Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin overcomes back injury to qualify for Pan Pacs final

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Missy Franklin swam two preliminary heats in 30 minutes and advanced to the top final of the 100m backstroke at the Pan Pacific Championships on Thursday morning, two days after being helped off the pool deck with back spasms in Gold Coast, Australia.

“There’s definitely some discomfort still, but it’s getting much, much better day by day,” Franklin said after her swims, according to Swimming World.

The four-time Olympic champion decided after warm-ups that she would swim her first event, the 200m freestyle, evaluate her back and then decide if she would swim the 100m backstroke. She’s the reigning World champion in both events.

“I think we were definitely going to see how warm-up went this morning, and after this morning I really felt like I could tough it out and do both,” Franklin said, according to Swimming World. “I’m really happy that I did that. Definitely not the easiest day.”

Franklin clocked 1 minute, 57.63 seconds to finish second in her 200m free heat. She was the third-fastest American overall, and only the top two advanced to Thursday night’s A final. Franklin said she will will swim in the B final (5 a.m. ET).

She returned for the 100m back and finished second in her heat again at 1:00.60, behind Australian Belinda Hocking (1:00.45). She was the fastest American overall, earning a spot in the A final.

“Regardless of what happens I want to know that I went out there and I fought for it,” Franklin said, according to Swimming World. “If I do that, then I’ll be able to sleep regardless of the time.”

World Swimmer of the Year Katie Ledecky (1:56.45) and Shannon Vreeland (1:57.40) were the U.S. swimmers who made the A final of the 200m free. They’ll face Australians Melanie Schlanger (1:57.16) and Bronte Barratt (1:57.65) in the night session.

In other events, Conor Dwyer and Ryan Lochte advanced to the men’s 200m free final. Michael Phelps scratched both the 200m free and the 100m back Thursday and is set to make his debut at the meet Friday.

Olympic champion Matt Grevers led the qualifiers into the men’s 100m back final, followed by American Ryan Murphy and Japanese Olympic bronze medalist Ryosuke Irie.

Olympic 200m back champion Tyler Clary and Chase Kalisz qualified for the A final of the 200m butterfly after Tom Shields was disqualified.

Katie McLaughlin and 2012 Olympian Cammile Adams were the U.S. qualifiers into the top women’s 200m butterfly final.

Pan Pacs men’s preview | women’s preview

Martin Kaymer motivated by Olympics in PGA Championship run

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - JULY 28: Martin Kaymer of Germany plays his shot from the seventh tee  during the first round of the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club on July 28, 2016 in Springfield, New Jersey.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
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SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) — The chance to compete at the Olympics can’t come soon enough for Martin Kaymer.

While the top four players in the world and 21 men overall will not be part of the Rio Games, the 31-year-old German has been thinking about it all summer.

Calling out Michael Phelps as one of the best Olympians he wants to see and meet, Kaymer sounds as though he’s looking forward to going to Rio as much as his ongoing run at the PGA Championship.

Rio isn’t so much as distraction, rather a motivation.

“It is so, so, inspiring, and I really look forward to go, experience that, and I don’t know how I will feel,” Kaymer said. “I’m sure it’s going to take a couple weeks after that to reflect on all your experiences.”

Going to Rio has inspired Kaymer’s latest hot streak. He shot a 4-under 66 in the opening round on Thursday and followed with a 69 in the second round to reach 5 under.

The two-time major champion, birdied three of his last four holes Friday.

“I think I placed myself in a very good spot,” Kaymer said. “Who knows where the leader is going to be by the end of the day. I shot a good score yesterday, a very good round today. So it’s a good position to be in in a major championship.”

After his opening round on Thursday, Kaymer said he is looking forward to seeing the best athletes in their sports at the Olympics — and not only the Germans.

“I watched Lionel Messi a couple times when Barcelona played against Bayern Munich and I went to the stadium, just to see the class, the natural talent of an athlete, is amazing,” Kaymer said. “You know, you can work as hard as you want but you are never going to get there.”

Kaymer said especially Phelps has an invitation to come watch him play at Rio.

“He can walk inside the ropes, I’m sure,” he said. “That is just so great to watch them and just – sometimes it’s funny how good the athletes are. Because you compare yourself, how bad you are, because obviously you tried the sport, and I look forward to that.”

Kaymer went into this week at No. 51 in the world ranking, having not won since 2014.

Interestingly enough, it’s in the even-numbered years when Kaymer has played some of his best golf and 2016 is starting to look up after two promising rounds at Baltusrol.

“I’m more the kind of player who has some really nice highs in my career, and then I have some time to enjoy it again,” Kaymer said. “Then all of a sudden, you know, you create a little bit more inspiration from something, and then you play better again.”

In his first appearance of 2008, Kaymer won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and then added a win in his homeland at the BMW International Open.

In 2010, Kaymer won his first major – the PGA Championship – after he won a three-hole playoff over Bubba Watson.

One of Europe’s heroes in 2012, Kaymer made a 6-foot putt on the last hole at the Ryder Cup to defeat Steve Stricker and secure the last point needed to achieve a stunning comeback and retain the Ryder Cup.

In 2014, Kaymer dominated at Pinehurst No. 2 for an eight-shot victory in the U.S. Open, one month after winning The Players Championship against the strongest and deepest field in golf. Kaymer joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win a U.S. Open, PGA Championship, Players Championship and WGC event before their 30th birthday.

“I think in general, you grow, not only as a golf player but as a person, as well, and through that success, through the two major wins that I had, I think you grow a lot more,” Kaymer said. “You take things a little bit more – you value them a little bit more, and therefore, somehow it calms me down.”

After struggling in the first part of the 2016 season, Kaymer is headed into the weekend rounds at the PGA Championship back on the upswing.

MORE: Bubba Watson, U.S. golfers get pep talk from Olympic legend Dan Jansen

Venezuela sets Olympic basketball roster with zero NBA players

CHICAGO, IL - JULY 29: John Cox #6 of Venezuela puts up a shot over teammmate Gregory Echenique #0 and DeMarcus Cousins #12 of the United States during a pre-Olympic exhibition game at United Center on July 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The United States defeated Venezuela 80-45. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Venezuela has set its men’s basketball roster for the Rio Olympics, and it will not include any NBA players.

Greivis Vasquez of the Brooklyn Nets was hoping to make his Olympic debut, but was ruled out by his NBA team on Friday.

“After a great deal of consultation with the Nets and team doctors, I have been advised that unfortunately it will be necessary for me to withdrawal from Olympic competition. … the medical staff feels that it is essential that I devote this time to work towards getting healthy for the upcoming NBA season,” Vasquez said in a statement posted on Twitter.

Vasquez underwent bone spur surgery in January. He had been training with the Venezuela national team and traveled to its exhibition games, but appeared briefly in only one game.

Venezuela set its roster Friday night after an 80-45 defeat to the highly-favored U.S. team. It is the 11th of 12 teams to announce its 12-man squad, leaving only Nigeria to determine its roster before Monday’s deadline.

The 12-player Venezuela roster for Rio:
Nestor Colmenares
John Cox
David Cubillan
Gregory Echenique
Windi Graterol
Heissler Guillent
Dwight Lewis
Miguel Marriaga
Anthony Perez
Miguel Ruiz
Gregory Vargas
Jose Vargas

Venezuela’s men’s team qualified for its first Olympics since 1992 by winning the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship, upsetting Canada in the semifinals and Argentina in the final.

Venezuela opens the Rio Games against Serbia on Aug. 6, then takes on the U.S. two days later.

MORE: Spain Olympic basketball roster includes 7 NBA players