Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps beats Ryan Lochte again in Athens

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Michael Phelps notched his second win in as many days over Ryan Lochte in the fourth meet of his comeback after a 20-month retirement.

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals, won a 100m backstroke race in 53.88 seconds in Athens, Ga., on Saturday. Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, touched second in 54.4.

Phelps’ victory in an event neither usually swims at major meets came one day after he beat Lochte by a comfortable 1.41 seconds in a 100m butterfly race.

Butterfly has always been Phelps’ signature stroke, while Lochte has more backstroke experience. Lochte is the reigning World champion in the 200m back. But Lochte is coming back from an aggravation of a major November knee injury, competing for the first time since April.

Phelps’ time ranks No. 14 in the world this year and third among Americans, according to SwimVortex.com.

Phelps is expected to swim the 100m freestyle on the final day of the meet Sunday.

Swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in Irvine Calif., Aug. 6-10, and the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, from Aug. 21-24.

In other events, 2013 World 400m individual medley silver medalist Chase Kalisz won the 200m butterfly, a former Phelps staple, in 1:58.09, making him the third-fastest American this year. Olympic 200m backstroke champion Tyler Clary was second in 1:58.96.

Olympian Cammile Adams won the women’s 200m fly in 2:08.45, improving to 13th in the world this year.

Brazil’s second-best sprinter, Bruno Fratus, won the 50m freestyle in 22.09, .26 faster than U.S. Olympic silver medalist Cullen Jones. Two-time Bahamian Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace took the women’s 50m free in 24.67, .69 slower than the fastest woman this year.

Melanie Margalis upset World bronze medalist Micah Lawrence in the 200m breaststroke, clocking 2:27.06, still more than two seconds slower than Lawrence’s U.S.-best time this year.

Nic Fink won the men’s 200m breast in 2:11.76 and Kathleen Baker, 17, the 100m back in 1:00.65, both the fastest times by an American in 2014.

Cierra Runge won the women’s 400m free in 4:07.67, improving on her time as the second-fastest American behind Katie Ledecky this year.

Ian Thorpe reveals he is gay

Jennie Finch to manage baseball team for one day

Jennie Finch
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Athens Olympic softball champion Jennie Finch will manage the Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent minor-league baseball team on Sunday and, reportedly, become the first woman to manage a men’s pro baseball team.

Finch, a pitcher, retired from softball in 2010, two years after her sport’s Olympic farewell in Beijing, where she and the U.S. took silver behind Japan.

Finch has been an advocate for softball’s return to the Olympics, which could happen in Tokyo 2020.

The International Olympic Committee is expected to decide in August if baseball and softball, among four other sports, will be added for the Tokyo Games.

Finch, who is married to former MLB pitcher Casey Daigle, is also known for having struck out Albert Pujols.

MORE: Jennie Finch, Lisa Fernandez weigh in on Mo’ne Davis

Looking fwd to guest managing the Bridgeport Bluefish this Sunday! ⚾️ #Baseball #BridgeportBluefish

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Justin Gatlin, alter ego trailed by film crew for documentary

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Justin Gatlin swears he’s not as bad as he’s made out to be.

He calls his alter ego “J Gat.” And that’s someone you don’t want to mess with.

Before a race, the mild-mannered American sprinter says he transforms himself into the feisty guy named “J Gat,” a nickname he’s given to a version of himself that wants to take over the world from archrival Usain Bolt. Their rivalry heading into the Rio de Janeiro Olympics has sometimes been portrayed as “Good vs. Evil” given Gatlin’s doping history.

“I don’t accept myself being the bad guy,” Gatlin said. “I’m a winner. I’m a competitor. I’m a brave person. I’m a good person. I know this about myself and I have to act like that.”

“J Gat” to the rescue. He runs with fury and looks “mean and intimidating” when caught on camera after races.

That’s not the real Justin Gatlin.

“Justin has only gotten as far as starting line. After the gun goes off, it’s never Justin. It’s always as ‘J Gat,'” Gatlin said. “I’m a whole different person away from track.”

To illustrate that, Gatlin is making a documentary. The 34-year-old will have a film crew trailing him around at the Prefontaine Classic this weekend in Eugene, Ore., to record his every move.

One caveat: Stay out of the way of “J Gat.” You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. (Case in point: gesturing toward a heckler who was bothering his mother in the stands during the awards ceremony at Worlds last summer).

“A lot of athletes get consumed by the Hollywood lights,” said Gatlin, who will face a 100m field at Pre that includes Americans Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers, along with Asafa Powell of Jamaica. “I’m like, ‘We can make this story, but I have to still do my job. We have to coexist together. I can’t give you my undivided attention and go off and start losing races.'”

There’s no working title yet for the film or date when it will air. And no subject is out of bounds, including his doping past. The 2004 Olympic 100m gold medalist tested positive for excessive testosterone in 2006, was reinstated from his ban on July 24, 2010, and returned to capture bronze at the London Games two years later.

He’s been one of Bolt’s biggest threats ever since.

“The theme of (the movie) is basically my journey,” Gatlin said.

Gatlin recently showed the roughly 90-second trailer to his 6-year-old son, whose first words were: “Play it again, dad.”

“That was the cutest thing ever,” Gatlin said. “He’s like, ‘I have to be faster than a cheetah to keep up with you, dad.’ That makes me proud.”

The trailer shows flashes of Gatlin stretching, lifting weights and sprinting. In one scene, he said: “If I could do this forever, I would. I love the pain I get from training. I know that it’s a pain of growth. Inside, I’m infinity.”

Gatlin said he’ll race at least through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics so his son could be there.

“I’d like to give that to him as a gift,” Gatlin said. “Even if I don’t win in 2020, just to be able to be on the team.”

Gatlin’s times in the 100 have been slower this season, running 9.94 seconds so far compared with 9.74 this time a year ago.

All by design.

He’s treating the early season races more like rounds so he can work on his form. Gatlin believes he has the speed to keep up with Bolt, but needs to execute his style of race.

That didn’t happen in Beijing at the World Championships last summer. Gatlin was a slight favorite in the 100m given that Bolt wasn’t exactly race sharp. Gatlin was neck-and-neck with the Jamaican, but over-strided with about 15 meters left. Gatlin went into his lean too early, paving the way for Bolt to capture gold yet again.

“It’s all a process,” Gatlin said. “Sometimes, processes are rewarding and sometimes processes are painful.”

Before a 100m showdown with Bolt can occur in Rio de Janeiro, Gatlin has to make Team USA at the Olympic Trials in July. It’s not an easy task with sprinters such as Gay, Rodgers, Trayvon Bromell and Gatlin contending for three spots. Gatlin also will try to earn a place in the 200m.

To assist him, he will summon “J Gat.”

“Very rarely will you find an athlete that calls me Justin,” Gatlin said. “It’s always ‘J Gat.’ Justin has never run a race.”

MORE: Five events to watch at Pre Classic; broadcast schedule