Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin wins fifth gold, Katie Ledecky wins fourth gold at world swimming championships

Leave a comment

The next to last day of the world swimming championships belonged to a pair of U.S. female teenagers.

Missy Franklin, 18, cruised to victory in her signature event, the 200-meter backstroke, in 2 minutes, 4.76 seconds. It marked her fifth gold of the meet, matching the record for most golds by a woman at a single world championships.

She could break that mark in her final event, the medley relay, on Sunday. If she wins a medal of any kind Sunday, she’ll tie the record for most medals won by a woman at a single worlds, currently shared by East German Kristin Otto and Americans Shirley Babashoff and Tracy Caulkins. Otto also won six golds at the 1988 Olympics.

Franklin’s coolest prize might have been a soccer jersey (No. 2016) given to her by Brazilians after her victory.

Katie Ledecky, 16, finished her first world championships with her fourth gold medal (in as many events) and her second world record. She followed up her Olympic title in the 800 freestyle with the world title in the event, coming back to beat Denmark’s Lotte Friis in 8:13.86.

Ledecky is the second woman to sweep the distance freestyles at a world championships, joining German Hannah Stockbauer, who did it in 2003 at the same Palau Sant Jordi pool in Barcelona.

An eye-popping stat on Ledecky and the 800: her world record is more than three seconds faster than her age group’s national record in the 800 free relay. USA Swimming correspondent Mike Gustafson pointed that out.

Also Saturday, Ryan Lochte took sixth in the 100 butterfly, a new event for him on the worlds stage. South African Chad le Clos won it, adding to his 200 fly world and Olympic titles.

The world’s fastest swimmer was crowned in the men’s 50 free. Brazilian Cesar Cielo won the splash and dash for the third straight time at worlds, celebrated vigorously and then cried uncontrollably on the medal stand. 

Another world record was set in the women’s 50 breaststroke, and a 17-year-old American woman made the finals of the 50 free with a personal best time, too. Scroll down for full results, analysis and quotes.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final

Results
Gold: Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.24

Silver: Lu Ying (CHN) 25.42
Bronze: Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 25.53
4. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 25.70
5. Inge Dekker (NED) 25.83
6. Melanie Henique (FRA) 25.96
7. Farida Osman (EGY) 26.17
8. Dana Vollmer (USA) 26.46

Summary
This is a non-Olympic event. Vollmer, the Olympic champion in the 100 butterfly, was a medal hope after recovering from her illness that kept her to bronze in the 100 earlier this week. But Ottesen, the gold-medal favorite, took the lead off the start and never let up. Kromowidjojo adds a second bronze to her third in the 100 free. Halsall’s fourth means Britain still has no medals in Barcelona this week.

Men’s 50 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Cesar Cielo (BRA) 21.32

Silver: Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 21.47
Bronze: George Bovell (TRI) 21.51
4. Nathan Adrian (USA) 21.60
5. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 21.64
6. Anthony Ervin (USA) 21.65
7. Roland Schoeman (RSA) 21.85
8. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 21.93

Summary
Cielo had his typical screaming, splashing, flexing celebration. The Brazilian world record holder won his third straight world title in the splash and dash. Ervin had a terrible start after his best swim ever in the semifinals. Manaudou was a disappointment after winning the Olympic title and qualifying fastest into the final. Adrian did well as he has never medaled in this event at a worlds or Olympics. Bovell, 30, wins his first worlds or Olympics medal since a 200 individual medley bronze in 2004.

“I was surprised and pleased at the same time,” Cielo told BBC Two. “It was a great feeling, and I couldn’t be happier. … This time I had a little luck on my side.”

Women’s 200 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Missy Franklin (USA) 2:04.76

Silver: Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:06.66
Bronze: Hilary Caldwell (CAN) 2:06.80
4. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 2:08.72
5. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 2:08.98
6. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:09.08
7. Sinead Russell (CAN) 2:10.46
8. Daria Ustinova (RUS) 2:11.30

Summary
Franklin wins her fifth gold of the meet, matching a world championships record for a woman. She was the extremely heavy favorite here, the Olympic and world champion and the world record holder. She led after every split and won by daylight. Franklin has one event left, the medley relay Sunday, to set a record with six golds. Hocking repeats her silver from 2011 worlds. Pelton came in with a great shot at silver given she is the second fastest in the event this year.

Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 29.48 WR
2. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.88
3. Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.90
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 30.20
5. Petra Chocova (CZE) 30.31
6. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 30.57
7. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 30.61
8. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.66

Summary
Meilutyte broke an eight-hour-old world record by three tenths of a second — a large margin in a 50-meter event. Efimova broke Hardy’s world record in this non-Olympic event in the morning prelims. Both of Hardy’s breaststroke world records have been beaten in Barcelona (Meilutyte also took her 100 breast mark). Hardy still won bronze in the 100 breast, and she’s one of the three medal favorites here going into Sunday’s final with Meilutyte and Efimova. If any slip up, Larson would be the favorite to replace them on the podium.

“This is the best feeling in the world,” Meilutyte told BBC Two. “No matter if it’s semi or not, I have it. It’s amazing.”

Men’s 100 Butterfly Final

Results
Gold: Chad le Clos (RSA) 51.06
Silver: Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 51.45
Bronze: Konrad Czerniak (POL) 51.46
4. Steffen Diebler (GER) 51.54
5. Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS) 51.57
6. Ryan Lochte (USA) 51.58
7. Matteo Rivolta (ITA) 51.65
7. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 51.55

Summary
Lochte was in seventh place at the 50, and throughout the final 50 you expected a Michael Phelps-like comeback to get on the podium. It didn’t happen. Had Lochte repeated his personal best from the semifinals, he would have finished fourth. He has the medley relay left Sunday to finish the meet with a potential four golds and one silver. Le Clos jumped from fifth at the turn to complement his 200 butterfly world title earlier this week. Afterward, le Clos’ dad invited Lochte to his family’s gold-medal party and then cried on BBC Two coverage. Cseh won his ninth career world championship medal.

Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.19
2. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 24.33
3. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 24.54
4. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.61
5. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.62
6. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.65
7. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.85
8. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.91

Summary
The Australian Campbell sisters went one-two in lanes right next to each other in the second semifinal. Cate won the 100 freestyle earlier this week and is a big favorite to take the final Sunday. Kromowidjojo is the Olympic champion, defending world silver medalist and the second fastest in the world this year. She ought to win silver. Halsall will hope to win Britain’s first medal at worlds Sunday. Manuel, who turned 17 Friday, squeaked into the final with a personal best. Natalie Coughlin, the most decorated female swimmer in worlds history, missed the final.

Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.39
2. Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.45
3. Guy Barnea (ISR) 24.73
4. Matt Grevers (USA) 24.79
4. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.79
6. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.90
7. Jonatan Kopolev (ISR) 24.95
7. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 24.95

Summary
American David Plummer surprisingly missed the final, finishing 16th and last among all semifinalists despite coming in with the fastest time in the world this year. He reportedly slipped at the start, an issue for multiple swimmers this week. Instead, the French duo that shared the 100-meter backstroke world title in 2011 go in as favorites. Grevers, the 100 back champ this year, is also a medal threat. Barnea won the first semifinal, which is notable because Israel has never won a world medal.

Women’s 800 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Katie Ledecky (USA) 8:13.86 WR

Silver: Lotte Friis (DEN) 8:16.32
Bronze: Lauren Boyle (NZL) 8:18.59
4. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 8:21.21
5. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 8:21.99
6. Chloe Sutton (USA) 8:27.75
7. Martina de Memme (ITA) 8:29.37
8. Andreina Pinto (VEN) 8:37.29

Summary
Ledecky was more than one second behind Friis at the halfway point, where Friis was almost a half-second under world record pace. Ledecky passed Friis by 650 meters and pulled away over the final 100 for an easy win and her second world record of the meet. She broke the mark held by Rebecca Adlington, who had predicted days before the race that Ledecky would take it. Ledecky finished her first world championships with four golds in four events. The 16-year-old became the second woman to sweep the distance freestyles (400, 800, 1,500) in worlds history (though the 1500 has only been a part of the worlds program since 1997).

What Jason Lezak is doing in retirement

World Figure Skating Championships pairs preview

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Volosozhar and Trankov couldn’t do it. Neither did Shen and Zhao. Nor Gordeeva and Grinkov.

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford can win a third straight pairs world title next week, a feat not seen since Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev of the Soviet Union won six in a row from 1973 through 1978.

But they don’t feel like favorites.

“We’re coming in a little more under the radar,” Radford said.

They lost their two most recent international competitions — third at the Grand Prix Final in December; second at the Four Continents Championships in February.

Duhamel and Radford are seeded fifth by best international scores this season going into the world championships in Helsinki (broadcast schedule here).

“Sometimes it feels like worlds last year was so long ago,” Radford said.

Last year in Boston, Duhamel and Radford had the performance of their seven-year partnership in the world championships free skate. They tallied a personal-best 153.81 points, more than seven points clear of their previous best.

It was easily enough to overtake Chinese short-program leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who were relegated to silver behind the Canadians for a second straight year.

This season, Duhamel and Radford haven’t come within 13 points of their 2016 World Championships total. Duhamel went through “an unforeseeable circumstance” in her personal life in November that she chooses not to reveal.

They implemented the throw triple Axel, but Duhamel fell three times in a four-event stretch this fall. They lost by nearly 13 points at December’s Grand Prix Final, which ended with a Duhamel backstage meltdown.

“We never fell like that at home [in practice],” Duhamel said on the IceTalk podcast. “It started to shake us up a little bit.”

They replaced the throw triple Axel in their program. Without it in February, both skaters had trouble with jumps at Four Continents at the 2018 Olympic venue and finished nearly 13 points behind Sui and Han.

“We kind of went back to square one, to the drawing board after Four Continents, reassessing what’s gone on this season, why are we underperforming, why are we not succeeding in competition the way we are training,” Duhamel said.

They made program changes, notably on their throw and jump entrances and overhauling the footwork in their short program.

Duhamel adopted a rescue dog from South Korea. Radford, who had surgery over the summer to remove a cyst from his ankle bone, leaned on a sports psychologist.

“I personally feel a lot more relaxed and seemless,” Radford said. “That feeling has come a little bit later this season.”

Five pairs could take gold in Helsinki in perhaps the most wide-open event.

Germans Aliona Savchenko and (French-born) Bruno Massot won both of their fall Grand Prix events but missed the Grand Prix Final after she tore an ankle ligament. They returned to take silver at the European Championships in January with the best score of their two-year partnership.

Young Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov stepped up to win the Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual competition, and then the European Championships. But free-skate struggles have dogged them this season.

Another Russian pair, Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, are perhaps the biggest wild card. They missed the fall season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury, but then beat Tarasova and Morozov in their season debut at the Russian Championships. Stolbova fell on their throw triple flip in both programs at the European Championships in January, and they finished fourth.

Then there are Sui and Han, looking to break through for a first senior world title in their sixth try (though Sui is just 21 years old, and Han 24). They missed the fall season after Sui underwent right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring. They returned at Four Continents and posted personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

U.S. pairs Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim and Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier have both missed significant time due to injury in the last two years. They are behind the top pairs from Canada, China and Russia.

The U.S. hasn’t put a pair in the world championships top five since 2006, and that doesn’t figure to change next week.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Ashley Wagner knows pressure’s on her at worlds

NBC Sports researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

Ashley Caldwell will win or lose Olympic aerials gold with triples

AP
Leave a comment

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — As a teenager, Ashley Caldwell never had problems hanging with the boys when it came to doing the biggest flips off the aerials ramp. Now in her 20s, she sees no reason for that to change.

Caldwell will make or miss her third U.S. Olympic team, then potentially win or lose the gold medal in South Korea, by doing triple flips off the kicker while most of the women are doing doubles. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition that sets the bar high, and sends a certain message, regardless of whether she finishes first or last.

“It’s not just about trying to be there by myself,” Caldwell says. “It’s about maybe inspiring some younger girls to say, `I should be able to push to whatever I’m capable of doing, not necessarily what people say my gender is capable of doing.”‘

Caldwell never shirked from joining the teenage boys when they started moving to the bigger kickers and adding an extra flip to the doubles they did as kids.

Triples are the price of admission for the men, and while not unheard of among the women, the list of athletes who will try them is short: Jacqui Cooper, Alla Tsuper and Xu Mengtao are among the few who have tried them over the years. They’re also among the best to ever fly off a ramp.

At the Sochi Olympics, Lydia Lassila of Australia became the first woman to land a quadruple-twisting triple flip on snow in training. The next night, she brought it to the medals round, and though she touched her hand to the ground on the landing, she won a bronze medal anyway and stole the headlines.

“That’s who I’m inspired by,” Caldwell said that night. “She’s trying to push the sport so that girls are jumping like the boys, and she’s doing it, and it’s really impressive.”

At freestyle world championships earlier this month, Caldwell sent her message when she became the first woman to cleanly land that same triple-flipping, quadruple-twisting jump in competition (video here).

“It was the first time I had every coach come up to me and shake my hand before the score even came up,” said Todd Ossian, who works with Caldwell as head coach of the U.S. aerials team.

And yet, Caldwell was oh-so-close to not being able to even try that winning jump.

Aerials competitions go through a series of qualifying and elimination rounds that include only one jump each. Consistency is rewarded, and most women train a variety of double flips to make it through the rounds, then bring out their most intricate jump – more often than not, also a double – for when the medals are awarded.

Caldwell doesn’t go that route. She tries triples every time she steps onto the hill.

It adds extra – some might say unnecessary – risk to the early rounds. When the field was being cut from 12 to nine at world championships, for instance, Caldwell didn’t land her triple flip. She was able to squeak into the top nine and advance only because her degree of difficulty for the triple was so high.

“I’m OK sacrificing some good competition results to increase my consistency on the triple,” says Caldwell, giving a nod to the reality that training days on snow are precious and she needs to use them to focus on the jumps she’ll be performing when the contests start.

The recently ended season tested the limits of how much Caldwell was willing to sacrifice. In meet after meet, from Moscow to Minsk to an Olympic test event in South Korea, difficulties with the triple kept her far away from the podium. In the World Cup standings, Caldwell finished 10th.

To her, that’s more a badge of honor than a sign of failure. In a sport that oddly transforms daredevils into conformists, and rewards consistency over risk-taking, Caldwell plans to keep pushing anyway.

In doing triples, her mission is as much about winning as bringing others along for the ride.

“I want the crowd to feel like they know who won,” Caldwell said. “I want it to be impressive. I just want people to say, `That’s sweet. That’s what’s deserved.’ If a lot of girls are doing triples up there and I fall, there would still be a lot of girls who would do well. I’m cool with that. If I mess up, that’s OK. But I want the sport to look good.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Top U.S. aerials skier crashes hard at World Cup