Katie Ledecky sets table for unprecedented world championships

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Katie Ledecky passed every test at nationals. Now, she has the option of taking on her biggest workload ever at a major meet.

Ledecky won her last race, the 400m freestyle, at the USA Swimming Nationals, part of the TeamUSA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast, in Indianapolis on Friday night.

Ledecky clocked 3:58.44, the third-fastest time ever, 5.33 seconds ahead of runner-up Leah Smith. Ledecky has gone sub-4 a total of 10 times in her career. Only one other woman has done it once — former world-record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy.

In other events Friday, Lilly King completed a sweep of the breaststrokes by winning the 100m in 1:04.95. The time was .02 off her Olympic-winning swim and .13 off Russian rival Yuliya Efimova‘s fastest in the world this year.

Olympian Kevin Cordes broke Cody Miller‘s American record in the men’s 100m breast, clocking 58.74. Miller was second to make the world team after taking Olympic bronze. The event is dominated by Brit Adam Peaty, who owns the world record of 57.13 and the eight fastest times ever.

Matt Grevers won the men’s 100m backstroke, one year after failing to make the Rio team and defend his London gold medal. He was followed by Rio gold medalist Ryan Murphy. Olympic silver medalist Kathleen Baker took the women’s 100m back.

In the men’s 400m free, Zane Grothe and Clark Smith went one-two after finishing fourth and fifth at the Olympic Trials.

SWIM NATIONALS: Broadcast Schedule | Event Schedule/Results

This week, Ledecky qualified for July’s world championships in the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees and as part of the 4x100m and 4x200m free relay pools. She could tie Missy Franklin‘s female record six golds at a single worlds from 2013.

Ledecky will swim 6,300 meters in seven days at worlds in Budapest if she makes the final in all of those individual events and swims once in each relay.

With the addition of the 4x100m free, it would be 100 more meters than she swam at the 2015 Worlds, where she completed the Ledecky Slam by winning five gold medals.

In Rio, Ledecky swam 3,400 meters and won four golds and one silver. The women’s 1500m free was not on the Olympic program. Michael Phelps swam 3,300 meters when he won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games.

None of the other great recent distance swimmers — Grant HackettSun Yang and Kate Ziegler among them — swam 6,300 meters at a major meet.

Smith has qualified for worlds in the 200m, 400m and 800m frees and in the 400m individual medley with a 1500m free spot available at nationals Saturday, should she enter the race and win it.

Ledecky’s potential schedule at worlds in Budapest:

Day 1 — July 23
400m freestyle heats (morning)
400m freestyle final (night)
4x100m freestyle final (night)

Day 2 — July 24
1500m freestyle heats (morning)

Day 3 — July 25
200m freestyle heats (morning)
200m freestyle semifinals (night)
1500m freestyle final (night)

Day 4 — July 26
200m freestyle final (night)

Day 5 — July 27
4x200m freestyle (night)

Day 6 — July 28
800m freestyle heats (morning)

Day 7 — July 29
800m freestyle final (evening)

Day 8 — July 30 (last day)
Rest

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Hayato Sakamoto, Japanese baseball MVP, tests positive for coronavirus

Hayato Sakamoto
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Hayato Sakamoto, an MVP of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is one of two players from the Yomiuri Giants to test positive for the coronavirus, according to several Japanese media reports.

Sakamoto, a 31-year-old shortstop, and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive ahead of the NPB’s planned June 19 start to the season that had been delayed to the coronavirus.

The tests showed traces of the coronavirus, according to Kyodo News.

The Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game with the Seibu Lions to limit the spread of the virus.

Sakamoto is the reigning Central League MVP. He has been called the Derek Jeter of Japan for playing the same position as the Yankee great and being the veteran captain of Japan’s equivalent club, the Giants, which own a record 22 Japan Series titles.

Sakamoto, who played in the last two World Baseball Classics, has been considered a lock for Japan’s baseball team at the Tokyo Games in 2021 as the most well known active player who hasn’t left for Major League Baseball. MLB is not expected to allow its top players to participate in the Olympics, which would keep the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka off the Olympic roster.

The sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, though it is not on the 2024 Olympic program nor guaranteed a place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Japan reached the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments when the sport was previously on the medal program but never took gold.

In a 2018 survey, Sakamoto was ranked as Japan’s eighth-most popular athlete across all sports, foreign or domestic, active or retired.

Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall

Sky Brown Skateboard Fall
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Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.

Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.

Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.

“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”

Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.

Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.

“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”

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Last week the worst thing I could ever ever imagined happened to @skybrown . She fell about 15ft off the side of a vert ramp to flat concrete. I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital. We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive. We prayed and begged God to give Sky another chance. Word came back while she was still unconscious, multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm, which she broke into pieces because she used it to break her fall, broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs. 4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks. More importantly her Doctors and the trauma team say it’s a miracle how well she is dealing with the pain and recovering incredibly fast. They said it’s shocking and believe it’s because of her grit, positivity and attitude. Skys brother @oceanbrown has been so brave. He saw his sister fall to the ground lying in a pool of blood and was screaming in tears that night outside of the hospital. He has still not allowed into the hospital to see her. They miss each-other dearly, but no siblings are allowed to enter the hospital because of coronavirus. They’ve been spending hours a day on FaceTime with each other making funny faces to one another in fits of giggles and laughter. Sky promises Ocean daily that she will make a fast recovery so they can be together again. Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it’s hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to. Thank you to the heroes that are the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that have tirelessly worked on her and helped her get to this point.

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