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

Karen Chen breaks U.S. Champs scoring record; Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold trail

Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY — A skater broke the U.S. Championships women’s short program scoring record Thursday night, but it wasn’t Ashley Wagner or Gracie Gold.

Karen Chen, a 17-year-old former junior star who struggled the last two years, tallied 72.82 points at the Sprint Center to lead going into Saturday’s free skate (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian, is second, .87 of a point behind.

That leaves Wagner and Gold, who combined to win the last five U.S. titles, in third and fifth, respectively.

This is concerning for Wagner (1.88 behind Chen) and Gold (7.97 behind) given U.S. Figure Skating can send three women to worlds in two months. That selection will be made this weekend, primarily — but not totally — based off U.S. Championships results.

Tessa Hong is in fourth place, but at 14 years old is too young for senior worlds.

Full results are here.

Though Wagner and Gold are usually higher placed, the biggest surprise was Chen.

“My body’s still trembling right now,” she said, two hours after her performance.

Chen skated a clean program Thursday, rare for her in the last couple of seasons. Chen burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old two years ago, finishing third at nationals behind Wagner and Gold.

She was too young to be selected for the 2015 Worlds team. Little has been heard from Chen since.

She dropped to eighth at the 2016 U.S. Championships and came into Kansas City as the seventh-ranked U.S. woman this season. Struggling to find comfortable boots — a common skater problem — has plagued her. She went through 14 pairs in a four-month stretch.

“Everyone has doubts, and I certainly do as well,” said Chen, who choreographed her short program. “But I just kept pushing and telling myself that I’m gaining more experience, I’m learning about everything in the process and I’m just going to keep getting better.”

Wagner bounced back from her last outing — her worst Grand Prix finish in 25 career starts — with a decent program. She needed to save a double Axel near the end of her short. The 2016 World silver medalist was the pre-event favorite.

“People do not understand how difficult of a position I am in,” said Wagner, a 25-year-old bidding to become the oldest U.S. women’s champion in 90 years. “It might seem like I’m on top of the world, or second from being top of the world, but this is a very tough position to be in. It’s mentally been weighing on my shoulders all season. To be able to come out and show people I am a fighter, I’m really proud of that.”

Gold needed to show a fighting spirit given her well-publicized disaster of a fall season. And she did. Her only miss in the short program was doubling a planned triple flip.

“I can feel a huge improvement as a skater. I think everyone can see it,” Gold said. “I have made comebacks before. This doesn’t feel like a major comeback in some ways, because I felt pretty solid. … A long program is worth a lot of points, and I can certainly deliver some good long programs. I kind of feel like I’m due for a good one.”

If Gold doesn’t improve in the free skate, she could be left off the worlds team for the first time in her senior career. However, Gold believes her strong credentials in recent seasons merit consideration.

“We’ve seen different controversies where people aren’t on the [nationals] podium, and they’re still selected for events,” Gold said. “Michelle Kwan has not gone to nationals and been selected for an Olympic team [in 2006]. I believe that I deserve to be on the world team, but I’m not on the selection committee. Of course, every athlete feels like they should be on the world team.”

Earlier Thursday, the pairs short program produced surprise leaders.

The U.S. Championships continue Friday with the short dance and men’s short program. A full broadcast schedule is here.

MORE: U.S. Figure Skating boss wants Russia out of PyeongChang

Women’s Short Program
1. Karen Chen — 72.82
2. Mirai Nagasu — 71.95
3. Ashley Wagner — 70.94
4. Tessa Hong — 65.02
5. Gracie Gold — 64.85

 

Gwen Jorgensen pregnant, to sit out 2017 triathlon season

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20: USA's Gwen Jorgensen followed by Switzerland's Nicola Spirig Hug (L) compete in the running portion of the women's triathlon at Fort Copacabana during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.(Photo by Jeff Pachoud-Pool/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Olympic triathlon champion Gwen Jorgensen is pregnant and will not compete this year.

“Just kind of take this year a little bit easier,” Jorgensen said in a video posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The baby is due Aug. 3, according to Jorgensen’s social media.

Jorgensen, 30, became the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion in Rio after going in as the heavy favorite. She has said for months that she planned to take time off to have a baby before returning to defend her Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

Swiss Nicola Spirig, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 silver medalist, is reportedly expecting a child in May.

In Jorgensen and Spirig’s absences, the top triathletes going into the season are defending world champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, U.S. Olympians Katie Zaferes and Sarah True and Britons Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins.

Jorgensen’s last competition was the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, when she finished 14th in her first running race longer than 10 miles.

The World Triathlon Series kicks off in Abu Dhabi the first weekend of March.

MORE: Triathlon federation boss wants Olympic races shortened