Missy Franklin earns Rio berth in 200m freestyle behind Katie Ledecky

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Missy Franklin stood beside the blocks, staring down the still water in her lane. Never had she faced so much pressure, yet she felt serene.

A night after she failed to make the Olympic team in the 100-meter backstroke – an event she won four years ago in London – Franklin rallied to finish second in the 200 freestyle Wednesday night at the U.S. trials.

It was good enough to earn her a spot in an individual event in Rio.

“That’s probably the most proud race I’ve ever swam in my entire career, coming back from such a loss last night and telling myself that I still have it in me to do whatever I believe I can do,” she said, tears glistening in her eyes.

Katie Ledecky cruised to victory in the race. Franklin was tied for second on the last turn and churned through the water to get her hand on the wall as runner-up.

“I told her after the race she’s one tough cookie,” Ledecky said. “That 2 race is for real, and there’s more to come from her.”

Up next are the 100 free on Thursday and the 200 backstroke on Friday, giving Franklin two more chances at further redemption. Four years ago, she took London by storm, winning five medals, including four golds, and spread her infectious smile and bubbly personality everywhere.

This time, just getting on the team has been a lot tougher.

SWIM TRIALS: Video | Results | Broadcast Schedule

Franklin left college after swimming two years at California to turn pro last year. She juggles sponsor commitments, photo shoots and travel in between training and practice. The extra demands away from the pool were more than she had expected, but it’s her nature not to want to let anyone down.

After struggling to seventh in the 100 back, Franklin returned to her hotel room and re-thought things.

“I realized that my job here is not to make an Olympic team, it’s not to defend anything, it’s to swim well,” she said. “It’s me trying to work through how to deal with this kind of pressure that I’ve never really dealt with before and I think, as we just saw, I’m really starting to figure that out for myself.”

Franklin had her work cut out in the 200 free final. Besides Ledecky, there was defending Olympic champion Allison Schmitt (fourth) and Leah Smith (third), who had already made the team.

Her coach, Todd Schmitz, pumped his fists and charged down the steps of the arena to congratulate his swimmer.

She finally had reason to flash her trademark smile.

“Last night was really tough and coming back from that, I was telling myself, ‘I’m not done fighting. I’m not done with believing in myself,'” she said.

For a while, it looked like Franklin might only make the team as a relay swimmer. That’s hardly what she spent the last four years working for.

“People say there’s nothing like making your first Olympic team, but there’s really nothing like making your second Olympic team,” she said, laughing. “It’s moments like this that you kind of have to sit back and say, ‘You know what? I just did it.'”

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Danielle Williams cemented as world No. 1 hurdler in Birmingham

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The 100m hurdles has been one of the U.S.’ deepest events the last several years, but Jamaican Danielle Williams looks like the favorite at the world championships in early October.

Williams, who owns the world’s fastest time this year, easily beat world-record holder Kendra Harrison and Olympic champion Brianna McNeal at a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Sunday.

Williams crossed in 12.46 seconds despite hitting her knee on one hurdle, but still two tenths clear of Harrison, whose world record is 12.20. It marked Harrison’s first loss in nine meets this year and the first time a non-American has ever beaten her at a Diamond League stop.

It looked like Williams wouldn’t make it to worlds in Doha when she false started out of the Jamaican Championships. But the final was soon after strangely canceled, and Jamaican media reported last week that Williams, the 2015 World champion who failed to make the Rio Olympics, is eligible to be chosen next month by the federation.

The U.S. had at least the two fastest women in the world each of the previous six years. Then Williams re-emerged with a Jamaican record 12.32 on July 20.

The meet airs Monday on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA at 4 p.m. ET and NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET. The Diamond League moves to Paris on Saturday.

In other events Sunday, Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo overtook Brit Dina Asher-Smith and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 200m in 22.24. Miller-Uibo extended her unbeaten streak to two years across all distances.

It appears Miller-Uibo will not be racing the 200m at worlds, given it overlaps with the 400m. She ranks third in the world this year at the shorter distance, trailing Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, who clocked 22.00 on June 23 but was not in Sunday’s field. Miller-Uibo has ranked No. 1 at 400m four straight years.

Yohan Blake won the 100m in 10.07 seconds, holding off Brit Adam Gemili, who had the same time with a 2 meter/second tailwind. Blake, the second-fastest man in history with a personal best of 9.69, hasn’t been the same since suffering a series of leg injuries starting in 2013.

Sunday’s field lacked the world championships favorites — Americans Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin, who clocked 9.81 and 9.87 on June 30.

Surprise U.S. champion Teahna Daniels placed third in her Diamond League 100m debut, clocking 11.24 seconds. The field lacked world championships favorites Thompson and Fraser-Pryce, who each ran 10.73 at the Jamaican Championships on June 21.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won an 800m that lacked all three Rio Olympic medalists, who are barred from racing the event due to the IAAF’s new testosterone cap in middle distances. Wilson’s time, 2:00.76, was far off her 2019 world-leading time of 1:57.72 among eligible women.

Olympic and world heptathlon champion Nafi Thiam broke the Belgian long jump record twice, winning with a 6.86-meter leap. That ranks ninth in the world this year. The field lacked the last two Olympic champions, Americans Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese.

A meeting of the last two Olympic pole vault champs went to Rio gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, who cleared 4.75 meters in swirling wind. London 2012 champ Jenn Suhr was third but remains No. 1 in the world this year with a 4.91-meter clearance from March 30.

Croatian Sandra Perkovic, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic discus champion, lost her third straight Diamond League meet to start the season as she returns from injury. Perkovic, who placed third behind winner Cuban Yaimé Pérez, had not lost in back-to-back meets since returning from a six-month doping ban in 2011, according to Tilastopaja.org.

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Tokyo Paralympic triathlon test event cancels swim due to water bacteria

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TOKYO (AP) — High levels of bacteria forced the swimming portion of a triathlon test event for the Tokyo Paralympics to be canceled Saturday.

It’s the second setback in the triathlon for organizers of next year’s Olympics and Paralympics. An Olympic triathlon running event was shortened from 10km to 5km on Thursday because of what the International Triathlon Union (ITU) called “extreme levels” of heat.

Tokyo’s hot and humid summers are a major worry for Olympic organizers. The water issues are a reminder of the Rio Games, when high bacteria and virus levels were found in waters for sailing, rowing and open-water swimming.

In a statement, the ITU said E-coli levels were “more than two times over the ITU limits.” It said the water was at Level 4, the highest risk level.

E-coli bacteria, which normally live in the intestines of animals and people, can produce intestinal pain, diarrhea and a fever.

The venue in Tokyo Bay, called Odaiba, has been a concern for organizers, who have experimented with different measures to clean the water in the area, located in an urban part of central Tokyo.

The ITU is scheduled to hold it final test event on Sunday “depending on the latest water quality tests”, it said in a statement.

A few days ago the ITU described water quality conditions at the venue as “very good.” However, swimmers at a recent distance swimming event at the same venue complained of foul-smelling water.

The water temperature at the venue on Saturday was 84 degrees Fahrenheit, with the air temperature hovering above 90.

Tokyo spokesman Masa Takaya said “we are set to conduct a comprehensive review with the international federation.”

He said a triple-layer underwater screen will be installed for next year’s Olympics, replacing a single-layer.

“Based on the results of multiple research in the past, we believe that the multiple layer screen will assure the successful delivery of the competitions,” he said.

Filthy water plagued the Rio Olympics. The South American city lacks a functioning sanitation system for much of its population. Open water there tested high for bacteria and viruses, which confronted athletes in rowing, sailing and triathlon.

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