Phelps’ Beijing rival Milorad Cavic retires

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Another swimming rivalry has sunk to the bottom of the pool.

When Michael Phelps retired at the conclusion of the London Olympics, the Michael-Phelps-vs.-Ryan-Lochte discussion came to an abrupt halt. Wednesday morning, another Phelps rival* (see below) hung up his Speedo: Milorad Cavic.

You probably remember Cavic from the Beijing Games, when he appeared to beat Phelps in the 100m butterfly final. It would have ended Phelps’ now legendary eight-for-eight run at those Games, but the timing pads draped over the ends of each lane never lie. Phelps’ last-second half-stroke was enough to get him to the wall first, as he was first to compress the 12mm thick pad the required 2mm with 2.5kg of pressure.

In a fraction of a second the world went from thinking Phelps had lost a race to getting confirmation of yet another victory, the seventh gold.

A similar situation occurred at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, although this time Phelps beat the Serbian by a comfortable (really?) 0.13 seconds.

Now for an explanation of the above asterisk. Cavic is recognized as a rival to Phelps, but they really had only two close races – Beijing and Rome. Cavic was a distant fifth behind Phelps at the 2007 World Championships, while in London he placed fourth – 0.60 of a second slower than Phelps.

Phelps ended his career with 22 Olympic medals (18 gold); Cavic has one. Phelps finished with 33 Worlds medals (26 gold); Cavic earned two (one gold).

Technically it was a rivalry, albeit a brief one. Either way, Phelps and Cavic staged one of the most exciting finishes in Olympic history.

Cavic’s legacy: The guy who nearly slayed a giant.

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)