Nathan Adrian stars on final night in Orlando; Michael Phelps sums up his meet

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Nathan Adrian may have looked better in the 50m freestyle last year, but his heart still savors the 100m free.

Adrian, the Olympic 100m free champion by .01 of a second in London, matched his fastest 100m freestyle since 2013 at a Pro Swim Series meet in Orlando on Saturday night.

He clocked 48.05 seconds, beating a field that included Michael Phelps (third place, 49.57). Full meet results are here.

“My training’s been showing a lot of speed in the 50 recently, but the 100’s my baby, that’s the one that I always focus on,” Adrian said on NBCSN. “That’s the one we’re constantly working at. To see it kind of pay off a little bit right there is really exciting.”

Put Adrian’s time in perspective.

It’s his fastest 100m free in a meet other than the Olympics, World Championships, Pan Pacific Championships and U.S. Championships, summer meets that swimmers train to peak for.

This is March. Adrian is training to peak at the Olympic trials in June and July.

It’s the second-fastest 100m free in the world this year, behind Australian Cameron McEvoy‘s 47.56. However, Australian swimmers must train to peak earlier than the rest of the world, since their Olympic trials are in April.

All told, it’s a great sign for Adrian, who dropped in the 100m free from gold at the 2012 Olympics to bronze at the 2013 World Championships to a tie for seventh at the 2015 World Championships.

Meanwhile, Adrian broke the American record in the 50m free at the 2015 World Championships in the semifinals and then earned silver in the final.

He’s looking like the favorite in both the 50m free and the 100m free at the U.S. Olympic trials. Adrian was third in the 50m free and first in the 100m free at the 2012 Olympic trials.

Meanwhile, Phelps would like to at the very least show he deserves a place on the 4x100m free relay in Rio. He’s been a part of the relay final quartet at the last three Olympics but ranked 20th in the U.S. in the event last year.

However, Phelps did not contest the 100m free at the August U.S. Championships, the meet that he peaked for in 2015. His time on Saturday ranked No. 6 in the U.S. this year.

“I’d like to get a good 100 between now and trials and potentially be on that relay,” Phelps said Saturday.

Phelps’ meet included a victory in the 100m butterfly Thursday and a third and a fourth in two of his non-primary events, the 100m free and 100m back, the last two nights.

“I’m always so hard on myself,” Phelps said on NBCSN, lamenting not having longtime coach Bob Bowman with him at a meet for the first time since he believed 2007 (Bowman is coaching the Arizona State men at the Pac-12 Championships this weekend). “Some of the small things really just weren’t there. My finish in the 100m fly was kind of blah. My finish in the 100m back wasn’t that great. My freestyle is still a little choppy.”

Phelps, while sitting shirtless in the TV booth, said he’s probably “the most cut” he’s been in his life.

“I don’t know if I should say this, but I’m going to,” Phelps said. “Not having a drink for over a year and a half, it’s incredible. … I can really tell the difference in my body.”

Phelps said in August that he gave up drinking alcohol after his Sept. 30, 2014, DUI arrest and that he won’t drink again through Rio, if ever.

In other events Saturday, Missy Franklin won the 200m backstroke with the fifth-fastest time in the world this year. Franklin captured the 100m back on Friday in her fastest time since the World Championships in August.

In the women’s 100m free on Saturday, both Franklin and Katie Ledecky were beaten by Simone Manuel.

Manuel, who finished sixth in the 100m free at Worlds in August, clocked 54.27. She was followed by Olympic 200m free champion Allison Schmitt in 54.56 and Ledecky in 54.67. Franklin was eighth in 55.83.

The Pro Swim Series continues with a meet in Mesa, Ariz., from April 14-16.

MORE SWIMMING: Franklin to co-author book

Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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Russia boxers to boycott Olympics if sanctions not lifted

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Russian boxers will only take part in the Tokyo Olympics if doping sanctions forcing them to compete as neutral athletes are overturned, the general secretary of the Russian Boxing Federation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Umar Kremlev said he has spoken with the Olympic boxing team and they “unanimously” rejected the conditions laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for manipulating doping data.

The WADA sanctions, announced on Monday, ban the use of the Russian team name, flag or anthem at a range of major sports competitions over the next four years, including next year’s Olympics.

“They said we won’t go without our flag and anthem,” Kremlev said. “We aren’t going for medals, but for that feeling that I brought the highest honor home for my country.”

Separately, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament said Russia could create an alternative to the Olympics.

“This ruling show the clear crisis in international sports institutions. I believe that Russia could host its own games at home,” Valentina Matvienko said in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.

There is a precedent. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet Union refused to compete in the Olympics and hosted its own Spartakiads — named after the ancient rebel slave Spartacus — with a strong socialist slant. However, the Soviet Union began competing at the Olympics in 1952 and Russians generally take great pride in the country’s Olympic achievements since then.

If the sanctions aren’t overturned, Kremlev said Russian boxers would prefer to turn pro rather than compete at the Olympics.

“A world champion (in professional boxing) is better known than an Olympic champion,” Kremlev said, adding the Russian anthem would be played before pro title fights.

Kremlev said boxers are being asked to shoulder the blame for offenses committed in other sports. He said they would still stay at home even if Russia’s athletes in other sports decided to take part.

“If other sports are guilty and people have breached the WADA code, why are we punished?” he said. “We are for honest sport and against doping. We want our sport to be clean … If someone breaks the rules, we push them out.”

Russia is a major power in amateur and Olympic boxing. It hosted both men’s and women’s world championships this year, finishing at the top of the medals table at the women’s event and second in the men’s championships. The International Olympic Committee has taken direct charge of boxing at the Tokyo Olympics after criticizing chronic financial problems and infighting at the International Boxing Association.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov talked up Russia’s chances of overturning the WADA sanctions.

“I think that there is every basis to appeal the decision, because our experts have presented their position, and they have the same database as WADA does,” Kolobkov said in comments reported by state news agency TASS. “There is an answer to every question and the whole process is ahead of us.”

The official decision on whether to dispute the sanctions will be made on Dec. 19 by the Russian anti-doping agency’s supervisory board, but senior figures, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have signaled their preference for taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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