Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky eyes daunting double at World Championships

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NEW YORK — Katie Ledecky plans to swim a full five-event schedule at the World Championships in August, including a 1500m freestyle final followed by a 200m freestyle semifinal expected to be about 20 minutes later.

Ledecky’s lineup would then include the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees, plus the 4x200m free relay (daily Worlds schedule here).

In 2013, Missy Franklin became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships in Barcelona. Ledecky was named over Franklin as FINA’s top female swimmer of the meet, with four golds and two world records.

In 2013, Ledecky could have also tried the 1500m free-200m free double, with the same schedule as it is slated to be this August, but opted against that tight turnaround. She dropped the 200m free from her schedule.

In 2013, the time span between the 1500m free final and the first 200m free semifinal was about 15-20 minutes.

Ledecky, with makeup covering sunburn on her cheeks, explained this year’s decision before the Sullivan Award ceremony at the New York Athletic Club on Sunday morning, about 13 hours after she swam at a meet in Mesa, Ariz. Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott won the award.

“Two years ago, I decided to drop the 200, and that was because it was my still my second international meet [after the 2012 Olympics],” she said. “I had never done an international double [two swims in one finals session]. I felt like, my 200, I didn’t have enough speed yet to compete for a medal.”

Ledecky, who broke the 1500m free world record at the 2013 Worlds, improved her 200m free in 2014. She beat the World champion Franklin at the U.S. Championships and again at the Pan Pacific Championships. She finished the year with the second-fastest time in the world for the year, behind Swede Sarah Sjostrom.

“Over the last year, the more and more I look at the [Worlds] schedule, it looks more and more reasonable to me every day,” Ledecky said, adding she could still change her plans.

Ledecky could become the first woman to win four individual gold medals at a single World Championships. In 2014, she became the first woman to win four individual golds at a Pan Pacific Championships, a major international meet that does not include European nations.

At Pan Pacs, Ledecky’s double was winning the 200m free and 800m free finals about 50 minutes apart.

Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Franklin have all done multiple finals in one night at Olympics or World Championships, but none of theirs included any events even half the distance of the grueling 1500m freestyle.

Also Sunday, Ledecky backed the idea of a potential head-to-head race with Phelps, which Phelps jokingly proposed in Mesa on Friday.

“There’s been murmurs of it,” Ledecky said. “Hey, he lives in Maryland. We’re pretty close. It wouldn’t be too hard. If he’s down for it, I’m down for it.”

Ledecky said she doesn’t plan to swim in the next two Pro Swim Series events in Charlotte and Santa Clara, Calif., before the World Championships in August.

She has three Advanced Placement tests at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Md., coming up — government, psychology and calculus AB.

Ledecky’s graduation is June 4, followed by a trip to Colorado Springs, Colo., for altitude training at the Olympic Training Center.

Video: Debbie Phelps texted Michael Phelps about Rio 2016 years ago

U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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MORE: USOC names first permanent female CEO

Annemiek van Vleuten wins La Course with epic comeback (video)

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Annemiek van Vleuten, the cyclist who returned from a horrific Rio Olympic road race crash to become world champion, repeated as La Course winner with an epic last-kilometer comeback on Tuesday.

Van Vleuten sprinted from several seconds behind countrywoman Anna van der Breggen to win the one-day race, including four categorized climbs, contested on part of the Tour de France stage 10 course later that day.

“With 300 meters to go, I still thought I got second, and then I saw her dying,” Van Vleuten said, adding later, according to Cyclingnews.com, “With 500 meters to go my team director in the car gave up and stopped cheering for me.”

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title, while van Vleuten returned quick enough to race at the October 2016 World Championships.

Van Vleuten, 35, won her first world title 13 months after the Rio Games, taking the time trial crown ahead of van der Breggen by 12 seconds. She also won the 10-stage Giro Rosa that concluded on Sunday.

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