Nathan Adrian

Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky win gold medals at world swimming championships Thursday

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The U.S.’ three best swimmers shined at the world championships Thursday, each picking up gold medals on the fifth night of finals in Barcelona.

Ryan Lochte won his first title of these worlds, crushing the field by more than a second in the 200-meter individual medley in 1 minute, 54.98 seconds. He won his third straight world title in the event and did it with the fastest time in the world this year.

Lochte appears to be rounding into form after an average split in the silver medal-winning 4×100 free relay Sunday and a fourth place in the 200 freestyle Tuesday. He has a potential four events left, including the final of the 200 backstroke Friday.

Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin led the U.S. 4×200 free relay team to gold. Ledecky, 16, took her third gold in as many events at the meet. Franklin, 18, now has four golds with three events left. She could become the first woman ever to win seven medals of any color at a single world championships.

Franklin’s anchor leg on the relay was particularly memorable. She dove in with a 1.12 second deficit to Australian Alicia Coutts, a seasoned veteran with five Olympic and seven world medals to her name. Franklin’s split time was 1.75 seconds faster than any of the other 31 swimmers in the relay final. The U.S. won by 2.84 seconds.

In the other anticipated final Thursday, Australia’s biggest star, James Magnussen, defended his 100 free world title. Americans Jimmy Feigen and Nathan Adrian took silver and bronze, respectively. Adrian had beaten Magnussen by .01 to win the Olympic title.

There was also another world record set — the third of the meet — plus a pair of Chinese victories in women’s finals. Scroll down for full results, video highlights and analysis.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results 

Women’s 100 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 52.87
2. Cate Campbell (AUS) 53.09
3. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 53.29
4. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 53.68
5. Missy Franklin (USA) 53.78
6. Britta Steffen (GER) 53.85
7. Shannon Vreeland (USA) 53.99
8. Tang Yi (CHN) 54.09

Summary
Campbell is a heavy favorite in Friday’s final, but Franklin has a shot at a medal as she vies for a female record seven medals at a single worlds. Franklin was four tenths slower than in the morning prelims (where she set a personal best), but she still won her semifinal and was likely saving energy for the 4×200 free relay. Sjostrom, the 100 butterfly champion, swam a personal best, but she’s still a half second slower than Campbell’s world-leading time for 2013. Kromowidjojo is the Olympic champion.

Men’s 200 Individual Medley Final

Results
Gold: Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:54.98

Silver: Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:56.29
Bronze: Thiago Pereira (BRA) 1:56.30
4. Wang Shun (CHN) 1:56.86
5. Laszlo Csesh (HUN) 1:57.70
6. Daniel Tranter (AUS) 1:57.88
7. Daiya Seto (JPN) 1:58.45
8. Simon Sjodin (SWE) 1:59.79

Summary
With his first gold at this meet, Lochte becomes the fifth man to win three straight world titles in one event (Michael PhelpsAaron PeirsolIan ThorpeGrant Hackett). He was behind after 50 and 100 meters (Pereira led) but took a half-second lead after the breaststroke and cruised home. Lochte now has a gold, a silver and a fourth through three of a potential seven events. He posted the fastest 200 IM time in the world this year. Hagino, 18, won his second silver of the meet.

Women’s 200 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Rikke Moeller Pedersen (DEN) 2:19.11 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 2:19.85
3. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 2:22.88
4. Micah Lawrence (USA) 2:23.23
5. Rie Kaneto (JPN) 2:23.28
6. Sally Foster (AUS) 2:24.14
7. Viktoriya Solntseva (UKR) 2:24.19
8. Martha McCabe (CAN) 2:24.68

Summary
The Dane Pedersen destroyed Rebecca Soni‘s world record of 2:19.59 from out of nowhere and couldn’t stop screaming after touching the wall. Pedersen’s previous best time was 2:20.53, and she was fourth at the Olympics. Efimova is the reigning world silver and Olympic bronze medalist. Lawrence was 1.5 seconds slower than her prelim personal best time, but she’s in the medal picture.

Men’s 100 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: James Magnussen (AUS) 47.71

Silver: Jimmy Feigen (USA) 47.82
Bronze: Nathan Adrian (USA) 47.84
4. Cameron McEvoy (AUS) 47.88
5. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 48.02
6. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) 38.28
7. Fabie Gilot (FRA) 48.33
8. Luca Dotto (ITA) 48.58

Summary
Magnussen defends his world title and takes down Adrian, who beat him by .01 at the Olympics. Feigen, who bounced back from a poor 4×100 free relay swim to qualify second into the final, wins a surprise silver over Adrian. Magnussen was fifth at the turn behind Morozov, who went out a quarter-second under world record pace. Magnussen won the world title despite going two tenths slower than his world-leading time of 2013. He celebrated by sitting on the lane line, flexing his biceps and pointing his index finger in the air.

Women’s 200 Butterfly Final

Results
Gold: Liu Zige (CHN) 2:04.59

Silver: Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 2:04.78
Bronze: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:05.59
4. Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) 2:06.09
5. Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 2:06.58
6. Jiao Liuyang (CHN) 2:06.65
7. Camille Adams (USA) 2:07.73
8. Judit Ignacio Sorribes (ESP) 2:08.40

Summary
Liu, the 2008 Olympic champion and world record holder, was dead even with Belmonte Garcia going to the final 50. Of course, the crowd was going nuts. They were chanting the Spaniard’s name well after the race ended. Belmonte Garcia was trying to become the first Spanish swimmer born in Spain to win an Olympic or world title. Hosszu added bronze to her 200 IM gold. Adams was fifth at the Olympics and had qualified second into the final.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Daniel Gyurta (HUN) 2:08.50
2. Marco Koch (GER) 2:08.61
2. Andrew Willis (GBR) 2:09.11
2. Viatcheslav Sinkevich (RUS) 2:09.47
3. Michael Jamieson (GBR) 2:09.96
6. Matti Mattsson (FIN) 2:09.96
7. Akihiro Yamaguchi (JPN) 2:10.00
8. Ryo Tateishi (JPN) 2:10.01

Summary
Kevin Cordes
, the U.S. and NCAA champion, was a half-second under world record pace at 100 meters in his semifinal and faded badly to finish fourth and miss the final. Gyurta is the favorite, the Olympic champion and two-time defending world champion. Keep an eye out for Jamieson, who has the fastest time in the world this year, and Yamaguchi, 18, who broke Gyurta’s world record a month after the Olympics.

Women’s 50 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Zhao Jing (CHN) 27.29

Silver: Fu Yuanhui (CHN) 27.39
Bronze: Aya Terakawa (JPN) 27.53
4. Etiene Medeiros (BRA) 27.83
5. Mercedes Paris (ESP) 27.93
6. Georgia Davies (GBR) 27.96
7. Rachel Bootsma (USA) 28.05
8. Lauren Quigley (GBR) 28.33

Summary
This is not an Olympic event. Franklin actually entered it and qualified for the semifinals Wednesday before pulling out. Zhao upset her favored countrywoman Fu, who had been three tenths faster than everyone in the semifinals. Zhao also won this event in 2009. Terakawa was the 2011 silver medalist.

Men’s 200 Backstroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:55.16
2. Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:55.88
3. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 1:56.14
3. Radoslaw Kawecki (POL) 1:56.14
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:56.24
6. Xu Jiayu (CHN) 1:56.42
7. Craig McNally (GBR) 1:56.97
8. Peter Bernek (HUN) 1:57.37

Summary
Lochte navigated his two-swim night pretty well after winning the 200 IM. He’ll look to dethrone the Olympic champion Clary. Irie, who has the fastest time in the world this year, took silver in the Olympic final, above Lochte’s bronze. Lochte is the defending world champion though. It would be a slight surprise to see anybody else medal, but Kawecki and the teen Hagino have a shot.

Women’s 4×200 Free Relay Final

Results
Gold: USA 7:45.14

Silver: Australia 7:47.98
Bronze: France 7:48.43
4. China 7:49.79
5. Spain 7:53.20
6. Canada 7:55.48
7. Italy 7:57.91
8. Japan 7:58.15

Summary
That makes three golds for Katie Ledecky and four golds for Missy Franklin at worlds. Ledecky has one event left (800 free) to finish four for four. Franklin, who swam an incredible anchor leg after going in more than one second behind Australia, has three events to go. Ledecky gave the U.S. the lead with a 1:56.32, beating the 200 free bronze medalist Camille Muffat of France. France took the lead after American Shannon Vreeland‘s second leg. Karlee Bispo of the U.S. swam the third leg, passing France, but being passed by Australia. Alicia Coutts of Australia took a 1.12-second lead onto the final leg. Franklin cut it to .06 after the first 50 of the anchor leg, then took a 1.16 lead on the next 50. Franklin’s 1:54.27 split was 1.75 seconds faster than any of the other 31 swimmers.

FINA president believes Phelps is coming back

Russian who beat Simone Biles at 2015 Worlds injured before Olympics

Maria Paseka
Getty Images
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Russian Maria Paseka, who beat Simone Biles on vault at the 2015 World Championships, is not certain to compete in the Olympics due to a back injury, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Biles is considered a clear favorite for four gold medals — not done by a female gymnast since Romanian Ecaterina Szabo in 1984 — and could win five golds — never done by an American woman or a female gymnast.

Biles captured gold medals at the last two World Championships in the team event, all-around, balance beam and floor exercise.

Vault is her fifth and most questionable event. Biles took silver, silver and bronze on vault at the last three world championships.

Paseka is the only returning vault medalist from the 2012 Olympics (she took bronze) in addition to being the reigning world champion.

Regardless of Paseka, Biles’ primary competition in the vault final may be the 2008 Olympic champion, North Korea’s Hong Un-Jong, who could not compete in London due to North Korea’s ban for age falsification.

Like Biles, Hong earned vault medals at the last three world championships, including gold in 2014.

Biles’ vaults at worlds were less difficult than Paseka and Hong, causing her to lose eight tenths in start value. Biles has since upgraded her weaker vault, increasing her start value.

MORE: Rio Olympic schedule highlights, daily events to watch

Vladimir Putin: Olympic medals to have ‘different or no taste’ without Russia

Vladimir Putin
AP
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Russian president Vladimir Putin said Olympic medals won in events lacking Russian contenders will be devalued, speaking to athletes who will be going to Rio at the Kremlin on Wednesday.

Russia is set to send just one track and field athlete, plus fewer athletes in many sports, to Rio amid its doping scandal.

It could significantly alter the Rio Olympic medal standings, as Russia finished third in overall medals at the 2012 London Games with 79 — behind the U.S.’ 103 and China’s 88.

“It is obvious that the absence of Russian athletes, the leaders in many sports events, significantly reduces the intensity of the competition, and hence makes the upcoming events less spectacular” Putin told the Russian team Wednesday, according to Russian news agency TASS. “I think that your colleagues from other world’s leading sports powers also understand that the quality of their medals will be different, because it’s one thing to defeat an equal, strong opponent, and quite another – to compete with obviously weaker opponents. Such victory has a very different taste or maybe bad taste.”

Also at the event, two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva broke down while addressing the Olympic team (video here). Isinbayeva was barred from the Rio Games due to Russia’s track and field ban, though she has never failed a drug test.

MORE: Five Russian track and field stars set to miss Rio