Ryan Lochte
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Ryan Lochte qualifies for Olympic Trials 400m IM final

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OMAHA — Ryan Lochte can clinch a spot on his fourth Olympic team on Sunday night.

Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, qualified second fastest into the Olympic Trials 400m individual medley final from the top morning heats on the first day of competition.

“My first race is always the worst one,” Lochte said. “I didn’t really press anything to full potential. I think there’s a little juice left. There has to be.”

The top two finishers in the eight-man final on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports app) will make the U.S. Olympic team.

Lochte is a favorite along with Chase Kalisz, who earned silver and bronze 400m IM medals at the last two world championships. Kalisz beat Lochte by .12 in their preliminary heat.

Other meet headliners Michael PhelpsMissy Franklin and Katie Ledecky are not in any of Sunday’s events and will make their Trials debuts in the next two days.

Full Olympic Trials results are here.

TRIALS: Broadcast ScheduleEntry Lists
PREVIEWS: Men | Women
FIVE KEY RACES: Men | Women

Lochte, 31, won the 400m IM at the London Olympics, his only individual gold medal from those Games. He had not raced the grueling event at a major international or national meet since.

Also in Sunday’s prelim session, 2012 Olympians Connor Jaeger and Conor Dwyer qualified second- and fourth-fastest into Sunday night’s men’s 400m freestyle final. They were bettered in prelims by Zane Grothe, who is trying to make his first Olympic team.

In the women’s 400m individual medley, Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel and world silver medalist Maya DiRado qualified second and fourth into Sunday night’s final. Sarah Henry, eyeing her first Olympics, was fastest in prelims.

Favorites Dana Vollmer and Kelsi Worrell advanced to the women’s 100m butterfly semifinals. Also advancing was favorite Kevin Cordes into the men’s 100m breaststroke semifinals.

MORE: Missy Franklin confident going into Trials after frustrating swims

Sunday Night Schedule
Men’s 400m IM final
Women’s 100m butterfly semifinals
Men’s 400m freestyle final
Women’s 400m IM final
Men’s 100m breaststroke semifinals

Beach volleyball player’s dog becomes social media sensation

Mathias Berntsen
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Norwegian beach volleyball player Mathias Berntsen‘s dog, Kiara, captivated social media this weekend.

A video of Kiara peppering with Berntsen and a pair across the net on a grass field spread from Berntsen’s Instagram across platforms. Kiara now has 12,000 Instagram followers, more than twice the total of Berntsen.

Berntsen, 24, is one half of Norway’s second-best beach volleyball team.

He and partner Hendrik Mol are ranked 45th in the world and well outside the Tokyo Olympic picture (24 teams go to the Games), but could get in the mix depending on how qualification is amended once sports resume.

Berntsen and his cousin Mol are part of a group called the Beach Volley Vikings. Mol’s younger brother, Anders, and family friend Christian Sorum are the world’s top-ranked team (profiled here).

MORE: Beach volleyball players fly to Australia, learn event is canceled

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FIFA rules on Olympic men’s soccer tournament age eligibility

Gabriel Jesus
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For the first time since 1988, some 24-year-olds will be eligible for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament without using an over-age exception.

FIFA announced Friday that it will use the same age eligibility criteria for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 that it intended to use in 2020 — that players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997 are eligible, plus three over-age exceptions. FIFA chose not to move the birthdate deadline back a year after the Olympics were postponed by one year.

Olympic men’s soccer tournaments have been U-23 events — save those exceptions — since the 1992 Barcelona Games. In 1984 and 1988, restrictions kept European and South American players with World Cup experience ineligible. Before that, professionals weren’t allowed at all.

Fourteen of the 16 men’s soccer teams already qualified for the Games using players from under-23 national teams. The last two spots are to be filled by CONCACAF nations, potentially the U.S. qualifying a men’s team for the first time since 2008.

The U.S.’ biggest star, Christian Pulisic, and French superstar Kylian Mbappe were both born in 1998 and thus would have been under the age limit even if FIFA moved the deadline to Jan. 1, 1998.

Perhaps the most high-profile player affected by FIFA’s decision is Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus. The Manchester City star was born April 3, 1997, and thus would have become an over-age exception if FIFA pushed the birthdate rule back a year.

Instead, Brazil could name him to the Olympic team and still keep all of its over-age exceptions.

However, players need permission from their professional club teams to play in the Olympics, often limiting the availability of stars.

MORE: Noah Lyles details training near woods, dog walkers

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