Katie Ledecky

Lochte, Franklin, Ledecky seek more gold at swim worlds; Saturday preview

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There are two full days of competition left at the world swimming championships, but Saturday (NBC 1-3 p.m. ET) marks the final individual swims for Ryan LochteMissy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.

They’ve won a combined 11 medals, 10 of them gold, this week in Barcelona. If they were one country, they would rank second in the medal table.

The U.S., by the way, is dominating the standings with 22 medals and 10 golds. The next closest are Australia with nine medals and China with four golds.

Lochte, with three golds and one silver, swims the 100-meter butterfly final at a world championships or Olympics for the first time in his career. He’s the top seed entering the final but no lock for gold. He will then swim the butterfly leg on Sunday’s medley relay to close his meet.

Franklin, with four golds, is the heavy favorite in the 200 backstroke final. She also has the medley relay left Sunday. If she wins both, she’ll be the first swimmer to win six golds at a single world championships and the fourth to win six medals of any color. East Germany’s Kristin Otto won six golds at the 1988 Olympics.

Ledecky, 16, with three golds, takes her final swim in her signature event, the 800 freestyle, where she could break her second world record of the meet. She would become the second woman to sweep the distance freestyles at a world championships, joining Germany’s Hannah Stockbauer, who did it 10 years ago at this same pool.

Scroll down for full fields, previews and medal picks for Saturday’s events:

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final (Vollmer)
Men’s 50 Freestyle Final (Adrian, Ervin)
Women’s 200 Backstroke Final (Franklin)
Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals
Men’s 100 Butterfly Final (Lochte)
Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals
Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals
Women’s 800 Freestyle Final (Ledecky)

NBC, Universal Sports broadcast schedule | Live results

Women’s 50 Butterfly Final

Field
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

Preview
Ottesen Gray pulled out of the 100 free, where she was the defending co-world champion. Here, she looks like the gold-medal favorite after posting the fastest time of 2013 in the semifinals. This is a non-Olympic event. Kromowidjojo, the Olympic champ in the 50 and 100 free, hasn’t been in peak form in Barcelona but is also a medal favorite, along with Halsall. Britain has yet to win a medal this week. Vollmer is the wild card. She took bronze in the 100 fly earlier this week but is now over an illness and could jump into the medals.

Medal Picks
Gold: Ottesen Gray
Silver: Kromowidjojo
Bronze: Halsall

Men’s 50 Freestyle Final

Field
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

Preview
Manaudou is the 2012 Olympic champion and gold-medal favorite. Cielo is the two-time defending world champion and was thought to be the silver-medal favorite before Ervin posted a personal best in the semifinals. Ervin, 32, won this event at the world championships 12 years ago. Adrian is much better in the 100 but is an outside medal threat.

Medal Picks
Gold: Manaudou
Silver: Cielo
Bronze: Ervin

Women’s 200 Backstroke Final

Field
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

Preview
Franklin won’t be touched in her signature event. She’s the reigning world champion, Olympic champion and world record holder. Only Pelton has been within a second of Franklin’s best time this year. The silver and bronze are up for grabs among Caldwell, Pelton and Hocking. But don’t lose sight of Hosszu, the 200 individual medley champion from this week.

Medal Picks
Gold: Franklin
Silver: Pelton
Bronze: Hocking

Women’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals

Field
1. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.78 WR
2. Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.99
3. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 30.07
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 30.46
5. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.55
6. Mariia Liver (UKR) 30.68
7. Petra Chocova (CZE) 30.77
8. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 30.82
9. Fiona Doyle (IRL) 30.93
10. Alia Atkinson (JAM) 31.12
11. Marina Garcia Urzainqui (ESP) 31.22
12. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 31.23
13. Rebecca Ejdervik (SWE) 31.39
14. Yuzhe He (CHN) 31.46
15. Samantha Marshall (AUS) 31.49
16. Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir (ISL) 31.50

Preview
Tough week for Hardy, who lost both of her breaststroke world records in Barcelona. Meilutyte took down the 100 breast mark, and now Efimova has the 50 record. Sunday’s final should be a real meeting of champions. Efimova won the 200 breast Friday. Meilutyte won the 100 breast Tuesday. Hardy is the defending world champion. They’ve all gone sub-30 this year, and they’re the only women to do so. Larson is probably the best of the rest.

Men’s 100 Butterfly Final

Field
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

Preview
Lochte looks to continue a U.S. gold-medal streak at this event at every worlds or Olympics since 2003. Michael Phelps won the last three world titles and last three Olympic titles. If Lochte wins (or medals), he’ll do something Phelps never did — win world titles in four different disciplines. No man or woman has ever done it, according to John Lohn of swimvortex.com. It could be close. Lochte has the top seed time, but le Clos, the 200 fly champ, and Czerniak are right there with him. Deibler has gone 51.19 this year.

Medal Picks
Gold: Lochte
Silver: Le Clos
Bronze: Korotyshkin

Women’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

Field
1. Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.27
2. Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.60
3. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.65
4. Ranomi Kromomwidjojo (NED) 24.68
5. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.78
6. Chantal van Landeghem (CAN) 24.89
7. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.93
8. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.99
9. Natalie Coughlin (USA) 25.00
10. Victoria Poon (CAN) 25.01
10. Aleksandra Urbanczyk (POL) 25.01
12. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 25.04
13. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (BAH) 25.15
14. Femke Heemskerk (NED) 25.19
15. Hanna-Maria Seppala (FIN) 25.20
16. Pernille Blume (DEN) 25.23

Preview
Campbell returns a day after winning the 100 free in impressive fashion as the clear favorite to be the top seed going into this final as well. Her younger sister, Bronte, 19, and Halsall and Kromowidjojo are the most likely of anyone to challenge her, if that’s possible. Manuel and Coughlin, the most decorated world championships swimmer of all time, will have to fight to make the final.

Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

Field
1. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.67
2. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.72
3. Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.79
4. Gerhard Zandberg (RSA) 24.85
5. David Plummer (USA) 24.91
6. Bastiaan Lijesen (NED) 24.94
7. Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.97
8. Guy Marcos Barnea (ISR) 25.01
8. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 25.01
10. Matt Grevers (USA) 25.08
11. Lavrans Solli (NOR) 25.15
12. Jonatan Josef Kopelev (ISR) 25.17
13. Ashley Delaney (AUS) 25.36
14. Pavel Sankovich (BLR) 25.40
15. Federico Grabrich (ARG) 25.44
16. Juan Miguel Rando Galvez (ESP) 25.52

Preview
Grevers won the 100 backstroke world title, but Plummer, the silver medalist in the 100 back, is stronger in this event. He owns the fastest time of 2013. Grevers is on the bubble of making Sunday’s final. The other top medal contenders are Stravius, Orzechowski and Lacourt.

Women’s 800 Freestyle Final

Field
1. Katie Ledecky (USA) 8:20.65
2. Lauren Boyle (NZL) 8:21.00
3. Lotte Friis (DEN) 8:23.00
4. Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 8:25.03
5. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) 8:26.26
6. Martina De Memme (ITA) 8:26.95
7. Andreina Pinto (VEN) 8:27.03
8. Chloe Sutton (USA) 8:27.41

Preview
The world record could be in play here, given Ledecky already broke the mark in the 1,500 this week and was just a half-second off of it when she won gold in London. The woman with the fastest time of 2013, Britain’s Jazmin Carlin, didn’t make the final. So Friis and Boyle, silver and bronze medalists in the 1,500 free, will again be the closest to Ledecky. But they shouldn’t be all that close. Spain’s best overall swimmer, Belmonte Garcia, goes for her third medal of worlds.

Medal Picks
Gold: Ledecky
Silver: Boyle
Bronze: Friis

What Jason Lezak is doing in retirement

Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s first Olympic track and field medalist, has coronavirus

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Ehsan Hadadi, Iran’s lone Olympic track and field medalist, tested positive for the coronavirus, according to World Athletics and an Iranian news agency.

“We’ve received word from several Asian journalists that Iranian discus thrower Ehsan Hadadi has tested positive for coronavirus,” according to World Athletics. “[Hadadi] trains part of the year in the US, but was home in Tehran when he contracted the virus.”

Hadadi, 35, became the first Iranian to earn an Olympic track and field medal when he took silver in the discus at the 2012 London Games. Hadadi led through four of six rounds before being overtaken by German Robert Harting, who edged the Iranian by three and a half inches.

He was eliminated in qualifying at the Rio Olympics and placed seventh at last fall’s world championships in Doha.

Jordan Larson preps for her last Olympics, one year later than expected

Jordan Larson
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Whether the Tokyo Olympics would have been this summer or in 2021, Jordan Larson knew this: It will mark her final tournament with the U.S. volleyball team, should she make the roster.

“I’m just not getting any younger,” said Larson, a 33-year-old outside hitter. “I’ve been playing consistently overseas for 12 years straight with no real offseason.

“I also have other endeavors in my life that I want to see. Getting married, having children, those kinds of things. The older I get, the more challenging those become.”

Larson, who debuted on the national team in 2009, has been a leader the last two Olympic cycles. She succeeded Christa Harmotto Dietzen as captain after the Rio Games. Larson started every match at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

As long as Larson was in the building, the U.S. never had to worry about the outside hitter position, said two-time Olympian and NBC Olympics volleyball analyst Kevin Barnett.

“She played as if she belonged from the start,” he said. “They will miss her all-around capability. They’ll miss her ability to make everyone around her better. She’s almost like having a libero who can hit.”

Karch Kiraly, the Olympic indoor and beach champion who took over as head coach after the 2012 Olympics, gushed about her court vision.

“It’s a little dated now, but somebody like Wayne Gretzky just saw things that other people didn’t see on the hockey rink,” Kiraly said in 2018. “And I remember reading about him one time, and the quote from an opposing goalie was, oh my god, here he comes, what does he see that I don’t see right now? She sees things sooner than most people.”

Larson grew up in Hooper, Neb., (population 830) and starred at the University of Nebraska. She was a three-time All-American who helped the team win a national title as a sophomore. She had the opportunity to leave Nebraska and try out for the Olympics in 2008 but chose to remain at school for her final season.

She earned the nickname “Governor” as a Cornhusker State sports icon.

Larson helped the U.S. win its first major international title at the 2014 World Championship. She was also part of the program’s two stingers — defeats in the 2012 Olympic final and 2016 Olympic semifinals, both matches where the U.S. won the first set (and convincingly in 2012).

“It just gives me chills thinking about it now,” Larson said of the Rio Olympic semifinals, where Serbia beat the U.S. 15-13 in the fifth. “That team, we put in so much. Not just on the court but off the court working on culture and working on how are we best for each other. How can we be the best team? How can we out-team people? Certain teams have a better one player that’s a standout that we maybe didn’t have or don’t have. So how can we out-team the other teams? We had just put in so much work that was just heartbreaking.”

Larson and the Americans rebounded to win the bronze-medal match two days later.

“I don’t know anybody that didn’t have their heart ripped out. It was just a soul-crusher of a match,” Kiraly said of the semifinal. “More meaningful was what a great response everybody, including Jordan, mounted to the disappointment of that loss.”

The U.S. took fifth at worlds in 2018 and is now ranked second in the world behind China.

Larson spent the past club season in Shanghai. The campaign ended in mid-January. She hadn’t heard anything about the coronavirus when she took her scheduled flight back to California, learning days later that LAX started screening for it. Now, she’s working out from her garage.

Larson is in line to become the fifth-oldest U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball player in history, according Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

Her decade of experience could go a long way to help the next generation of outside hitters, led by three-time NCAA champion and Sullivan Award winner Kathryn Plummer.

“If you’re coming into the USA program as an outside hitter, in the next year or the quad or the quad after that,” Barnett said, “the measuring stick is going to be Jordan Larson.”

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