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FINA proposes mixed-gender relays, many new swim events for Tokyo Olympics

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Swimmers could have the opportunity to win many more medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and beyond, making Michael Phelps‘ record 28 Olympic medals a little less untouchable.

FINA, the sport’s international governing body, proposed to add 10 more swimming medal events for the next Olympics, which would bring its program to 44 total. The International Olympic Committee has final say in the Olympic program.

The proposed added events:

• Women’s 1500m freestyle
• Men’s 800m freestyle
• Two mixed relays (4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley)
• Men’s and women’s 50m backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly

FINA’s proposal is to have all of its world championships events on the Olympic program.

It would instantly create at least one more medal opportunity for Katie Ledecky, who dominated the 1500m freestyle at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships. Her world record in that event is 13.4 seconds faster than the second-fastest woman in history.

Sprinters would stand to benefit the most. The U.S.’ top 100m freestylers — Nathan Adrian or Caeleb Dressel for the men and Simone Manuel for the women, currently — could add three more medal races to their Olympic schedules. Both mixed relays plus the 50m butterfly, which is commonly contested by the top sprint freestylers.

Mixed relays made their world championships debut in 2015. FINA has said for years that they could one day be part of the Olympic program.

It may be closer reality now, with mixed-gender events recently added to the Olympics in biathlon, luge and tennis.

More Olympic events in aquatic sports proposed by FINA:

DIVING
Proposal: to increase the number of divers from one-hundred thirty-six (136) to one-hundred sixty (160) and to have twelve (12) Synchro Teams qualified for the finals.

SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING
Proposal: to increase the number of participating nations from eight (8) to twelve (12) in the Team Event and to add the Mixed Duet Event with twelve (12) duets, that is 24 athletes.

OPEN-WATER SWIMMING
Proposal: to increase the number of swimmers from twenty-five (25) Men and twenty-five (25) Women to thirty-five (35) Men and thirty-five (35) Women.

WATER POLO
Proposal: to increase from eight (8) to twelve (12) Women’s teams but by adding four (4) additional athletes only.

Existing – total two-hundred sixty (260) players – 12 Men’s Teams x 13 players and 8 Women’s Teams x 13 players)

New proposal – total two-hundred sixty-four (264) players for twenty-four (24) Teams (12 Women’s Teams x 11 Players and 12 Men’s Teams x 11 players).

HIGH DIVING
Proposal: to include High Diving as an extreme sport, where Men dive from a 27m platform and Women from a 20m platform, with a total number of thirty (30) divers (15 Men and 15 Women).

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U.S., Great Britain to hold track and field dual meet

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The U.S. and Great Britain go head-to-head in a track and field meet on July 21 at the London Olympic Stadium.

“The Meet” will include nine running, jumping, hurdles and relay events and last two hours. Specific events and athletes will be announced early next year.

The U.S. topped the overall medal standings at every Olympics and world outdoor championships since 2004.

Great Britain is one of three countries to earn at least five medals at every Olympics and worlds since 2007, joining the U.S. and Kenya.

British athletes made six podiums at the just-completed worlds at the London Olympic Stadium, including in all four relays. The other two medals came from Mo Farah, who is moving to road racing and marathons after this season.

“The Meet” is similar to swimming’s “Duel in the Pool,” a biennial head-to-head competition between the U.S. and rival Australia from 2003 through 2007 and between the U.S. and Europe between 2009 and 2015.

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Five women’s gymnasts to watch at P&G Championships

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As Rio gold medalists decide on their futures, this week’s P&G Championships mark the first showcase for a new class of U.S. women’s gymnasts.

For the first time since 2008, nobody in the nationals field in Anaheim has competed at an Olympics. Usually, a gymnast or two carries over into the post-Olympic year, like Bridget Sloan in 2009 and Kyla Ross in 2013.

But this year, the feeling is akin to 2005, when no woman (or man) from the 2004 Athens Games chalked up at nationals.

Back then, a 15-year-old Nastia Liukin, who had already starred in a commercial during the 2004 Olympics, made her senior nationals debut and won the all-around. Three years later, Liukin won the Olympic all-around in Beijing.

There will be talk this week of finding the next Liukin, or Gabby Douglas, or Simone Biles, who, like Liukin, won her senior nationals debut the year after the Olympics.

“Some of them [from Rio], hopefully Simone, will be coming back, but I think this is a great opportunity for some of these girls to go out there and prove that they’re just as ready to compete at a world championships,” said Liukin, now an NBC Olympics analyst. “They have to step up a little bit and kind of become the leaders.”

MORE: P&G Champs broadcast schedule

Gymnasts this week are vying to impress new U.S. national team coordinator Valeri Liukin (Nastia’s father). The four-woman roster for October’s worlds, where there is no team event, will be named after a selection camp later this summer.

Five gymnasts to watch at the P&G Championships:

Ragan Smith
Rio Olympic alternate
2017 AT&T American Cup champion

The Texan performed admirably in her first senior season in 2016, placing fifth in the all-around at the Olympic Trials. Her best events are balance beam and floor exercise, but the U.S. needed uneven bars help in Rio. So she went to the Games as an alternate at age 15, making headlines for this photo with 6-foot-11 basketball player DeAndre Jordan.

Smith, coached by 1991 World all-around champion Kim Zmeskal, emerged this year as the U.S.’ most reliable all-arounder and clear favorite this week. She won the American Cup on March 4 despite a beam fall. A definite all-around medal favorite at October’s worlds.

Ashton Locklear
Rio Olympic alternate
2014 World team champion

Locklear was beaten for the Olympic team bars specialist spot by Madison Kocian after nearly matching Kocian in scores in four routines between last year’s P&G Championships and Olympic Trials. The 19-year-old is not considered an all-around threat this week but is favored to make the world team based on her bars ability. She was fourth in the event at 2014 Worlds.

Riley McCusker
2017 Jesolo Trophy all-around winner

McCusker, who has the same coach as Laurie Hernandez, struggled at the American Cup in her first senior competition, falling on bars and beam. She rebounded to win Jesolo a month later and remain in the mix as the No. 2 U.S. all-arounder (Smith wasn’t at Jesolo).

However, McCusker was on crutches with a cast on her wrist in early July and said she expected to be back to peak form in September, not August.

Morgan Hurd
2017 Stuttgart World Cup bronze medalist

Hurd, a first-year senior who competes in glasses, was adopted from China as a toddler and now lives with her mom in Delaware.

Liukin, asked to name gymnasts to watch this week, started with Hurd, whom she says has the highest floor exercise start value in the world. “She could be capable of winning a world all-around medal and possibly become a world champion on floor,” Liukin said.

Jade Carey
2017 U.S. Classic vault winner

The U.S. has a tradition of sending a vault specialist to worlds, but neither of the top vaulters from the last Olympic cycle — Biles nor MyKayla Skinner — is competing this week. Enter Carey, a 17-year-old who wasn’t an elite gymnast before this season.

Carey performed the difficult Amanar vault at July’s U.S. Classic, where she was the only gymnast to perform two vaults, which is required to compete for medals on the event at worlds.

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