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

Major League Baseball sponsors U.S. Olympic softball team

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NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is using its financial muscle to support the U.S. women’s softball team, which already is assured a spot in the Tokyo Olympics while the American men’s baseball team struggles to qualify.

MLB announced an agreement Thursday to become presenting sponsor of the women’s “Stand Beside Her” tour, a slate of exhibition games leading up to the Olympic tournament from July 22-28.

“We’re both bat and ball sports. Even though we’re not the same sport, there are so many similarities that you just can’t ignore,” said Kim Ng, MLB’s senior vice president for baseball operations. “It was important for us to make sure that they have this acknowledgment and recognition of their ability and their talent.”

Softball began as an Olympic sport for the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 with players that included Dot Richardson, Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza, then lost to Japan in the 2008 gold-medal game.

Baseball and softball were dropped for the next two Olympics, then restored for this year, when the U.S. and Japan will be joined by Australia, Canada, Italy and Mexico for games in Fukushima and Yokohama but not Tokyo. The sports are likely to be dropped for 2024 in Paris but could return four years later in Los Angeles.

The U.S. men’s baseball team stumbled in its first attempt to qualify, wasting a ninth-inning lead against Mexico in the final game of the Premier12 tournament in November and losing in the 10th. The U.S. has two more chances to join Israel, Japan, Mexico and South Korea in the Olympic field: an Americas tournament in Arizona from March 22-26 and a final tournament in Taiwan from April 1-5.

MLB is not allowing players on 40-man big league rosters to compete in qualifying, and few top pitching prospects were at the November tournament.

Softball has no such issues. The Olympics are the sport’s highest-profile event.

“The platform for us is 10 times bigger,” American outfielder Haylie McCleney said. “For us, it’s a great opportunity for people that have never watched softball before, people that have only followed it at the collegiate level, to really see how fun our game is to watch, how pure it is. If people are baseball fans, I guarantee they’re going to love softball because it’s pretty much just a faster game – it’s shorter, it’s quicker, it’s more entertaining to watch, in my opinion.”

The 2008 gold-medal softball game took 1 hours, 45 minutes — less than half the 3:45 average for this year’s World Series.

As part of the deal with MLB, the softball team’s official training facility will be at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida, the old Dodgertown spring training camp.

MLB Network will include programming from the tour, which currently starts Feb. 4 in Tampa and has about three dozen stops.

The U.S. women’s soccer team has attracted huge television audiences. MLB sees softball as an opportunity for the sport’s growth.

“These are world-class athletes,” Ng said. “Because we have not been in the Olympics for the last 12 years, they just haven’t had that stage. So it’s really important at this point that we show as much support as we can for them.”

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MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

Rafael Nadal advances at Australian Open; American back on Slam stage

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal joined Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open third round, sweeping Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Thursday.

Nadal, whose lone Australian Open title came in 2009, gets countryman Pablo Carreno Busta in Saturday’s third round. He could face No. 23 Nick Kyrgios of Australia in round four, but neither Federer nor Djokovic until the final.

No. 4 Daniil Medvedeva and No. 2 Karolina Pliskova and No. 4 Simona Halep were also winners Thursday. Friday’s third-round action is headlined by defending champion Naomi Osaka facing 15-year-old U.S. phenom Coco Gauff.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

The only top-20 seed to lose Thursday was No. 20 Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic. American CiCi Bellis bounced her 6-4, 6-4.

This was a big deal for Bellis: Two full years and four right arm operations have come and gone since she was last healthy enough to participate in a Grand Slam tournament.

Bellis was something of a teen prodigy. In her very first tour-level match, at age 15 at the 2014 U.S. Open, she stunned 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, an Australian Open runner-up, to become the youngest American to win a match at Flushing Meadows in 28 years.

She reached No. 35 in the rankings at 17, when she won WTA Newcomer of the Year honors.

Then came the series of health problems, including for torn tendons in her wrist, to shorten a bone in her arm and for bone spurs in her elbow. All the time away from the tour has her at No. 600 in the rankings currently, but she was able to get into the draw in Australia via the protected ranking rule.

In other action, U.S. Open runner-up Medvedev  found himself seated in the nosebleed section at Margaret Court Arena, even though he was playing his second-round match there.

That’s because the No. 4-seeded Russian found himself dealing with something he said happens to him a couple of times each year: a nosebleed.

Medvedev blotted his nose with a towel and then was treated by a trainer while his 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 over Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez was delayed for more than five minutes late in the second set.

“Can happen to me sometimes. Doesn’t usually happen during the match, so I had to stop (playing). Usually takes like four minutes — three, four minutes. … But it’s nothing,” Medvedev said.

MORE: Another top U.S. tennis player cools on Olympics

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