6 best swims of the London Games

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The swimming competition at the London Olympics certainly provided a tremendous amount of exciting moments. Here is a quick list of the top six best swims of the meet:

6. Michael Phelps wins 100m butterfly
After touching seventh at the turn, Phelps surged over the last 50 meters to win by 0.23 seconds. That margin of victory was impressive considering he won by 0.04 in Athens and by 0.01 in Beijing. No other male swimmer had ever won the same event in three straight Olympics before Phelps and this was his second time doing it in London. His terrific meet also included a victory in the 200m IM over Ryan Lochte; who likewise deserves a shout out for his gold-medal performance in the 400m IM.

5. Sun Yang smashes his own world record in 1500m freestyle
After jumping in the pool on a starter’s miscue (and showing clear frustration after having his concentration broken) Sun took complete control of the men’s 1500m. He paced well ahead of his previous world record the entire race, and his final time of 14:31.02 was more than three seconds faster. Adding Sun’s win in the 400m freestyle, and Ye Shiwen’s victories in the 200m and 400m IM made it an incredible meet for the Chinese standouts.

4. U.S. Women break the world record in the 4x100m medley relay
The star-studded medley relay of Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt ended their meet fittingly with a gold medal and a world record. Each member of the relay had already won individual gold in London, and then pulled their strengths to break the world mark by 0.14 seconds. Looking at their individual performances; Soni became the first woman to break 2:20 in the 200m breaststroke, Vollmer was the first ever under 56 seconds in the 100m butterfly, and Schmitt took home five medals.

3. 15-year-old Katie Ledecky wins the 800m free
The youngest athlete on the U.S. Olympic team took her race out fearlessly ahead of a field that included defending Olympic champion and host favorite, Rebecca Adlington. Ledecky never fell out of the lead after the first 150 meters, posted a new personal best time in her 400m split (4:04.34), and broke Janet Evans’ American Record (the longest standing American record on the books), in finishing with a time of 8:14.63.

2. Missy Franklin breaks world record in 200m back
Missy had an outstanding meet before her 200m backstroke, and then gave a performance in her signature event that put her at a whole new level. Missy swam a near perfect race from start to finish, beating the next closest finisher by 1.86 seconds and shattering the world record by 0.75 seconds. It was stunning to watch how flawlessly the 17-year-old handled the pressure of her first Olympics, and she shone brightest when the most was expected of her.

1. Nathan Adrian wins 100m free by 0.01 seconds.
Adrian slid under the radar in London as most of the attention was paid to reigning world champ James Magnussen and Brazil’s Cesar Cielo. But Adrian stayed close enough to Magnussen early, then edged past him to out-touch the Australian by 0.01 seconds. It wasn’t a new world record, or even an American record, but it was the type of gritty, hard-fought race that makes the sport of swimming worth watching. The pure elation in Adrian’s face after he touched the wall summed up what it means to be an Olympic champion, and made his race the most exciting swim of the London Games.

Helen Maroulis dominates for world title after making history in Rio

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Helen Maroulis, after becoming the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic wrestling title, had quite a year.

She grappled in a cage with Conor McGregor. She lifted Teddy Roosevelt. The Maryland native cracked steamed crabs with Cal Ripken Jr. And spent three months in Norway.

Then, she came back to competition. And dominated once again.

Maroulis won the world title at 58kg on Wednesday, mercy ruling all five of her opponents by a combined 53-0 margin and finishing the day with a torn thumb ligament.

“This was really special to me because I didn’t just go to Rio, do things right there and then come back and everything crashed and burned,” said Maroulis, who has won three straight global titles (the Olympics sandwiched by two worlds). “I heard people say everything in the book [after Rio]. Maybe I just had a good day or this or that. Three years in a row, I achieved the goal I set.”

The 25-year-old took seven months off after Rio — her coach told her that she might lose worlds because of it — but looked and felt reinvigorated on Wednesday.

“I was, like, counting down the days before Rio, like don’t focus on vacation after. I was so overwhelmed and tired,” Maroulis said. “But this, I’m like, man, I love this. I could do this all over again.”

She improved to a 78-1 record since taking bronze at the 2014 Worlds. Remember, Maroulis went 1-30 in her first year as a wrestler at age 7.

She’s the only American man or woman to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in at least 30 years, doing so in 2015 and again Wednesday.

Maroulis, after a hard struggle to cut weight to 53kg for Rio, moved up two divisions (11 pounds) this year. By the numbers, she faced an easier road to gold.

Saori Yoshida, the three-time Olympic champion whom Maroulis dethroned at 53kg in Rio, and 58kg superstar Kaori Icho, the only woman to win four Olympic golds in an individual event, both sat out this year for Japan.

The top 58kg seed at worlds, Olympic silver medalist Valeria Koblova of Russia, bowed out of her opening match with a left knee injury.

Maroulis plowed the remaining field, winning her first four matches Wednesday by mercy rule to reach the final by a 42-0 point margin.

Also Wednesday, 20-year-old Becka Leathers took bronze at 55kg in her senior worlds debut.

Worlds continue through the rest of this week. Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox goes Friday, and Olympic champions Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Snyder close out the competition Saturday.

A full broadcast schedule is here.

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Dream Team, Shaq lead FIBA Hall of Fame inductees

Michael Jordan
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The Dream Team, Shaquille O’Neal and Toni Kukoč headline the FIBA international basketball Hall of Fame inductees for 2017.

A ceremony will be held Sept. 30 at FIBA headquarters in Switzerland.

The Dream Team enters the hall on the 25th anniversary of its unforgettable run at the 1992 Barcelona Games, where it went 8-0 and won by an average of 43.8 points per game.

The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will air every Dream Team game from the Olympics next week. A full schedule is here.

That team included two players who are already FIBA Hall of Famers — Michael Jordan and David Robinson, who both won multiple Olympic gold medals.

O’Neal was left off the Dream Team in favor of Christian Laettner as the single college player to round out the 12-man roster otherwise made up of NBA All-Stars.

But O’Neal went on to lead Dream Team II as MVP of the 1994 World Championship. He paced the U.S. in points (18 per game), rebounds (8.5 per game) and field-goal percentage (71.3).

O’Neal then played on the 1996 Olympic team that won gold in Atlanta, starting three of eight games. The U.S. was loaded at center with Hakeem Olajuwon, who led the Houston Rockets to 1994 and 1995 NBA titles, and Robinson, the 1995 NBA MVP.

Kukoč, best known as a member of Jordan’s supporting cast on the late 1990s Chicago Bulls teams, won a world title with Yugoslavia and two Olympic silver medals for Croatia.

He was MVP of the 1990 World Championship, where Yugoslavia beat the U.S. in the semifinals and the Soviet Union in the final.

Kukoč made his Olympic debut at age 19 at Seoul 1988, then was part of a star core of Croatian teams with the likes of Dražen Petrović and Dino Radja in the 1990s.

FIBA Hall of Fame Class of 2017:

TEAM
Dream Team (USA)

PLAYERS
Mickey Berkowitz (Israel)
Pero Cameron (New Zealand)
Toni Kukoč (Croatia)
Razija Mujanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Shaquille O’Neal (USA)
Valdis Valters (Latvia)

COACH
Dusan Ivkovic (Serbia)

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