Connor Jaeger, Abbey Weitzeil end Olympic Swim Trials with wins

Leave a comment

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Connor Jaeger had to swim nearly a mile to earn another race at the Olympics.

Abbey Weitzeil claimed her second individual event in Rio with a frantic dash from one end of the pool to the other.

The final night of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials came down to the long and short of it, a pair of races that couldn’t provide more of a contrast.

Jaeger used a powerful finishing kick to pull away from Jordan Wilimovsky in the 1,500-meter freestyle Sunday night, while Weitzeil claimed victory in the 50 free just ahead of Simone Manuel.

The metric mile was a two-man race all the way. By the end, no one was within a half-lap of the leaders.

Jaeger got a strong kick off the next-to-last wall and began to get some separation on his only challenger. Pulling away on the final lap, he finished in 14 minutes, 47.61 seconds.

“He’s the fastest American ever, so it’s fun to just try and hang with him as far as I can,” said Wilimovsky, who touched in 14:49.19 — more than 17 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Michael McBroom.

Jaeger and Wilimovsky had already locked up their berths in Rio before they dove in the pool. Jaeger also won the 400 free, while Wilimovsky had earned a spot for the U.S. in the open-water event at Rio.

Now, he’ll become the first U.S. swimmer to compete in both the pool and the ocean at the same Olympics.

“It’s really, really cool,” Wilimovsky said. “Obviously open water has only been around (at the Olympics) since 2008, so it’s not that old.”

Jaeger won a silver medal in the 1,500 at last year’s world championships. Four years ago, he finished sixth in the event at the London Olympics.

“We’re going to have to be better in Rio,” said Jaeger, who was more than 6 seconds off his personal-best time. ”

The 50 free was a carbon copy of the 100 free.

Weitzeil won in 24.28 seconds and Manuel was next at 24.33 — the same 1-2 finish they had in the two-lap race. Madison Kennedy missed out on a trip to Rio by 15-hundredths of a second.

“I’m super stoked,” Weitzeil said. “I came to this meet in 2012 as a 16-year-old just making the cuts, just came to participate. To go from then to now in four years, winning events that I was thinking about during that time, it’s just amazing. It hasn’t set in what I’ve actually done.”

Four other swimmers who already earned spots on the Olympic team were farther back.

Olivia Smoliga finished fourth, while Dana Vollmer, Lia Neal and Amanda Weirbrought up the back of the pack.

VIDEO: Michael Phelps reflects on Trials, looks ahead to Rio

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Israel baseball turned to Shlomo Lipetz for the biggest out in program history

Russia boxers to boycott Olympics if sanctions not lifted

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: IOC strips Olympic status from boxing body AIBA