Katie Ledecky

Lochte, Franklin, Ledecky seek more gold at swim worlds; Saturday preview

1 Comment

There are two full days of competition left at the world swimming championships, but Saturday (NBC 1-3 p.m. ET) marks the final individual swims for Ryan LochteMissy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.

They’ve won a combined 11 medals, 10 of them gold, this week in Barcelona. If they were one country, they would rank second in the medal table.

The U.S., by the way, is dominating the standings with 22 medals and 10 golds. The next closest are Australia with nine medals and China with four golds.

Lochte, with three golds and one silver, swims the 100-meter butterfly final at a world championships or Olympics for the first time in his career. He’s the top seed entering the final but no lock for gold. He will then swim the butterfly leg on Sunday’s medley relay to close his meet.

Franklin, with four golds, is the heavy favorite in the 200 backstroke final. She also has the medley relay left Sunday. If she wins both, she’ll be the first swimmer to win six golds at a single world championships and the fourth to win six medals of any color. East Germany’s Kristin Otto won six golds at the 1988 Olympics.

Ledecky, 16, with three golds, takes her final swim in her signature event, the 800 freestyle, where she could break her second world record of the meet. She would become the second woman to sweep the distance freestyles at a world championships, joining Germany’s Hannah Stockbauer, who did it 10 years ago at this same pool.

Scroll down for full fields, previews and medal picks for Saturday’s events:

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final (Vollmer)
Men’s 50 Freestyle Final (Adrian, Ervin)
Women’s 200 Backstroke Final (Franklin)
Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals
Men’s 100 Butterfly Final (Lochte)
Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals
Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals
Women’s 800 Freestyle Final (Ledecky)

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final

Field
1. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.50
2. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 25.68
3. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 25.90
4. Melanie Henique (FRA) 25.95
5. Dana Vollmer (USA) 26.06
6. Inge Dekker (NED) 26.11
7. Farida Osman (EGY) 26.12
7. Ying Lu (CHN) 26.12

Preview
Ottesen Gray pulled out of the 100 free, where she was the defending co-world champion. Here, she looks like the gold-medal favorite after posting the fastest time of 2013 in the semifinals. This is a non-Olympic event. Kromowidjojo, the Olympic champ in the 50 and 100 free, hasn’t been in peak form in Barcelona but is also a medal favorite, along with Halsall. Britain has yet to win a medal this week. Vollmer is the wild card. She took bronze in the 100 fly earlier this week but is now over an illness and could jump into the medals.

Medal Picks
Gold: Ottesen Gray
Silver: Kromowidjojo
Bronze: Halsall

Men’s 50 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 21.37
2. Anthony Ervin (USA) 21.42
3. Cesar Cielo (BRA) 21.60
3. Nathan Adrian (USA) 21.60
5. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 21.62
6. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 21.63
7. Roland Schoeman (RSA) 21.67
8. George Bovell (TRI) 21.74

Preview
Manaudou is the 2012 Olympic champion and gold-medal favorite. Cielo is the two-time defending world champion and was thought to be the silver-medal favorite before Ervin posted a personal best in the semifinals. Ervin, 32, won this event at the world championships 12 years ago. Adrian is much better in the 100 but is an outside medal threat.

Medal Picks
Gold: Manaudou
Silver: Cielo
Bronze: Ervin

Women’s 200 Backstroke Final

Field
1. Missy Franklin (USA) 2:06.46
2. Hilary Caldwell (CAN) 2:07.15
3. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 2:08.20
4. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:08.49
5. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 2:08.74
6. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:08.97
7. Daria Ustinova (RUS) 2:09.08
8. Sinead Russell (CAN) 2:09.84

Preview
Franklin won’t be touched in her signature event. She’s the reigning world champion, Olympic champion and world record holder. Only Pelton has been within a second of Franklin’s best time this year. The silver and bronze are up for grabs among Caldwell, Pelton and Hocking. But don’t lose sight of Hosszu, the 200 individual medley champion from this week.

Medal Picks
Gold: Franklin
Silver: Pelton
Bronze: Hocking

Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals

Field
1. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.78 WR
2. Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.99
3. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 30.07
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 30.46
5. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.55
6. Mariia Liver (UKR) 30.68
7. Petra Chocova (CZE) 30.77
8. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 30.82
9. Fiona Doyle (IRL) 30.93
10. Alia Atkinson (JAM) 31.12
11. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 31.22
12. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 31.23
13. Rebecca Ejdervik (SWE) 31.39
14. Yuzhe He (CHN) 31.46
15. Samantha Marshall (AUS) 31.49
16. Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir (ISL) 31.50

Preview
Tough week for Hardy, who lost both of her breaststroke world records in Barcelona. Meilutyte took down the 100 breast mark, and now Efimova has the 50 record. Sunday’s final should be a real meeting of champions. Efimova won the 200 breast Friday. Meilutyte won the 100 breast Tuesday. Hardy is the defending world champion. They’ve all gone sub-30 this year, and they’re the only women to do so. Larson is probably the best of the rest.

Men’s 100 Butterfly Final

Field
1. Ryan Lochte (USA) 51.48
2. Chad le Clos (RSA) 51.52
3. Konrad Czerniak (POL) 51.55
4. Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS) 51.60
5. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 51.61
6. Matteo Rivolta (ITA) 51.64
7. Steffen Deibler (GER) 51.65
8. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 51.78

Preview
Lochte looks to continue a U.S. gold-medal streak at this event at every worlds or Olympics since 2003. Michael Phelps won the last three world titles and last three Olympic titles. If Lochte wins (or medals), he’ll do something Phelps never did — win world titles in four different disciplines. No man or woman has ever done it, according to John Lohn of swimvortex.com. It could be close. Lochte has the top seed time, but le Clos, the 200 fly champ, and Czerniak are right there with him. Deibler has gone 51.19 this year.

Medal Picks
Gold: Lochte
Silver: Le Clos
Bronze: Korotyshkin

Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

Field
1. Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.27
2. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.60
3. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.65
4. Ranomi Kromomwidjojo (NED) 24.68
5. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.78
6. Chantal van Landeghem (CAN) 24.89
7. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.93
8. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.99
9. Natalie Coughlin (USA) 25.00
10. Victoria Poon (CAN) 25.01
10. Aleksandra Urbanczyk (POL) 25.01
12. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.04
13. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (BAH) 25.15
14. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 25.19
15. Hanna-Maria Seppala (FIN) 25.20
16. Pernille Blume (DEN) 25.23

Preview
Campbell returns a day after winning the 100 free in impressive fashion as the clear favorite to be the top seed going into this final as well. Her younger sister, Bronte, 19, and Halsall and Kromowidjojo are the most likely of anyone to challenge her, if that’s possible. Manuel and Coughlin, the most decorated world championships swimmer of all time, will have to fight to make the final.

Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

Field
1. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.67
2. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.72
3. Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.79
4. Gerhard Zandberg (RSA) 24.85
5. David Plummer (USA) 24.91
6. Bastiaan Lijesen (NED) 24.94
7. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.97
8. Guy Marcos Barnea (ISR) 25.01
8. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 25.01
10. Matt Grevers (USA) 25.08
11. Lavrans Solli (NOR) 25.15
12. Jonatan Josef Kopelev (ISR) 25.17
13. Ashley Delaney (AUS) 25.36
14. Pavel Sankovich (BLR) 25.40
15. Federico Grabrich (ARG) 25.44
16. Juan Miguel Rando Galvez (ESP) 25.52

Preview
Grevers won the 100 backstroke world title, but Plummer, the silver medalist in the 100 back, is stronger in this event. He owns the fastest time of 2013. Grevers is on the bubble of making Sunday’s final. The other top medal contenders are Stravius, Orzechowski and Lacourt.

Women’s 800 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Katie Ledecky (USA) 8:20.65
2. Lauren Boyle (NZL) 8:21.00
3. Lotte Friis (DEN) 8:23.00
4. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 8:25.03
5. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 8:26.26
6. Martina De Memme (ITA) 8:26.95
7. Andreina Pinto (VEN) 8:27.03
8. Chloe Sutton (USA) 8:27.41

Preview
The world record could be in play here, given Ledecky already broke the mark in the 1,500 this week and was just a half-second off of it when she won gold in London. The woman with the fastest time of 2013, Britain’s Jazmin Carlin, didn’t make the final. So Friis and Boyle, silver and bronze medalists in the 1,500 free, will again be the closest to Ledecky. But they shouldn’t be all that close. Spain’s best overall swimmer, Belmonte Garcia, goes for her third medal of worlds.

Medal Picks
Gold: Ledecky
Silver: Boyle
Bronze: Friis

What Jason Lezak is doing in retirement

IOC president doesn’t rule out awarding 2028 Olympic host in 2017

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 23: The Olympic Flag waves as part of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
AP
Leave a comment

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Signaling a potential radical change in the way Olympic host cities are chosen, IOC President Thomas Bach wants to revise the bidding process because it “produces too many losers.”

He wouldn’t rule out the possibility of awarding two Games at the same time.

Bach’s comments came on Thursday, the same day the IOC executive board cleared all three candidate cities for the 2024 Olympics — Paris, Los Angeles and Budapest, Hungary — to advance to the next stage of the race.

“We have to take into consideration that the procedure as it is now produces too many losers,” Bach said at a news conference. “You can be happy about a strong field in quantity for one day but you start to regret it the next day.

“It is not the purpose of an Olympic candidate city procedure to produce losers. It is to produce the best possible host for an Olympic Games. We will have to look into this.”

It was the first time Bach has publicly spoken about further changes to the bidding process, which has suffered in recent years as voters rejected bids in referendums, and cities dropped out because of concerns over the costs of the games.

Paris, Los Angeles, and Budapest are in the final nine months of the race for the 2024 Games. The International Olympic Committee is scheduled to vote on the host city in September in Lima, Peru.

Paris and Los Angeles are viewed as close favorites, with Budapest as an outsider. Olympic officials in recent months have begun privately discussing the idea of awarding the 2024 and 2028 Games simultaneously, ensuring that Paris and Los Angeles would get one or the other.

Some officials believe that, because both cities are such strong contenders, it would be a mistake for one to lose out. It would seem unlikely that either loser would bid again for 2028.

Bach repeated several times that the 2024 bidding is already in full swing and the IOC is “happy” with that process. However, he was asked twice about the possibility of awarding both Games at the Lima meeting, and he didn’t categorically rule it out.

“Let us study this question, which is not an easy one,” he said.

Bach suggested it is more likely any major change will come for future bidding races.

“We have to think long term,” he said, adding that, for the 2024 race, the IOC advised three unidentified cities during the “invitation phase” not to submit bids because they failed to meet the requirements.

The IOC has been seeking to fix the bidding process for years amid a sharp downturn in interest from potential host cities, many scared off by the $51 billion price tag associated with the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

The bid races for the 2020, 2022 and 2024 Olympics were all hit by withdrawals for political or financial reasons. Six cities pulled out of the contest for the ’22 Winter Games, leaving only two finalists, with Beijing defeating Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Hamburg pulled out of the 2024 race after local residents rejected the bid in a referendum, and Rome’s 2024 bid was scrapped after the new mayor rejected the project over costs.

Bach’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms were aimed at making bidding and hosting more flexible and less costly. But Bach acknowledged on Thursday the reforms hadn’t solved everything, saying they have been affected by “more changes in the decision-making mechanisms in politics.”

“You can see how in many countries, you have populist movements and anti-establishment movements getting stronger and stronger, asking different and new questions,” he said.

While the IOC has traditionally awarded one Olympics at a time, some other major sports bodies have awarded multiple events at a time.

FIFA awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 tournament to Qatar in the same bidding process. FIFA leaders say that was a mistake that will not be repeated. Swiss federal prosecutors are still looking into suspicions of wrongdoing during that contest.

VIDEO: LA 2024 Olympic bid venue plan

Yuzuru Hanyu tops Grand Prix Final short program

Yuzuru Hanyu
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Yuzuru Hanyu is well on his way to a record fourth straight Grand Prix Final title.

The Olympic champion landed two quadruple jumps while his closest rival, Spain’s Javier Fernandez, nearly fell twice in the short program in Marseille, France, on Thursday.

Hanyu tallied 106.53 points, the third-highest short program score under the decade-old scoring system, but said he wasn’t completely satisfied. Hanyu owns the five best short programs, all compiled in the last two seasons, with a best of 110.95.

“This program feels like a concert,” said Hanyu, who skated to Prince music in a purple outfit. “I consider this program cannot be completed without the audience.

“I feel this program has a lot more potential. I really wanted to improve my personal-best score here.”

Hanyu is trying to become the first singles skater to win four straight Grand Prix Finals in the event’s 22-year history.

He leads three-time Canadian world champion Patrick Chan by 6.77 points going into Saturday’s free skate. Chan’s clean short program included one quad and marked his first personal best in three years.

“The first good short program in a long time, internationally,” Chan said. “It didn’t feel any more special than any usual training day.”

Fernandez, who beat Hanyu at the last two world championships, nearly fell on a quad Salchow and a triple Axel and is in third, nearly 15 points back of Hanyu.

Fernandez was followed by Japan’s Shoma Uno and the two Americans, training partners Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon, in fifth and sixth in the six-skater field.

Chen, 17, fell on a quad flip and stepped out of a quad Lutz landing.

“I made two pretty big mistakes, so I’m a little bit upset about that,” Chen said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “I was able to land the triple Axel, which I’m happy about because that’s always been my struggle jump.”

Rippon, 27, was the only skater to not attempt a quad.

“I’m trying the least amount of quads so my focus is to skate well overall,” Rippon said, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “I want to do my best and improve for the rest of the season.”

Chen and Rippon are the first American men in a Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual competition, since 2011.

The Grand Prix Final continues Friday with the short dance, pairs free skate and women’s short program (broadcast schedule here).

Earlier in pairs, Canadian world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford struggled to third place in the short program. Duhamel fell on a throw triple Axel.

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead by 3.26 points going into Friday’s free skate.

MORE: Javier Fernandez builds toward last Olympic chance

Men’s Short Program
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 106.53
2. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 99.76
3. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 91.76
4. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 86.82
5. Nathan Chen (USA) — 85.30
6. Adam Rippon (USA) — 83.93

Pairs Short Program
1. Yevgenia Tarasovana/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 78.60
2. Xiaoyu Yu/Hao Zhang (CHN) — 75.34
3. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 71.44
4. Cheng Peng/Yang Jin (CHN) — 70.84
5. Natalya Zabiyako/Aleksander Enbert (RUS) — 65.79
6. Julianne Seguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) — 60.86