Michael Phelps
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Michael Phelps touched by reaction to Sports Illustrated story

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Michael Phelps popped on social media, scanned strangers’ comments and friends’ text messages after his revealing Sports Illustrated cover story came out Tuesday.

“How did it feel to say whatever you want to say and be human?” friends asked.

“I don’t have anything to hide,” Phelps told media Wednesday. “I’m a human being. Everything’s out there.”

He picked out one Twitter comment.

“I wasn’t that fond of him, but after reading this article my mind has really been interested in the sport and watching him over the next year,” Phelps paraphrased before adding his reaction. “I think just reading things like that, it’s pretty cool, and it’s the first time I felt that way.”

Phelps spoke Wednesday in Minneapolis, where he could swim in as many as six events at the meet kicking off the Olympic season.

“For me, when I see athletes tell their stories and be more human, I think there’s a better connection,” he said. “I think it just shows that we are all human beings, and it’s OK to seek help if you need it. I think that’s something that I hope a lot of people got out of that.

The meet runs from Thursday through Saturday, with live webcasts on USASwimming.org (10 a.m. ET prelims; 7 p.m. finals).

It’s the first meet including all four U.S. swimming headliners — Phelps, Ryan LochteMissy Franklin and Katie Ledecky — since the August 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.

A little more than one month after Pan Pacs, Phelps was arrested on DUI charges, beginning an 11-month journey that climaxed with a comeback at the U.S. Championships in August.

At Nationals, Phelps swam the world’s fastest times of the year in the 100m and 200m butterfly and the 200m individual medley, including the world’s fastest times in the butterfly events since 2009 (the record-wild, fast-suit era). He celebrated emphatically, slamming his arms in the San Antonio pool.

Minneapolis marks his first meet since, and the setting conjures memories of Phelps’ first Senior Nationals at the same University of Minnesota pool, when he was a 14-year-old in 1999.

Then, Phelps spent more time in awe of Olympic medalists Tom Dolan and Tom Malchow than on concentrating on his own swims.

“Dead last in two events,” coach Bob Bowman quipped Wednesday. “Very successful.”

Phelps’ confidence seems unshakable now, after emerging from the darkest time of his life last year and then lighting up the pool in San Antonio three months ago.

“There’s still more in the tank,” Phelps said. “I have very lofty goals [which Phelps, as his is policy, wouldn’t reveal]. … We’re working on getting faster.”

Phelps went into the U.S. Championships in August skeptical, after spring meets that left him describing his swimming as “horrendous” and “garbage.”

“As soon as the first one happened at Nationals, I thought, wow, I can really do something here,” Phelps said. “It kind of opened my eyes up.

“It just gives me, I guess, a lot more hope that there’s a lot more that him [Bowman] and I can do over the next year.”

Now, after spending three weeks training at altitude in Colorado Springs, he feels a little more like that kid who forgot to tie his suit strings and wore the wrong credential at the Sydney Olympics.

“I’m hungrier than where I was leading into 2012, besides the recovery part for me, how it’s a little bit slower nowadays,” said Phelps, who turned 30 on June 30 and in 2016 can become the oldest individual Olympic swimming champion. “I feel like I did in high school, like that kind of excitement level.”

Phelps said he’s “giddy.”

“It’s kind of scary going into this year,” he said, pausing for a second and then rephrasing. “Scary in a good way.”

MORE: Michael Phelps revealed comeback to family with 3 a.m. voicemail

Usain Bolt reveals extent of injury after hearing doubts

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Usain Bolt shared the extent of his injury — a torn hamstring requiring three months of rehab — after people questioned if he was really hurt at the world championships Saturday, according to tweets from his account since deleted.

“I don’t usually release my medical report to the public but sadly I have sat and listened to people questioning if I was really injured,” was posted on Bolt’s account. “I have never been one to cheat my fans in anyway (sic) & my entire desire at the championship was run one last time for my fans.”

Bolt pulled up with the leg injury running anchor on the 4x100m relay at worlds and then tumbled onto the track not yet halfway to the finish line.

A wheelchair was brought out, but Bolt got up and walked across the finish line, aided by his teammates.

Since, unconfirmed reports have surfaced that Bolt could play in a Manchester United exhibition game, but the seriousness of his injury revealed Thursday could put an end to that, at least for now.

The injury has not sidelined Bolt completely. He was able to go bowling earlier this week.

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MORE: Usain Bolt explains why he will not unretire

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt

U.S. men’s gymnastics team hits reset at P&G Championships

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The sprawling sleeve of tattoos running down Alex Naddour‘s left arm is unmissable. The American flag on the shoulder. The Olympic rings running down the inside of his forearm. They serve as a testament to the Olympic bronze medalist’s passion and his longevity.

Oh and if they happen to send a message to the sea of new faces the national team captain finds himself surrounded by these days, all the better.

At 26, Naddour admits he’s “kind of the old guy,” and he’s not wrong. The core of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams are hurt, retired or both. Jonathan Horton. Jake Dalton. Danell Leyva. John Orozco. Chris Brooks. All have moved on.

Four-time national champion Sam Mikulak is recovering from his second major Achilles injury. Donnell Whittenburg is searching to regain the form that made him an all-around finalist at the 2015 World Championships.

Naddour isn’t exactly healthy, either, just six months removed from an arm issue he suffered at a meet in February that will limit him to just pommel horse and rings when the P&G Championships begin on Thursday night.

P&G CHAMPS: Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview
TV Schedule | Final Five Updates

That’s fine. Naddour still has time. He’s well aware that he’s a bridge of sorts between the old generation and the next one.

“I want these guys to feel what we felt [when we came up],” Naddour said. “We looked up to those guys [before us] and hopefully these guys look up to me because I’m team captain. Hopefully they take what I have to say seriously and take my experience seriously to help them get ready for what they need to get ready for.”

Namely, returning the U.S. to international prominence. While the women’s program has become a podium-hogging machine over the last decade, the men have struggled with inconsistency. They finished fifth in the team finals in both 2012 and 2016.

Though there have been flashes of individual success — like Leyva’s bronze in the all-around in London and Naddour’s bronze on pommel horse in Rio — the Americans have been on a treadmill, one that cost national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika his job last fall.

Enter Brett McClure. The 2004 Olympic team silver medalist was appointed the “high performance director” in February and charged with providing a needed jolt. Consider the message received.

“He’s the type of person that’s not going to beat around the bush,” Whittenburg said. “If something is bothering him, he’s going to let you know straight up. If there’s a problem, how do we fix it? I feel like the last couple [Olympic cycles] I felt we were missing that stern leadership. Sometimes you can’t be the nice guy all the time.”

The men have borrowed a page from former women’s national team coordinator Martha Karolyi‘s playbook. Training camps are now treated more like competitions, with members of the national team and world championship teams flown in to watch. The goal is creating a more competitive environment.

“You’re saluting, and it’s like you’re at championships, so you have to do your best,” Naddour said. “It’s going to help the national team grow a lot quicker and adjust in those pressure situations.”

Good, because they’re coming. Even if Naddour, Mikulak and Whittenburg all make the world championships roster when it’s released after Saturday night’s competition, it leaves three spots for newcomers. No pressure or anything.

Yul Moldauer captured the AT&T American Cup in March, beating a field that included Olympic silver medalist Oleg Verniaiev. Akash Modi served as an alternate on the 2016 Olympic team and won the NCAA all-around title for Stanford this spring. Allan Bower and Eddie Penev are also in the mix.

The lights will come on. It’s time to get a gauge on how the strategic plan put in place after an underwhelming team performance in the Olympics is working.

“If the whole world watches this competition and is like, `we’ve got them,’ then boo us,” said Mikulak, who will compete on pommel horse and high bar. “The world doesn’t know what’s going on with USA Gymnastics until we show ourselves in this competition. I hope everyone competing has a good performance to show the world that we’re not as weak as we look to them.”

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