Ryan Lochte makes history risking DQ at Worlds; more gold for Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin

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Ryan Lochte became the second swimmer to win four straight World Championships in one event, taking the 200m individual medley in Kazan, Russia, on Thursday, despite saying going in that he heard he might get disqualified.

Katie Ledecky anchored the U.S. women’s 4x200m freestyle relay to win her fourth gold medal of the meet, giving her eight gold medals in eight career Worlds events over 2013 and 2015. Missy Franklin led off that relay to pick up her 10th career Worlds gold, breaking her tie with retired Australian Libby Trickett for most by a woman.

In the men’s 200m IM, Lochte clocked 1:55.81, the fastest time in the world this year, to win by .84 over Brazil’s Thiago Pereira. China’s Wang Shun earned bronze.

“Just goes to show all that hard work and dedication I’ve put in the pool, I mean it pays off,” Lochte, who had a poor 2014 following tearing an MCL after a fan ran into him, he fell and hit a curb in fall 2013, told Michele Tafoya on Universal Sports. “This is just kind of a stepping stone to what I want to accomplish in Rio.”

Lochte said he risked disqualification with a new strategy he uses on the turn off the wall at 150 meters, switching from breaststroke to the final 50 meters of freestyle. Lochte swims on his back off that wall before turning to the freestyle, while everyone else stays more or less on their belly.

Rowdy Gaines and Dan Hicks said on Universal Sports that an Australian judge who stood over Lochte’s lane at the 150-meter turn might have tried to disqualify Lochte.

“I’ve never heard a rule saying that you can’t do that, but I think they’re going to start changing the rules now,” Lochte told Tafoya. “I took that chance tonight going into it. They said you might get disqualified.”

Lochte’s win came against a field that did not include Olympic champion Michael Phelps or the two other fastest 200m IM swimmers each of the last two years — Japan’s Kosuke Hagino (injured) and Daiya Seto (failed to advance out of semis).

“There was a couple of people that weren’t in that race, but there’s no doubt in my mind that there was other people there to push me,” Lochte said on Eurosport.

Worlds broadcast schedule | Thursday results

Lochte, 31, became the second swimmer to win the same Worlds event four straight times. Australia’s Grant Hackett did so in the 1500m freestyle from 1998 through 2005. Hackett, 35, is competing in the 4x200m free relay in Kazan, his first Worlds in eight years.

Lochte also became the second swimmer to earn a medal in the same Worlds event six straight times. Italy’s Federica Pellegrini accomplished the feat in the women’s 200m freestyle Wednesday.

Lochte’s individual events are finished at Worlds, his lightest individual workload at a major international meet in 11 years. In his other event, he finished fourth in the 200m freestyle. Lochte is likely to be part of the U.S. 4x200m free relay on Friday.

He said that Michael Phelps emailed him earlier this week after the U.S. started the meet poorly. The U.S. is now up to 11 medals and five golds, both leading the medal standings after five of eight days. Its fewest medals won at a Worlds or Olympics in the last 50 years was 21 at the 1994 Worlds.

Phelps is not swimming at Worlds as part of his punishment for a September DUI arrest.

“He emailed me saying good luck, you’re like one of the older men on the team, so you’ve got to push through from Team USA and get them going because you’re a leader now,” Lochte said on Eurosport. “I’m not there to help you. I’m like, yeah, we miss him. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s definitely missed. But like I said, the biggest picture is Rio, and I know he’ll be there, and he’ll be fired up for that.”

Michael Phelps: U.S. swimming is no longer on top

In other finals Thursday, Franklin and Ledecky led the U.S. women’s 4x200m free relay to a 3.04-second win over Italy and China. They switched spots in the relay order from 2013, when Ledecky led off and Franklin anchored.

Sarah Sjostrom led off the relay with the fastest split of the field in 1:54.31, a time that would have beaten Ledecky for gold in the individual 200m freestyle on Wednesday. Ledecky won that race in 1:55.16. Sjostrom opted not to swim the individual 200m free in Kazan.

The U.S. closed the gap on Sweden to within .34 for Ledecky’s anchor leg. Ledecky easily moved into gold-medal position and clocked 1:55.64 on her split.

Ledecky will swim the 800m freestyle Saturday, looking to become the first swimmer to win the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees at one Worlds. She can also become the second swimmer to win four individual events at a Worlds, joining Lochte and Phelps.

Franklin will swim the 100m freestyle final Friday and the 200m backstroke final Saturday. She’s still looking for her first individual gold medal of the meet after winning three individual events in 2013.

In the men’s 100m freestyle Thursday, U.S. Olympic champion Nathan Adrian tied for seventh. Ning Zetao, who was handed a one-year doping ban in 2011, became the first Chinese man to win an Olympic or World title in an event shorter than 400 meters. Australia’s Cameron McEvoy took silver followed by Argentina’s Federico Grabich for bronze.

“He underperformed a little bit,” Russian two-time Olympic 100m freestyle champion Alexander Popov said of McEvoy on Eurosport.

Cammile Adams took silver in the 200m butterfly for her first Worlds medal, coming from seventh place after 100 meters and fifth after 150. Adams finished fifth at the 2012 Olympics and seventh at the 2013 World Championships.

The U.S. has won a medal in every women’s swimming event at one of the last two Olympics, except the 200m butterfly. The last U.S. woman to win an Olympic 200m butterfly medal was Misty Hyman‘s surprise gold at Sydney 2000.

Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi took the gold in 2:05.56, followed by Adams in 2:06.40 and China’s Zhang Yufei in 2:06.51. Hoshi won the first World Championships gold by a Japanese woman, after 24 combined silver and bronze medals.

China’s Fu Yuanhui took the women’s 50m backstroke title. No Americans were in the final, and the event is not part of the Olympic program. Fu was fourth in the 100m back Tuesday.

In semifinals Thursday, Franklin advanced to Friday’s 100m freestyle final by .01 as the eighth and final qualifier. Franklin was fourth in the event at the 2013 Worlds and fifth at the 2012 Olympics. Countrywoman Simone Manuel qualified sixth into the final.

The favorites are fastest qualifier Swede Sarah Sjostrom and Australian sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell.

Ryan Murphy and Olympic champion Tyler Clary qualified second and seventh into Friday’s 200m backstroke final. An American has won this event at each of the last 20 major international meets.

American Micah Lawrence was the No. 2 qualifier into Friday’s 200m breaststroke final behind Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen. Lawrence won bronze two years ago, with Pedersen earning bronze. The 2013 World champion Yulia Efimova of Russia failed to advance out of the morning heats.

American Kevin Cordes was the fourth qualifier into Friday’s men’s 200m breast final. Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta will try to match Lochte and Hackett with a fourth straight World title Friday.

Phelps: I won’t drink alcohol until after Rio, if ever

Men’s 200m Individual Medley
Gold: Ryan Lochte (USA) — 1:55.81
Silver: Thiago Pereira (BRA) — 1:56.65
Bronze: Wang Shun (CHN) — 1:56.81

4. Daniel John Wallace (GBR) — 1:57.59
5. Conor Dwyer (USA) — 1:57.96
6. Marcin Cieslak (POL) — 1:58.14
7. Henrique Rodriguez (BRA) — 1:58.52
8. Simon Sjodin (SWE) — 1:59.06

Men’s 100m Freestyle
Gold: Ning Zetao (CHN) — 47.84
Silver: Cameron McEvoy (AUS) — 47.95
Bronze: Federico Grabich (ARG) — 48.12
4. Santo Condorelli (CAN) — 48.19
5. Marcelo Chierighini (BRA) — 48.27
6. Alexander Sukhorukov (RUS) — 48.28
7. Nathan Adrian (USA) — 48.31
7. Pieter Timmers (BEL) — 48.31

Women’s 200m Butterfly
Gold: Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) — 2:05.56
Silver: Cammile Adams (USA) — 2:06.40
Bronze: Zhang Yufei (CHN) — 2:06.51
4. Brianna Throssell (AUS) — 2:06.78
4. Franziska Hentke (GER) — 2:06.78
6. Katie McLaughlin (USA) — 2:06.95
7. Liliana Szilagyi (HUN) — 2:07.76
8. Zhou Yilin (CHN) — 2:10.20

Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay
Gold: U.S. — 7:45.37
Silver: Italy — 7:48.41
Bronze: China — 7:49.10
4. Sweden — 7:50.24
5. Great Britain — 7:50.60
6. Australia — 7:51.02
7. Japan — 7:54.62
8. France — 7:55.98

Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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