Janet Evans on what she admires most about Katie Ledecky (video)

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For more than 15 years, Janet Evans simultaneously held the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle world records.

Now, those records have belonged to Katie Ledecky for nearly two years. She has a long way to go to match Evans’ longevity, but Ledecky’s talent is simply overwhelming in Evans’ opinion.

“She swims an 800 freestyle like it’s a 200 freestyle,” Evans told Michele Tafoya on NBC Sports’ coverage of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials. “What I appreciate the most is that she literally takes a race out like it’s a 100-meter freestyle or a 200-meter freestyle, and then she keeps that pace going for 800 meters or, even though it’s not in the Olympics, the 1500 meters.”

Ledecky, 19, swept the 200m, 400m and 800m frees in Omaha this week. The 1500m free is not on the Olympic program for women (it is for the men, but the men don’t have the 800m free).

Ledecky has entered 15 finals at major international meets and won all of them. She will likely be in at least four more in Rio, including the 4x200m free relay.

Evans, 44, has joked that she’s old enough to be Ledecky’s mother. But they actually swam in the same meet in 2012, when Evans entered the U.S. Olympic Trials for the first time since 1996.

Evans saw the competitive drive in Ledecky’s eyes four years ago, when Ledecky made the team in the 800m free but missed in the 400m free, finishing third.

“I remember seeing how disappointed she was when she didn’t make the team [in the 400],” Evans said in 2014. “I remember thinking, oh, yeah, she wants this. She’s pretty hungry. Then I remember watching her 800, where she just took it out and took no prisoners.”

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Salwa Eid Naser, world 400m champion, provisionally banned

Salwa Eid Naser
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Salwa Eid Naser, the world 400m champion of Bahrain, was provisionally suspended for missing three drug tests in a 12-month span.

“I’ve never been a cheat. I will never be,” Naser, 22, said in an Instagram live video. “I only missed three drug tests, which is normal. It happens. It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people to get confused in all this because I would never cheat.”

Naser said “the missed tests” came before last autumn’s world championships, where she ran the third-fastest time in history (48.14 seconds) and the fastest in 34 years.

“This year I have not been drug tested,” she said. “We are still talking about the ones of last season before the world championships.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which handles doping cases for track and field, did not announce whether Naser’s gold medal could be stripped.

“Hopefully, it’ll get resolved because I don’t really like the image, but it has happened,” she said. “It’s going to be fine. It’s very hard to have this little stain on my name.”

Naser, the 2017 World silver medalist, upset Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas for the world title in Doha on Oct. 3.

The only women who have run faster than Naser, who was born Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu in Nigeria to a Nigerian mother who sprinted and a Bahraini father, were dubious — East German Marita Koch (47.60) and Czechoslovakia’s Jarmila Kratochvilova (47.99).

“I would never take performance-enhancing drugs,” Naser said. “I believe in talent, and I know I have the talent.”

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When Laurie Hernandez winked at the Olympics

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Blink, and you may have missed one of the social-media-sensation moments of the Rio Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez, then 16, was the youngest woman on the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. She was about to start arguably the most important floor exercise routine of her life.

So, she winked.

“The amazing thing about the Olympics is that you feel so many different emotions in the span of a few days, and they are all intense,” she wrote in her 2017 book, “I Got This,” a nod to what she told herself before her balance beam routine earlier that night. “So it was nice to have at least one totally playful moment.”

The U.S., on its fourth and final rotation, already had the team gold all but locked up. Knowing she was nervous, Hernandez’s teammates confirmed to her that they were a few points ahead.

Then Hernandez heard the beep, and it was time to go. She was in the view of an out-of-bounds judge at the Rio Olympic Arena.

“Well, I looked straight at her and suddenly felt this surge of confidence to wink,” she wrote. “Later, a woman came up to me while I was watching Simone [Biles] and Aly [Raisman] compete in their all-around finals and she said, ‘Wow, I just want you to know that when you winked at the judge, it really worked.’ I didn’t know how to respond, so I just said, ‘Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say.’ That’s when she told me she was the out-of-bounds judge! All I could say was ‘Oh my goodness.'”

Hernandez, a New Jersey native, finished the Olympics with a team gold and balance beam silver.

She took more than two years off before making a comeback in earnest last year, announcing she planned to return to competition this spring under new coaches in California. Now that’s on hold given the coronavirus pandemic, which pushed the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

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