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

Monica Puig’s unlikely Olympic tennis gold reminded her of ‘Miracle’ scene

Monica Puig
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NEW YORK (AP) — Monica Puig gazed out at her fellow Puerto Ricans jamming the parade route, and in their eyes she saw hope.

They hailed her with “a sense of satisfaction,” she recalled Saturday, “and a sense of belief that things are going to get better.”

Throughout her stunning run to the Olympic tennis gold medal, Puig embraced the symbolism of each upset victory. An economic crisis is devastating the island of her birth, and she appreciated that if she could prove the impossible is possible, that message would reverberate far beyond sports.

“If Puerto Rico channels that same energy and belief that things will get better and working for the better of the island, the better of the community, things will improve,” Puig said four days after the U.S. territory honored its Olympic team and, above all, its first gold medalist.

“I really hope I gave them a lot of confidence moving forward,” she added, “that things will actually get better.”

The world’s 34th-ranked women’s tennis player met with a roomful of reporters Saturday, exactly two weeks after she beat Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber in three sets in the final in Rio de Janeiro. Poised and philosophical in ways that bely her age, the 22-year-old realizes some people deem her gold medal “a fluke.”

After all, Puig has never made it past the round of 16 at a major. And at the U.S. Open, which starts Monday, she’s never advanced beyond the second round. Puig is already bracing herself for the reality that her run at Flushing Meadows could fall well short of what took place in Rio.

“I’m 22 years old. There’s still a long way for me to go, a long stretch of career,” she said. “If anything happens, any kind of slip-up, it’s not really going to be a big deal, because I have a process and I have a long-term view of where I want to go.”

Which isn’t to say she expects a slip-up.

“I know that the Olympics wasn’t a fluke for me, because I have worked very hard to get to where I am,” Puig said. “I know the hours and the tears and the sweat and everything that’s been put into my practices. It’s been very difficult for me.

“But that moment, nobody will be able to take away.”

Even she considers that Olympic moment to be like something out of a movie script. When spectators chanted “Si se puede!” (“Yes you can!” in Spanish) during the final against the second-ranked Kerber, Puig flashed back to a scene from the film “Miracle” about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

With fans roaring “U-S-A!” coach Herb Brooks tells his players: “Listen to them. That’s what you’ve done.” As Puig said Saturday, “I needed to listen to the crowd.”

Her gold might not have been quite as unlikely as the Miracle on Ice, but it wasn’t too far off. The night after her victory, Puig slept with the medal on her nightstand, waking up every few hours to make sure it was real. She still feels the need to check up on it during the day.

“I see the videos and I’m like, ‘Did this really just happen?'” Puig said.

When they showed the clip of her medal ceremony when she was honored in Puerto Rico, she started crying again. Through it all, she insisted Saturday, she felt she kept her focus, knowing the U.S. Open was looming.

After Rio, Puig spent some time with her family in Miami, where she lives. Then it was on to the island “where the big party was waiting.” It’s been hard to squeeze in sleep and alone time and practice — all the things she needs to recover from one big event and prepare for another.

Puig faces 60th-ranked Zheng Saisai, who upset Agnieszka Radwanska at the Olympics, in the first round Monday. She originally wasn’t seeded at Flushing Meadows, which meant she could have faced a top player in her opening match, but she moved up to the final seed when Sloane Stephens withdrew because of an injury Friday.

It’s the first time Puig has been seeded at a major, and in what was a breakthrough season even before her golden moment, she’s starting to grow comfortable with those sorts of roles.

“I feel like I finally understand what I’m doing when it comes to tennis,” she said.

MORE: U.S. goes one-two in Olympic mixed doubles

Ryan Bailey, former Summer Olympic medalist: My goal is Winter Olympics

Ryan Bailey, Usain Bolt
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Ryan Bailey is looking for thrills and another Olympic medal.

Bobsled might be his ticket to both.

Bailey — a longtime sprinting specialist and a Summer Olympic veteran — won the U.S. bobsled preliminary push championship for rookie hopefuls in Lake Placid, New York, on Saturday, the first step on a path that he’s hoping leads to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“That’s obviously the goal,” Bailey said after Saturday’s competition. “I’m not here to be just part of the team. I’m here to actually be on the Olympic team and make one of those spots. That’s what I’m shooting for. Hopefully once I get on ice everything can transition the way I’m expecting. That’s what I want and hopefully the coaches can see that.”

Bailey sprinted for the U.S. at the London Olympics four years ago and left with a silver medal from the 4×100-meter relay, though Tyson Gay‘s doping case eventually meant that medal had to be returned and reallocated. Bailey also made the 100-meter final in those games, racing alongside Usain Bolt and some of the other fastest men alive.

He tried to make the U.S. team for the just-completed Rio Games, but a bad hamstring doomed his chances of qualifying. So now, it’s a winter sport that he’s turning to with hopes of securing a medal — and keeping it this time.

“I’m still not over it,” Bailey said.

It’s not uncommon for bobsled and track to be luring the same athletes.

Lauryn Williams medaled as a sprinter in the summer games, and teamed with Elana Meyers Taylor to win silver at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Longtime U.S. hurdles star Lolo Jones was on the Sochi team as a push athlete and should be in the mix for another spot in 2018. Tianna Bartoletta won gold in both the long jump and the 4×100-meter relay in Rio, and credited the time she spent as a World Cup-caliber bobsledder as a major help.

And in years past, the track-to-bobsled switch was pulled off by the likes of Edwin Moses, Willie Davenport and Renaldo Nehemiah.

Bailey could be next. His win Saturday earns him a spot at the national push championships, which will be held on ice in Calgary, Canada next month. From there, a national team spot could await — and if that happens, that 2018 Olympic spot would only get closer to his reach.

“I’m an adrenalin junkie, I guess,” Bailey said. “So seeing a sled go 80, 90 miles an hour down a hill, to me that looks like pure fun.”

This was Bailey’s first trip to Lake Placid, and part of the trip included a walk along the U.S. team’s home track at Mount Van Hoevenberg. There’s no ice on the track yet, but even as just a concrete tube Bailey understood the challenge that awaits.

“Walking down the track and through the curves, I was in awe,” Bailey said. “These things are 20 feet tall, it’s ridiculous, it’s basically vertical. I can’t imagine flying through there.”

Other winners Saturday included Briauna Jones in women’s bobsled, Nikia Squire in women’s skeleton and Christopher Strup in men’s skeleton.

MORE: Steven Holcomb reacts to Russia bobsled doping report