Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps hope to meet for first time before Olympic farewell

Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps

Usain Bolt recently played the game Heads Up in a video interview, taking index cards and raising them above his head, one by one, without looking at the words on the card.

For each card, the interviewer gave Bolt clues for him to guess what was written on the card. Midway through the game, an interesting card came up.

The clue: “He was the most accomplished athlete in the 2008 Olympics.”

Bolt’s answer: “Usain Bolt,” without hesitating.

The name on the card: “Michael Phelps.”

Bolt quickly corrected himself and said, “Michael Phelps,” after the interviewer shook his head but before the interviewer could say the swimmer’s name. Bolt smiled, laughed a little and said he was “messing around” in first naming himself.

It was just one moment in a humorous exercise, but it was a reminder that two of the greatest Olympians of all time, who peaked at the same Beijing Games, both will likely say their Olympic farewells in Rio de Janeiro in two years (assuming Phelps continues on his comeback toward Rio; Bolt has said he will retire in 2017).

And they say they have never met. Not at an awards show. Not even at three previous Olympics together, inside the athletes’ village.

“Normally you see athletes that you pass and you say hello to,” Phelps said last month. “I’ve never seen him, never walked past him.”

Both Phelps and Bolt said they would like to meet one another.

“I mean, you definitely would want to meet the fastest man in the  world,” Phelps said.

“It’d be cool to meet him,” Bolt said. “Just to have a conversation with him.”

Bolt said he’s never been to any of Phelps’ races, but he’s watched swimming on TV in the athletes’ village.

“It’s just outstanding, what he does,” Bolt said. “I know swimming is hard. I have respect for every sport because I’ve tried different sports at different times. I’ve noticed the hard work that people put in.

“Somebody to go out and win eight gold medals, that’s no joke. It’s nothing but respect.”

Asked what he thought of Bolt, Phelps said:

“Obviously, he’s a  very talented athlete, and the fastest man to ever walk the Earth. I don’t really know what else to say.”

Usain Bolt Q&A on Olympic history, Justin Gatlin, more

French Open: Iga Swiatek rolls toward possible Coco Gauff rematch

Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek reached the French Open third round without dropping a set, eyeing a third Roland Garros title in four years. Not that she needed the help, but Swiatek’s immediate draw is wide open after the rest of the seeds in her section lost.

Swiatek dispatched 102nd-ranked American Claire Liu 6-4, 6-0 on Thursday, the same score as her first-round win. She gets 80th-ranked Wang Xinyu of China in the round of 32.

The other three seeds in Swiatek’s section all lost in the first round, so the earliest that the world No. 1 could play another seed is the quarterfinals. And that would be No. 6 Coco Gauff, who was runner-up to Swiatek last year.

Gauff plays her second-round match later Thursday against 61st-ranked Austrian Julia Grabher. Gauff also doesn’t have any seeds in her way before a possible Swiatek showdown.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Swiatek, who turned 22 on Wednesday, came into this year’s French Open without the invincibility of a year ago, when she was 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury, but said it wasn’t serious. That diagnosis appears to have been spot-on through two matches this week, though her serve was broken twice in the first set of each match.

While the men’s draw has been upended by 14-time champion Rafael Nadal‘s pre-event withdrawal and No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev‘s loss in the first round, the top women have taken care of business.

Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, American Jessica Pegula and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan also reached the third round without dropping a set.

Though all of them have beaten Swiatek in 2023, the Pole remains the favorite to lift the trophy a week from Saturday. She can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

She can also become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

Swiatek doesn’t dwell on it.

“I never even played Serena or Monica Seles,” she said. “I’m kind of living my own life and having my own journey.”

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Penny Oleksiak to miss world swimming championships

Penny Oleksiak

Seven-time Olympic medalist Penny Oleksiak of Canada will miss July’s world swimming championships because she does not expect to be recovered enough from knee and shoulder injuries.

“The bar that we set was, can she be as good as she’s ever been at these world championships?” coach Ryan Mallette said in a press release. “We just don’t feel like we’re going to be ready to be 100 percent yet this summer. Our focus is to get her back to 100 percent as soon as possible to get ready for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

Oleksiak, who owns the Canadian record of seven Olympic medals (across all sports), missed Canada’s trials meet for worlds two months ago due to the injuries. She was still named to the team at the time in hope that she would be ready in time for worlds.

The 22-year-old returned to competition last month at a Mare Nostrum meet in Barcelona, after which she chose to focus on continued rehab rather than compete at worlds in Fukuoka, Japan.

“Swimming at Mare Nostrum was a checkpoint for worlds, and I gave it my best shot,” Oleksiak said in the release. “We reviewed my swims there, and it showed me the level I want to get back to. Now I need to focus on my rehab to get back to where I want to be and put myself in position to be at my best next season.”

Oleksiak had knee surgery last year to repair a meniscus. After that, she developed a left shoulder injury.

In 2016, Oleksiak tied for Olympic 100m freestyle gold with American Simone Manuel. She also earned 100m butterfly silver in Rio and 200m free bronze in Tokyo, along with four relay medals between those two Games.

At last year’s worlds, she earned four relay medals and placed fourth in the 100m free.

She anchored the Canadian 4x100m free relay to silver behind Australia at the most recent Olympics and worlds.

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