Michael Phelps loses 100m butterfly by .01, makes Pan Pacs

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IRVINE, Calif. — The great Michael Phelps is back, they said after the morning prelims.

“Not yet,” his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, said after the night final. “That was pretty terrible.”

Phelps lost the 100m butterfly (by .01) at a national meet for the first time since the 2004 Olympic Trials on Friday night.

Phelps actually clocked the fastest time of the day, and the fastest time of anyone in the world this year. But he did that in the preliminary heats.

In the final, he went .13 slower. Phelps, known for heart-pounding come-from-behind victories in the 100m fly before his retirement, could not out-touch Tom Shields after running him down over the final 50 meters.

Shields, 23, won in 51.29 seconds, two nights after capturing the 200m fly for his first career national title. Phelps was 51.30.

He was seventh at the 50m wall and was in between strokes going into the turn, forced to glide in and lose momentum (unlike in prelims).

Phelps, in the fifth meet of his comeback following a 20-month competitive break, could take consolation in qualifying for the Pan Pacific Championships, the biggest international meet of 2014. But he wasn’t really in the mood.

“I’m somebody who can’t stand to lose,” Phelps said. “This will definitely be something that sticks with me over the next year.”

Bowman thought Phelps looked nervous before the final, reminding him of Phelps’ first comeback race in Mesa, Ariz., in April.

The pressure of finishing top two to make the Pan Pacs team, perhaps.

That was never an issue for Phelps when he won 22 medals over three Olympics.

Bowman said he thought the last time Phelps felt pressure to make a national team was at the 2000 Olympic Trials, when Phelps was 15.

“I just felt out of it,” Phelps said Friday. “Not my normal self at finals. Normally, I’m very relaxed and very ready. It’s probably just because I’m not used to being in this kind of shape or this kind of feeling going into a meet.

“Normally, I can look back and say I’ve done all the training, I’ve done everything I needed to do to prepare myself. With having a year and a half off and maybe not really going as hard as I probably should have at some of the parts during the year, it shows.”

The razor-thin margin of defeat brought to mind Phelps’ Olympic 100m fly win in 2008, which was by .01 over Milorad Cavic.

Phelps also won the 2004 Olympic 100m fly by .04.

“It’s better to be on the losing side at a meet like this than it is at a bigger meet,” Phelps said.

Phelps, the three-time reigning Olympic 100m fly champ, still improved on a disappointing seventh-place finish in the 100m freestyle, his first event at Nationals on Wednesday.

Phelps qualified to swim any individual events he wants at the Pan Pacific Championships, Aug. 21-24 in Gold Coast, Australia.

South African Chad le Clos, who beat Phelps in the 200m butterfly at the 2012 Olympics, is the only man who has posted a faster 100m fly time than Phelps’ 51.17 since the London Games.

Phelps and Ryan Lochte are entered in both the 100m backstroke Saturday and 200m individual medley Sunday, the final two days of the U.S. Championships.

“I need more training, I need more endurance,” Phelps said. “I need to feel more comfort with my stroke.”

In other events Friday, Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel won the 400m individual medley in 4:32.98, making her the fourth-fastest woman this year.

Olympic 200m backstroke champion Tyler Clary outdueled World silver medalist Chase Kalisz in the men’s 400m IM in 4:09.51. Clary moved up to No. 2 in the world rankings for 2014.

Kendyl Stewart knocked .54 off her personal best to win the women’s 100m fly in 57.98. She edged 2012 Olympian Claire Donahue by .05.

Mishaps emerge at U.S. Championships

Hayato Sakamoto, Japanese baseball MVP, tests positive for coronavirus

Hayato Sakamoto
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Hayato Sakamoto, an MVP of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is one of two players from the Yomiuri Giants to test positive for the coronavirus, according to several Japanese media reports.

Sakamoto, a 31-year-old shortstop, and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive ahead of the NPB’s planned June 19 start to the season that had been delayed to the coronavirus.

The tests showed traces of the coronavirus, according to Kyodo News.

The Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game with the Seibu Lions to limit the spread of the virus.

Sakamoto is the reigning Central League MVP. He has been called the Derek Jeter of Japan for playing the same position as the Yankee great and being the veteran captain of Japan’s equivalent club, the Giants, which own a record 22 Japan Series titles.

Sakamoto, who played in the last two World Baseball Classics, has been considered a lock for Japan’s baseball team at the Tokyo Games in 2021 as the most well known active player who hasn’t left for Major League Baseball. MLB is not expected to allow its top players to participate in the Olympics, which would keep the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka off the Olympic roster.

The sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, though it is not on the 2024 Olympic program nor guaranteed a place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Japan reached the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments when the sport was previously on the medal program but never took gold.

In a 2018 survey, Sakamoto was ranked as Japan’s eighth-most popular athlete across all sports, foreign or domestic, active or retired.

Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall

Sky Brown Skateboard Fall
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Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.

Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.

Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.

“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”

Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.

Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.

“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”

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Last week the worst thing I could ever ever imagined happened to @skybrown . She fell about 15ft off the side of a vert ramp to flat concrete. I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital. We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive. We prayed and begged God to give Sky another chance. Word came back while she was still unconscious, multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm, which she broke into pieces because she used it to break her fall, broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs. 4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks. More importantly her Doctors and the trauma team say it’s a miracle how well she is dealing with the pain and recovering incredibly fast. They said it’s shocking and believe it’s because of her grit, positivity and attitude. Skys brother @oceanbrown has been so brave. He saw his sister fall to the ground lying in a pool of blood and was screaming in tears that night outside of the hospital. He has still not allowed into the hospital to see her. They miss each-other dearly, but no siblings are allowed to enter the hospital because of coronavirus. They’ve been spending hours a day on FaceTime with each other making funny faces to one another in fits of giggles and laughter. Sky promises Ocean daily that she will make a fast recovery so they can be together again. Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it’s hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to. Thank you to the heroes that are the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that have tirelessly worked on her and helped her get to this point.

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