Devon Allen: Football on hold to pursue Olympic gold medal, world record

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Oregon wide receiver and Olympic hurdler Devon Allen is turning professional in track and field and doesn’t expect to return to football until after the 2020 Tokyo Games.

“That will give me the best opportunity to accomplish what I want to accomplish in the future, and that is winning a gold medal and holding the world record in the 110m hurdles,” Allen said Wednesday.

Allen, a 21-year-old junior, said his decision was more the result of finishing fifth in the Olympics — lower than he hoped, but motivating — than suffering a second torn ACL playing football on Sept. 17.

Allen had previously torn an ACL in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, and came back faster to win the Olympic Trials 110m hurdles on July 9 in a personal-best time.

“I was kind of balancing between going professional or not after the Olympic Trials [in July],” Allen said. “I ran in the Olympics, kind of was a little disappointed with my finish. So I was like, you know, maybe I’ll just play this football season out since I didn’t win a gold medal, and see how that goes. I think, either way, I would have turned professional pretty soon.”

Allen expects to return to track training in January and repeated Wednesday that he’s eyeing a return at the U.S. Championships in Sacramento from June 22-25.

“My ideal scenario is to run track for the next couple years, and then 2020 Olympics, win a gold medal, have the world record, put that to the side and try to play football,” Allen said. “My mind changes a lot, too. So you never know. Next year, I might not want to do track anymore. But I think, for right now, I want to focus on track for the next three to four years.”

One of Allen’s goals is very realistic — the Olympic gold medal. He finished 2016 ranked No. 2 in the world in the 110m hurdles behind Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica.

The world record would require a hefty improvement. Allen’s personal best is 13.03 seconds. The world record is 12.80.

Allen is optimistic he will continue to speed up. He was the only man in the Rio 110m hurdles final who had never previously competed internationally.

“If I had spent my full time focusing on track, like a lot of the other guys do, I think it gives me a better opportunity to perform well on that kind of stage,” Allen said. “I think that will give me the best opportunity to win a gold medal.”

Allen also said he wanted to move into other events, the 100m, 200m, 400m hurdles and maybe even the decathlon.

Allen tore his left ACL and MCL and suffered meniscus damage in a non-contact injury defending a punt return in a game Sept. 17.

It’s the same injury he suffered on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, just to the opposite knee. Allen returned from that injury to play in 12 of 13 games for the Ducks in the 2015 season.

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Katie Ledecky wins by 19 seconds, breaks world swimming titles record

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Katie Ledecky convincingly broke the female record for swimming world titles.

But Lilly King tasted even sweeter victory, breaking a world record and dominating rival Yulia Efimova at the world championships in Budapest on Tuesday. Video of that showdown is here.

Ledecky clocked 15:31.82 to win the 1500m freestyle by a whopping 19 seconds at the Danube Arena, her 12th career world gold. Spain’s Mireia Belmonte took silver, followed by Italian Simona Quadarella. Ledecky owns the world record of 15:25.48 and the seven fastest times in history.

Ledecky, a 20-year-old rising Stanford sophomore, broke her tie with Missy Franklin for the most career world titles by a woman. The overall record is held by Michael Phelps, who won 26.

Fifty minutes after her 1500m free, Ledecky won her 200m free semifinal to make Wednesday’s final.

“It’s hard 364 of the other days of the year,” Ledecky said. “It’s putting in the work in practice, so that when I get to this day of the meet, I can just do it. It’s routine. I can just get up and know that I have the work in the bank to get up and swim those times.”

Ledecky has three gold medals so far this week, en route to a possible six, which would tie Franklin’s female record for golds at a single worlds.

In other events Tuesday, Lilly King handed Russian rival Yulia Efimova another beating in the 100m breast. This time, the finger-wagging King broke the world record.

Kylie Masse became the first Canadian woman to win a world swimming title after the nation previously took 18 combined silver and bronze medals. Masse broke the longest-standing women’s world record in swimming, the 100m backstroke, which had stood since 2009, with a time of 58.10.

American Kathleen Baker took silver in 58.58, followed by defending world champion Emily Seebohm of Australia.

China’s Sun Yang bagged his ninth career world title with his first crown in the 200m freestyle in 1:44.39. American Townley Haas took silver, .65 behind, followed by Russian Aleksandr Krasnykh.

In Rio, Sun became the first swimmer to win Olympic titles in the 200m, 400m and 1500m frees. Now, he’s the first man to complete the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m free set at worlds. Ledecky recorded that feat at a single worlds in 2015.

Canadian Xu Jiayu followed his Olympic silver medal with a gold in the 100m backstroke, edging 2012 Olympic champion Matt Grevers by .04. Rio gold medalist Ryan Murphy earned bronze.

Great Britain’s Adam Peaty broke his 50m breaststroke world record twice on Tuesday, in the preliminary heats and the semifinals. Peaty lowered the mark from 26.42 to 25.95 in the non-Olympic event.

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Lilly King beats Yulia Efimova again, breaks world record (video)

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Lilly King stared toward Yulia Efimova before the race. She glanced at her afterward.

In between, King handed her Russian rival another beating, this time in world-record fashion at the world championships in Budapest on Tuesday.

King won the 100m breaststroke in 1:04.13 to back up her finger-wagging Olympic 100m breast title with her first world title.

Countrywoman Katie Meili earned silver in 1:05.03, followed by Efimova getting bronze in 1:05.05.

“The rivalry is definitely there. I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon,” King said, according to The Associated Press. “Obviously, it’s very awkward between the two of us. We’re competitors. We don’t really like each other too much.”

King smashed the previous record of 1:04.35 held by Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte, but she didn’t exactly feel confident Tuesday afternoon.

“I was actually, like really freaking out when I got to the pool,” King told media in Budapest. “I was like very nervous. Then I got in for warm-up, and I felt a lot better. I was feeling very confident going into the race.”

Once on the pool deck, King looked very much the trash-talking Indiana Hoosier who in Rio said Efimova shouldn’t be allowed to compete for previously failing two drug tests.

After introductions Tuesday, King stood staring at the lane next to her, where Efimova happened to be. Efimova did not appear to reciprocate.

“It’s always going to be a showdown,” King said, noting how impressed she was by Efimova’s semifinal swim Monday, when the Russian missed the world record by .01 and finger-wagged after.

King smirked, got up on her block and swam the fastest first 50 meters by a half-second over Efimova.

As Efimova faded in the last 25 meters, King surged to the wall. She turned around, saw the scoreboard and slammed her right arm into the pool.

Then she looked ever so briefly toward Efimova’s lane, turned back and raised both of her arms in the air.

Efimova said afterward that last year’s loss hurt more, according to the AP.

“There’s still pressure from the media, but it’s more fun,” Efimova reportedly said. “The Olympic Games were the worst.”

King and Efimova are slated to go head to head again in finals of the 200m breaststroke (Friday) and 50m breaststroke (Sunday). They are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in both events this year.

Women’s 100m Breaststroke Results
Gold: Lilly King (USA) — 1:04.13

Silver: Katie Meili (USA) — 1:05:03
Bronze: Yulia Efimova (RUS) — 1:05.05
4. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) — 1:05.65
5. Shi Jinglin (CHN) — 1:06.43
6. Kierra Smith (CAN) — 1:06.90
7. Jessica Vall (ESP) — 1:06.95
8. Sarah Vasey (GBR) — 1:07.19

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