Olympic champions tie in 100m freestyle on final day of Charlotte Grand Prix

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Anthony Ervin and Yannick Agnel are separated by 11 years in age and 12 years in Olympic gold medals, but they were identical in the 100m freestyle at the Charlotte Grand Prix on Sunday.

Ervin, the 2000 Olympic 50m free champion, and Agnel, the 2012 Olympic 200m free champion, both clocked 49.51 seconds to share victory on the final day of the meet at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center.

“I felt great that first 50,” said the tattooed Ervin, 32, who led at the turn. “Wheels started coming off about halfway [on the second 50 meters].”

Agnel, 21, and a training partner of Michael Phelps, made his first big splash of the meet after being disqualified following the 200m free preliminaries for a false start Friday.

“I put everything in that last 50, and I’m glad that went well,” Agnel said.

Katinka Hosszu closed the meet with two more wins, giving the Hungarian six total over three days.

Hosszu, the reigning world champion in both individual medleys, crushed the 200m IM field by 2.37 seconds in 2:10.80. She came back 15 minutes later and prevailed by a body length in the 200m backstroke over American Megan Romano in 2:10.12.

“I can barely stand here, but it feels so good that I was able to double here tonight,” Hosszu said on the pool deck shortly after the 200m back.

Five-time 2012 Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt won the women’s 100m free in 54.65, her second freestyle victory in as many days.

Olympic champion Tyler Clary was beaten in the 200m back by three-time Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin. Vyatchanin, who is looking for a new country to represent, possibly the U.S., clocked 1:55.33, making him No. 5 in the world this year.

Denmark’s Lotte Friis, the closest thing Katie Ledecky has to a rival in the distance freestyles, held off 16-year-old American Becca Mann to win the 800m free in 8:26.16. Mann came in at 8:26.43 without Ledecky in the field.

Brazilian Thiago Pereira captured the men’s 200m IM in 1:58.44. Pereira, who won bronze in both IMs at the 2013 World Championships, topped Americans Conor Dwyer (2:00.06) and Chase Kalisz (2:00.80).

Connor Jaeger won the grueling 1500m free by 11 seconds in 15:11.46.

The USA Swimming Grand Prix series wraps up with the Santa Clara Grand Prix in California from June 19-22 with Phelps expected as a headliner. The U.S. Championships and the year’s biggest international meet, the Pan Pacific Championships, are in August.

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Alina Zagitova eyes more gold at worlds; women’s preview

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Alina Zagitova hasn’t lost internationally in 18 months, and that doesn’t figure to change this week at the world championships in Milan.

The 15-year-old Russian is favored to become the youngest world gold medalist since Tara Lipinski (duplicating her feat from the Olympics) and make it five straight Olympic or world titles for Russian women, the longest streak for one country since American Carol Heiss won six straight Olympic/world titles from 1956 through 1960.

Zagitova would also become the first Olympic women’s champion to win worlds the following month since Kristi Yamaguchi in 1992. That’s largely because Olympic champions usually skip worlds in Olympic years. Since Yamaguchi, the only one to compete was Yuna Kim, who grabbed silver in 2010.

Zagitova may be young, but she may not have the longevity of Kim to make it to a second Olympics. Russia turns over a new class of elite women’s skaters every year.

Two weeks ago, 13-year-old Alexandra Trusova won the world junior title as the first woman to land two different quadruple jumps in one program. Trusova isn’t old enough to compete at the senior worlds until 2020.

Zagitova’s current rival and training partner, Olympic silver medalist and 2016 and 2017 World champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, withdrew from worlds due to injury.

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Which leaves the last two Olympic bronze medalists, Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada and Carolina Kostner of Italy, plus PyeongChang fourth-place finisher Satoko Miyahara of Japan as the top challengers this week.

None finished within seven points of Zagitova at any competition this season, the Russian’s first on the senior international level.

Zagitova set herself apart at the Olympics by putting all of her jumps in the second half of her programs for 10 percent bonuses and landing them all with positive grades of execution.

The U.S. contingent includes national champion Bradie Tennell, two-time Olympian Mirai Nagasu and Mariah Bell (replacement for 2017 U.S. champion Karen Chen).

It is the end of a challenging season for U.S. women. In the autumn, none qualified for the Grand Prix Final for a second straight year (after at least one had done so each of the previous seven seasons).

In PyeongChang, no U.S. woman finished in the top six for the first time in Winter Games history. Tennell, who emerged this season after placing ninth at 2017 Nationals, was the top U.S. Olympic finisher in ninth.

Tennell goes into worlds as the top seeded American — seventh — by best international scores this season.

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Olympic golf qualifying, format largely unchanged for 2020

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympic golf tournaments qualifying and format will remain largely the same as they were for the sport’s return to the Games in 2016, according to Golf Channel, citing a memo sent to PGA Tour players.

The format will again be four rounds of stroke play with 60 men and 60 women taken from the world rankings, according to the report.

The qualifying window to determine the rankings will be July 1, 2018 to June 22, 2020 for men and July 8, 2018 to June 29, 2020 for women. That’s a slight change, as for 2016 the dates were the same for men and women.

The 2016 process saw a maximum of two men and two women per country, or up to four if they were ranked in the top 15.

Then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said one month after the Rio Games that he hoped the Olympic golf format would be changed to have more medals awarded.

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