Bolt clocks speedy 100 meters; rising stars shine at NCAA championships
Here are the weekend’s biggest stories in track and field as the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. (July 1–10) and the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (Aug. 12–21) near.
Usain Bolt stumbled out of the blocks and still managed to win the 100 meters in 9.88 seconds Saturday night at the Racers Track Club Grand Prix in Kingston, Jamaica.
The time is nowhere near Bolt’s world record, but this is the earliest that Bolt has gone under 9.90 since he opened the 2012 season with a 9.85 in May. That time is the second fastest in the world this year, only behind Jimmy Vicaut’s French national record of 9.86, run on June 7.
Watch Bolt’s race from Saturday night below:
Compatriots Nickel Ashmead and Yohan Blake ran 9.94 for second and third place, respectively, and former 100-meter world record holder Asafa Powell finished fourth. If the results hold at the upcoming Jamaican trials, Powell may miss out on an Olympic spot.
After the race, Bolt made headlines by saying he said he would be willing to return the Olympic gold medals he won with the men’s 4x100-meter relay teams which included Nesta Carter. Carter reportedly tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexanamine in the re-examination of doping samples from the 2008 and ’12 Olympics.
“It’s heartbreaking because over the years you’ve worked hard to accumulate gold medals and work hard to be a champion ... but it’s just one of those things,” Bolt said. “Things happen in life, so when it’s confirmed or whatever, if I need to give back my gold medal, I’d have to give it back, it’s not a problem for me.”
Rising American stars on display at the NCAA championships
The star of the weekend was 19-year-old Donavan Brazier from Texas A&M, who ran a surprising 1:43.55 in the 800 meters, which broke Jim Ryun’s 50-year-old collegiate record of 1:44.3. The mark, the fastest by an American in the distance in 2016, is also a world junior world record.
Brazier has yet to make a decision on whether he will run the U.S. Olympic Trials or opt to compete at the world junior championships.
Other notable performances at the NCAA championships:
• Shamier Little, last year’s world-champion silver medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, kept the great performances rolling for the Aggies by winning the NCAA title with a world-leading time of 53.51.
• New Mexico’s Courtney Frerichs broke Jenny Simpson’s collegiate record of 9:25.54 in the steeplechase, running 9:24.41 to win the NCAA crown. Frerichs, a heavy favorite heading into the final, is now No. 3 on the American list for 2016 and No. 6 all-time for the U.S. She now eyes the U.S. Olympic Trials, where she aims to make her first Olympic team—she needs a third-place finish to book her ticket to Rio. A U.S collegian faring well on the world stage? Don’t forget that after winning NCAAs, Simpson ran an American record of 9:12.50 for fourth place at the 2009 world championships.
• Akron’s Clayton Murphy, who replaced two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds on the national team at last summer’s world championships, showed off his range and won the men’s 1,500-meter NCAA title in 3:36.38. He slightly lowered that mark with a personal best at Sunday night’s Portland Track Festival, where he ran 3:36.24—just off the 3:36.20 Olympic standard. He has yet to make a decision on whether he’ll race the 800 or the 1,500 at the trials.
• Arkansas senior Jarrion Lawson finished his collegiate career by matching Jesse Owens’ 1936 triple with victories in the 100 and 200 meters and the long jump.
• Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen won the men’s 110-meter hurdles for the second time in his career.
• Oregon’s Edward Cheserek won the men’s 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters to tie the record of 15 national titles in cross-country, indoor and outdoor track. He now shares the record with Texas El Paso’s Suleiman Nyambui, who won 15 crowns from 1978 to ’82.
• USC’s Randall Cunningham Jr., the son of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, won the NCAA high jump title. Don’t miss SI’s Tim Layden’s profile on Cunningham Jr.’s sister, Vashti.