Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky breaks world record, Michael Phelps wins at Pan Pacs

Leave a comment

Katie Ledecky broke a world record for the fourth time this year, and Michael Phelps won his first international race since the London Olympics on Saturday.

Ledecky clocked 3 minutes, 58.37 seconds to win the 400m freestyle at the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia. The 17-year-old rising high school senior broke her world record of 3:58.86 set at the U.S. Championships on Aug. 9.

Ledecky has broken world records in the 400m free, 800m free and 1500m free this year. She won her fourth gold medal of the meet Saturday, adding to her 200m and 800m free titles and with the 4x200m free relay.

And she’s not satisfied yet.

“I have some long-term goals,” Ledecky told reporters in Gold Coast, smiling. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’ll get there.”

Phelps, who hasn’t broken a world record since 2009, notched his biggest victory Saturday since coming out of competitive retirement in April.

He won the 100m butterfly in 51.29 seconds, relegating Ryan Lochte to second place in 51.67. Phelps is the three-time reigning Olympic 100m fly champion and owns the fastest 100m fly time in the world this year, 51.17 from the U.S. Championships two weeks ago.

“It definitely feels good to see the one next to your name, not second or losing by this or losing by that,” said Phelps, who finished fourth in the 100m free and won gold with the 4x200m free relay team earlier in the meet. “I think I’ll be able to sleep a little easier.”

Phelps and Lochte also swam in the 4x100m free relay Saturday. The U.S. took second behind Australia.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have Pan Pacs coverage Saturday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET and Sunday from 1-2:30.

Pan Pacs are not only the biggest meet for U.S. and Australian swimmers this year, but times from Pan Pacs and the U.S. Championships will also determine the U.S. team for the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Lochte failed to make the World Championships team in the 100m fly. As it stands, there is only one potential head to head between Phelps and Lochte slated for Worlds next year, the 200m individual medley if both come through in that event at Pan Pacs on Sunday.

In other events Saturday, Missy Franklin finished fourth in the 200m backstroke, 1.33 behind Australian winner Belinda Hocking. Franklin, the Olympic and World champion and world record holder in the event, is swimming through a bad back at Pan Pacs.

Franklin came back to swim the second leg of the 4x100m free relay as the U.S. took silver behind Australia. The Aussies, with three of the four women who broke the relay world record July 24, clocked 3:32.46. The U.S. swam 3:34.23.

Olympic champion Tyler Clary won the men’s 200m back in 1:54.91. The World champion Lochte opted not to swim it in prelims earlier, knowing he was already busy with the 100m fly and 4x100m free finals Saturday.

Beijing Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan won the men’s 400m free in 3:43.15 over Japanese star Kosuke Hagino and American Connor Jaeger. Park’s time was the fastest in the world this year.

Australian Alicia Coutts won the women’s 100m fly in 57.64. American Kendyl Stewart took bronze, her first major international medal.

Women’s 400m Freestyle
1. Katie Ledecky (USA) 3:58.37 WR
2. Cierra Runge (USA) 4:04.55
3. Lauren Boyle (NZL) 4:05.33

Men’s 400m Freestyle
1. Park Tae-hwan (KOR) 3:43.15
2. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 3:44.56
3. Connor Jaeger (USA) 3:45.31

Women’s 100m Butterfly
1. Alicia Coutts (AUS) 57.64
2. Lu Ying (CHN) 57.76
3. Kendyl Stewart (USA) 57.82

Men’s 100m Butterfly
1. Michael Phelps (USA) 51.29
2. Ryan Lochte (USA) 51.67
3. Hirofumi Ikebata (JPN) 52.50

Women’s 200m Backstroke
1. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:07.49
2. Emily Seebohm (AUS) 2:07.61
3. Elizabeth Beisel (USA) 2:08.33
4. Missy Franklin (USA) 2:08.82

Men’s 200m Backstroke
1. Tyler Clary (USA) 1:54.91
2. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 1:55.14
3. Mitchell Larkin (AUS) 1:55.27

Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay
1. Australia 3:32.46
2. U.S. 3:34.23
3. Japan 3:39.06

Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay
1. Australia 3:12.80
2. U.S. 3:13.36
3. Brazil 3:13.59

Video: Amy Van Dyken-Rouen walks with assistance for first time since accident

French ice dancers break world record again

AP
Leave a comment

French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron broke their own world record scores in the last major competition before the Olympics.

Papadakis and Cizeron totaled 203.16 points with 121.87 in Saturday’s free dance at the European Championships, both new bests, in Moscow.

Full results are here. NBCSN will air coverage Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.

The French go into the Olympics as favorites over Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won all three of their head-to-heads last season.

But the French finally overcame the 2010 Olympic champions Virtue and Moir at December’s Grand Prix Final.

Virtue and Moir rank No. 2 under an eight-year-old ice dance system with a personal best of 199.86 points.

Papadakis and Cizeron became the youngest world champions in ice dance in 40 years in 2015, then repeated as world champs in 2016.

Virtue and Moir returned after two years off for the 2016-17 season and went undefeated, including dethroning the French at worlds.

Three U.S. couples are the top contenders for the Olympic bronze medal.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White have not competed since becoming the first U.S. Olympic ice dance champions in Sochi.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: NBC Olympics PyeongChang preview series on Netflix

Tonga flag bearer from Rio says he qualified for Winter Olympics

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pita Taufatofua, the shirtless, oiled-up Tongan flag bearer from the Rio Games, said he qualified for the PyeongChang Olympics in cross-country skiing on Saturday.

“This was my last race possible, and we did it,” Taufatofua said in an interview with Olympic Channel, which also reported that he qualified. “This is a miracle.”

Taufatofua said he qualified at the final weekend of the Olympic qualifying period in Iceland, which is more than 9,000 miles from his home archipelago.

The last two events before qualification ends were Saturday’s freestyle race and a classic race scheduled for Sunday. Saturday’s results have not been posted yet.

Taufatofua completed a journey this season that included races in Colombia, Turkey, Poland and Armenia.

Taufatofua said he had seven chances to qualify for PyeongChang before Saturday and failed in all of them, finishing last each time (The official results show Taufatofua beating skiers from Malaysia and Mexico in some of these races.).

Taufatofua scrambled to make it to Iceland from Croatia this week. He said his group drove three days through a blizzard, an avalanche closing off the road at one point.

“People don’t see the hard work that goes behind,” he said. “They just see the shiny guy that walks with the flag.”

Taufatofua lost his opening Olympic taekwondo match by mercy rule in Rio, two weeks after his viral appearance in the Opening Ceremony.

He announced in December 2016 that he was switching to cross-country skiing in a bid for PyeongChang.

Cross-country, while a physically taxing pursuit, is one of the easier Winter Olympic sports to gain qualification for athletes from nations without much Winter Games history.

“I decided to find the hardest sport possible because I needed a new challenge,” Taufatofua said. “The goal was to do it one year, and we did it.”

Taufatofua debuted at the 2017 World Championships and was 153rd of 156 finishers in the 1.6km sprint freestyle.

It took Taufatofua 5 minutes, 44.72 seconds to complete the course in Lahti, Finland, which was about 10,000 miles from Tonga. The top qualifier clocked 3:11.72.

How will he dress at the PyeongChang Opening Ceremony, where outdoor temperatures are likely to be below freezing?

“One step at a time,” Taufatofua said. “Right now, I just want to go and party. I destroyed myself just to get here.”

In 2014, Bruno Banani became the first Tongan to compete at a Winter Olympics, placing 32nd in men’s luge. He was later the subject of a documentary.

Banani gained fame starting in early 2012, when the story of his name was widely publicized. Banani’s real name is Fuahea Semi, but he changed it to the name of his German clothing sponsor as a marketing ploy.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Shaun White scores perfect 100 to qualify for Olympics

I raced through 5 countries in the last 24hrs to try and get to my race in Croatia. I sat in a taxi for 6 hrs driving through Armenia into Georgia in the middle of the night. I sat on the front seat of the @turkishairlines plane, sprinted through the airport and snuck through the business class fast transit lane and somehow managed to arrive at the gate 15 min before departure for my flight to Croatia. Once there I found that @turkishairlines had shut the gate early even after their delayed initial flight from Georgia, leaving me stranded. After remembering a scene from a James Bond movie, I pressed all the buttons on the aerobridge door to see if I could somehow open it and sprint down to the connecting flight, unfortunately that didn’t work, and luckily I didn’t get arrested. So here I am sitting at Istanbul airport missing the race that could have possibly gotten me to the Olympics. It was always going to be a long shot but I had to give it a shot and I did. Soo many times in life we will get disappointed. When this happens I have two options. I can sit on that chair crying about what could have been and how unfair life is…. or I can go and find some good quality chocolate, pull out my notepad and start planning “what’s next”— I always did like chocolate…

A post shared by Pita Taufatofua (Pita T) (@pita_tofua) on