Cameron McEvoy now ‘the hunted’ in Australian swimming

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James Magnussen has been the fastest 100m freestyle swimmer each of the last four years, but an aspiring physicist now appears to be the man with the best chance of ending a 12-year drought at the Rio Olympics.

Cameron McEvoy defeated Magnussen in the 100m free final at the Australian Championships on Tuesday. It’s the second straight year McEvoy beat Magnussen at Nationals.

Magnussen won the 100m free at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships, but now McEvoy may be the one tasked with winning Australia’s first individual Olympic swimming gold medal by a man since Athens 2004.

“I’ve been what everyone would call an underdog in the past, so it’s a new feeling to be the hunted,” McEvoy told reporters after the final in Sydney (highlights here).

McEvoy, a 20-year-old physics buff, topped Magnussen 48.06 to 48.18 in the final Tuesday. It was not as great of a margin as at the 2014 Australian Championships, where McEvoy prevailed 47.65 to 47.92.

And McEvoy also touched first at the biggest international meet of 2014, the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia. There, McEvoy swam 47.82, with Olympic champion Nathan Adrian way back in 48.30 and Magnussen in third at 48.36.

McEvoy did not make the Australian team for the London Olympic 100m free, won by Adrian by .01 over Magnussen.

Magnussen, 23, changed coaches last year and is arguably the most scrutinized Australian swimmer since Ian Thorpe.

“That’s pretty disappointing. I shouldn’t be swimming 48s,” Magnussen said of his swim Tuesday, according to the Courier-Mail. “[Losing and the time] both equally pissed me off. Losing is probably worse.”

In 2012, Magnussen clocked 47.10 in the 100m free, the best time since the fast suit era. His top time in 2013 slowed to 47.53 and in 2014 was 47.59.

Meanwhile, McEvoy improved the last three years from 49.19 (2011) to 48.58 (2012) to 47.88 (2013) and 47.65 (2014). Only Magnussen was quicker last year.

Both McEvoy and Magnussen must take notice of Kyle Chalmers, who finished fourth Tuesday in, reportedly, the fastest time ever by a 16-year-old.

Chalmers, who had size 15 feet by age 13, clocked 48.69, likely putting him in the Australian 4x100m free relay lineup at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August.

Australia failed to make the podium in the relay at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships but topped the U.S. for gold at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.

In 2014, the U.S. had two men swim sub-48.7 for the entire year (Adrian and Michael Phelps). Australia put four men sub-48.7 in Tuesday’s final alone.

“I reckon the rest of the world will probably sit up and take notice of that,” Magnussen said.

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

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Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

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Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

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Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

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