Michael Phelps answers Chad le Clos with world’s top 100m butterfly

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Chad le Clos said Michael Phelps “can keep quiet now” on Saturday. Hours later, Phelps let his swimming do the talking. It spoke loudly.

Just as Phelps did Friday, the 22-time Olympic medalist clocked the fastest time in the world in a butterfly event since 2009 at the U.S. Championships in San Antonio on Saturday night.

Phelps won the 100m butterfly in 50.45 seconds, .11 faster than the South African le Clos’ winning time at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, earlier Saturday.

After his victory, Phelps said he was aware of the 2012 Olympic 200m butterfly champion le Clos’ comments from Russia that could accurately be described as trash talk.

“Let that swim make statements,” Phelps told media of his swim in San Antonio (video here). “Chad’s a good swimmer. You know, you can’t take that away from him. Like I said, I welcome any comment that anyone wants to say. It doesn’t bother me.”

Phelps has uttered those last two sentences before. He’s dealt with similar comments from other swimmers in the past.

Leading up to the 2008 Olympics, Australian Ian Thorpe repeatedly said Phelps would fail if he tried to win a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games. Phelps, as he did after countryman Ian Crocker once beat him in a 100m butterfly in 2003, posted a picture of Thorpe and/or Thorpe’s comments in his locker for motivation. Then he proved Thorpe wrong.

Also in 2008, France’s Alain Bernard said before the Olympic 4x100m freestyle relay of the Americans, “We’re going to smash them. That’s what we came here for.” Phelps and the U.S. upset the French at the Beijing Games, with Jason Lezak running down Bernard in an epic anchor leg.

In 2009, Serbian Milorad Cavic splashed into the controversy of the time about (now-banned) ultra-fast suits, challenging Phelps by saying the American had options other than Speedo to wear for races, insinuating there were better models such as Cavic’s Arena suit.

Phelps, who beat Cavic by .01 the year before at the Beijing Olympics, responded by beating Cavic by .13 in the 2009 World Championships final. Phelps broke the world record that Cavic had set in the semifinals. Phelps’ celebrated by popping and slapping his black Speedo bodysuit.

“It’s happened to me in the past,” Phelps said Saturday. “Thorpe said some stuff. Cavic said some stuff. Go ahead. It’s just going to fuel me. Bernard in the 4x100m free relay. … If you want to do it, go for it. Like I said, I welcome it. I smile at some and get serious at other comments. They are what they are, they’re just comments, and they’re printed on a piece of paper. It has nothing to do with me. Whatever I do in the pool will speak for itself.”

Phelps also made reference Saturday to his original May 15 comments about the 200m butterfly being a slow event.

“I don’t do it to talk trash,” Phelps said. “I do it to state facts, and I know some people went back and checked my facts after I said that stuff about the 200m fly, and I was right. So I know my facts about the sport.”

On Sunday, le Clos back tracked from his previous comments a little, saying he’s not a trash talker and not to classify him in the group of the likes of Cavic.

“I don’t fear Michael Phelps,” he said Sunday. “I never have, and I never will. … If he wants to race tomorrow, I’ll race tomorrow.”

Le Clos and Phelps have not raced since the 2012 Olympics.

Phelps’ longtime rival Laszlo Cseh, who won the 200m butterfly at Worlds, said the Rio Games will be his fourth and final Olympics.

“If there is no Michael, then there is no me,” said Cseh, whose five Olympic medals spread across three Games all came in events won by Phelps. “He is the fastest swimmer. He always [pushes] me to the times I achieve.”

Phelps is scheduled to swim the 200m individual medley in San Antonio on Sunday.

Ledecky completes unprecedented World Championships sweep

NBC Olympic researcher Amanda Doyle contributed to this report from Kazan.

J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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