Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin wins record-breaking sixth gold medal; U.S. men DQ’d in medley relay at world championships

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Missy Franklin ended the world swimming championships with a history-making title, while Ryan Lochte was left with a familiar feeling of disappointment in Barcelona on Sunday.

Franklin led off the U.S. women’s 4×100-meter medley relay in her signature stroke, the backstroke, giving the Americans a lead they would only build on. Jessica HardyDana Vollmer and Megan Romano took their turns on the way to a 3-minute, 53.23-second finish, two seconds better than silver medalist Australia.

“I’m not really sure where that came from, but I’m really happy with that,” Franklin said, according to The Associated Press. “I knew I had to get out there for my team. We had really tough competition in that race, so we were sitting there in the ready room and we said, ‘No matter what happens, we’re just going to do our best and have fun and we can’t let each other down if we do that.’ So I just went out there and it hurt really, really bad, but now we’re done and we’re all super excited.”

It marked Franklin’s sixth gold of the meet, breaking her tie with American Tracy Caulkins, East German Kristin Otto and Australian Libby Trickett for most golds won by a woman at a single world championships. Otto holds the record for most golds won at an Olympics, six at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Franklin, 18, also stands alone with the most career world championships gold medals by a woman (nine). She keeps getting better. She won three golds at her first world championships in 2011 and four golds at the 2012 Olympics. She and another U.S. teen, Katie Ledecky, a quadruple gold medalist with two world records, were the stars of the eight days at the Palau Sant Jordi. Ledecky was named female swimmer of the meet.

Lochte’s meet could have gone better. Three golds and one silver is nothing to pout about, but it’s also his least fruitful major international meet since the 2008 Olympics.

Lochte appeared to win gold No. 4 in the men’s medley relay. The U.S. touched first by 1.45 seconds, but the Americans were disqualified because Kevin Cordes took off for the second leg too early (by the smallest margin possible, .01).

“A relay disqualification is not a particular individual’s fault,” said Nathan Adrian, who swam the anchor leg, according to the AP. “It’s Team USA’s fault and it falls on all of our shoulders.

“If us four ever step up again, we’re never going to have a disqualification, that’s for sure. It will really motivate him. I don’t doubt if in the next couple years we’re going to have the fastest breaststroker in the world swimming for Team USA. This could be a catalyst for that.”

It was eerily similar to what happened the only other time Lochte was on the medley relay at a major international meet. In 2007, Ian Crocker left .01 too early on the butterfly leg in the preliminary heat. Memorably, this cost Michael Phelps an eighth gold medal at those worlds before he went eight for eight at the Beijing Olympics. Lochte swam the leadoff backstroke on that relay heat.

The U.S. easily won the medal table at the pool (29 medals, 13 golds). Australia and China were second with 13 medals and five golds, respectively. The U.S. also won 29 medals at the 2011 worlds but had more golds (16).

But the best comparison is to the last world championships held the year after the Olympics. The U.S. surpassed its medal haul from 2009, 22 medals and 10 golds, when Phelps was on the roster. It’s clear the U.S. will get along fine with Phelps out of the picture (whether that’s for good or a finite period of time). Franklin, Ledecky and Lochte are now a three-pronged face of USA Swimming.

Also Sunday, Chase Kalisz, 19, took silver in his only event at his first worlds, the 400 individual medley. Matt Grevers (50 back), Jessica Hardy (50 breast) and Elizabeth Beisel (400 IM) all won bronze medals.

Chinese superstar Sun Yang became the second man to sweep the distance freestyles in winning the 1,500 free, and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu swept the individual medleys by touching first in the 400 IM. Sun was named the male swimmer of the meet.

Scroll down for full results, analysis and quotes from the final day of the world swimming championships. Check out full coverage on NBC from 4-6 p.m. Eastern time, too.

Full results

Men’s 50 Backstroke Final

Results
Gold: Camille Lacourt (FRA) 24.42
Silver: Jeremy Stravius (FRA) 24.54
Silver: Matt Grevers (USA) 24.54
4. Aschwin Wildeboer (ESP) 24.58
5. Sun Xiaolei (CHN) 24.76
6. Daniel Orzechowski (BRA) 24.87
7. Jonatan Kopolev (ISR) 25.14
8. Guy Barnea (ISR) 25.19

Summary
Lacourt adds this gold to his 2011 co-world title with Stravius in the 100 back and his 2011 silver in the 50 back. Stravius completes his medal set (also gold in 4×100 free relay, bronze in 100 back). Grevers adds silver to his gold in the 100 back. He still has the leadoff leg in the 4×100 medley relay to come.

Women’s 50 Breaststroke

Results
Gold: Yuliya Efimova (RUS) 29.52
Silver: Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) 29.59
Bronze: Jessica Hardy (USA) 29.80
4. Breeja Larson (USA) 29.95
5. Jennie Johansson (SWE) 30.23
6. Rikke Pedersen (DEN) 30.72
7. Moniek Nijhuis (NED) 31.31
Petra Chicova (CZE) DSQ

Summary
Efimova, who held the world record for eight hours Saturday, came within .04 of the mark set by Meilutyte in the semifinals. Hardy equaled her American record, which was the world record about 33 hours ago. Hardy added her second bronze of the meet, also getting third in the 100 breast. Larson went under 30 seconds for the first time.

Men’s 400 Individual Medley

Results
Gold: Daiya Seto (JPN) 4:08.69

Silver: Chase Kalisz (USA) 4:09.22
Bronze: Thiago Pereira (BRA) 4:09.48
4. Tyler Clary (USA) 4:10.39
5. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) 4:10.77
6. David Verraszto (HUN) 4:13.68
7. Dan Wallace (GBR) 4:13.72
8. Thomas Fraser-Holmes (AUS) 4:17.46

Summary
Hagino, 18, opened up a two-second-plus lead after 200 meters. His teammate Seto made up the deficit, led after 300 and came home for a surprise gold. Kalisz, 19, in his only event of his first world championships, came back from fourth at 300 to sneak in for silver. It’s only the second time in the last 14 world championships or Olympics that an American did not win the 400 IM.

Women’s 50 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) 24.05
Silver: Cate Campbell (AUS) 24.14
Bronze: Francesca Halsall (GBR) 24.30
4. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 24.45
5. Jeanette Ottesen Gray (DEN) 24.66
5. Bronte Campbell (AUS) 24.66
7. Simone Manuel (USA) 24.80
8. Dorothea Brandt (GER) 24.81

Summary
Kromowidjojo, the Olympic champion, upset the Australian Cate Campbell, who was the top qualifier, fastest woman in the world this year and only woman in the field who has gone sub-24. Campbell had the slowest reaction time in the field and couldn’t recover. With Halsall’s bronze, Britain avoids going medal-less a year after hosting the Olympics. The American Manuel, 17, lowered her personal best for the third straight swim.

“I think I should have gone faster,” Kromowidjojo, who matched her personal best time from the Olympic final, told Eurosport.

Men’s 1,500 Freestyle Final

Results
Gold: Sun Yang (CHN) 14:41.15

Silver: Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 14:42.48
Bronze: Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) 14:45.37
4. Connor Jaeger (USA) 14:47.96
5. Michael McBroom (USA) 14:53.95
6. Jordan Harrison (AUS) 15:00.44
7. Pal Joensen (FAR) 15:03.10
8. Daniel Fogg (GBR) 15:05.92

Summary
Sun is giving Lochte a run for his money as the world’s best male swimmer. He became the second man to sweep the distance freestyles at a world championships, joining Australian Grant Hackett. Sun also won bronze in the 4×200 free relay, posting the second fastest split of all time. It really makes you wonder where Sun could have finished had he entered the individual 200 free, where Lochte took fourth.

Sun, 22, is now the current Olympic champion in the 400 and 1,500 (the 800 isn’t part of the Olympic program), the current world champion in the 400, 800 and 1,500 and the world record holder in the 1,500. He absolutely toyed with Cochrane in this final. Cochrane led Sun by a tenth at the 800 mark, and even paced at 1,400, before Sun decided to take it up a notch. The Canadian held on for his fourth straight silver in the 1,500 at a worlds or Olympics. Jaeger had won bronze in the 400 free; McBroom silver in the 800 free.

Women’s 400 Individual Medley Final

Results
Gold: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) 4:30.41

Silver: Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) 4:31.21
Bronze: Elizabeth Beisel (USA) 4:31.69
4. Maya DiRado (USA) 4:32.70
5. Hannah Miley (GBR) 4:34.16
6. Szuszanna Jakabos (HUN) 4:34.50
7. Ye Shiwen (CHN) 4:38.51
8. Miyu Otsuka (JPN) 4:39.21

Summary
Hosszu was 2.16 seconds under world record pace at 300 meters but couldn’t get it due to Ye’s extraordinary final 100 in her world record at the 2012 Olympics, where she outsplit Lochte on the final 50. Hosszu became the first woman to sweep the individual medleys at a world championships since American Katie Hoff in 2005 and 2007. Belmonte Garcia won her third medal of the meet (silver, 200 butterfly, bronze 200 IM). Ye gained 11 pounds after the Olympics and went medal-less in Barcelona, swimming 10 seconds slower in this final than the Olympics. Beisel was the defending world champion and Olympic silver medalist. DiRado knocked almost two seconds off her personal best at her first world championships.

“I feel awful,” Hosszu told Eurosport. “It actually hurt more than ever before. After the morning, I was a little bit concerned because the morning hurt pretty bad, too.”

Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay

Results
Gold: France 3:31.51

Silver: Australia 3:31.64
Bronze: Japan 3:32.26
4. Russia 3:32.74
5. Germany 3:33.97
6. Italy 3:34.06
7. Hungary 3:34.09
United States DSQ

Summary
The U.S., which touched the wall first, was disqualified because of world championships rookie Kevin Cordes leaving too early on the second leg. His reaction time of -.04 was the exact same reaction time Ian Crocker had in 2007, the last time the U.S. was DQ’d from this event at a major international meet. In 2007, that was .01 too fast. That was also the only other time Lochte was a part of this relay. 

Grevers, the 100 backstroke world and Olympic champion, gave the U.S. a two tenths lead after 100. Cordes, 19, seventh in the 100 breast final, dropped behind Australia (and world champion Christian Sprenger) by .34. Lochte, seventh in the 100 butterfly, retook the lead by .75, with France moving ahead of Australia. Adrian, the bronze medalist in the 100 free, had no problem holding onto (and extending) that lead.

But the gold goes to France, the first time a nation other than the U.S. or Australia won this event at a worlds or Olympics.

Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay

Results
Gold: United States 3:53.23

Silver: Australia 3:55.22
Bronze: Russia 3:56.47
4. China 3:57.30
5. Japan 3:58.06
6. Great Britain 3:58.67
7. Canada 4:00.19
8. Germany 4:01.81

Summary
Franklin, the world champ in the 100 back, gave the U.S. a .31 lead after the first 100 meters. Hardy, bronze medalist in the 100 breast, upped it to 1.91 seconds over Russia (Austraila is really weak on breast). Volllmer, the bronze medalist in the 100 fly, brought it to a 3.24 lead over Russia. Even Cate Campbell, the 100 free gold medalist for Australia, couldn’t catch American Megan Romano.

Franklin earned a record-breaking sixth gold medal at a single world championships. No woman had won more than five previously. The U.S. swept all three women’s relays in Barcelona, the first time one nation had ever done that.

Shaun White’s band a surprise Lollapalooza headliner

Allyson Felix withdraws from Prefontaine Classic

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Allyson Felix withdrew on the eve of the Prefontaine Classic and will miss Saturday’s anticipated 400m showdown with Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and world champion Phyllis Francis.

No reason was given by the meet director at a Friday press conference, according to media in Eugene, Ore.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist and 16-time world outdoor championships medalist, was scheduled to race on the top international level for the first time since Aug. 20. She has raced in smaller meets this season, most recently last Friday.

This is the one year in the four-year cycle without an Olympics or world outdoor championships, making the Diamond League, and the Pre Classic in particular, marquee meets.

“In the 19 years that I’ve been running track, I’ve never taken a break,” the 32-year-old Felix said in an Instagram video Thursday after an intense training session but before her name was taken off Saturday’s start list. “Never had a year where I took it easy. … Now that this is kind of a year without a championship, I’ve had to force myself to have a different approach because my goal is 2020. … To be able to be at my best when it counts, I think that means not having as intense of a year as I usually do. Being a competitor and an athlete, that’s something that I struggle with. … This year, that’s what I’m really trying to force myself to do is have quality races, quality over quantity. … So, if you guys don’t see me at as many of the races as I usually run, don’t worry, I’m fine, I’m just challenging myself to be smarter.”

Felix will miss the Pre Classic for the second time in the last nine years. She was absent in 2016 with an ankle injury.

The USATF Outdoor Championships are in one month.

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Will Japan’s Olympic legend return for Tokyo 2020?

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NEW YORK — The Tokyo Olympics are in 790 days. Will Japan’s most dominant Olympian compete?

“She hasn’t decided yet,” a translator said beside wrestler Kaori Icho, who stood in street clothes, some given to her by an American host family, matside at the annual Beat the Streets meet on the edge of the East River on Manhattan last week.

Icho, who turns 34 on June 13, is the only woman to earn an individual gold medal at four Olympics. She has not wrestled in competition since capturing that fourth title in Rio. She has not announced retirement, either.

Icho once held a 13-year winning streak on the mat and owns 10 world championships.

While in New York, Icho did a high school clinic in Brooklyn (one wonders if the students knew they were learning from the greatest of all time), met Olympic and world champion Kyle Snyder (a particular highlight of this trip) and trained with Helen Maroulis before attending the meet as a spectator. In Rio, Maroulis became the first American woman to win an Olympic wrestling title.

Maroulis is familiar with Icho. In 2012, they trained together and drove to a Drake concert in Colorado. They met again in 2014. But last week was different. The most intense training they’ve shared. Their first full practice, said Maroulis, recently cleared from a January concussion.

“I think she’s coming back,” Maroulis said with confidence. Here’s why: “[Icho] busted out the video camera,” Maroulis went on. “Like, hey, can I record practice?

“She feels good. She’s still got it. She’s smaller than she was, obviously, right at the Olympics. She’s amazing. There’s so much to learn from her.”

Icho said through the translator that if she does come back, she would start in the next year rather than leaving it a few months before the Tokyo Games.

She is already the oldest woman to win Olympic wrestling gold (women’s wrestling was added to the Olympic program in 2004, Icho’s first Games). By 2020, she will be older than any men’s wrestling champion since Bulgarian Valentin Yordanov in 1996.

How much a home Olympics influences Icho’s decision is something that she didn’t share. Icho said she might go for a fifth Olympics even if the 2020 Games were not in Japan.

“It’s hard to say,” said Ken Marantz, who has covered sports in Japan for three decades. “She’s kind of a quiet person.”

United World Wrestling shadowed Icho and the more-famous Japanese wrestler Saori Yoshida before the Rio Olympics as both trained to go for their fourth gold medals. The international federation made a 20-minute documentary titled, “The Celebrity and the Samurai.”

Yoshida was the celebrity, her face a constant on TV, Icho the samurai, a zen-like warrior. Yoshida would lose in her Rio Olympic final to Maroulis, one day after Icho won her weight class.

“Kaori, she was always more private and less approachable, not in a bad way,” said William May, who has written about international wrestling for 30 years, including for Kyodo News in Tokyo. “She’s always been kind of a mystery to the Japanese.”

Like when she lived in Canada with her sister for months after the 2008 Olympics, skipping a world championships during her peak years.

“It’s not that I don’t like being on TV, but I don’t like my practice time being taken away or to lose time for myself,” Icho said in the 2016 United World Wrestling film.

Something else to consider is that Japan is the world power in women’s wrestling. It might be more difficult for Icho to earn Japan’s one available Olympic spot in the 58kg division than run through the Olympic bracket of the best from the rest of the world.

Japanese women took gold at the 2017 World Championships in both the 55kg and 60kg divisions. Those two women, both several years younger than Icho, must choose to go for the Olympics in the 53kg, 58kg or 63kg divisions.

Maroulis, who now competes at 58kg, wants to face Icho at the Olympics in what she called “a dream” matchup. The American’s dominance the last three years rivals Icho’s heyday — world titles in 2015 and 2017 without surrendering a point, winning the latter title with a torn thumb ligament, and dethroning Yoshida in Rio in between, all three golds at different weights while compiling a 78-1 record before the concussion.

Icho described her recent practice with Maroulis as “very hard.”

“She doesn’t quit,” Icho said through the translator. “She just keeps coming.”

Icho re-emerged in Japanese headlines in recent months as a tragic figure. A reported history of verbal harassment and threats from a Japanese Wrestling Federation director who resigned.

The biggest Japanese athlete story at the Tokyo Games would be if two-way baseball star Shohei Ohtani suited up, Marantz said. But Ohtani is on a Los Angeles Angels contract until 2024, which would keep him out of the Games unless MLB reverses its stance and releases players for the Olympics.

After that, perhaps Kohei Uchimura, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic all-around champion gymnast expected to compete in fewer events in the last years of his career. (Icho said that if she could pick anybody to light the Olympic cauldron, not including wrestlers, it would be Uchimura.)

Or the Japanese men’s 4x100m relay team that took silver in Rio and bronze at the 2017 Worlds. Or a rising group of table tennis players challenging the rival Chinese.

Swimming, gymnastics and judo are more popular sports in Japan than wrestling, Marantz said. But the nation would be pulling for Icho’s pursuit of individual gold in five Olympics, something no man or woman from any nation in any sport has done.

“Icho does not care one bit for records,” Tim Foley, who followed Icho for the 2016 film and escorted her in New York, said before the Rio Games. 

“Of course [Icho] wants to win, but it’s less important than wrestling a perfect match,” May said. That’s one thing she hasn’t done.

“I think she likes the challenge,” Marantz said. “Any tournaments that I went to that she won, which was all the ones she was in, she never, ever said she wrestled good.”

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