and missing 2013 due to pregnancy. She was followed by Ethiopian Gelete Burka for silver (31:41.77) and Infeld for bronze (31:43.49) in her Worlds debut.

“I just tried to run all the way through the line,” Infeld told Johnson on Universal Sports, adding to media later, “I don’t think [Huddle] knew I was there. I hate to take a medal away from a teammate and fellow American. … I don’t mean to snipe someone or do that. I feel like that’s kind of like a [expletive] way to get it, so I feel kind of bad now.”

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Evan Jager finished sixth in the 3000m steeplechase despite coming in as a hope to win the first U.S. medal ever in the event. Kenyans swept places one through four, led by dancing two-time Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi, who won his fourth straight World title.

French Olympic champion and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie won a non-gold medal at Worlds for the fourth straight time, this time sharing bronze with two other athletes. Canadian Shawn Barber upset Lavillenie for gold with a 5.90-meter clearance.

Colombian Caterine Ibarguen repeated as World triple jump champion with a 14.90-meter leap while wearing long pink socks. No U.S. woman has ever earned an Olympic or Worlds triple jump medal, and none were in Monday’s 12-woman final.

In the 400m semifinals, Grenada Olympic champion Kirani James and defending World champion LaShawn Merritt advanced to Wednesday’s eight-man final.

Czech defending World champion Zuzana Hejnova was the fastest qualifier into Wednesday’s 400m hurdles final. NCAA champion Shamier Little, the fastest woman in the world this year, was the slowest of the eight qualifiers into the final.

After her semifinal, Little watched the third and last semifinal clutching a railing, hoping the third-place finisher wouldn’t beat her time and knock her out of the final. She was in tears rolling on the track and, later after making the final, speaking with Johnson on Universal Sports.

Little, 20, wears Malcolm X-style glasses and describes herself in her Twitter bio as being athazagoraphobic and a kleptomaniac.

Trinidad and Tobago Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott failed to qualify for Wednesday’s javelin final. Walcott has dealt with a reported ankle injury this summer.

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