Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin beaten in Santa Clara openers

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Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin finished third in 200m freestyle finals, their first events of a Pro Swim Series meet in Santa Clara, Calif., on Friday night.

Santa Clara is the biggest meet remaining for U.S. swimmers before the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in early August.

Phelps, the 22-time Olympic medalist, was taken off the World Championships roster as part of his punishment for a September DUI arrest. He will compete at the U.S. Championships in San Antonio in August while the world’s best are in Kazan.

On Friday, Phelps finished third in the 200m free behind Connor Jaeger, who is arguably best in the 1500m free. Jaeger prevailed in 1:48.66, followed by Russian Nikita Lobintsev (1:48.86) and Phelps (1:49.03).

Phelps, who in his last meet in May finished worse than second in all of his events for the first time since the 2000 Olympics, improved from a 1:49.26 in morning heats and 1:49.12 at his last meet.

Phelps, the 2008 Olympic 200m free champion, clocked 1:48.20 in the 200m free in Santa Clara last year.

“My stroke actually kind of felt like the old stroke again,” Phelps told media in Santa Clara. “I didn’t completely die. So I think there are a lot of positives that came out of the races, but 1:49 flat isn’t something I’m excited about. It’s kind of blah.”

This year, German world-record holder Paul Biedermann is the world’s fastest in 1:45.60, followed by Chinese Olympic silver medalist Sun Yang and Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, the world’s best all-around swimmer. Biedermann, Sun and Hagino are not competing in Santa Clara.

Franklin, in her first meet since the NCAA Championships in March, finished third in her 200m freestyle. The Netherlands’ Femke Heemskerk won in 1:55.68, followed by FINA Swimmer of the Year Katinka Hosszu (1:56.88) of Hungary and Franklin (1:57.02).

“It’s good to get the cobwebs out,” Franklin said.

Heemskerk is the fastest woman in the world this year, having clocked 1:54.68 on April 3. Franklin’s personal best was 1:54.81, from winning the 2013 World Championship. The top U.S. 200m free swimmer last year, Katie Ledecky (1:55.16), is not competing in Santa Clara.

The World Championships 200m free appears to be a battle among Heemskerk, Hosszu, Franklin, Ledecky, Swede Sarah Sjostrom, Australian Emma McKeon and Italian Federica Pellegrini.

Franklin later also finished eighth in the 50m backstroke, a non-Olympic event. Natalie Coughlin, a 12-time Olympic medalist, prevailed in 27.51, an American record. Coughlin failed last year to qualify for the World Championships.

American Tom Shields touched first in the 100m butterfly in 52.22, with Phelps not in the field. Shields beat Phelps at the 2014 U.S. Championships, though Phelps was fastest in the world in the event last year at 51.17.

Hosszu captured the 400m IM by five seconds in 4:34.04, off of her 4:31.07 in the prelims, which was the fastest time ever in a U.S. pool. Hosszu is more than one second faster than anybody else in the world this year and a favorite to repeat as World champion in the event, though Chinese Olympic champion and world-record holder Ye Shiwen lurks.

Russian Yulia Efimova, the World silver medalist coming off a doping ban, took the 100m breaststroke in 1:06.13. She’s second in the world this year behind Lithuanian Olympic and World champion Ruta Meilutyte.

American Cody Miller captured the men’s 100m breast in a personal-best 59.51. That’s the fastest time by an American since Brendan Hansen‘s 59.49 to take bronze at the 2012 Olympics.

Great Britain’s Adam Peaty is fastest in the world this year, with a world-record 57.92 on April 17. Miller’s 59.51 ranks No. 3 in the world, making him a medal contender for Worlds.

Santa Clara competition continues Saturday (Universal Sports, 8 p.m. ET) and Sunday (USASwimming.org, 8 p.m. ET).

Michael Phelps ‘sick of getting whooped’

Jennifer Valente takes silver in world cycling championship scratch race

Jennifer Valente
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Jennifer Valente won the first medal for the U.S. team in the world track cycling championships Wednesday in Berlin, finishing second behind Dutch cyclist Kirsten Wild in the scratch race.

Wild won the mass-start event for the third time, having taken gold in 2015 and 2018, and her seventh world championship in all track cycling disciplines. She also took silver in the 2016 world championship road race.

Valente also joined Chloé Dygert, Emma White and Lily Williams in women’s team pursuit qualifying, posting the fastest time of the day and easily qualifying for the semifinals on Thursday. The U.S. team has been in transition with the retirement of Sarah Hammer and the death of Kelly Catlin, who committed suicide in March. Hammer, Catlin, Dygert and Valente took silver in the 2016 Olympics.

READ: Dygert aims for road and track double in Tokyo

The Netherlands took two of the three gold medals on Wednesday’s program, beating Britain to win the men’s team sprint. Germany beat Australia to win the women’s team sprint.

READ: Track cycling broadcast and streaming schedule

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Tokyo organizers, IOC going ahead as planned with Olympics

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TOKYO (AP) — A spokesman for the Japanese government on Wednesday said the International Olympic Committee and local organizers are going as planned with the Tokyo Olympics.

The comments from spokesman Yoshihide Suga follow the assertion by IOC veteran Dick Pound that organizers face a three-month window to decide the fate of the Games.

READ: Pound cites time needed to ramp up operations

The Olympics are set to open on July 24 with 11,000 athletes. The Paralympics open Aug. 25 with 4,400.

Also Wednesday, Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto abruptly called a news conference to address Pound’s comments.

“Our basic thoughts are that we will go ahead with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as scheduled,” Muto said, speaking in Japanese. “For the time being, the situation of the coronavirus infection is, admittedly, difficult to predict, but we will take measures such that we’ll have a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Muto added: ““That the end of May is the time limit, we have never thought of this or heard of such a comment. So when we asked about this, we received a response saying that is not the position of the IOC.”

Muto also allowed for the possibility of downsizing the Olympic torch relay but insisted it will not be canceled.

Pound told the Associated Press that the fast-spreading virus could cancel the Olympics. Suga says Pound’s opinion does not reflect the official view of the IOC, which has repeatedly said there are no plans to cancel or postpone the Tokyo Games.

“With regard to this member’s comment, the IOC has responded that this is not their official position, and that IOC is proceeding with preparations toward the games as scheduled,” Suga said, speaking in Japanese at his daily news conference.

Pound is a former IOC vice-president and a member since 1978, and was the founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

He also represented Canada as a swimmer at the Olympics.

In a telephone interview from Montreal, Pound said the IOC has a three-month window to decide, and suggested other options like moving events of postponing seemed less likely.

“In and around that time,” he said, “I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or now?”‘

If the IOC decides the games cannot go forward as scheduled in Tokyo, “you’re probably looking at a cancellation,” said Pound, who added that he was not commenting on behalf of the IOC.

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