Lilly King, Chase Kalisz win gold on final day of worlds

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Lilly King took the breaststroke rubber match with Yulia Efimova — and set another world record for good measure.

Chase Kalisz kept the U.S. firmly on top of the world in the men’s individual medley.

The brash King knocked off her second record of the world championships in Budapest, touching first in the 50-meter breaststroke Sunday.

King eclipsed the mark of 29.48 set by Lithuania’s Ruta Mielutyte at the 2013 worlds in Barcelona.

King added the 50 mark to her record-setting performance in the 100 breast. This was essentially the deciding match of her duel with Efimova, who won the 200 breast while King finished fourth.

Efiomova settled for silver in the 50 at 29.57, while another American, Katie Meili, took the bronze in 29.99.

“I always think Lilly has a world record in her,” Meili said. “Yeah, I knew she was going to go really fast. She’s been incredible this meet. Totally lights on her every time she gets in the pool, so I’m very very proud of her.”

Despite hard feelings between King and Efimova, sparked last summer when King griped that the Russian should not be allowed to compete because of doping violations, the two hugged each other and even appeared to joke around a bit after the race.

Kalisz breezed to victory in the 400 IM, adding to his triumph in the 200. He became the first swimmer at worlds to sweep the event, which encompasses all four strokes, since Ryan Lochte accomplished the feat in 2011.

Kalisz carried on American domination of the IMs that goes back more than two decades, largely because of Michael Phelps — a former training partner — and Lochte.

Neither is in Budapest, of course. Phelps retired again after the Rio Games, while Lochte was not allowed to compete at worlds because of his shenanigans at last summer’s Olympics.

No worries for Team USA.

Kalisz pulled away on the breaststroke leg and cruised to the finish in 4 minutes, 5.90 seconds — nearly 2½ seconds ahead of the silver medalist, Hungary’s David Verraszto. Japan’s Daiya Seto grabbed the bronze.

In the women’s 50 freestyle, Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom got a bit of redemption for her loss to American Simone Manuel in the 100 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 in 23.85, while Manuel settled for the bronze at 23.97.

Manuel 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.

France’s Camille Lacourt took gold in the 50 backstroke with a time of 24.35. The silver went to Japan’s Junya Koga, while American veteran Matt Grevers grabbed the bronze.

Women’s 50m Breaststroke Results
Gold: Lilly King (USA) — 29.40
Silver: Yulia Efimova (RUS) — 29.57
Bronze: Katei Meili (USA) — 29.99
4. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) — 30.20
5. Jennie Johansson (SWE) — 30.31
6. Sarah Vasey (GBR) — 30.62
7. Arianna Castiglioni (ITA) — 30.74
8. Rachel Nicol (CAN) — 30.80

Men’s 400m IM Results
Gold: Chase Kalisz (USA) — 4:05.90
Silver: David Verraszto (HUN) — 4:08.38
Bronze: Daiya Seto (JPN) — 4:09.14
4. Max Litchfield (GBR) — 4:09.62
5. Jay Litherland (USA) — 4:12.05
6. Kosuke Hagino (JPN) — 4:12.65
7. Brandonn Almeida (BRA) — 4:13.00
9. Richard Nagy (SVK) — 4:16.33

Women’s 50m Freestyle Results
Gold: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) — 23.69
Silver: Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) — 23.85
Bronze: Simone Manuel (USA) — 23.97
4. Pernille Blume (DEN) — 24.00
5. Aliaksandra Herasimenia (BLR) — 24.46
6. Liu Xiang (CHN) — 24.58
7. Anna Santamans (FRA) — 24.58
8. Bronte Campbell (AUS) — 24.58

Women’s 400m IM Results
Gold: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) — 4:29.33
Silver: Mireia Belmonte (ESP) — 4:32.17
Bronze: Sydney Pickrem (CAN) — 4:32.88
4. Yui Ohashi (JPN) — 4:34.50
5. Sakiko Shimizu (JPN) — 4:35.62
6. Leah Smith (USA) — 4:36.09
7. Elizabeth Beisel (USA) — 4:37.63
8. Hannah Miley (GBR) — 4:38.34

Amy Cragg to withdraw from U.S. Olympic marathon trials

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Defending champion Amy Cragg will miss the Feb. 29 U.S. Olympic marathon trials with an illness, according to her social media.

“The Trials are the reason I have shown up every day for the last four years, so this has been an extremely difficult decision,” was posted on her social media. Cragg later said she had Epstein-Barr virus, according to multiple reports.

Cragg, 36, was among the favorites to grab three Olympic spots at trials in Atlanta, despite not having competed over 26.2 miles since the February 2018 Tokyo Marathon.

She withdrew from the 2018 Chicago Marathon with a hamstring injury and also scratched a month before the 2019 Chicago Marathon, citing signs pointing to needing more time after the previous year’s injury.

Cragg, fourth at the 2012 Olympic trials, relegated Des Linden and Shalane Flanagan to second and third at the 2016 trials. Linden and Flanagan went on to win the Boston and New York City Marathons, respectively, ending long U.S. women’s victory droughts.

Cragg went on to finish ninth in Rio and earn a 2017 World bronze medal, the first world championships marathon podium finish for an American woman since the first worlds in 1983.

Cragg could still make the Tokyo Olympic team in the 10,000m if she races at track trials in June. She won the 2012 Olympic trials 10,000m but hasn’t raced the distance on the track since May 2017.

“Right now my only goal is to get healthy so that I can train at the level needed to be competitive,” Cragg said in an emailed message from her agent. “That being said, the reason I am still in this sport is because of the Olympic Trials and Olympics. It is what excites me more than anything, so it is something I would still love to do.”

With Cragg absent and Flanagan retired, Linden is the only woman in next week’s field with Olympic marathon experience.

Other favorites include Olympic 10,000m runner Molly Huddle, world championships 10,000m runner Emily Sisson and Jordan Hasay, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner in history.

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Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic marathon trials

Galen Rupp
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As Galen Rupp bids for a fourth Olympics, and perhaps become the first man or woman to win the Olympic marathon trials twice outright, he found some rare familiarity these days on the roads Feb. 8.

“Feeling like my old self again,” Rupp said Wednesday of winning a low-key half marathon in Mesa, Ariz., his first completed race in 16 months and since parting from now-banned, career-long coach Alberto Salazar. “It’s obviously been a long year and a half.”

Rupp clocked 61 minutes, 19 seconds on a downhill course. It’s faster than any half marathon by an American recorded by World Athletics since the start of 2019. Granted the downhill, but Rupp also said he was instructed by new coach Mike Smith to make it a controlled effort.

“He didn’t want me to run all-out, didn’t want me to really push and put myself in a big hole,” Rupp said, noting he was still in heavy training. “You don’t want to break that [training] up and put yourself in a deficit by having a massive effort.”

Mesa answered questions about Rupp’s readiness for the Olympic trials in Atlanta on Feb. 29 (NBC, 12-3 p.m. ET). Even to the two-time Olympic medalist himself. Rupp said he started the half marathon with a little bit of doubt — given recent left ankle and calf injuries — but felt early on that everything would be fine.

“It really put my mind at ease,” he said. “I’m going to be good for the marathon.”

His last two marathons did not go well.

At the 2018 Chicago Marathon, Rupp dropped from the leaders around mile 19 and finished fifth in a title defense. An Achilles injury flared up near the end. He underwent surgery later that month for two tears. Doctors said the ankle had been “a ticking time bomb.”

“They said I was really lucky to have as good of health as I had and manage it as I did,” Rupp said.

He went a full year before racing again, at the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 13, 12 days after Salazar’s ban was announced. Even that was a rushed comeback, Rupp said after dropping out around mile 23 with a calf injury.

“I’m not going to say it was a wake-up call,” Rupp said, “but I think I was a little bit stubborn before Chicago.”

Rupp said he ran through pain in training to get to the start line four months ago. He had trouble walking for several days after the abbreviated race and focused on physical therapy for about two months. He resumed normal, pain-free training in December.

By early January, Runner’s World reported that Oregon-based Rupp found a new Flagstaff-based coach in Smith, who leads a Northern Arizona University program that won the last three NCAA men’s cross-country titles.

“The biggest thing to me was Mike’s philosophy in coaching was very similar to the program that I was under for so many years,” said Rupp, who was for more than a decade part of the Nike Oregon Project, which was shut down last fall after Salazar’s ban for doping violations (which he appealed). Rupp wasn’t implicated by USADA and has a clean drug-testing record. “What I love most about it was Mike’s honesty and how forthright he was about everything. You could tell he wasn’t just saying what I wanted to hear or say, ‘We’re just going to do whatever you’ve been doing and try and replicate that.’ You’ve got to keep evolving and trying new things.”

Smith declined an interview request through NAU until after trials. He agreed to coach Rupp after about a month of communication and hard questions, according to Runner’s World.

“Because of its timing and the headlines I was reading like everyone else at the time, this was not a road I wanted to go down,” Smith said, according to the report. “To be honest, it was just easiest to turn it down. I’m actually — as crazy as this sounds — really proud I did not.

“What I found out by getting to know Galen was that there was much more going on than the picture portrayed of him, and I wish the world knew that. I have never seen someone more all-in in my life.”

Rupp, asked his toughest moment of the last two years, said he moves forward.

“Throughout any hardships and setbacks, I felt a lot of gratitude that I had as good of a run as I did with my health and everything going well for as long as I did,” he said. “It can be easy to get angry and get down, like why me, but I do believe that things always work out. There’s a reason behind all this stuff.”

Which brings Rupp to Atlanta next week for the first time in his life, aside from airport layovers. The race is unlike any other he has contested. The course is unusually hilly. The format — Americans only, top three make the Olympic team — makes for different tactics than the World Marathon Majors that Rupp is used to.

In 2016, Rupp entered as a favorite but without any marathon experience. He won convincingly, pulling away from now-retired Meb Keflezighi by 68 seconds.

The field is deeper this year. Seven Americans broke 2:11 in 2019. Only one did in 2015. But Rupp, at his best, is in his own class.

His personal best 2:06:07, from his last healthy marathon in 2018, is 1:49 faster than the second-fastest in the trials field in this Olympic cycle (Leonard Korir). The next-fastest, Scott Fauble, is more than three minutes behind by personal bests.

“I can confidently go in and say that I’ve put in the work for this, just like I know that I put in the work in 2016,” Rupp said. “Of course, you want to go in and have good races, feeling confident and being on a roll like I was several years ago. But I think that’s why that race in Mesa was so important to show, more to myself, that hey, you’re ready to go. You can still run well. You haven’t lost everything. Surgery didn’t wipe you out.”

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