Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin wins record-breaking sixth gold medal; U.S. men DQ’d in medley relay at world championships

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Missy Franklin ended the world swimming championships with a history-making title, while Ryan Lochte was left with a familiar feeling of disappointment in Barcelona on Sunday.

Franklin led off the U.S. women’s 4×100-meter medley relay in her signature stroke, the backstroke, giving the Americans a lead they would only build on. Jessica HardyDana Vollmer and Megan Romano took their turns on the way to a 3-minute, 53.23-second finish, two seconds better than silver medalist Australia.

“I’m not really sure where that came from, but I’m really happy with that,” Franklin said, according to The Associated Press. “I knew I had to get out there for my team. We had really tough competition in that race, so we were sitting there in the ready room and we said, ‘No matter what happens, we’re just going to do our best and have fun and we can’t let each other down if we do that.’ So I just went out there and it hurt really, really bad, but now we’re done and we’re all super excited.”

It marked Franklin’s sixth gold of the meet, breaking her tie with American Tracy Caulkins, East German Kristin Otto and Australian Libby Trickett for most golds won by a woman at a single world championships. Otto holds the record for most golds won at an Olympics, six at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Franklin, 18, also stands alone with the most career world championships gold medals by a woman (nine). She keeps getting better. She won three golds at her first world championships in 2011 and four golds at the 2012 Olympics. She and another U.S. teen, Katie Ledecky, a quadruple gold medalist with two world records, were the stars of the eight days at the Palau Sant Jordi. Ledecky was named female swimmer of the meet.

Lochte’s meet could have gone better. Three golds and one silver is nothing to pout about, but it’s also his least fruitful major international meet since the 2008 Olympics.

Lochte appeared to win gold No. 4 in the men’s medley relay. The U.S. touched first by 1.45 seconds, but the Americans were disqualified because Kevin Cordes took off for the second leg too early (by the smallest margin possible, .01).

“A relay disqualification is not a particular individual’s fault,” said Nathan Adrian, who swam the anchor leg, according to the AP. “It’s Team USA’s fault and it falls on all of our shoulders.

“If us four ever step up again, we’re never going to have a disqualification, that’s for sure. It will really motivate him. I don’t doubt if in the next couple years we’re going to have the fastest breaststroker in the world swimming for Team USA. This could be a catalyst for that.”

It was eerily similar to what happened the only other time Lochte was on the medley relay at a major international meet. In 2007, Ian Crocker left .01 too early on the butterfly leg in the preliminary heat. Memorably, this cost Michael Phelps an eighth gold medal at those worlds before he went eight for eight at the Beijing Olympics. Lochte swam the leadoff backstroke on that relay heat.

The U.S. easily won the medal table at the pool (29 medals, 13 golds). Australia and China were second with 13 medals and five golds, respectively. The U.S. also won 29 medals at the 2011 worlds but had more golds (16).

But the best comparison is to the last world championships held the year after the Olympics. The U.S. surpassed its medal haul from 2009, 22 medals and 10 golds, when Phelps was on the roster. It’s clear the U.S. will get along fine with Phelps out of the picture (whether that’s for good or a finite period of time). Franklin, Ledecky and Lochte are now a three-pronged face of USA Swimming.

Also Sunday, Chase Kalisz, 19, took silver in his only event at his first worlds, the 400 individual medley. Matt Grevers (50 back), Jessica Hardy (50 breast) and Elizabeth Beisel (400 IM) all won bronze medals.

Chinese superstar Sun Yang became the second man to sweep the distance freestyles in winning the 1,500 free, and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu swept the individual medleys by touching first in the 400 IM. Sun was named the male swimmer of the meet.

Scroll down for full results, analysis and quotes from the final day of the world swimming championships. Check out full coverage on NBC from 4-6 p.m. Eastern time, too.

Full results

Men’s 50 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.42
Silver: Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.54
Silver: Matt Grevers (USA) 24.54
4. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.58
5. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 24.76
6. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.87
7. Jonatan Kopolev (ISR) 25.14
8. Guy Barnea (ISR) 25.19

Summary
Lacourt adds this gold to his 2011 co-world title with Stravius in the 100 back and his 2011 silver in the 50 back. Stravius completes his medal set (also gold in 4×100 free relay, bronze in 100 back). Grevers adds silver to his gold in the 100 back. He still has the leadoff leg in the 4×100 medley relay to come.

Women’s 50 Breaststroke

Results
Gold: Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.52
Silver: Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 29.59
Bronze: Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.80
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 29.95
5. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.23
6. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 30.72
7. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 31.31
Petra Chicova (CZE) DSQ

Summary
Efimova, who held the world record for eight hours Saturday, came within .04 of the mark set by Meilutyte in the semifinals. Hardy equaled her American record, which was the world record about 33 hours ago. Hardy added her second bronze of the meet, also getting third in the 100 breast. Larson went under 30 seconds for the first time.

Men’s 400 Individual Medley

Results
Gold: Daiya Seto (JPN) 4:08.69

Silver: Chase Kalisz (USA) 4:09.22
Bronze: Thiago Pereira (BRA) 4:09.48
4. Tyler Clary (USA) 4:10.39
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 4:10.77
6. David Verraszto (HUN) 4:13.68
7. Dan Wallace (GBR) 4:13.72
8. Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) 4:17.46

Summary
Hagino, 18, opened up a two-second-plus lead after 200 meters. His teammate Seto made up the deficit, led after 300 and came home for a surprise gold. Kalisz, 19, in his only event of his first world championships, came back from fourth at 300 to sneak in for silver. It’s only the second time in the last 14 world championships or Olympics that an American did not win the 400 IM.

Women’s 50 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 24.05
Silver: Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.14
Bronze: Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.30
4. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.45
5. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 24.66
5. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.66
7. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.80
8. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.81

Summary
Kromowidjojo, the Olympic champion, upset the Australian Cate Campbell, who was the top qualifier, fastest woman in the world this year and only woman in the field who has gone sub-24. Campbell had the slowest reaction time in the field and couldn’t recover. With Halsall’s bronze, Britain avoids going medal-less a year after hosting the Olympics. The American Manuel, 17, lowered her personal best for the third straight swim.

“I think I should have gone faster,” Kromowidjojo, who matched her personal best time from the Olympic final, told Eurosport.

Men’s 1,500 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) 14:41.15

Silver: Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 14:42.48
Bronze: Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 14:45.37
4. Connor Jaeger (USA) 14:47.96
5. Michael McBroom (USA) 14:53.95
6. Jordan Harrison (AUS) 15:00.44
7. Pal Joensen (FAR) 15:03.10
8. Daniel Fogg (GBR) 15:05.92

Summary
Sun is giving Lochte a run for his money as the world’s best male swimmer. He became the second man to sweep the distance freestyles at a world championships, joining Australian Grant Hackett. Sun also won bronze in the 4×200 free relay, posting the second fastest split of all time. It really makes you wonder where Sun could have finished had he entered the individual 200 free, where Lochte took fourth.

Sun, 22, is now the current Olympic champion in the 400 and 1,500 (the 800 isn’t part of the Olympic program), the current world champion in the 400, 800 and 1,500 and the world record holder in the 1,500. He absolutely toyed with Cochrane in this final. Cochrane led Sun by a tenth at the 800 mark, and even paced at 1,400, before Sun decided to take it up a notch. The Canadian held on for his fourth straight silver in the 1,500 at a worlds or Olympics. Jaeger had won bronze in the 400 free; McBroom silver in the 800 free.

Women’s 400 Individual Medley Final

Results
Gold: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 4:30.41

Silver: Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 4:31.21
Bronze: Elizabeth Beisel (USA) 4:31.69
4. Maya DiRado (USA) 4:32.70
5. Hannah Miley (GBR) 4:34.16
6. Szuszanna Jakabos (HUN) 4:34.50
7. Ye Shiwen (CHN) 4:38.51
8. Miyu Otsuka (JPN) 4:39.21

Summary
Hosszu was 2.16 seconds under world record pace at 300 meters but couldn’t get it due to Ye’s extraordinary final 100 in her world record at the 2012 Olympics, where she outsplit Lochte on the final 50. Hosszu became the first woman to sweep the individual medleys at a world championships since American Katie Hoff in 2005 and 2007. Belmonte Garcia won her third medal of the meet (silver, 200 butterfly, bronze 200 IM). Ye gained 11 pounds after the Olympics and went medal-less in Barcelona, swimming 10 seconds slower in this final than the Olympics. Beisel was the defending world champion and Olympic silver medalist. DiRado knocked almost two seconds off her personal best at her first world championships.

“I feel awful,” Hosszu told Eurosport. “It actually hurt more than ever before. After the morning, I was a little bit concerned because the morning hurt pretty bad, too.”

Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay

Results
Gold: France 3:31.51

Silver: Australia 3:31.64
Bronze: Japan 3:32.26
4. Russia 3:32.74
5. Germany 3:33.97
6. Italy 3:34.06
7. Hungary 3:34.09
United States DSQ

Summary
The U.S., which touched the wall first, was disqualified because of world championships rookie Kevin Cordes leaving too early on the second leg. His reaction time of -.04 was the exact same reaction time Ian Crocker had in 2007, the last time the U.S. was DQ’d from this event at a major international meet. In 2007, that was .01 too fast. That was also the only other time Lochte was a part of this relay. 

Grevers, the 100 backstroke world and Olympic champion, gave the U.S. a two tenths lead after 100. Cordes, 19, seventh in the 100 breast final, dropped behind Australia (and world champion Christian Sprenger) by .34. Lochte, seventh in the 100 butterfly, retook the lead by .75, with France moving ahead of Australia. Adrian, the bronze medalist in the 100 free, had no problem holding onto (and extending) that lead.

But the gold goes to France, the first time a nation other than the U.S. or Australia won this event at a worlds or Olympics.

Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay

Results
Gold: United States 3:53.23

Silver: Australia 3:55.22
Bronze: Russia 3:56.47
4. China 3:57.30
5. Japan 3:58.06
6. Great Britain 3:58.67
7. Canada 4:00.19
8. Germany 4:01.81

Summary
Franklin, the world champ in the 100 back, gave the U.S. a .31 lead after the first 100 meters. Hardy, bronze medalist in the 100 breast, upped it to 1.91 seconds over Russia (Austraila is really weak on breast). Volllmer, the bronze medalist in the 100 fly, brought it to a 3.24 lead over Russia. Even Cate Campbell, the 100 free gold medalist for Australia, couldn’t catch American Megan Romano.

Franklin earned a record-breaking sixth gold medal at a single world championships. No woman had won more than five previously. The U.S. swept all three women’s relays in Barcelona, the first time one nation had ever done that.

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Female runners with high testosterone face new restriction

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Female runners with high testosterone must reduce those levels or will not be allowed in international races between 400m and the mile, according to an IAAF rule starting Nov. 1.

Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya, who was gender tested in 2009, is expected to be affected, according to South Africa’s Olympic Committee.

“Our evidence and data show that testosterone, either naturally produced or artificially inserted into the body, provides significant performance advantages in female athletes,” IAAF president Seb Coe said in a press release. “The revised rules are not about cheating, no athlete with a DSD [difference of sexual development] has cheated, they are about leveling the playing field to ensure fair and meaningful competition.”

The IAAF, after funding a study along with the World Anti-Doping Agency, said research showed the following natural testosterone levels:

Most women: .12-1.79 nanomoles per liter in blood
Normal men after puberty: 7.7-29.4 nmol/L

The IAAF rule forces all women who race the 400m through mile and who are androgen-sensitive to restrict their ratio to below five. It said women who have “a difference of sexual development” can have natural testosterone levels beyond the normal male range.

The IAAF and WADA-funded study found that women with high testosterone have up to a 4.5 percent advantage over their competition on the track.

Research showed 7.1 of every 1,000 elite female track and field athletes have elevated testosterone, most of which were runners in events between 400m and the mile.

“The treatment to reduce testosterone levels is a hormone supplement similar to the contraceptive pill taken by millions of women around the world,” an IAAF doctor said in the release. “No athlete will be forced to undergo surgery.”

The IAAF had gender-verification testing in place until 2011, when it was replaced with a test for abnormally high levels of natural testosterone. Under that rule, female athletes with a ratio of 10 nmol/L or higher could only compete against women if they had an operation or took hormones to reduce their testosterone level.

In July 2015, the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) suspended the IAAF’s regulation, ruling that it lacked sufficient scientific backing and was therefore unjustifiably discriminatory.

The gender-testing issue was raised in 2009, when Semenya won the world 800m title by nearly 2.5 seconds at age 18. Word leaked that track officials mandated she undergo sex testing.

Semenya was not cleared to run for 11 months and came back to earn silver at the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics, while the testosterone-limiting rule was in effect, behind Russian Maria Savinova, who has since been stripped of her golds for doping.

Semenya then had a lull in performance after the London Games while the testosterone-limiting rule was still in effect. After CAS suspended the rule in 2015, Semenya peaked again in 2016, going undefeated in 800m races, twice breaking the national record and comfortably winning Olympic gold.

Semenya has never spoken publicly in detail about her situation. It has never been publicly verified that Semenya’s body naturally produces abnormally high levels of testosterone or that she ever took hormone suppressants.

An image with the sentence, “How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged,” was posted on Semenya’s social media Wednesday after reports were first published about the new rule.

Her default position is generally to talk only about her running, but she spoke out against her critics in a speech after accepting South Africa’s Sportswoman of the Year in November 2016.

“They say she talks like a man, she walks like a man, she runs like a man,” Semenya said, before finishing off the series with an Afrikaans word that loosely translates to “Get lost.”

South Africa’s Olympic Committee president Gideon Sam said Thursday his organization was “disappointed by the IAAF ruling.”

“Especially given that Caster’s name is again being dragged through the publicity mill,” he said in a press release. “We are concerned that the decisions have been approved without taking into account all factors into consideration, as these factors have not been properly nor fully ventilated. We wish to place on record that Caster Semenya has never engaged in any performance-enhancing activities and any enhanced testosterone levels are due solely to her genetic make-up.”

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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Olympic pairs champions take indefinite break

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Aljona Savchenko, the Olympic pairs champion with Bruno Massot, said they are taking an indefinite break from competition, according to German press agency DPA.

Savchenko and Massot will perform in ice shows next fall and winter, which could preclude them from competing in major events like the Grand Prix season (late October to early December) and the European Championships in January.

The German pair followed their title in PyeongChang with a world title last month, breaking a four-year-old world-record score and winning by the largest margin (20.31 points) in pairs at an Olympics or worlds since the 6.0 system was replaced 14 years ago.

Savchenko, 34 and a five-time Olympian, became the oldest Olympic pairs gold medalist. She then claimed her 11th world medal — tying the female record held by Norwegian singles legend Sonja Henie — and sixth world title — tying Soviet Alexander Zaitsev for second on the all-time pairs list, four behind Irina Rodnina.

The French-born Massot, 29, competed in his first Olympics in PyeongChang and earned his first world title. Savchenko’s previous five world titles came with now-retired Robin Szolkowy.

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