Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps beats Ryan Lochte for first time since Olympics

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Michael Phelps notched another mark in his comeback, defeating Ryan Lochte for the first time since the London Olympics on Friday.

Phelps, in his fourth meet after a 20-month retirement, won a 100m butterfly in Athens, Ga., in 51.67 seconds. His longtime rival Lochte, in his first meet since April, took second in 53.08.

Phelps’ time made him the second fastest man in the event this year, according to SwimVortex.com. He improved by nearly a half-second on his 100m fly finals times from the first three meets of his comeback — 52.13, 52.13 and 52.11.

“I wanted to get under 52,” Phelps said. “I’m sick and tired of seeing 52.1. I guess it was what, seven hundredths off the No. 1 time in the world, so, I guess it’s a decent swim.

“I would have liked to have had the No. 1 time in the world.”

Phelps is the three-time reigning Olympic 100m fly champion, winning in 51.21 in London.

Phelps and Lochte raced once before this year, in a 100m fly in Phelps’ first return meet in April. There, Lochte won 51.93 to 52.13.

“I hope I lose,” Lochte said. “It will just make me more hungry. I hate to lose, and it pisses me off. [Phelps] swam a fantastic race [Friday]. It was really fast.”

Lochte is working his way back from aggravating a November knee injury in April. The 11-time Olympic medalist also won a 200m freestyle consolation final Friday.

Lochte clocked 1:48.69 in the 200m free, which would have placed fourth in the A final won by Olympic and World champion Yannick Agnel. Lochte missed the eight-man A final because he was 14th fastest in the morning preliminary heats. Phelps recorded a 1:48.2 in the 200m free on June 19.

The Bulldog Grand Slam continues Saturday with Phelps scheduled to swim the 100m backstroke. Phelps, Lochte and others are preparing for the U.S. Championships, Aug. 6-10 in Irvine, Calif., which serve as a selection meet for the Pan Pacific Championships, Aug. 21-24 in Gold Coast, Australia, and the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

“This is always a big summer for U.S. swimmers because we pick two teams,” Phelps said. “So, you really have to be ready this year. If you’re not, you’re pretty much sitting around until [2016] Olympic Trials.”

In other events Friday, five-time 2012 Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt won the women’s 200m free in 1:58.16, out-touching Olympic relay and former University of Georgia teammate Shannon Vreeland by .18.

Olympian Micah Lawrence took the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1:08.5, nearly one second slower than her best time this year. Nic Fink won the men’s race in 1:01.69.

Melanie Margalis won the women’s 400m individual medley in 4:39.84, making her the third-fastest American this year.

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Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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Maggie Nichols wins NCAA all-around title with perfect 10

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Even after a perfect 10 in the last rotation, Maggie Nichols didn’t know that she had won the NCAA all-around title. Her coach at Oklahoma, K.J. Kindler, had to tell her.

The reaction?

“Excitement,” Nichols said Friday night on ESPNU. “I just wanted to go out there and feel out the equipment, staying calm and doing my routines that I have been doing in training.”

Nichols, a 2015 World team champion who retired from elite gymnastics after missing the 2016 Olympic team (set back by a torn meniscus that year), became the first Sooner to win the NCAA all-around in 30 years.

The sophomore tallied 39.8125 points and topped Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner of Utah by .0875 for the title in St. Louis. It came one year after Nichols was 29th in the all-around with a balance beam fall.

Oklahoma and Utah will be joined in Saturday night’s Super Six team finals by UCLA, LSU, Florida and Nebraska. The Sooners eye their third straight national title.

Nichols capped her night with one of two perfect scores between the two semifinal sessions, matching 2012 Olympic alternate Elizabeth Price‘s 10 on uneven bars. It gave Nichols a second career gym slam, a perfect score on every apparatus for the season.

On Jan. 9, Nichols came forward as “Athlete A,” who first reported to USA Gymnastics that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar in summer 2015.

“She has had a really unique year probably like no one else, and her strength showed through,” Kindler said Friday, according to the University of Oklahoma. “It was tough, and to come out on this side this year is really special.”

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