John Orozco

American Cup gymnastics preview; TV schedule

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The summer Olympic sports season begins in earnest in March, starting Saturday with the biggest annual international gymnastics competition held in the U.S.

The American Cup in Greensboro, N.C., includes 2012 Olympians John Orozco and Sam Mikulak and Elizabeth Price and Brenna Dowell, who are in the (very) early running for 2016 Olympic spots.

The American Cup runs from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. ET on Saturday. The first 90 minutes will be streamed here. NBC will carry live coverage from 1-3 p.m.

How important is the American Cup? Take a look at past results.

In 2013, Katelyn Ohashi and Simone Biles went one-two in their senior international debuts. Ohashi, a product of the same gym as Olympic champions Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin, would miss the 2013 U.S. Championships and World Championships after an injury.

Biles stayed healthy, though, and won the U.S. Championship and was the most decorated gymnast at the World Championships — winning two gold medals, one silver and one bronze.

Biles, who is 16 and nursing a shoulder injury, will miss this year’s event and will move to a new gym, leaving the site she’s trained at since age 6.

2012 Olympian Jacob Dalton won the men’s competition in 2013 and went on to take floor exercise silver at the World Championships.

A better perspective for Olympic prospects might be the 2010 American Cup, two years before the London Olympics.

Rebecca Bross and Aly Raisman went one-two on the women’s side. Bross, a two-time world all-around medalist, was set up for a run at the 2012 Olympic Team before injuries struck.

Raisman went to be a leader of the gold-medal-winning 2012 Olympic Team and added two individual medals in London.

The men’s competition in 2010 went to Russian Maksim Devyatovskiy, who did not make the 2012 Olympic Team.

The 2014 U.S. Championships are Aug. 21-24 in Pittsburgh. The 2014 World Championships are in October in Nanning, China.

Here are the full American Cup fields:

Men
Sam Mikulak (USA)
John Orozco (USA)
Fabian Gonzalez (ESP)
Fabien Hambuechen (GER)
Andrey Likhovitskiy (BLR)
Shogo Nonomura (JPN)
Sam Oldham (GBR)
Daniel Purvis (GBR)
Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA)

Women
Brenna Dowell (USA)
Elizabeth Price (USA)
Carlotta Ferlito (ITA)
Vanessa Ferrari (ITA)
Victoria Moors (CAN)
Roxana Popa Nedelcu (ESP)
Sophie Scheder (GER)
Giulia Steingruber (SUI)

Winter Olympic champions make Wheaties boxes

Katie Ledecky wins by 19 seconds, breaks world swimming titles record

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Katie Ledecky convincingly broke the female record for swimming world titles.

But Lilly King tasted even sweeter victory, breaking a world record and dominating rival Yulia Efimova at the world championships in Budapest on Tuesday. Video of that showdown is here.

Ledecky clocked 15:31.82 to win the 1500m freestyle by a whopping 19 seconds at the Danube Arena, her 12th career world gold. Spain’s Mireia Belmonte took silver, followed by Italian Simona Quadarella. Ledecky owns the world record of 15:25.48 and the seven fastest times in history.

Ledecky, a 20-year-old rising Stanford sophomore, broke her tie with Missy Franklin for the most career world titles by a woman. The overall record is held by Michael Phelps, who won 26.

Fifty minutes after her 1500m free, Ledecky won her 200m free semifinal to make Wednesday’s final.

“It’s hard 364 of the other days of the year,” Ledecky said. “It’s putting in the work in practice, so that when I get to this day of the meet, I can just do it. It’s routine. I can just get up and know that I have the work in the bank to get up and swim those times.”

Ledecky has three gold medals so far this week, en route to a possible six, which would tie Franklin’s female record for golds at a single worlds.

In other events Tuesday, Lilly King handed Russian rival Yulia Efimova another beating in the 100m breast. This time, the finger-wagging King broke the world record.

Kylie Masse became the first Canadian woman to win a world swimming title after the nation previously took 18 combined silver and bronze medals. Masse broke the longest-standing women’s world record in swimming, the 100m backstroke, which had stood since 2009, with a time of 58.10.

American Kathleen Baker took silver in 58.58, followed by defending world champion Emily Seebohm of Australia.

China’s Sun Yang bagged his ninth career world title with his first crown in the 200m freestyle in 1:44.39. American Townley Haas took silver, .65 behind, followed by Russian Aleksandr Krasnykh.

In Rio, Sun became the first swimmer to win Olympic titles in the 200m, 400m and 1500m frees. Now, he’s the first man to complete the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m free set at worlds. Ledecky recorded that feat at a single worlds in 2015.

Canadian Xu Jiayu followed his Olympic silver medal with a gold in the 100m backstroke, edging 2012 Olympic champion Matt Grevers by .04. Rio gold medalist Ryan Murphy earned bronze.

Great Britain’s Adam Peaty broke his 50m breaststroke world record twice on Tuesday, in the preliminary heats and the semifinals. Peaty lowered the mark from 26.42 to 25.95 in the non-Olympic event.

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WORLDS: TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview | Schedule/Results

Lilly King beats Yulia Efimova again, breaks world record (video)

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Lilly King stared toward Yulia Efimova before the race. She glanced at her afterward.

In between, King handed her Russian rival another beating, this time in world-record fashion at the world championships in Budapest on Tuesday.

King won the 100m breaststroke in 1:04.13 to back up her finger-wagging Olympic 100m breast title with her first world title.

Countrywoman Katie Meili earned silver in 1:05.03, followed by Efimova getting bronze in 1:05.05.

“The rivalry is definitely there. I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon,” King said, according to The Associated Press. “Obviously, it’s very awkward between the two of us. We’re competitors. We don’t really like each other too much.”

King smashed the previous record of 1:04.35 held by Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte, but she didn’t exactly feel confident Tuesday afternoon.

“I was actually, like really freaking out when I got to the pool,” King told media in Budapest. “I was like very nervous. Then I got in for warm-up, and I felt a lot better. I was feeling very confident going into the race.”

Once on the pool deck, King looked very much the trash-talking Indiana Hoosier who in Rio said Efimova shouldn’t be allowed to compete for previously failing two drug tests.

After introductions Tuesday, King stood staring at the lane next to her, where Efimova happened to be. Efimova did not appear to reciprocate.

“It’s always going to be a showdown,” King said, noting how impressed she was by Efimova’s semifinal swim Monday, when the Russian missed the world record by .01 and finger-wagged after.

King smirked, got up on her block and swam the fastest first 50 meters by a half-second over Efimova.

As Efimova faded in the last 25 meters, King surged to the wall. She turned around, saw the scoreboard and slammed her right arm into the pool.

Then she looked ever so briefly toward Efimova’s lane, turned back and raised both of her arms in the air.

Efimova said afterward that last year’s loss hurt more, according to the AP.

“There’s still pressure from the media, but it’s more fun,” Efimova reportedly said. “The Olympic Games were the worst.”

King and Efimova are slated to go head to head again in finals of the 200m breaststroke (Friday) and 50m breaststroke (Sunday). They are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in both events this year.

Women’s 100m Breaststroke Results
Gold: Lilly King (USA) — 1:04.13

Silver: Katie Meili (USA) — 1:05:03
Bronze: Yulia Efimova (RUS) — 1:05.05
4. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) — 1:05.65
5. Shi Jinglin (CHN) — 1:06.43
6. Kierra Smith (CAN) — 1:06.90
7. Jessica Vall (ESP) — 1:06.95
8. Sarah Vasey (GBR) — 1:07.19

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WORLDS: TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview | Schedule/Results