Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps cruise into 200m medley final at Trials

0 Comments

OMAHA, Neb. — Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte did their part.

The longtime rivals are headed to another showdown at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.

Phelps and Lochte cruised through the semifinals of the 200-meter individual medley Thursday night, each of them winning their heats in dominating fashion.

Nathan Adrian, meanwhile, wasn’t dominant, but he’ll defend his 100m freestyle gold in Rio. Unfortunately, Missy Franklin missed her chance to compete in another 100m free at the Olympics.

Lochte is on the verge of his first individual Rio berth. The 11-time Olympic medalist so far has only qualified in the 4x100m relay.

“It means a lot,” Lochte said. “I’ve been racing him in this event since like 2003. He’s a tough competitor. I just love racing against him because it’s a challenge.”

Slowed by a groin injury, the 31-year-old Lochte missed out in the 400 IM — a race he won at the Olympics four years ago — finished fourth in the 200 freestyle, and dropped out of the 200 backstroke.

Though also entered in the 100 butterfly, Lochte is basically putting all his hopes on the 200 IM. A top-two finish will give him that cherished spot, but he really wants a win over Phelps in Friday night’s final before they head to the Olympics.

SWIM TRIALS: Video | Results | Broadcast Schedule

“I’m feeling better as far as like mentally, but physically I’m getting tired,” Lochte said. “Tomorrow night will definitely be a good battle between me and Michael.”

Lochte was the top qualifier at 1 minute, 56.71 seconds, while Phelps took the second spot in 1:57.61. That means they’ll be right beside each other in the final, just as they’ve been so many times during their dazzling careers.

Phelps has already qualified for Rio in the 200 fly, but the most decorated athlete in Olympic history is eager to add two more individual races to his program. He’ll be a big favorite in the 100 fly, a race in which Lochte doesn’t figure to be a major threat.

This is their only real chance to race.

“Him and I have gone back and forth a number of times in this race,” Phelps said. “During the big meets, we have great races. We’re right there with each other tomorrow in the middle of the pool, probably a couple of tenths apart. We’re going to be out and probably step on the gas a little bit more than we have in the past and you’ll have an exciting race.”

Phelps will also likely be a part of all three relays Rio.

Oh, and he celebrated his 31st birthday on Thursday.

“I have a bunch of friends here and my mom rented out a room, so we’re all going to get together and have some food,” Phelps said.

Then he’ll turn his attention to a familiar foe.

Elsewhere on the fifth night of the meet, Josh Prenot became the latest Olympic rookie to make the team, knocking off Kevin Cordes in the 200 breaststroke. Cordes had already won the 100 breast and was more than a second under world-record pace at the final turn of the longer race.

But Prenot, furiously bouncing up and down in the water, surged past Cordes on the final lap to win in 2 minutes, 7.17 seconds, setting an American record and finishing just off the world mark of 2:07.01 held since 2012 by Japan’s Akhiro Yamaguchi.

Also Thursday, Cammile Adams won the 200 butterfly after being briefly disqualified one day earlier during the preliminaries. The ruling that she made an illegal turn was quickly overturned after a review provided by the underwater camera, and Adams took advantage of her second chance to win with a time of 2:06.80. Hali Flickinger took the second Olympic spot in 2:07.50.

MORE: Missy Franklin misses qualifying in 100m freestyle

Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record

0 Comments

Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

0 Comments

One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!