Michael Phelps beaten in 100m butterfly at Charlotte

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Michael Phelps finished third in the 100m butterfly at a Pro Swim Series meet in Charlotte on Friday, coming in behind two U.S. rivals in the event.

Tom Shields, who defeated Phelps at the U.S. Championships last year, prevailed in 52.12. Longtime Phelps challenger Ryan Lochte was second in 52.52, followed by the most decorated Olympian of all time in 52.59.

Phelps, the fastest 100m fly swimmer in the world last year in 51.17, had won the 100m fly at his previous meet this year in Mesa, Ariz., in April. He swam 52.38 in Mesa.

The fastest U.S. man in the 100m fly this year is Jack Conger, who posted 51.64 in January. Conger was seventh in 53.38 on Friday.

Earlier, Phelps clocked 1:49.12 in a 200m free consolation final. He missed the top eight-man final after ranking 14th in the morning preliminary heats.

Conor Dwyer won the 200m free in 1:47.04, ranking No. 12 in the world this year and No. 1 among Americans. Lochte was fourth in 1:48.35, while Phelps’ time would have placed fifth in the top final.

Phelps’ best 200m free time last year was 1:48.20. His American record from the Beijing Olympics is 1:42.96.

“My turns are still pretty terrible,” Phelps told media in Charlotte. “But it’s a lot better than what it was last year.”

FINA women’s Swimmer of the Year Katinka Hosszu of Hungary won the women’s 200m freestyle in 1:55.89, ahead of Olympic champion Allison Schmitt‘s 1:57.24.

Hosszu’s time made her the fourth-fastest woman this year, 1.21 seconds behind Dutch leader Femke Heemskerk. Schmitt is the No. 2 American this year behind Katie Ledecky, who is not swimming in Charlotte. World champion Missy Franklin hasn’t competed in a 200m free this year and is also not swimming in Charlotte.

Hosszu also took the 400m individual medley in 4:35.19, bettering her third-ranked time for the year in an event where she’s the reigning World champion.

World silver medalist Chase Kalisz prevailed in the men’s 400m IM in 4:14.56, the fastest time by an American this year but 6.02 seconds slower than Japanese world leader Kosuke Hagino, who is not in Charlotte.

Katie Meili clocked the fastest 100m breaststroke by a U.S. woman since 2013 by winning in 1:06.50, ranking her No. 4 in the world this year. World bronze medalist Jessica Hardy was second in 1:06.97.

Earlier Friday, 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin swam a 100m backstroke time trial in 1:00.06, her fastest time in the event since she was third at the 2012 Olympic trials in 1:00.08.

She’s the fastest American in the event this year, though Franklin and other top collegians haven’t yet transitioned from NCAA yards swimming to meters meets to post any times.

Coughlin, who won the 100m back at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, has entered the event this year for the first time since the Olympic trials and could take another crack at it at the 2016 Olympic trials. Coughlin, like Schmitt, did not qualify for the 2015 World Championships team.

The meet continues through Sunday. Phelps is scheduled for the 200m butterfly and 100m backstroke on Saturday. Phelps had sworn off the 200m fly in his comeback last year but will swim it for the first time since the London Olympics.

“It’s interesting watching the world in this event,” Phelps told media in Charlotte. “If you look at what [Tom] Malchow won in 2000 [at the Sydney Olympics], still what everybody’s going nowadays. It’s still not that fast an event.”

Malchow won gold in 2000 in 1:55.35. Two men worldwide have broken 1:55 since the London Olympics, Japan’s Daiya Seto and South Africa’s Chad le Clos, who beat Phelps in the 2012 Olympic final.

“For me to ever want to really compete at that race, I would make sure that I was in the best shape possible,” Phelps said. “I know what I have to do to be able to get there. I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.”

Gymnastics team event sizes at Olympics cut to four

Too early to say whether virus threatens Olympics, WHO says

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GENEVA (AP) — Despite a virus outbreak spreading from China, a top World Health Organization official said Tuesday it’s much too soon to say whether the Tokyo Olympics are at risk of being cancelled or moved.

Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee have repeatedly said they have no contingency plans for the July 24-Aug. 9 Summer Games since the WHO declared a global health emergency last month.

The U.N. agency’s emergencies program director, Michael Ryan, said Tuesday the sporting event was “way too far” away to consider giving advice that would affect Tokyo’s hosting of the Olympics.

“We are not there to make a decision for that,” Ryan told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a news conference at WHO headquarters.

Geneva-based WHO has been in regular contact with the IOC in nearby Lausanne since the virus known as COVID-19 emerged in December.

“We don’t give them judgments,” Ryan said. “We assist them with their risk assessment. We will be working closely with them in the coming weeks and months.”

The death toll in mainland China due to the virus rose to almost 1,900 on Tuesday, with more than 72,000 confirmed cases.

The outbreak has caused numerous sports events in China to be canceled, postponed, or moved, including qualifying events for the Tokyo Olympics.

Chinese athletes and teams have also been unable to travel for some competitions. China sent a team of more than 400 athletes to the Rio Olympics. It won 70 medals, including 26 gold, to place second in total medal standings.

Around 11,000 athletes and many more team coaches and officials from more than 200 national teams are expected in Japan for the Olympics.

Japan has experienced the most significant outbreak of the virus outside of China, on the cruise ship Diamond Princess docked in quarantine at Yokohama in Tokyo Bay.

During a 14-day isolation that ends Wednesday, 542 cases have been identified among more than 3,700 passengers and crew.

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For Mike Eruzione, Al Michaels, it’s no miracle that 1980 Olympics endure

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Mike Eruzione has been reminded on a daily basis about the Miracle on Ice for nearly four decades. While playing celebrity golf tournaments. At speaking engagements. Or that time he auctioned his jersey and stick from the Soviet game to a 9-year-old boy named Seven.

Eruzione, now 65, likes to open conversations with one anecdote about meeting strangers, which he repeated in a call with reporters last week.

“The stories I hear, 40 years later, it’s depending on their age — I remember where I was when Kennedy was assassinated, I remember where I was on 9/11. I remember where I was when the Challenger blew up. And I remember where I was when we won,” Eruzione said. “And I always say, ‘We? I didn’t know you were on the team.’

“But people felt a part of it. … It’s nice to know that people remember and share some great stories about what we did so long ago.”

The captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team owns a last name that means “eruption” in Italian. Eruzione scored the decisive goal in the U.S.’ 4-3 win over the Soviet Union en route to a shock gold medal during the Cold War in Lake Placid, N.Y.

NBCSN airs a 30-minute special marking the 40th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice on Wednesday at 11:30 p.m. ET. It will feature a conversation between Olympic primetime host Mike Tirico and Al Michaels, the play-by-play voice of the game dubbed by Sports Illustrated the greatest sports moment of the 20th century.

Eruzione has grandchildren now. Three of them skate at the Mike Eruzione Center in his hometown of Winthrop, Mass.

“They don’t even know who Mike Eruzione is,” Eruzione said of the 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds, “but they know about the Miracle.”

All credit to the U.S. Olympic team of 20 players between ages 19 and 25, back when the NHL did not participate in the Olympics. The Soviets were essentially a team of professionals. The nation won the previous four Olympics and throttled the U.S. 10-3 in a pre-Olympic exhibition at Madison Square Garden.

Enter Michaels, calling hockey at the Lake Placid Winter Games alongside Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden. Michaels, then 35, said he was assigned the sport because he had the most hockey experience on the ABC Olympic talent roster — one game. He called the 1972 Olympic hockey final by himself.

Feb. 22, 1980: As the U.S. led the Soviet Union 4-3 and the final seconds ticked down, one word came to mind: miraculous.

“It got morphed into a question and quick answer, and away we went,” Michaels said.

Eruzione said he didn’t learn of Michaels’ call — “Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!” — until two weeks after the Olympics. He didn’t watch the game broadcast until years later.

“I never thought it was a miracle, but it was a catchy phrase and it sounded right,” Eruzione said, noting he preferred Michaels’ call in the final comeback win over Finland to clinch the gold: “This impossible dream comes true.”

Team members since gathered often — to light the 2002 Olympic cauldron in Salt Lake City, for fantasy camps in Lake Placid and for coach Herb Brooks‘ 2003 funeral. Eighteen of the 20 players are scheduled to reunite this weekend in Las Vegas.

Absent will be Mark Pavelich, who was jailed last year on assault charges and ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial. And Bob Suter, who died in 2014 of a heart attack at age 57.

It was Suter’s death that motivated Eruzione and others to commemorate the 35th anniversary together in Lake Placid. It was believed to be the first time all living players were together in Lake Placid since the 1980 Winter Games.

Eruzione said that the 2004 film “Miracle” introduced the team to a new generation. Now at many of his speeches, the majority of Eruzione’s audience was born after 1980.

“I’ll say, how many people watched the movie ‘Miracle,’ and almost everybody raises their hand,” he said. “So I think what the movie did for us as a team was kind of rejuvenated our team as far as people knowing who we were and what we are and what we were about.”

NFL coaches set up “Miracle” viewings for their teams before games. Michael Phelps watched it for motivation at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Phelps told relay teammates, “This is our time,” before they beat rival Australia. An ode to Brooks’ pregame speech before the Soviet game.

Michaels, whose 13-year-old grandson won an October hockey tournament in Lake Placid, said he watched “Miracle” last week for the first time in about a decade. He helped do voiceovers in production more than 15 years ago, though the original Lake Placid audio was used for his signature call.

“The great thing is, in a way, when you watch it back or you watch highlights back, you almost become like in the third person, like somebody else is doing this and announcing this game,” Michaels said. “I exult the way I think most of the country did and do when they see highlights of it. So it’s kind of an out-of-body experience in a way, but it’s a beautiful thing.”

After Eruzione shared his tale of strangers’ memories, Michaels added one of his own.

“One of my favorite stories is Mike Eruzione calling me maybe eight to 10 years ago and saying, ‘The greatest thing about this is every time I come home and maybe I’m a little down, I need a little pick-me-up, I’ll put the tape in,'” Michaels said. “‘Every time I shoot, the puck goes in. It will forever.'”

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