Mireia Belmonte wins 200m butterfly as U.S. extends drought (video)

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Spain’s Mireia Belmonte backed up her Olympic title with world gold in the 200m butterfly, which continues to be a rare weak event for the U.S.

Belmonte, 26, won in 2:05.26, holding off German Franziska Hentke by .13 with Hungarian superstar Katinka Hosszu grabbing bronze.

The race lacked not only the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 finishers from Rio but also both Americans who were eliminated in the semifinals. It’s the first event this week without an American in the final.

The U.S. last earned a women’s 200m fly title at worlds in 1991 (Summer Sanders). Its 26-year drought is the longest of any male or female event.

Similiarly, the U.S. has earned zero Olympic medals in the 200m fly since Misty Hyman‘s shock gold at Sydney 2000. Americans made the podium in all other Olympic pool events in either London or Rio, and most at both Games.

Belmonte earned her first world title after two silvers and a bronze in 2013 and a 1500m free silver to Katie Ledecky earlier this week.

Hentke is Germany’s first female individual Olympic or world medalist since Britta Steffen in 2009.

Hosszu picked up her 11th career individual world medal, breaking her tie with Russian Yulia Efimova for the female record.

Women’s 200m Butterfly Results
Gold: Mireia Belmonte (ESP) — 2:05.26

Silver: Franziska Hentke (GER) — 2:05.39
Bronze: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) — 2:06.02
4. Ahn Sehyeon (KOR) — 2:06.67
5. Zhang Yufei (CHN) — 2:07.06
6. Suzuka Hasegawa (JPN) — 2:07.43
7. Liliana Szilagyi (HUN) — 2:07.58
8. Zhou Yilin (CHN) — 2:07.67

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Caster Semenya allowed to race 800m at Pre Classic

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Caster Semenya has been switched from the 3000m to the 800m at next week’s Pre Classic, marking her first scheduled 800m since a Swiss Supreme Court ruling allowed her to race her Olympic gold-medal distance while she appeals a new IAAF testosterone rule.

“Caster’s representation requested that she be moved from the 3,000 meters (where she was originally entered) to the 800 meters, and we are happy to comply,” Prefontaine Classic meet director Tom Jordan said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report.

NBC Sports airs live Pre Classic coverage on June 30 from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion, was originally entered in the 3000m because the rule bars her from races between 400m and the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures, under which she would be allowed to return to those distances late this year. Semenya refuses to take those measures.

A Swiss Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago lifted the restriction for Semenya — but not other athletes — while her appeal is pending. The IAAF has until Monday to respond to the court before a ruling could be made. A resolution could still be months away, with Semenya possibly able to race until that day comes.

Semenya has won 30 straight 800m races dating to 2015, including the Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships. All three Rio Olympic 800m medalists have said they are affected by the new rule capping testosterone in women’s races between the 400m and mile.

That meant none raced at Diamond League stops in Stockholm and Rabat, Morocco, earlier this month. Last Sunday’s Rabat meet offered Semenya a late invite, more than a week after her restriction was lifted, but Semenya said it was too late for her to travel in time to race.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won the Stockholm 800m without any of the Olympic medalists in the field.

MORE: Caster Semenya to IAAF: Focus on dopers, not us

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Geraint Thomas crashes out of Tour de France prep race

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BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas crashed in a cycling race, days after teammate Chris Froome was involved in a season-ending accident in France.

Team INEOS said Thomas should be fine to start the Tour de France on July 6 despite having to drop out of the fourth stage of the nine-day Tour de Suisse race in Switzerland.

“Clearly it’s frustrating and a small setback for my Tour de France preparations, but there’s still plenty of time before we start in Brussels in a few weeks’ time,” Thomas said, according to the team.

The team says on Twitter that Thomas “was alert and speaking to the team after the crash and will be taken to hospital for checks.”

Thomas had a ripped jersey and cuts on his back and shoulder after hitting the road with about 18 miles left in the stage. He was in eighth place, 28 seconds behind race leader Peter Sagan.

Thomas won the 2018 Tour after Froome won four times between 2013 and 2017.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

MORE: NBC Sports launches Cycling Pass for 2019-20 season

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