Track and Field: In the very last race of the world championships in Moscow on Sunday, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt grabbed the gold-colored baton for his anchor leg of the 4x100-meter relay and churned toward the finish line, huffing and puffing to generate more speed.
Not that he needed it.
Justin Gatlin couldn’t catch him and the rest of the field couldn’t catch him, either.
The Jamaican team, anchored by Bolt, earned the gold with a world-leading time of 37.36 seconds. Gatlin and the U.S. team settled for silver.
Bolt, who also won gold in the 100 and 200 meter races, became the most decorated athlete in world championship history with eight golds and two silvers, moving past Carl Lewis (8 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze) and Michael Johnson (8 golds).
“It’s not just about the talent, it’s about rising to the occasion. He understands what that means,” said Gatlin, who anchored the U.S. to a silver medal despite momentarily stepping outside his lane.
Overshadowed by Bolt mania was the performance of Jamaican teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who also won three sprinting events. She finished it off by breaking away from the field in the 4x100, easily beating an American squad that struggled to get the baton around – again.
Originally finishing third after a bad exchange, the Americans were later bumped up to second after France was disqualified.
Still, the Jamaicans went 6-0 in the sprints against the U.S. in Moscow. These days, the proud sprinting nation owns this rivalry.
As a nation, the Americans may be searching for some answers. Sure, the United States won an impressive 25 medals. But only six of them were gold as Russia edged them with seven, making it the first time the U.S. failed to at least tie for the gold-medal lead since the first world championships in Helsinki 30 years ago.
The absence of Allyson Felix didn’t help. The eight-time world champion tore her hamstring in the 200 final and was unavailable for either relay.
Messi, Barcelona cruise in opener
Soccer: Lionel Messi scored two goals and set up another to help mark the debut of Neymar and Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino in a 7-0 thrashing of Levante in Barcelona, Spain, ensuring the Spanish champions start their title defense in style.
Neymar, who has been recovering from anemia since his $76 million move from Santos in the offseason, went on in the second half in time to see Pedro Rodriguez strike again and polish off the lopsided win.
• Tottenham, Chelsea open with wins: Chelsea ripped apart Hull inside 25 minutes at Stamford Bridge, with the goals from Oscar and Frank Lampard securing a 2-0 victory to kick off the Premier League season in London.
While Lampard had earlier missed a penalty, Roberto Soldado had no such trouble from the spot for Tottenham to score on debut and clinch a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.
Tottenham eked out the win without Gareth Bale, the team’s most potent attacking threat, who is injured and being pursued by Real Madrid.
Fowles leads Sky rally over Sun
WNBA: Sylvia Fowles had 20 points and 21 rebounds to help the East-leading Chicago Sky rally from a 25-point deficit for an 89-78 win over Connecticut in Rosemont, Ill.
The Sky outscored the Sun 62-35 in the second half, taking their first lead with 2:48 left in the game on Epiphanny Prince’s three-point play.
• Dream drop Mystics: Tiffany Hayes tied her career high with 23 points, Angel McCoughtry added 22 and Atlanta earned a 76-58 win over visiting Washington.
Marine appealing NCAA eligibility rule
College football: Middle Tennessee freshman Steven Rhodes, who finished five years of active service in the Marines this summer, is appealing an NCAA rule preventing him from playing this season because he played in a recreational league in the military.
According to the Daily News Journal, the rule essentially says student-athletes who do not enroll in college within a year of their high school graduation will be charged one year of intercollegiate eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition.
By NCAA standards, Rhodes’ play at the Marine base counted as “organized competition” because there were game officials, team uniforms and the score was kept.
MTSU spokesman Mark Owens told the AP that the school hopes to hear from the NCAA within the next month.
• Purdue names starting QB: Rob Henry will be Purdue’s starting quarterback, coach Darrell Hazell announced.
Last season, Henry was third on the depth chart and was 21 of 38 passing for 216 yards and three TDs.
• Alabama cornerback charged with DUI: Alabama cornerback Geno Smith has been charged with driving under the influence.
The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) County Sheriff’s Department’s online records show the sophomore for the top-ranked Crimson Tide was arrested Sunday and jailed on $1,000 bond.
Mikulak claims men’s gymnastics title
Miscellany: Sam Mikulak ran away with the U.S. men’s gymnastics championship, winning the all-around title with ease over Alex Naddour in Hartford, Conn.
The two-time NCAA champion put together a two-day total of 181.400, a whopping 2.9 points ahead of Naddour.
• Luna Rosa evens series with Emirates: Emirates Team New Zealand fell out of the second race of the Louis Vuitton Cup finals in San Francisco because of a mechanical problem, handing Italy’s Luna Rossa a victory that evened the series at one apiece.
Emirates pushed ahead 400 minutes before the hydraulic system that controls the daggerboard broke at the end of the third leg of the five-leg race.
The winner of the best-of-13 series will face Oracle Team USA in the 34th America’s Cup starting Sept. 7.
• Up With the Birds wins Breeders’ Cup: Up With the Birds won the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, running 1 1/2 miles on the turf course in 2:28.69 in the final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Up With the Birds beat River Seven by 2 3/4 lengths.