Caeleb Dressel ties Michael Phelps’ record with 7th gold

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Michael Phelps, you’ve got company.

Caeleb Dressel won his seventh gold medal of the world championships Sunday, putting the U.S. team ahead to stay with another dominating swim in the 4×100-meter medley relay.

Twenty-four hours after becoming the first swimmer to win three golds in one night at a major international meet, Dressel joined Phelps in another elite club: seven golds at the second-biggest meet after the Olympics.

Phelps was the first to do it at the 2007 worlds in Melbourne, Australia — a prelude to his unprecedented eight golds the following year at the Beijing Olympics.

Dressel matched the feat along the banks of the Danube, emerging as America’s next swimming sensation.

“We’re seeing a star being born,” teammate Matt Grevers said.

The 20-year-old University of Florida student won three individual golds and was part of four winning relay teams.

“I’m pretty tired, but, you know, it’s been a good season, a good year, and to put together a seven-day meet, it’s a really nice feeling,” Dressel said. “There’s a lot more that goes into this than just the seven days that people see, so I’m very happy to be done.”

It was a big night all around for the Americans.

Lilly King set her second individual world record of the meet in the 50 breaststroke, again besting Russian rival Yulia Efimova, and returned as part of the women’s 4×100 medley relay that also broke the world record.

“I couldn’t imagine a better finish to this meet,” King said.

Chase Kalisz swept the men’s individual medleys to carry on America’s dominance in those races, even after Phelps’ retirement and Ryan Lochte missing out on Budapest because of his shenanigans at the Rio Olympics.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be on the level of those guys,” said Kalisz, who romped to victory in the 400 IM on the heels of his victory in the 200. “But for me to be able to continue our prior tradition of IM, that was one thing when I grew up that I knew that was our thing.”

The U.S. finished with 18 golds and 38 medals overall — a huge improvement over the previous worlds two years ago in Kazan, where the Americans managed just eight golds and 23 medals.

The home crowd had no complaints, either.

Katinka Hosszu, the “Iron Lady,” finished off her third straight 200-400 IM sweep at the championships, to go along with a pair of golds from Brazil last summer.

“Ria! Ria! Hungaria!” the packed house at Duna Arena chanted, as Hosszu celebrated on deck wrapped in her country’s red, white and green flag.

But this meet will be remembered as Dressel’s coming-out party.

He won the 50 and 100 freestyle, and nearly took down Phelps’ world record in the 100 butterfly. Dressel was a beast on the relays, swimming both the free and fly.

Phelps’ feat at worlds still stands supreme since five of his seven golds were in individual events, and he didn’t have the benefit of the mixed relays. Dressel won a pair of golds in that relatively new race, which he was quick to point out after his three wins Saturday.

But the comparisons to the winningest athlete in Olympic history are sure to pick up steam heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Dressel swam the fly in the final event of the meet, taking over for the third leg with the Americans facing a slight deficit after world record-holder Adam Peaty pushed Britain ahead on the breaststroke.

No worries.

Dressel surged to the front with a down-and-back time of 49.76 — the only butterfly swimmer to break 50 seconds. Nathan Adrian took over for the freestyle anchor with a comfortable lead, pulling away to win in 3 minutes, 27.91 seconds. Britain settled for the silver, more than a second behind.

When Adrian touched, Dressel hugged his other teammates, Grevers and Kevin Cordes. As everyone else walked off deck, Dressel lingered a bit, watching a replay of the race on the video board.

It must have seemed more than a little surreal.

“I’ve never had had it happen,” Dressel said, “so I don’t really know what to say.

To the surprise of no one, he was named the top male swimmer of the meet. The female award when to Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, who capped off a stellar performance of her own with a bit of redemption in the 50 free.

After setting a world record in the semifinals, Sjostrom completed the furious dash from one end of the pool to the other in 23.69 — just two-hundredths off her mark the previous evening. Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands claimed the silver, while Simone Manuel of the U.S. settled for the bronze.

It was Manuel who knocked off Sjostrom in the 100 free after the Swede went out far too fast on the opening lap and had nothing left for the return. This time, she didn’t have to come back.

Sjostrom set two world records in the meet, also getting credit for one in the 100 free for her opening leg of the 4×100 free relay. She now holds four world records overall including the 50 and 100 fly.

Manuel was feeling a lot better when she anchored the U.S. women to a world record in the 4×100 medley relay. She joined King, Kelsi Worrell and Kathleen Baker in setting a time of 3:51.55, breaking the mark of 3:52.05 that had stood since an American victory at the 2012 London Olympics.

King’s time in the 50 breast was 29.40, beating the mark of 29.48 set by Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte at the 2013 worlds. Efimova settled for a silver, and the two even gave each other a hug when it was over — a sign that their fierce rivalry is thawing a bit.

King set two individual records in Budapest, and was part of two record-setting relay teams.

Also Sunday, Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri pulled away from Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk over the final laps to win the men’s 1,500 freestyle, while France’s Camille Lacourt took gold in the 50 backstroke.

But the biggest winner was Dressel.

“I’m going to take a little break,” he said. “Just enjoy myself, you know.”

He certainly earned it.

Men’s 4x100m Medley Results
Gold: United States — 3:27.91
Silver: Great Britain — 3:28.95
Bronze: Russia — 3:29.76
4. Japan — 3:30.19
5. Brazil — 3:31.53
6. China — 3:31.65
7. Hungary — 3:32.13
8. Belarus — 3:33.63

Women’s 4x100m Medley Results
Gold: United States — 3:51.55
Silver: Russia — 3:53.38
Bronze: Australia — 3:54.29
4. Canada — 3:54.86
5. Sweden — 3:55.28
6. China — 3:57.69
7. Great Britain — 3:59.51
8. Italy — 3:59.98

Geraint Thomas attacks, takes Tour de France lead ahead of Chris Froome

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British Olympic track cycling champion Geraint Thomas grabbed the Tour de France lead, attacking with three and a half miles to win a summit finish on Stage 11 on Wednesday.

Thomas now leads a Team Sky one-two in the overall standings, 85 seconds ahead of four-time Tour winner Chris Froome, as the three-week Grand Tour passed the halfway mark.

“Froome is the [Team Sky] leader here, so there’s no pressure on me,” Thomas said Tuesday, according to Cyclingnews.com. “It’s a bonus for me to be up there, and hopefully I can be there for as long as possible.”

The Tour continues Thursday with stage 12 to Alpe d’Huez, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold (full broadcast schedule here).

The 109-mile stage features three beyond-category climbs — Col de la Madeleine, Croix-de-Fer and the iconic Alpe d’Huez finish after 21 switchbacks to close out the Tour’s three days in the Alps. The overall standings are sure to change.

Greg Van Avermaet, the Rio Olympic road race champion, went into stage 11 with a 2:22 lead, which he had tripled on the first mountain day Tuesday.

But Van Avermaet, who predicted he would lose the yellow jersey before stages Tuesday and Wednesday, cracked on the second of three major climbs Wednesday. He finished in a group 22 minutes after Thomas.

Van Avermaet is a super one-day racer but not a strong climber.

Thomas showed his climbing prowess, finishing 20 seconds ahead of 2017 Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin and Froome.

Thomas dons the yellow jersey for a second straight Tour. The 2008 and 2012 Olympic track cycling gold medalist won the opening stage in 2017 and wore the maillot jaune four days before Froome took over en route to his fourth title in Paris.

There was talk before and during this year’s Tour that Thomas could challenge Froome as Sky’s team leader, even though Froome has won the last three Grand Tours and is going for record-tying fifth Tour de France crown.

But Thomas and Sky have played that down.

Dumoulin moved into third overall, 1:44 behind Thomas and 19 seconds back of Froome.

The other top contenders — 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet — finished 59 seconds behind Thomas on Wednesday.

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U.S. Olympic, USA Gymnastics leaders set for another Senate hearing

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Recently replaced U.S. Olympic Committee acting CEO Susanne Lyons, USA Gymnastics President and CEO Kerry Perry and Michigan State interim president John Engler are scheduled witnesses for a Senate subcommittee hearing next Tuesday on reforms following the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The hearing is titled, “Strengthening and Empowering U.S. Amateur Athletes: Moving Forward with Solutions” and will stream live at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/ on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“The hearing will focus on changes made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Gymnastics (USAG), and Michigan State University (MSU) to protect Olympic and amateur athletes from abuse,” according to the subcommittee’s website. “It will examine recent reforms to provide safe environments for athletes and how these reforms are being implemented.”

The subcommittee held hearings April 18 and June 5 with testimonies from gymnasts and other athletes who were abused, former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon and former senior vice president of USA Gymnastics Rhonda Faehn. Former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny also attended the June 5 hearing but refused to answer questions.

Lyons and Perry were questioned at a House subcommittee hearing May 23.

The USOC last Thursday named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, replacing Lyons, who had been in the role on an interim basis since Scott Blackmun resigned in February. Blackmun, who had been CEO since January 2010, left citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal.

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