Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky eyes daunting double at World Championships

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NEW YORK — Katie Ledecky plans to swim a full five-event schedule at the World Championships in August, including a 1500m freestyle final followed by a 200m freestyle semifinal expected to be about 20 minutes later.

Ledecky’s lineup would then include the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees, plus the 4x200m free relay (daily Worlds schedule here).

In 2013, Missy Franklin became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships in Barcelona. Ledecky was named over Franklin as FINA’s top female swimmer of the meet, with four golds and two world records.

In 2013, Ledecky could have also tried the 1500m free-200m free double, with the same schedule as it is slated to be this August, but opted against that tight turnaround. She dropped the 200m free from her schedule.

In 2013, the time span between the 1500m free final and the first 200m free semifinal was about 15-20 minutes.

Ledecky, with makeup covering sunburn on her cheeks, explained this year’s decision before the Sullivan Award ceremony at the New York Athletic Club on Sunday morning, about 13 hours after she swam at a meet in Mesa, Ariz. Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott won the award.

“Two years ago, I decided to drop the 200, and that was because it was my still my second international meet [after the 2012 Olympics],” she said. “I had never done an international double [two swims in one finals session]. I felt like, my 200, I didn’t have enough speed yet to compete for a medal.”

Ledecky, who broke the 1500m free world record at the 2013 Worlds, improved her 200m free in 2014. She beat the World champion Franklin at the U.S. Championships and again at the Pan Pacific Championships. She finished the year with the second-fastest time in the world for the year, behind Swede Sarah Sjostrom.

“Over the last year, the more and more I look at the [Worlds] schedule, it looks more and more reasonable to me every day,” Ledecky said, adding she could still change her plans.

Ledecky could become the first woman to win four individual gold medals at a single World Championships. In 2014, she became the first woman to win four individual golds at a Pan Pacific Championships, a major international meet that does not include European nations.

At Pan Pacs, Ledecky’s double was winning the 200m free and 800m free finals about 50 minutes apart.

Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Franklin have all done multiple finals in one night at Olympics or World Championships, but none of theirs included any events even half the distance of the grueling 1500m freestyle.

Also Sunday, Ledecky backed the idea of a potential head-to-head race with Phelps, which Phelps jokingly proposed in Mesa on Friday.

“There’s been murmurs of it,” Ledecky said. “Hey, he lives in Maryland. We’re pretty close. It wouldn’t be too hard. If he’s down for it, I’m down for it.”

Ledecky said she doesn’t plan to swim in the next two Pro Swim Series events in Charlotte and Santa Clara, Calif., before the World Championships in August.

She has three Advanced Placement tests at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Md., coming up — government, psychology and calculus AB.

Ledecky’s graduation is June 4, followed by a trip to Colorado Springs, Colo., for altitude training at the Olympic Training Center.

Video: Debbie Phelps texted Michael Phelps about Rio 2016 years ago

USA Gymnastics closes Karolyi Ranch

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USA Gymnastics said it will no longer use the Karolyi Ranch in Texas as its training center, where athletes said Larry Nassar sexually abused gymnasts.

“USA Gymnastics has terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas,” USA Gymnastics CEO and president Kerry Perry said in a press release Thursday. “It will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.

“It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December. Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.

“We have cancelled next week’s training camp for the U.S. Women’s National Team. We are exploring alternative sites to host training activities and camps until a permanent location is determined. We thank all those in the gymnastics community assisting in these efforts.”

MORE: Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

World champions Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols said that Nassar sexually abused gymnasts at the ranch.

“When I was 15 I started to have back problems while at a National Team Camp at the Karolyi Ranch,” Nichols wrote in a victim impact statement read at one of Nassar’s sentencing hearings on Wednesday and published last week. “This is when the changes in his medical treatments occurred.

“I trusted what he was doing at first, but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should. He didn’t have gloves on and he didn’t tell me what he was doing. There was no one else in the room and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain.

“He did this ‘treatment’ on me, on numerous occasions.”

Raisman, a three-time Olympic champion, urged USA Gymnastics to close the ranch in a Tuesday interview on ESPN.

“I hope USA Gymnastics listens because they haven’t listened to us so far,” she said. “I hope they listen, and I hope they don’t make any of the girls go back to the ranch. No one should have to go back there after, you know, so many of us were abused there.”

Simone Biles did not specifically name the Karolyi Ranch in her Monday statement, but Raisman said Tuesday that Biles was referring to that site.

“It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing at Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” was posted on Biles’ social media.

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian, said Nassar was alone with her in her bed at the ranch.

“There was no one else sent with him,” she said on CBS last year. “The treatment was in the bed, in my bed that I slept on at the ranch.”

USA Gymnastics said in July 2016 that it reached an agreement with former national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi to purchase the training facility the couple owned.

The national governing body backed out of the purchase in May “for a variety of reasons” but continued under its current lease agreement while exploring alternative locations for camps. It held national team camps there in September and November.

The Karolyis established the ranch in 1983 after defecting from Romania. It had been a national team training center since 2001.

Larry Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A statement from McKayla Maroney read Thursday repeated that sexual assault by Larry Nassar “left scars” in her mind that may never fade as a judge heard a third day of testimony from victims.

Nassar could be sentenced Friday in Lansing. Since Tuesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has been listening to dozens of young women who were molested after seeking his help for injuries.

Aquilina started the hearing Thursday by saying Nassar had written a letter fearing that his mental health wasn’t strong enough to sit and listen to a parade of victims. He called the hearing “a media circus.”

The judge dismissed it as “mumbo jumbo.”

“Spending four or five days listening to them is minor, considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense, ruining their lives,” Aquilina said.

Nassar, 54, faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls as a doctor for Michigan State University and at his home.

He also was a team doctor at USA Gymnastics for nearly two decades. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.

“Dr. Nassar was not a doctor,” Maroney said in a statement read by a prosecutor (Maroney’s statement was previously posted in the fall). “He left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”

USA Gymnastics in 2016 reached a financial settlement with Maroney that barred her from making disparaging remarks. But the organization this week said it would not seek any money for her “brave statements.”

A 2000 Olympian, Jamie Dantzscher, looked at Nassar and said, “How dare you ask any of us for forgiveness.”

“Your days of manipulation are over,” she said. “We have a voice. We have the power now.”

Nassar wasn’t the only target. Victims also criticized Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon attended part of the session Wednesday. The school is being sued by dozens of women, who say campus officials wrote off complaints about the popular doctor.

“Guess what? You’re a coward, too,” current student and former gymnast Lindsey Lemke said Thursday, referring to Simon.

The judge has been praising each speaker and criticizing Nassar.

It’s “about their control over other human beings and feeling like God and they can do anything,” Aquilina said of sex offenders.

On Jan. 31, Nassar will get another sentence for sexual assaults at a Lansing-area gymnastics club in a different county.