Michael Phelps could be offered World Championships spot by FINA

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Michael Phelps may be extended an invitation to the World Swimming Championships by FINA, the sport’s international governing body.

Phelps was taken off the roster for the U.S. team in October as part of his punishment for a DUI arrest. Phelps said Wednesday that he accepted that decision, despite a March report that he may be reinstated by USA Swimming.

“We may give him another status because he’s the greatest athlete [in] history,” FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu said, according to The Associated Press, adding that it would be “no problem for us.” “We can do whatever. He is the No. 1. He doesn’t need the accreditations.”

Phelps was told of Marculescu’s comments at the Pro Swim Series at Mesa, Ariz., later Thursday.

“Old Cornel,” Phelps joked to reporters after his first race since August (recap, video here). “I don’t even know. Cornel and I have known each other for a long time. It’s news to me. … I’m here to swim here right now. That’s what I’m focused on. I really don’t know what to expect. Bob and I’s plan has always been to prepare ourselves for [Summer] Nationals [in San Antonio the same time as the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August] because I wasn’t able to swim at the World Championships.”

On Wednesday, Phelps was most adamant that he did not want to take the spot of another U.S. swimmer on the World Championships team.

“By no way would I ever want to displace a member of that team,” Phelps said. “It is painful to think that I won’t have the chance to compete at Worlds based off the decision that was made last fall by USA Swimming.”

More on Phelps’ 40-minute press conference here.

If USA Swimming reinstated Phelps for the 100m butterfly, it would knock Tim Phillips off the U.S. team. In Phelps’ other events, swimmers who were already on the U.S. team in different races stepped up to take his individual spots (Tyler Clary in the 200m individual medley and Ryan Lochte in the 100m freestyle).

Rules dictate that a nation may enter no more than two swimmers per race. But if FINA awards an extra place for Phelps at Worlds, it wouldn’t have to affect the U.S. team.

If Phelps is given a third U.S. spot in Worlds races, then it creates the possibility for a U.S. podium sweep in events. However, this is unlikely, given South African Chad le Clos is the reigning 100m fly World champion, Japan’s Kosuke Hagino beat Phelps and Lochte in the 200m IM at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships and Australians Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen took the 100m free at last two major international meets.

If Phelps was readded, he could also compete in U.S. relays, including mixed-gender relays, which are on the World Championships program for the first time.

“We don’t discuss with USA Swimming yet because they passed so many waves in the case of Phelps,” Marculescu said, according to the AP.

Flashback: Michael Phelps at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

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

Mo Farah
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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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