Missy Franklin ends NCAA career with another individual title

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A teary Missy Franklin won the final individual race of her NCAA career, taking the 200-yard backstroke for her third individual title in as many nights at the NCAA Championships in Greensboro, N.C., on Saturday.

She clocked 1 minute, 47.91 seconds, missing the American record by .07, and won by 1.44 seconds, helping California to capture its first women’s team title since 2012.

Franklin, a five-time 2012 Olympic medalist and California sophomore, is expected to turn professional after this weekend’s meet, making her ineligible for future NCAA competition.

“I’m so grateful for the experience that I’ve had,” Franklin, who had a Cal stick-on tattoo on her right cheek and her nails painted in the school colors gold and blue, said on ESPN3. “It’s been a very emotional couple of days, and I am just so proud of my team and what we’ve accomplished here. This is honestly the perfect way to end it. This is what I gave things up for, and the best part is it doesn’t even feel like I gave anything up, because I gained so much.”

Earlier in the meet, Franklin won the 200-yard individual medley on Thursday and the 200-yard freestyle in an American record time on Friday.

Franklin finished first, second and third in three individual swims as a freshman at the 2014 NCAA Championships.

She passed up an estimated $5 million in endorsements to keep amateur eligibility for two seasons to compete for the California Bears.

“The experience that I’ve had, even just the two years, is worth so much more than anything I could’ve got, giving some opportunities that I had after the [2012] Olympics,” Franklin said. “Just being able to be a normal college athlete and student, for me that’s completely priceless. I would make that decision 100 times over again.”

Franklin and Cal coach Teri McKeever joked that the team will most miss Franklin’s dance moves.

“The day after London, when I walked into her home to recruit her, I was standing in her kitchen and said, ‘What do you want in this experience?'” McKeever told media in Greensboro, sitting next to Franklin, the swimmer still wet from jumping in the pool while wearing a national championship hat and T-shirt. “We talked about how it needed to be two years, and that she had an opportunity leading into the [2016] Olympics because of what she did in London. In this scenario, she can have the best of both.

“She looks at life with rainbows and unicorns. Teri looks at life as the sky is falling a lot of times.”

Her next major meet is the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August.

NCAA competition is held in 25-yard pools. Olympic and World Championships meets are in 50-meter pools.

“They’re not goodbyes,” McKeever. “They’re transition moments.”

Missy Franklin’s dream to become most decorated female swimmer ever

Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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