Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps takes third; Conor Dwyer takes BMW

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Michael Phelps‘ loss at the Santa Clara Grand Prix was a big, big gain for training partner Conor Dwyer.

Dwyer erased a .25 of a second deficit on Phelps in the final 50 meters to win the 200m individual medley on Sunday, the meet’s final day. Phelps, in his third meet since taking 20 months off after the 2012 Olympics, fell to third behind Chase Kalisz.

Dwyer out touched Kalisz, 1:59.49 to 1:59.53 (video here). Phelps came in at 1:59.76 in his first 200m IM final since winning his third straight Olympic gold in the event in London.

The victory carried added significance for Dwyer. NBC Olympics and Universal Sports analyst Rowdy Gaines informed Dwyer before the final that if he won he would earn an extra $20,000 and a one-year use of a BMW as the overall Grand Prix series champion.

“I’m never racing for money, but I guess it was a nice reminder,” Dwyer said on Universal Sports. “A little extra incentive right there.”

Phelps swam more at the Santa Clara Grand Prix than at his previous two comeback meets combined. He also tied for the win in the 100m butterfly and finished second to the Olympic champions in the 100m and 200m freestyles.

“He’s light years ahead of where we started,” said Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, according to the San Jose Mercury News. “It’s only going to get better.”

Time will tell if Phelps goes with these four events moving forward, but he’s already among the top Americans two months into his competitive comeback. Here’s where he ranks on U.S. lists for 2014:

100m Freestyle
1. Nathan Adrian — 48.08
2. Michael Phelps — 48.8

200m Freestyle
1. Conor Dwyer — 1:47.86
2. Michael Phelps — 1:48.2

100m Butterfly
1. Ryan Lochte — 51.93
T2. Michael Phelps — 52.11
T2. Tom Shields — 52.11

200m IM
1. Conor Dwyer — 1:59.49
2. Chase Kalisz — 1:59.53
3. Michael Phelps — 1:59.76

U.S. swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in Irvine, Calif., from Aug. 6-10 and the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, later in August.

Phelps could compete again before Nationals, reportedly in Athens, Ga., in three weeks.

In other finals Sunday, Missy Franklin notched her second victory in four events this weekend, earning the 100m backstroke title in 1:00.99 (video here). She also won the 200m free and was third in the 200m back Saturday and second in the 100m free Friday.

Franklin, who became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships last year, veered toward the edge of her lane line like she did in the 200m back Saturday.

“I happy I didn’t slam into it like I did last night,” said a smiling, laughing Franklin, a rising sophomore at California. “So I’ll totally take it.”

Three-time Russian Olympian Arkady Vyatchanin, who may soon switch countries, beat Olympic champion Matt Grevers in the 100m back, 54.34 to 54.95.

Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz won the 200m IM in 2:12.61.

U.S. champion Kevin Cordes completed a breaststroke sweep, capturing the 100m breast in 1:00.91. Laura Sogar prevailed in the women’s 100m breast in 1:09.15.

Two-time South African Olympian Sebastien Rousseau took the men’s 200m butterfly in 1:58.50. Venezuelan Olympian Adreina Pinto won the women’s 200m fly in 2:10.59.

Rising college freshman Cierra Runge won the women’s 800m free in 8:26.71.

Katie Ledecky breaks another world record Sunday

14 Olympic silver medalists with best chances for gold in Rio

Silver medalists
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The difference between winning and losing can be minuscule. Olympic gold could have easily been silver if not for an inch here or another second there.

While some athletes can seemingly win gold every time they step into competition, other Olympians are left collecting silver. They’re still remarkable athletes, but gold eludes them.

Some of the world’s best have another shot (for some, their last) at claiming the cherished Olympic gold medal over the next few weeks in Rio. Here are 14 such athletes to watch, in no particular order:

Tony Azevedo, United States, water polo
He’ll become the first five-time Olympian in U.S. water polo history, and he was born in and resides in Rio. It’d be a great place for Azevedo to win his first Olympic gold medal. The U.S. won silver in 2008 before a disappointing eighth-place result four years ago. The American men aren’t favored for gold like their female counterparts, but after taking second in the 2016 FINA World League, they’ve got a shot. Maybe Azevedo’s last shot.

Jordan Larson, United States, volleyball
The third-leading scorer for the U.S. women in 2012 as they fell to Brazil in the second consecutive Olympic gold-medal match, Larson will be just one of four women in Rio from that silver-medal squad. They’re favored to win the first Olympic gold for U.S. women’s indoor volleyball, being the top-ranked team in the world and reigning world champions. But to get that gold, Larson and the U.S. will likely need to take down Brazil in front of their raucous home crowd.

April Ross, United States, beach volleyball
She took silver at the London Games with partner Jen Kessy, losing to compatriots Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings in the final. But Ross is now teamed up with Walsh Jennings, who’s looking for her fourth straight Olympic gold medal. They’ll be the No. 3 seed in Rio –behind two Brazilian teams who, again, will have a boisterous crowd on their side.

Sarah Hammer, United States, cycling
She left London four years ago with two silver medals, but heads to Rio with two chances to grab gold. Hammer placed second the omnium and was on the women’s team pursuit unit that placed runner-up to Great Britain. But Hammer and three new teammates are the reigning team pursuit world champions. She also took bronze at the 2016 Worlds in omnium, so gold in that event in Rio wouldn’t be out of the question either.

Neymar, Brazil, soccer
He was supposed to get his gold in London, but the star-studded Brazilian side was shocked by Mexico, 2-1, in the final. So Neymar is back, competing as one of his team’s three over-23 players, seeking Brazil’s first Olympic gold in soccer (men or women). He was second on the squad with three goals in London; more in Rio would help his nation end the drought.

Marta, Brazil, soccer
A five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Marta is a two-time Olympic silver medalist. She helped Brazil to runner-up status in 2004 and ’08, before struggling to sixth in 2012. The U.S. won each of those gold medals, as well as the 2015 World Cup (where Brazil was eliminated in the round of 16), leaving it as the decided favorite for Rio. But Brazil seeks its first Olympic soccer gold medal, playing the country’s most popular sport in front of the world’s most passionate fans, so Marta and Brazil certainly have a shot.

Alison Cerutti, Brazil, beach volleyball
He nearly had gold in London with beach legend Emmanuel Rego, but the Brazilians fell in the third set in the final to a German pair. Now, Alison has Bruno Oscar Schmidt by his side and the reigning world champions will be the No. 1 men’s seed on home sand at Copacabana Beach.

Yohan Blake, Jamaica, track and field
The runner-up to compatriot Usain Bolt in both the 100m and 200m four years ago, Blake did win a gold medal with Bolt on his team in the 4x100m relay. But he’s never won individual Olympic gold. He owns world championship gold, as Blake took the 100m at the 2011 Worlds after Bolt was disqualified for a false start. But Bolt may be at his most vulnerable in his Olympic career, so Blake, three years younger, hopes to capitalize.

Anita Włodarczyk, Poland, track and field
She’s the world record holder in hammer throw and favored for gold as the reigning world champion, especially considering the defending Olympic champion is Russian and won’t be present in Rio. Tatyana Lysenko won gold in London after defeating Wlodarczyk by .58 of a meter, but her country’s doping scandal will keep her home.

Caster Semenya, South Africa, track and field
Known for a gender-testing controversy that has followed her since 2009, Semenya is the favorite in the women’s 800m, and she could race the 400m too. She took silver in the 800m at the London Games, finishing behind Russian Mariya Savinova and ahead of Russian Ekaterina Poistogova. Neither of those women will be in Rio due to Russia’s doping scandal. Semenya owns three of the four fastest 800m times this year.

Laszlo Cseh, Hungary, swimming
Were it not for a guy named Michael Phelps, Cseh would’ve won three gold medals at the 2008 Games. Instead, he owns five career Olympic medals (three silver, two bronze) all in races won by Phelps. But Phelps enters his final Olympics not nearly as intense as in years past. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, but Cseh has a shot at knocking off Phelps in the 100m and 200m butterfly. Phelps holds the best time in the 100m since 2013 (50.45) while Cseh is third (50.86); Cseh owns the best time in the 200m since 2013 (1:52.91) while Phelps is second (1:52.94).

Qiu Bo, China, diving
Of the eight diving events at the Olympics, China won gold in six at the 2012 Games and claimed silver in the other two. Qiu Bo was one of the two to take second, as he was edged by American David Boudia in the 10m platform. Qiu has since earned gold at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds, relegating Boudia to silver both times. The two should do battle again in Rio.

Pau Gasol, Spain, basketball
Gasol’s chances of obtaining gold are slim considering the U.S. men’s dominance in international hoops, but Spain’s chances of cracking Team USA are better than anyone else’s. Spain has met the U.S. in the past two Olympic finals and actually stayed with the Americans until the fourth quarter both times. The 2016 U.S. team is thought to be its weakest since 2004, though it’s still heavily favored.

Lee Chong Wei, Malaysia, badminton
Lee owns two silver medals after losing in the 2008 and ’12 Olympic finals. He also holds three silver medals from world championships, falling in the final at the past three such competitions (2011, ’13 and ’15). Lee was knocked off by China’s Lin Dan in four of those events, including both Olympics, and by China’s Chen Long at the 2015 Worlds. But his hope for Olympic breakthrough comes from these rivals’ most recent meeting at the 2016 Asian Championships – Lee took out Lin in the semis and defeated Chen in the final. Lee will be the No. 1 seed in Rio.

MORE: Rio Olympics schedule highlights, daily events to watch

Anderson Varejao will miss Olympics

Anderson Varejao
AP
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One of Brazil’s most recognizable Olympians (to a U.S. audience, at least) will miss the Rio Games.

Golden State Warriors big man Anderson Varejao will miss the Olympics due to a back injury, the NBA team said Wednesday.

The Brazil men’s basketball team is now down two of its top four scorers from the 2012 Olympics.

The team was already without Atlanta Hawks big man Tiago Splitter, who underwent NBA season-ending hip surgery in February.

Splitter and Varejao were the third- and fourth-leading scorers on Brazil’s 2012 Olympic team that was eliminated in the quarterfinals after not qualifying for the Games in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Brazil’s Olympic roster includes four other NBA players — Leandro Barbosa, Marcelo HuertasNenê and Raul Neto.

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