Michael Phelps seventh in return to 200m butterfly

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Michael Phelps finished seventh in his first 200m butterfly final since the 2012 Olympics at a Pro Swim Series meet in Charlotte on Saturday.

The most decorated Olympian of all time clocked 2:00.77 in the eight-swimmer race, 3.19 seconds behind winner Chase Kalisz.

Phelps’ first Olympic race was the 200m fly at the Sydney 2000 Games at age 15, where he finished fifth (in 1:56.50) as the youngest U.S. Olympic male swimmer since 1932. It became his signature event, and he dominated until South African Chad le Clos nipped him by .05 at the 2012 Olympics.

When Phelps unretired last year, he swore off the 200m fly. His appearance Saturday may have been merely for training purposes, but he left the door open to add it to his regular program while talking to media in Charlotte on Friday night. Phelps has plenty of time to tinker before the 2016 Olympic trials, since he’s not swimming at the World Championships this summer.

“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 Friday. “I know what I have to do to be able to get there. I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.”

Phelps’ world record in the 200m fly is 1:51.51, set at the 2009 World Championships. His time on Saturday night would have placed 25th at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials.

Phelps is scheduled for two events on the final day in Charlotte on Sunday, the 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley (finals at 6 p.m. ET on Universal Sports).

In other events Saturday, 12-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin took second in the 50m freestyle in 25.03. The Bahamas’ Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace won in 24.35.

Coughlin, 32, finished sixth in the 50m free at the 2014 U.S. Championships in 24.97, failing to make the World Championships team. Two swimmers per event can compete for one nation at a Worlds or Olympics.

Josh Schneider, a 27-year-old who has never made an Olympic team, beat world record holder Cesar Cielo of Brazil, American record holder Cullen Jones and Olympic 100m free champion Nathan Adrian in the men’s 50m free.

Schneider clocked 21.96, followed by Cielo (22.05) and Adrian (22.19). Schneider’s time tied him for fifth in the world this year. Schneider is the fastest American in the event this year.

FINA women’s Swimmer of the Year Katinka Hosszu of Hungary swept the 200m fly and the 100m backstroke in a span of about 35 minutes.

Ryan Lochte finished fourth in the men’s 100m back, an event he hasn’t entered at a major international meet since 2007.

Flashback: Michael Phelps at the Sydney 2000 Olympics

U.S. Open mulls no fans, group flights, coronavirus tests as decision looms

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Charter flights to ferry U.S. Open tennis players and limited entourages from Europe, South America and the Middle East to New York. Negative COVID-19 tests before traveling. Centralized housing. Daily temperature checks.

No spectators. Fewer on-court officials. No locker-room access on practice days.

All are among the scenarios being considered for the 2020 U.S. Open — if it is held at all amid the coronavirus pandemic — and described to The Associated Press by a high-ranking official at the Grand Slam tournament.

“All of this is still fluid,” Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Tennis Association’s chief executive for professional tennis, said in a telephone interview Saturday. “We have made no decisions at all.”

With that caveat, Allaster added that if the USTA board does decide to go forward with the Open, she expects it to be held at its usual site and in its usual spot on the calendar. The main draw is scheduled to start Aug. 31.

“We continue to be, I would say, 150% focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates. It’s all I wake up — our team wakes up — thinking about,” Allaster said. “The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date … we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”

An announcement should come from “mid-June to end of June,” Allaster said.

All sanctioned competition has been suspended by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation since March and is on hold until late July.

The French Open was postponed from May to September; Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945.

There is no established COVID-19 protocol for tennis, a global sport with several governing bodies.

“Everybody would agree to the fundamental principles, I’m sure: protecting the health of participants, following the local laws and minimizing the risk of the transmission of the virus,” said Stuart Miller, who is overseeing the ITF’s return-to-tennis policy. “But then you have to get down into the specific details.”

One such detail: The USTA wants to add locker rooms — including at indoor courts that housed hundreds of temporary hospital beds at the height of New York’s coronavirus outbreak — and improve air filtration in existing spaces. Also being considered: no locker-room access until just before a match. So if anyone goes to Flushing Meadows just to train, Allaster said, “You come, you practice, and return to the hotel.”

The USTA presented its operational plan to a medical advisory group Friday; now that will be discussed with city, state and federal government officials.

MORE: Olympic tennis: Key questions for Tokyo Games in 2021

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Jamaican bobsledders want to return to the Olympics, so they’re pushing a Mini Cooper

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The Jamaican bobsled team’s push for the next Winter Olympics took a detour to the roads of Great Britain.

Numerous British media outlets reported in the last week on Shanwayne Stephens and Nimroy Turgott, who have been pushing cars, including a Mini Cooper, in Peterborough.

“We had to come up with our own ways of replicating the sort of pushing we need to do [in bobsledding amid the coronavirus pandemic],” Stephens, a reported British resident since age 11, said, according to Reuters. “So that’s why we thought: why not go out and push the car?

“We do get some funny looks. We’ve had people run over, thinking the car’s broken down, trying to help us bump-start the car. When we tell them we’re the Jamaica bobsleigh team, the direction is totally different, and they’re very excited.”

The Jamaican bobsled team rose to fame with its Olympic debut at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, inspiring the 1993 Disney film, “Cool Runnings.” At least one Jamaican men’s sled competed in every Olympics from 1988 through 2002, then again in 2014, with a best finish of 14th.

A Jamaican women’s sled debuted at the Olympics in 2018, driven by 2014 U.S. Olympian Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian. A Jamaican men’s sled just missed qualifying for PyeongChang by one spot in world rankings.

Stephens, a driver, is 51st and 56th in the current world rankings for the four-person and two-man events, respectively.

He competed in lower-level international races last season with a best finish of sixth in a four-person race that had seven sleds. One of Stephens’ push athletes was Carrie Russell, a 2018 Olympian in the two-woman event and former sprinter who won a world title in the 4x100m in 2013.

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MORE: Sam Clayton, Jamaica’s first bobsled driver, was ‘a pioneer of pioneers’