Lochte wins six gold medals at Worlds, then gives one away

1 Comment

Attention: Ryan Lochte is back atop the swimming world.

With the retirement of his chief rival Michael Phelps, Lochte is once again the fastest man in the water. At the Short-Course World Championships, which ended Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey, Lochte won six gold medals and broke two world records.

The 28-year-old also won a silver medal in the 200m backstroke.

So yeah, it’s safe to say he is the acting king of swim racing.

Lochte won the 100m IM (WR), 200m IM (WR) and the 200m freestyle, and was on the winning relay teams – 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle and the 4x100m IM.

The medal haul matched his total at the 2010 Short-Course Worlds and at the 2011 Long-Course Worlds, he earned one less gold medal. At the London Olympics, Lochte picked up two gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze.

But wait, there’s more. After receiving his 200m IM gold medal, Lochte walked over to the stands and draped it around the neck of a 9-year-old boy. It was a nice gesture, and it’s something Lochte often does at meets other than the Olympics. He told the BBC his reason for doing so: “I remember when as a kid I looked up to an Olympian superstar. I won’t mention his name [but] I asked for an autograph and he said ‘no’. I told my parents that if I ever get in the same position, I’ll do it.”

We give Lochte high marks for his speed in the pool and his generosity out of it.

On another note, move over Speedo: Swimwear (and swim gear) company Arena is now the chief sponsor of the U.S. national team, ending a 30-year period during which Speedo held that title. Arena, whose U.S. roster of sponsored athletes includes Rebecca Soni and Conor Dwyer, will provide new uniforms for the team and will be the title sponsor of USA Swimming’s Grand Prix series.

In London, swimmers wearing Arena suits won 31 percent of the medals – eight gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze – and broke four world records.

Simone Biles routing field, edging note card at U.S. Gymnastics Championships

Leave a comment

BOSTON — Simone Biles leads the field by a whopping 3.1 points halfway through the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. She beat the number at the bottom of the note card in her locker at the World Champions Centre in Texas by a much smaller margin.

No matter the perspective, Biles was more dominant on Friday night than during most of the Rio Olympic cycle. In just her second meet in two years. Nine months after returning to training after a 14-month break.

Biles tallied the highest score on every apparatus in the field and the world’s highest all-around score since Rio — 60.1 points. The second-highest score since Rio? Biles’ 58.7 from her comeback meet at the U.S. Classic three weeks ago.

“At Classics, I was still easing back into everything and kind of feeling the surroundings and getting used to competing again,” Biles, 21, said on the fifth anniversary of her first U.S. all-around title. “I feel like today I really embraced it.”

NATIONALS: Scores | TV/Stream Schedule

In the last Olympic cycle, Biles averaged a 1.94-point lead after the first day of nationals.

She rolls into the final day of competition Sunday, looking to become the first woman to win five U.S. all-around titles and the first non-teen to win since 1971. And send another message ahead of October’s world championships.

Morgan Hurd, who won the 2017 World all-around title in Biles’ absence, is in a distant second after four clean routines. The margin between Biles and Hurd is greater than the margin between Hurd and the eighth-place gymnast.

Asked to put her 60-pointer in perspective, Biles brought up the note card.

“I think it says 60 at the bottom,” said Biles, who hit 62.366 in Rio under a different scoring system.

Biles hit 60 points in a practice meet at her gym right before she left for the U.S. Classic. Her new coaches, Cecile and Laurent Landi, encouraged Biles to keep the visual reminder placed in her locker leading up to nationals.

“I wanted to show her that she could reach that score,” Laurent Landi said. “It’s not a big deal. If she does normal, she can be there.”

But nobody else can. Biles had 25.4 total points in difficulty on Friday. The next-highest gymnast (Hurd) had 22.7.

Biles essentially began the meet with a 2.7-point head start. She then was judged to have better overall execution than everybody else, even though she had the disadvantage of performing harder routines.

“She’s just mentally there,” said Riley McCusker, who led Biles going into the last rotation at the U.S. Classic and is in third place here. “She can take that time off and [be] physically there, too.”

BILES ROUTINES: Balance Beam | Floor Exercise | Uneven Bars | Vault 1 | Vault 2

Biles’ flaw in her comeback meet three weeks ago was the uneven bars. She fell trying a more difficult routine than in Rio.

On Friday, Biles nailed her bars set, receiving applause from Laurent Landi, who coached Madison Kocian to a bars silver in Rio.

Biles has never won a national title on bars. At the Olympics, she had the highest scores in the all-around on beam, floor and vault and the seventh-highest score on bars.

“She needs to go through more mental belief that she [belongs] at this level on the bars,” said Laurent Landi, a 40-year-old former French gymnast.

Landi insisted Biles was not at her best Friday. He noted her two overcooked tumbling passes on floor that cost her six tenths for going out of bounds. Imperfect landings on other events. He dismissed Biles’ lead and said he already has plans for upgraded routines before worlds, next year and possibly in the Olympic year.

“Sometimes when it’s difficult in the gym, we, my wife and I, try just to remind her who she’s trying to beat,” he said. “It’s herself.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

GYM NATIONALS: TV/Stream Schedule | Where Are The Final Five?

Laurie Hernandez faces big decisions before comeback

Getty Images
Leave a comment

BOSTON — Laurie Hernandez still hopes to compete in 2019, but she must find a coach and a gym first. And transition from conditioning to regular gymnastics training.

“Kind of dipping my toe in the water,” she said Friday at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, where she is strictly a spectator.

Hernandez hasn’t competed since earning team gold and balance beam silver in Rio. Other than Simone Biles, she is the only member of the Final Five openly expressing a desire to return to elite competition next year.

“Because I’m still passionate about it,” she said. “Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always loved it, and I still do. It’s still really important to me.”

Hernandez said she has been on gymnastics equipment every so often but not consistently. She has said hello to new U.S. high-performance team coordinator Tom Forster.

She hopes to pick Aly Raisman‘s brain about coming back. Raisman took almost a year off after the 2012 London Games, then trained for a full year before returning to competition in March 2015.

Unlike Raisman, Hernandez said there is no unfinished business from the Olympics that motivates her.

“I know what I’m getting myself into,” Hernandez said. “It’s kind of like curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back. Being 16, being so curious, not really knowing what I’m walking into, that was such an interesting experience [in Rio].”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

GYM NATIONALS: TV/Stream Schedule | Where Are The Final Five?