Ryan Lochte

Ryan Lochte wins 2 golds on 3-swim night; Missy Franklin just misses medal at world swimming championships Friday

Leave a comment

Ryan Lochte took on a task Michael Phelps never attempted and completed it spectacularly at the world swimming championships in Barcelona on Friday night.

Lochte swam three events — the 200-meter backstroke final, the 100 butterfly semifinals and the 4×200 freestyle relay final — and finished first in every race. Neither Lochte nor Phelps had ever attempted a triple at a major international meet before.

Lochte, who turns 29 on Saturday, upped his medal count this week to three golds and one silver. He has two finals left, the 100 butterfly Saturday and the medley relay Sunday, to win five golds at worlds for the second straight time. Lochte ranks second all time in world golds (15 to Phelps’ 26) and total medals (23 to Phelps’ 33).

Missy Franklin, aiming to become the first woman to win six golds and seven medals at a single world championships, took fourth in the 100 free final. Her shot at seven medals is now over. She was not expected to win the event but was considered a medal contender. Franklin, 18, also qualified first into Saturday’s final in the 200 backstroke, where she is a heavy favorite.

Franklin will also be part of the women’s medley relay. She has four golds now and has a great chance at six total golds. Kristin Otto of Germany and Tracy Caulkins and Shirley Babashoff of the U.S. have also won six medals (but not all gold) at a single worlds.

Below are full results, analysis, quotes and video highlights from Friday’s action at Palau Sant Jordi.

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 100 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Cate Campbell (AUS) 52.34

Silver: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 52.89
Bronze: Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 53.42
4. Missy Franklin (USA) 53.47
5. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 53.67
6. Britta Steffen (GER) 53.75
7. Tang Yi (CHN) 54.27
8. Shannon Vreeland (54.49)

Summary
Franklin would have won bronze if she repeated her preliminary time, which was a personal best. Still, she was smiling after the race. Franklin won’t win seven medals, but she still is likely to win six golds, which no woman has done at a world championships. Australia wins both the 100 freestyle world titles at the same world championships for the first time. Campbell was .61 seconds under world-record pace at the 50-meter mark. She finished behind the world mark of 52.07. Sjostrom adds silver to her 100 butterfly gold. Kromowidjojo was the 2012 Olympic champion.

“I’m very, very happy with that race,” Franklin said. “I have so much to improve on in that race.”

Men’s 200 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Ryan Lochte (USA) 1:53.79
Silver: Radoslaw Kawecki (POL) 1:54.24
Bronze: Tyler Clary (USA) 1:54.64
4. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) 1:55.07
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 1:55.43
6. Craig McNally (GBR) 1:55.67
7. Xu Jiayu (CHN) 1:57.13
8. Peter Bernek (HUN) 1:58.26

Summary
Lochte had a slight lead at the 50, opened it up to a half-second at the 100 and the 150 and held on for his second straight world title in the 200 back and his second straight gold in Barcelona. Kawecki was a surprise medalist, snatching silver with a European record. Clary is the Olympic champion and was the top seed going into the final. The U.S. has won this event at every worlds and Olympics since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

“My first reaction getting into the wall was frustration,” Clary told Universal Sports. “It’s going to be fun trying to get back up on the podium the next three years.”

Women’s 200 Backstroke Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Missy Franklin (USA) 2:06.46
2. Hilary Caldwell (CAN) 2:07.15
3. Elizabeth Pelton (USA) 2:08.20
4. Belinda Hocking (AUS) 2:08.49
5. Daryna Zevina (UKR) 2:08.74
6. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 2:08.97
7. Daria Ustinova (RUS) 2:09.08
8. Sinead Russell (CAN) 2:09.84

Summary
Franklin showed how dominant she is in her signature event by qualifying more than a half-second faster than anyone else 20 minutes after getting out of the pool from the 100 free final. She’s the world champion, Olympic champion, world record holder and heavy, heavy favorite for gold No. 5 on Saturday. Pelton, who had a pair of third-place finishes at last year’s Olympic trials, looks to be in the mix for silver and bronze with Caldwell and Hocking, the 2011 world silver medalist.

“I will (relax),” said Franklin, who gets her first session off Saturday morning. “I’m going to get Starbucks.”

Men’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Florent Manaudou (FRA) 21.37
2. Anthony Ervin (USA) 21.42
3. Cesar Cielo (BRA) 21.60
3. Nathan Adrian (USA) 21.60
5. Frederick Bousquet (FRA) 21.62
6. Vladimir Morozov (RUS) 21.63
7. Roland Schoeman (RSA) 21.67
8. George Bovell (TRI) 21.74

Summary
Manaudou, the Olympic champion, also had the fastest prelim time. He’s the favorite for gold Saturday. Ervin, though, was spectacular in his semifinal and could also win gold after coming .02 shy of Cullen Jones‘ American record. Ervin was the co-gold medalist in the splash and dash at the 2000 Olympics. Cielo is the two-time defending world champion and world record holder. Adrian, too, is in the medal picture, though he has never medaled in this event at a worlds or Olympics. Adrian’s rival, James Magnussen, missed the final.

“My goal this summer was to get that bottom half of 21, 21.59 or better was my goal,” Ervin said. “Just with that swim alone, I feel really good the next couple years to Rio, the possibility of Rio.”

“Each hundredth is just so much emotional energy,” Adrian said. “If you want to win at this point, you’ve got to nail your start, breakout and your finish. That right there is the entire race.”

Women’s 200 Breaststroke Final

Results
Gold: Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 2:19.41

Silver: Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 2:20.08
Bronze: Micah Lawrence (USA) 2:22.37
4. Rie Kaneto (JPN) 2:22.96
5. Viktoriya Solntseva (UKR) 2:23.01
6. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 2:23.55
7. Sally Foster (AUS) 2:24.01
8. Martha McCabe (CAN) 2:25.21

Summary
Efimova passed Pedersen on the final 50 meters. Pedersen had broken Rebecca Soni‘s world record in the semifinals — clocking a 2:19.11. Efimova adds a gold to her Olympic silver and bronze from the 2011 worlds. Lawrence wins her first world or Olympic medal.

Men’s 100 Butterfly Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Ryan Lochte (USA) 51.48
2. Chad le Clos (RSA) 51.52
3. Konrad Czerniak (POL) 51.55
4. Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS) 51.60
5. Laszlo Cseh (HUN) 51.61
6. Matteo Rivolta (ITA) 51.64
7. Steffen Deibler (GER) 51.65
8. Yauhen Tsurkin (BLR) 51.78

Summary
Lochte swam a personal best to vault into the medal picture Saturday. Le Clos is the Olympic and world champion in the 200 butterfly and probably still the favorite for gold. Watch out for Deibler, who is the fastest in the world this year.

Women’s 50 Butterfly Semifinals

Advance To Final
1. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.50
2. Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 25.68
3. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 25.90
4. Melanie Henique (FRA) 25.95
5. Dana Vollmer (USA) 26.06
6. Inge Dekker (NED) 26.11
7. Farida Osman (EGY) 26.12
7. Ying Lu (CHN) 26.12

Summary
Vollmer, the Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100 fly, is healthy again after suffering through illness to a bronze in the 100 fly a few days ago. Ottesen Gray and Halsall are probably the favorites as the fastest women in the world this year. Dekker is the defending world champion. And how about Egypt getting a swimmer in a final?

“(I feel) so much better,” said Vollmer, who had three days off between events. “It just feels like everything kind of cleared up. My energy’s back.”

Men’s 200 Breaststroke Final

Results
Gold: Daniel Gyurta (HUN) 2:07.23

Silver: Marco Koch (GER) 2:08.54
Bronze: Matti Mattsson (FIN) 2:08.95
4. Andrew Willis (GBR) 2:09.13
5. Michael Jamieson (GBR) 2:09.14
6. Viatcheslav Sinkevich (UKR) 2:09.34
7. Akihiro Yamaguchi (JPN) 2:09.57
8. Ryo Tateishi (JPN) 2:10.28

Summary
Gyurta, seventh at 100 meters, took the lead between 100 and 150 and cruised home to become the sixth man to win three straight world titles in the same event. He went faster than his world record at the 2012 Olympics (a record since broken by the Japanese Yamaguchi). Mattsson became Finland’s first world medalist since 1994. Jamieson, the Olympic silver medalist, disappointed in fifth after coming in with the fastest time in the world this year.

Men’s 4×200 Free Relay

Results
Gold: United States 7:01.72

Silver: Russia 7:03.92
Bronze: China 7:04.74
4. France 7:04.91
5. Japan 7:04.95
6. Germany 7:10.07
7. Belgium 7:11.15
8. Great Britain 7:12.00

Summary
The U.S. used three of its four swimmers from the 2012 Olympic final — Lochte, Ricky Berens and Conor DwyerCharlie Houchin, who swam in the prelims in London, replaced Michael Phelps.The Americans were a solid but not overwhelming favorite.

Russia (Danila Izotov) led France (Yannick Agnel) by three tenths and the U.S. (Dwyer) by six tenths after the first leg, each nation using its medalist from the individual 200 free on leadoff. Lochte propelled the U.S. into the lead on his last turn of the second leg. Houchin and Berens extended the edge over Russia to a full body length to win easily.

The U.S. won its fifth straight world title in the event. Lochte finished a perfect night, two golds and qualifying first in the 100 butterfly. He now has three golds, one silver and a fourth with two finals left.

IOC not concerned about Russian sports minister’s comments on anti-gay legislation

Grand Prix Final results show women’s figure skating revolution progressing quickly

Grand Prix Final podium
AP
Leave a comment

The revolution in women’s figure skating is being televised.

That’s a turn of phrase on an admittedly dated reference (Google it). The point is we all have been able to witness, from TV broadcasts or live streams, a season with the most radical change in the sport since child prodigy Sonja Henie, then age 11, began doing jumps in her programs nearly a century ago.

What we watched other child prodigies do at last week’s Grand Prix Final boggled the minds of even those who saw it coming, because no one imagined it coming this soon and to this degree.

This essentially Russian revolution, which has taken maximum advantage of the scoring system and youthful body types to overthrow longtime technical norms of women’s skating, has split the discipline into haves and have-nots.

There are those who have the high-scoring quadruple jumps or multiple triple Axels to seize all the medals. And those who do not have those big jumps and, as of now, no chance to regain the podiums from which they have been summarily ousted.

Given what already had happened this season, it was not surprising that Russian first-year seniors Alena Kostornaia, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova swept the medals in the senior Final. Each had qualified by winning two of the six events in the Grand Prix series.

What is surprising is how far and fast the Troika – as NBC commentator and two-time Olympian Johnny Weir artfully nicknamed them, in a reference to a traditional Russian three-horse sled – has pushed the envelope and how far and fast they have left everyone else behind.

And imagine what the gap could be if women were allowed to do quads in the short program, which likely will be proposed at next year’s International Skating Union congress.

A year ago, it was shocking when the Troika, then all juniors internationally, swept the medals at the senior Russian Championships. Now it will be shocking if they don’t do it again at this year’s Russian Championships, which take place Dec. 24-29.

No women were regularly doing quads until last season. Consider what the Troika has done just this autumn:

*Kostornaia, 16, did not attempt a triple Axel in international competition before this season. Now she is doing one in the short program and two in the free, and all three were very well executed as she took gold at the Grand Prix Final.

*Shcherbakova, 15, began her international season the way she had finished last year at junior worlds, with one quad Lutz in the free skate; at the Grand Prix Final, she did two quad Lutzes (one clean, one under-rotated) and attempted her first quad flip (fall) in finishing second.

*Trusova, 15, began this season after having landed quad Lutz, quad Salchow and quad toe loop as a junior, but she was not attempting more than two in a program. In her senior Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada, she did four quads (three clean). At the Grand Prix Final, she added an excellent quad flip for five free skate quads, one of which she doubled and three of which were clean. She also attempted (and under-rotated) a triple Axel for the first time in the short program.

Even with the mistakes, the quads still racked up enough points for Shcherbakova that she beat a flawless Kostornaia in the free skate. And they gave Trusova a 20.71-point overall margin over fourth finisher Rika Kihira, 17, of Japan, who already had mastered triple Axels but has dropped so far from contention against the Troika that Kihira tried (and fell on) her first quad in competition.

And you have to feel a little sorry for reigning Olympic and world champion Alina Zagitova of Russia, at the technical cutting edge of her sport less than two years ago, now utterly overmatched – and still just 17 years old.

Zagitova’s free skate, an error-filled mess, dropped her from second after a fine short (less than six points behind Kostornaia) to sixth overall, more than 42 points behind Kostornaia and nearly 28 behind the third-place Trusova.

Even had she skated cleanly, having a long program with no quads or triple Axels meant the base value of Zagitova’s elements was more than 30 points less than Trusova’s, more than 20 less than Shcherbakova’s and about five less than Kostornaia’s. Zagitova would have needed otherworldly Grades of Execution marks and program component scores to compete for a medal.

Those who decry how much the quads have thrown the sport’s athletic-artistic balance out of whack found some satisfaction in Kostornaia’s having won with a performance and interpretive quality rare for a skater of her age.

Yet Kostornaia also accumulated some 21 free skate points for her triple Axels, about 13 more points than fifth-place finisher Bradie Tennell of the U.S. got for two clean double Axels. Even if Tennell had not made some relatively small mistakes, there was no way she could make up that difference.

And remember that if Trusova had cleanly landed the quad she doubled and the quad that resulted in a fall, she could have overcome not only her short program mistake but also the margin Kostornaia built in program components with clearly superior skating skills and artistry.

Tennell, 21, the top U.S. woman at the 2018 Olympics (ninth) and the last two World Championships (sixth and seventh), this season has displayed the best overall level of skating in her career. But a lack of quads and triple Axels has dropped her exponentially further behind the leaders.

Yet Tennell presses on.

“She may never catch them, but we keep pushing forward, trying to improve on both components and technical,” said Denise Myers, who coaches Tennell. “She is not settling for where she is now.”

About a month ago, I began to wonder if changing the factoring of the five Program Component Scores (PCS) so that they were the same for women as for men would level a playing field that has tilted so dramatically toward the jumpers.

Since the International Judging System was introduced in 2004, factors of .8 (short program) and 1.6 (long) have been applied to the raw total of each woman’s component score. They are 1.0 and 2.0 for men.

The logic behind the difference was until last season, a men’s free skate was 30 seconds longer with one more element. (Why it also applied to the short program is unclear, since the number of elements and time have been the same.)

“The idea of possible new factors for the program components for men was evaluated in the past season, because for the top skaters the technical score in the last years had considerably increased,” Italy’s Fabio Bianchetti, chair of the ISU technical committee for singles and pairs, said in an email.

“At the moment, for the majority of the [men], the [PCS] is still corresponding to about 50 percent of the total score. In some cases, the relation might not be exact, but a rule must consider all the skaters and not only the top five.

“Now we are dealing with the same situation for the ladies. This is something totally new, and we will study the problem during the season. But again, we cannot look at a couple of skaters only.”

In a recent interview with Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports, Weir seconded the idea of giving the women’s PCS scores the same weight as the men’s.

“It would give them a little better chance,” Samuel Auxier, an international judge and former U.S. Figure Skating, said in a text message last month.

So much has changed on the jump front since then that it turns out using the men’s PCS factors would have had almost no impact on the women’s results at the Grand Prix Final.

With some computational help from skatingscores.com, I recalculated the PCS scores from the Final with the 1.0 and 2.0 factors, added them to the TES scores and found just one difference: Kostornaia would have moved from second to first in the free skate. The overall and short program finish order would have been the same.

Actual Grand Prix Final scores
One of these (factor .8 / 1.6) shows the actual scores. Skatingscores.com
A re-imagined scoring of the Grand Prix Final
The Refactored scores show what they would be with factors of 1.0 and 2.0. Skatingscores.com

So, the 20% adjustment of PCS factor gender equality is not enough to put women without the most difficult jumps into medal contention.

And as Bianchetti pointed out, making that change or a more substantial one in the women’s factoring must take into consideration not only a few exceptional new talents.

“I truly do not believe that anyone seriously thought a lady would deliver four quads so quickly and especially at such a young age,” Ted Barton of Canada, who was involved in the creation of IJS, said in a text message last month. “Alysa Liu is a good American example of what the present is and future might be.”

(And, yes, there is an elephant in the room: whether the young talents are getting exaggerated PCS scores from judges smitten by their jumping. That’s a question for another day – or lifetime.)

Yet there is every indication the Troika are only the leading edge of a blizzard of jumping phenoms, not only from Russia. After all, Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist Liu, 14, last season became the youngest singles champion in U.S. history with three triple Axels, and she has added a quad Lutz this season.

“The factoring and [other] calculations were developed on what was being done at that point,” Barton said. “Now that skaters have shown new possibilities, the technical committees will look to see what adjustments can and should be made. Interesting times, indeed.”

For now, though, we are seeing in real time the unsettling effect revolutions can have.

And it seems surreal.

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.

MORE: What’s next for Nathan Chen after third consecutive Grand Prix Final win?

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Esther Kim, who gave her Olympic spot to best friend, dies at 40

Leave a comment

Esther Kim, a U.S. taekwondo athlete who gave up her Olympic spot to her injured best friend, died on Tuesday at age 40.

Kim had lost liver and kidney function and spent recent weeks hospitalized in an intensive-care unit, said Jake Stovall, a friend, former instructor and taekwondo athlete. Stovall set up a GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses.

In May 2000, Kim forfeited the U.S. Olympic Trials flyweight final to Kay Poe, allowing her best friend to take the lone spot available on the Olympic team.

Poe, reportedly ranked No. 1 in the world at the time, dislocated her left kneecap in the previous round. The injury would have kept her from being competitive in the final.

“I was in a very unfair situation. How can you go out there and fight someone who can’t even stand up?” Kim said in 2000. “There was only one choice to be made, and that was just to forfeit and bow out.”

Poe and Kim were training partners, both coached by Kim’s dad, and friends for the previous decade growing up in Houston.

“I felt blessed, and at the same time, I almost felt, like, guilty,” Poe said in 2000. “I couldn’t express it any other way, but it just came out with my tears.”

The story spread among national media, from The New York Times to Sports Illustrated to Oprah Winfrey.

Then-IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch arranged for Kim to travel to Sydney, where taekwondo made its Olympic debut as a medal event. Kim watched from the stands as Poe competed and was upset in her opening match.

“She was really one of a kind larger than life kind of woman,” was posted on Poe’s public Facebook page on Tuesday, along with a photo of her with Kim.

This was one of the last times I got to see her.. She was really one of a kind larger than life kind of woman. Sending all my love to her mother and family…

Posted by Kay Poe Sheffield on Tuesday, December 10, 2019