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Kosuke Hagino eyes Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte records

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Michael Phelps is retired. Ryan Lochte is suspended. The world’s best all-around swimmer appears to be Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, who hasn’t been shy in declaring his intentions.

Hagino said his goal is to win several gold medals at the world championships in July and at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.

Hagino also said he believed he can break Lochte’s and Phelps’ world records in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, respectively, according to the report, which ran with the headline, “Kosuke Hagino wants to be the Japanese ‘Michael Phelps’ in Tokyo 2020.”

Hagino has proven he can handle a Phelps-like workload at major meets.

He swam seven individual events at the 2013 World Championships with finishes of second, second, fifth, fifth, fifth, sixth and seventh. Hagino was just 18 years old at the time.

In 2014, Hagino swept the individual medleys at the Pan Pacific Championships — beating Phelps in the 200m IM final — and took silver in the both the 200m and 400m freestyles.

Hagino missed the 2015 World Championships after breaking his right elbow falling off his bike in France.

He swam a light schedule, by his standards, at the 2016 Japanese Championships and Rio Olympics, three individual events at each meet. In Rio, he won the 400m individual medley in an Asian record, finished second to Phelps in the 200m IM and was seventh in the 200m free.

Hagino underwent surgery on that right elbow in September but returned for a meet in Spain last week. He won five individual events — both medleys, the 200m and 400m frees and the 100m backstroke.

Though Hagino has shown much promise, he is still a ways off of the Lochte and Phelps records from several years ago.

His personal-best 200m IM is 1:55.07, more than a second slower than Lochte’s world record from 2011.

His personal-best 400m IM is 4:06:05, more than two seconds slower than Phelps’ world record from 2008.

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USA Hockey to start reaching out to potential replacement players

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USA Hockey will begin reaching out to “alternate players” to determine their interest in playing for the U.S. at the women’s world championship next week amid a potential boycott by its national team.

The contact is taking place in the event a resolution cannot be reached between USA Hockey and the women’s national team in a wage dispute.

“It’s important for everyone to understand clearly that our objective is to have the players we named as the U.S. women’s national team be the ones that compete in the world championship,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, in a statement. “Productive conversations have taken place this week and are ongoing in our collective efforts to reach a resolution.”

The alternate players are in the professional NWHL and college, according to USA Today, a report that USA Hockey would not confirm.

U.S. captain Meghan Duggan has said every player in the U.S. national team player pool, plus under-18 national team players, committed to not playing at worlds unless the wage dispute is resolved.

“We are confident that they [potential replacement players] would choose not to play,” the U.S. players said in a statement.

The world championship tournament starts March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.

As of Thursday evening, no resolution has come between USA Hockey and its women’s national team. They met formally on Monday for more than 10 hours, with both sides calling it productive.

“We ask that they approve the original agreement that, the players believed, was acceptable to both parties after Monday’s meeting,” the players said in a statement. “Unless there is an agreement, the players remain resolved to bypass the defense of the world championship.”

Neither side has said when the next meeting will take place.

On Tuesday, USA Hockey said it postponed a pre-worlds camp that was to run through next Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich., and canceled a scheduled Friday exhibition against Finland.

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NHL asked for decision on Olympics by end of April

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International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel tells The Associated Press he needs to know by the end of April whether NHL players will be cleared to play in the South Korea Olympics next year.

NHL team owners have made it clear they don’t want to stop their season again for the Winter Games and put their stars at risk of injury. The reluctance has come up before and yet the NHL has participated in the Olympics since 1998. This time, however, there seems to be an impasse.

The head of the NHL Players Association, Donald Fehr, says the players want to participate and hopes the league will take advantage of the chance to market the game in Asia.

However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says without “material change to the current status quo, NHL players will not be participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

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