Chad le Clos wins 200m butterfly, thanks Michael Phelps (video)

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Had Chad le Clos swum this fast in Rio, he would have gotten the better of Michael Phelps.

Le Clos, the shadow-boxing South African who drummed up a rivalry with Phelps the last Olympic cycle, recorded his fastest 200m butterfly since upsetting Phelps at London 2012 to win the world title Wednesday.

“I had a very difficult year last year, as you guys know, I lost to my great friend and idol Michael Phelps,” Le Clos said on NBCSN before tearing up in the medal ceremony. “I said last year, judge me by how I respond in adversity, and I proved it tonight.”

Le Clos clocked 1:53.33 in Budapest, which was .73 faster than he went in Rio, where he faded to fourth place while infamously peeking a lane over at Phelps in the last 50 meters.

Phelps, by the way, went .03 slower in Rio than Le Clos went Wednesday. That Olympic defeat served as motivation for Le Clos, who at 25 appears to have more gold medals in front of him.

“I’ve never been so hungry to be successful after last year,” said Le Clos, who rocketed out to a 1.11-second lead in the first 100 meters and hung on in the last 50. “So I must thank Michael Phelps for that.”

Le Clos will take on Rio Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and rising American Caeleb Dressel in the 100m butterfly. Heats and semis are Friday, with the final Saturday as Le Clos eyes a third straight world title in that event.

Men’s 200m Butterfly Results
Gold: Chad le Clos (RSA) — 1:53.33
Silver: Laszlo Cseh (HUN) — 1:53.72
Bronze: Daiya Seto (JPN) — 1:54.21
4. Tamas Kenderesi (HUN) — 1:54.73
5. Jack Conger (USA) — 1:54.88
6. Masato Sakai (JPN) — 1:55.04
7. Viktor Bromer (DEN) — 1:55.30
8. Antani Ivanov (BUL) — 1:55.98

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Justin Schoenefeld gets U.S.’ first men’s aerials World Cup win in 4 years

Justin Schoenefeld
U.S. Ski & Snowboard
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Justin Schoenefeld ended a four-year U.S. men’s aerials drought with his first World Cup win Saturday in Belarus.

Schoenfeld, 21, hit a double full-full-full in the super final to beat a field that included world champion Maxim Burov of Russia. Burov was fourth, one spot behind another American, Chris Lillis. Full results are here.

“I’m pretty speechless right now,” Schoenefeld said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I’m just shocked. It just all came so quick, all of a sudden the two finals were over, and I was on top of the podium. I probably landed two of my training jumps yesterday, but I managed to land all of my comp jumps down to my feet.”

Schoenefeld’s best previous World Cup finish was fourth, in Belarus last season.

Lillis earned the U.S.’ last World Cup men’s aerials victory on Feb. 20, 2016, also in Belarus. The four-year gap between wins marked the longest for the U.S. men since aerials was added as an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Schoenefeld also became the first American of either gender to win a World Cup aerials event in two years, since Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018. That gap was the longest for the U.S. since 2005.

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Kaillie Humphries wins bobsled world title in first season for U.S.

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Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries won a bobsled world title in her first season since switching allegiance from Canada to the U.S., ending recent German dominance.

Humphries, with brakewoman Lauren Gibbs, edged German junior world champ Kim Kalicki by .37 of a second combining times from four runs between Friday and Saturday in Altenberg, Germany.

“I love this track. It’s very challenging, one of the hardest in the world,” Humphries said, according to U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton. “It demands a lot of focus, a lot of respect every minute you’re on that track. So to be able to win here, I know the Germans and the spectators, everybody, have worked so hard and this week, no exceptions. I’m proud of all of the girls.”

Canadian Christine de Bruin took bronze for a second straight year. Full results are here.

Humphries, who married a former U.S. bobsledder, was released by Canada in September after filing verbal abuse and harassment claims against a coach, saying she no longer felt safe with the program. As a Canadian, Humphries won 2010 and 2014 Olympic titles, plus 2012 and 2013 World titles.

Humphries joined German Sandra Kiriasis as the only female drivers to win three world titles. She is already the only female driver with multiple Olympic titles.

German Mariama Jamanka, the reigning Olympic champion and defending world champion, finished fourth in Altenberg.

Triple U.S. Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor didn’t compete as she sits out the season due to pregnancy. Meyers Taylor and Gibbs teamed for silver in PyeongChang.

The world championships continue Sunday with the conclusion of the two-man competition. German Francesco Friedrich, eyeing his sixth straight world title, leads after the first two of four runs.

A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

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