Dana Vollmer

Meilutyte breaks world record; Franklin, Lochte advance to finals at swim worlds as U.S. wins two more medals

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The second night of the world swimming championships provided a few surprises, but Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin didn’t disappoint, advancing to their first individual finals in Barcelona.

Lochte is the second qualifier into the 200-meter freestyle final Tuesday night. Franklin overcame a slip at the start to gain the top seed into the 100 backstroke final, also Tuesday. Lochte, already with a 4×100 free relay silver, is on the second of a planned seven events this week. Franklin, a gold medalist in the 4×100 free relay, is on No. 2 of eight.

The big international news came in the semifinals of the 100 breaststroke, where Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte broke the world record.

Two Americans medaled among the four finals Monday. Olympic champion Dana Vollmer took bronze in the 100 butterfly, overcoming illness. Eugene Godsoe was a surprise silver medalist in the 50 butterfly, an event that’s not on the Olympic program.

The other finals saw Hungarian Katinka Hosszu win the 200 individual medley (Olympic champion Ye Shiwen was fourth), and Australian favorite Christian Sprenger take the 100 breaststroke.

Scroll down for event-by-event results, video and analysis.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results | Swimming on newspaper front pages

Men’s 100 Breaststroke Final

Gold: Christian Sprenger (AUS) 58.79
Silver: Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) 58.97
Bronze: Felipe Lima (BRA) 59.65
4. Damir Dugonjic (SLO) 59.68
5. Fabio Scozzoli (ITA) 59.70
6. Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) 59.90
7. Kevin Cordes (USA) 1:00.02
8. Nic Fink (USA) 1:00.10

The Olympic champion van der Burgh blazed out, making the turn two tenths under world-record pace. He couldn’t sustain it and got ran down by the favored Aussie, who came into the final with the three fastest times in the world this year. Sprenger had finished second to van der Burgh in London. Both Americans are collegians and will only get better.

Women’s 100 Butterfly Final

Gold: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 56.53
Silver: Alicia Coutts (AUS) 56.97
Bronze: Dana Vollmer (USA) 57.24
4. Jeannette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 57.27
5. Katerine Savard (CAN) 57.97
6. Ilaria Bianchi (ITA) 58.11
7. Noemie Ip-Ting Thomas (CAN) 58.13
8. Claire Donahue (USA) 58.30

Sjostrom took the world title back from Vollmer, who was the reigning Olympic champion and world-record holder. Vollmer had said Sunday she was feeling ill and still has the 50 fly and medley relay left. Sjostrom won the world title as a 15-year-old in 2009 and was the fastest qualifier into the final. Coutts picked up her second silver after bursting into tears following losing the lead on anchor of the 4×100 free relay Sunday.

“I just kept telling myself that it was less than a minute and that my body can pull it together,” Vollmer said on Universal Sports. “Last night I felt horrible.”

Men’s 100 Backstroke Semifinals

Advanced To Final
1. Matt Grevers (USA) 52.97
2. David Plummer (USA) 53.10
3. Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 53.23
4. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 53.41
5. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 53.42
6. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 53.68
7. Ashley Delaney (AUS) 53.74
8. Gareth Kean (NZL) 53.81

The five fastest men in the world this year were among the top six qualifiers into Tuesday’s final. Grevers, the reigning Olympic champion, posted the fastest time in the world this year to win his semifinal. Plummer, who beat Grevers at nationals, is in great shape to medal as well. Stravius, who anchored France to 4×100 free relay gold Sunday, had the world’s fastest time before Grevers took it. Stravius and Lacourt shared the world title in 2011. Both Japanese men could also factor into the medals. It’s a stacked final.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advanced To Final
1. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 1:04.45 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 1:05.29
3. Rikke Moller Pedersen (DEN) 1:05.99
4. Jessica Hardy (USA) 1:06.10
5. Breeja Larson (USA) 1:06.61
6. Viktoria Solnceva (UKR) 1:06.67
7. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 1:06.96
8. Marina Garcia (ESP) 1:07.12

Meilutyte broke the world record by one tenth, the first world record set this year. Meilutyte, who stunned Rebecca Soni to win Olympic gold at age 15, was .07 off the world record in the prelims. Hardy was the previous world-record holder and looks likely to fight for a bronze. Meilutyte is a huge gold-medal favorite, and Efimova is a clear pick for silver going into Tuesday’s final.

Men’s 50 Butterfly Final

Gold: Cesar Cielo (BRA) 23.01
Silver: Eugene Godsoe (USA) 23.05
Bronze: Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 23.11
4. Nicholas Santos (BRA) 23.21
5. Andriy Hovorov (UKR) 23.22
6. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 23.28
6. Steffen Diebler (GER) 23.28
8. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 23.35

The 50 fly is not an event contested at the Olympics. Cielo, the world-record holder in the 50 free and 100 free, defended his world title, as expected. But the surprise story was Godsoe, 25, who won silver in his first major international meet after being the last man to qualify into the final.

“It feels absolutely amazing,” Godsoe told Universal Sports. “I knew for the 50 fly, if you have a lane, you have a shot.”

Women’s 100 Backstroke Semifinals

Advanced To Final
1. Missy Franklin (USA) 59.31
2. Emily Seebohm (AUS) 59.38
3. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 59.44
4. Aya Terakawa (JPN) 59.80
5. Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 59.82
6. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 59.90
7. Simona Baumrtova (CZE) 59.99
8. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 1:00.24

Franklin, swimming the second of a potential eight events, slipped off the start but came back to become the top qualifier into Tuesday’s final. Franklin didn’t contest this event at 2011 worlds but won it at the 2012 Olympics. She’s a big favorite for gold after the second fastest in the morning prelims, Katinka Hosszu, scratched the event to focus on the 200 individual medley. Seebohm and Terakawa, the Olympic silver and bronze medalists, will fight for the same medals in the final. As will Pelton, who just missed making the Olympic team by finishing third in two events at trials.

“I totally slipped,” Franklin told Universal Sports. “Definitely not what we want, but that’s good that it happened now and not tomorrow. … Even though it happens, you just have to continue on like you’re swimming a normal race. We’ve kind of prepared for something like that to happen.”

Men’s 200 Freestyle Semifinals

Advanced To Final
1. Danila Izotov (RUS) 1:45.84
2. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:46.06
3. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:46.87
4. Robbie Renwick (GBR) 1:46.95
5. Yannick Agnel (FRA) 1:47.01
6. Conor Dwyer (USA) 1:47.05
7. Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) 1:47.21
8. Cameron McEvoy (CHN) 1:47.31

Lochte, the defending world champion, is easily into the final of his first individual event at worlds — and second event of a planned seven. The slight edge as favorite may have to go to Izotov, who also owns the world’s fastest time of 2013 (1:44.87). Hagino qualified for two finals Monday and already has a silver from the 400 free. Agnel, the champion in London, has yet to show his Olympic form in Barcelona, having swum a poor leadoff leg in Sunday’s 4×100 free relay.

“It felt kind of smooth,” Lochte told Universal Sports. “I know there’s a lot left. I kind of didn’t push myself until the last 75 (meters).”

Women’s 200 Individual Medley Final

Gold: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:07.92
Silver: Alicia Coutts (AUS) 2:09.39
Bronze: Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:09.45
4. Ye Shiwen (CHN) 2:10.48
5. Caitlin Leverenz (USA) 2:10.73
6. Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:10.95
7. Sophie Allen (GBR) 2:11.32
8. Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (GBR) 2:12.03

The Olympic gold medalist and defending world champion Ye was lucky to get fourth. She was eighth after 150 meters. Remember, Ye came under scrutiny at the 2012 Olympics for swimming a faster final 50 meters in her 400 IM victory than Lochte did in his. Hosszu opted out of a potential medal in the 100 back to focus on this event. It paid off big time. Coutts won her second silver of the night.

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Mary Cain ‘back to basics’ after ‘disappointing year’

Mary Cain
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Mary Cain, who in 2013 became the youngest U.S. track and field athlete to make a World Championships team and turned pro at age 17 later that fall, is spending her run-up to next year and the 2016 Olympics home in New York rather than returning to Oregon where she went to college and trained last year.

In June, Cain finished eighth in the 1500m at the U.S. Championships, missing the top-four placement necessary to make the World Championships team.

“After a disappointing year, I knew that I needed a change,” Cain said in a blog post Tuesday. “For me, that meant returning home to New York (and its bagels) or where it all started. With 2016 being such an important year, it’s a blessing to be able to, as my mom says, ‘Go back to basics.'”

Cain, who was a freshman at the University of Portland last year, is still coached by three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar with the aid of New Zealand 2004 Olympic 10,000m runner John Henwood, according to the blog.

“We’re trying to get [running] back to fun with her,” Henwood said, according to Runner’s World.

Cain moved from Bronxville, N.Y., to Portland after graduating high school last year, completing a decorated prep career filled with records and state and national titles. She trained with Salazar’s group, which includes Olympic 10,000m gold and silver medalists Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.

Cain won the World Junior Championships 3000m in 2014 and became the youngest woman to make a senior World Championships 1500m final in 2013, when she finished 10th.

“I always said the key to running well was keeping the sport fun,” Cain said in the blog post. “With the help of this great NY running community, I am happy to say that I have found that love again! I’m looking forward to a rewarding Indoor and Outdoor season.

“Thanks to everyone who has supported me through the ups and downs! I hope to make 2016 a year to remember!”

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Brazil’s best tennis player: ‘tough to dream’ of Rio Olympic medal

Thomaz Bellucci
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Thomaz Bellucci admits playing at a home Olympics brings at least some pressure.

“To well represent Brazil,” the Sao Paulo native clarified at the U.S. Open in New York last month. “It’s tough to dream about having a medal.”

The 27-year-old Bellucci is the only Brazilian tennis player, man or woman, ranked in the world top 50. He sits at No. 31, having this season reached his first ATP final since 2012 and winning it at the Geneva Open in Switzerland in May.

Brazil’s Olympic Committee set a target of 27 to 30 medals in Rio, after earning 17 at London 2012. The added glory likely won’t come from tennis, a sport in which a Brazilian has never stood on an Olympic podium.

“For the Olympics, I don’t feel too many pressure,” Bellucci said, “because even if I play in Brazil, I know there are many players more favored than me because [Roger] Federer‘s going to play, [Novak] Djokovic, all these guys have so much more pressure than me because they have more chance to have a medal.”

Olympic tennis gained greater significance on the busy tour calendars among top players with recent Games.

On the men’s side, every medalist from 2008 and 2012 had already reached at least one Grand Slam final in his career. That group of six included Federer (2012 silver), Djokovic (2008 bronze), Rafael Nadal (2008 gold) and Andy Murray (2012 gold).

But if Bellucci and the Brazilians look back, they can find unexpected, inspiring runs. In 1996, Brazil’s Fernando Meligeni came to the Atlanta Games ranked No. 95 in the world, having never made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

The charismatic Meligeni, a lefty who sometimes played wearing his cap backwards, reached the final four in Stone Mountain, twice playing for a medal, and hitting a tweener on the penultimate point of his semifinal against Spain’s Sergi Bruguera.

He lost both medal-round matches, including the bronze match to Indian Leander Paes, who won the U.S. Open mixed doubles last month with another 1996 Olympic singles tennis player, Swiss Martina Hingis. Hingis is attempting to return to the Olympics next year for the first time since 1996.

In 2004, Chile’s Nicolas Massu won singles and doubles gold in Athens having never reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam in singles.

Bellucci debuted at the Olympics in 2008 and hasn’t won a single Games match. He rose from a No. 85 overall ranking in Beijing to No. 42 going into the London 2012 Olympics, where he forced then-Wimbledon semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to three sets. Bellucci and partner Andre Sa were the only doubles pair to take a set off Americans Bob and Mike Bryan at London 2012.

“Beijing I was very surprised, because I was very young and had no idea,” Bellucci said. “In London, I had a very tough draw against Tsonga. Let’s see if I can have more luck in Brazil to have a better draw.”

Not even the great Gustavo Kuerten could sniff an Olympic medal. The three-time French Open champion — the only Brazilian man to win a Grand Slam — couldn’t do better than the quarterfinals in 2000 and 2004.

The analysis of Bellucci in the scope of Kuerten, who is of a similar tall, thin build, has silenced in recent years.

“They used to say that when I was young, when I was starting to play well,” said Bellucci, whose four ATP titles came on Kuerten’s favorite surface, clay, while the Rio Olympic tournament will be on hard courts. “They want to compare me and Guga [Kuerten], but anyway they are not comparing anymore because Guga is so much bigger than me.”

As much as Bellucci tries to keep expectations low, he urges that his sport is one of the most popular in Brazil.

“I think soccer, for sure, is No. 1 and then volleyball is second and then tennis, I think,” he said. “I think we have more people playing tennis than volleyball because I think all the ages can play tennis.”

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