Usain Bolt: People calling me ‘underdog’ for final race

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Usain Bolt is paying attention to what the track and field world is saying before the expected last individual race of his career on Saturday.

He doesn’t agree with it.

“Again, I’m the underdog for some reason,” Bolt said at a press conference in London on Tuesday. “That’s what I keep reading. That’s what my team keeps telling me. So I’ve got to prove myself once more.”

Bolt competes in what is expected to be his final meet before retirement at the world championships at the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

The 100m final is Saturday (NBC and NBC Sports Gold, 3 p.m. ET).

The 4x100m final is Aug. 12 (NBC and NBC Sports Gold, 3 p.m. ET).

Bolt’s fastest time this season is 9.95 seconds, which ranks him seventh in the world in 2017.

It’s his lowest standing going into any Olympics or world championships. And in Bolt’s six previous Olympic and world 100m titles, the silver medalist ran 9.89 or faster.

Bolt is not worried. He’s encouraged by steady improvement this season. Bolt’s first two 100m races in June were 10.03 and 10.06, followed by the 9.95 in Monaco on July 21 in his last worlds tune-up.

“Shows that I’m going in the right direction,” Bolt said. “It’s all about who can keep their nerves and who’s ready to challenge. I’ve been here many times. I know I’m ready. It’s go time.”

WORLDS: TV Schedule | 5 Men’s Races to Watch | 5 Women’s Races

Like in 2015, when Bolt had an injury-shortened build-up to worlds. He didn’t break 10 seconds until one month before the championships (a pair of 9.87s in one day) and then won worlds in 9.79 seconds.

This year, Bolt can take confidence in that the rest of the world is slowing down, too.

Justin Gatlin, the 2015 World and 2016 Olympic silver medalist, has a best time of 9.95 seconds in 2017.

Another American, Christian Coleman, owns the fastest time in the world this season, a 9.82 from the NCAA Championships on June 7. But Coleman, who is untested on the global stage, followed that with a 10.04, 9.93, 10.02 and 9.98 in his last four races.

There’s also this stat: Bolt has the fastest time in the world run outside one’s home country this year.

Bolt was asked Tuesday if he’s still the fastest man in the world. Yes, he says, adding that his suggested headline for the Sunday newspapers is “Unbeatable.”

Bolt was asked if he will reconsider retirement if he loses on Saturday.

“It’s not going to happen,” Bolt said, “so we won’t have that problem.”

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U.S. falls to Sweden in men’s hockey worlds semifinals

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The U.S. men’s hockey team could not end the drought.

The Americans, whose only title at a standalone world championship came in 1933, saw their gold-medal hopes extinguished in a 6-0 loss to Sweden in Saturday’s semifinals in Denmark.

Viktor Arvidsson (two goals, including an empty-netter), Magnus Paajarvi, Patric Hornqvist, Mattias Janmark and Adrian Kempe all beat U.S. goalie Keith Kinkaid. The Vancouver Canucks’ Anders Nilsson became the first goalie to shut out the U.S. in their ninth game.

Sweden, eyeing a repeat world title, will play Switzerland in Sunday’s gold-medal game. The Swiss upset Finland in the quarterfinals and Canada 3-2 in Saturday’s later semifinal. Switzerland has never won an Olympic or world title.

The U.S. plays Canada for bronze Sunday. The U.S. earned bronze in 2013 and 2015 and hasn’t finished higher than third since its last silver medal in 1950.

The U.S., with all NHL players save one on its roster, reached the final four for the fourth time in six years. The Olympic team made up of non-NHL players lost to the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals in PyeongChang.

Patrick Kane headlines a U.S. roster that also includes NHL All-Stars Johnny GaudreauDylan Larkin and Cam Atkinson.

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Katie Ledecky crushes 200m freestyle field in Indianapolis

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Katie Ledecky made it three wins in three days in Indianapolis, taking the 200m freestyle by 2.64 seconds at the Pro Series meet on Friday.

Ledecky clocked 1:55.42, which ranks third in the world this year. The two fastest swimmers, Canadian Taylor Ruck and Australian Ariarne Titmus, were not in Friday’s race.

Earlier in the meet, Ledecky smashed her 1500m freestyle world record by five seconds on Wednesday and swam the second-fastest 400m free in history on Thursday.

Her 200m free on Friday, while 1.69 seconds off her personal best from the Olympics, came an hour after she placed third in a 400m individual medley.

“I’m pretty happy with it coming off the 400m IM,” Ledecky said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

Full meet results are here. The meet finishes Saturday, with Ledecky entered in the 200m individual medley and 800m freestyle. NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will air live coverage at 7 p.m. ET.

Also Friday, 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte competed for the first time this spring, placing fourth in the 200m free and 100m butterfly at a meet in Atlanta. Lochte is scheduled for three meets in four weeks, including his first Pro Series meet since the Rio Olympics and his 10-month suspension in Santa Clara, Calif., next month.

Swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in July and Pan Pacific Championships in August, the two meets that will determine the 2019 World Championships team.

An hour before her 200m free, Ledecky placed third in the 400m IM, an event she doesn’t swim at major meets. Melanie Margalis, fourth in the 200m IM at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Worlds, and NCAA champion Ella Eastin went one-two in personal-best times.

Ledecky clocked 4:38.88, 1.93 seconds behind Margalis and .45 behind her Stanford teammate Eastin. Ledecky’s time was her third-fastest ever in the 400m IM, trailing her personal best of 4:37.93.

In other events, world champion Chase Kalisz won the men’s 400m IM by 6.54 seconds in 4:10.55, the second-fastest time in the world this year behind his own 4:08.92 from March 2.

Simone Manuel took the 50m free in 24.59, the fastest time by an American this year. Manuel is the Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist in the splash and dash. Australian Cate Campbell has the fastest time in the world of 23.78, but she’s not in Indianapolis.

Eight-time Olympic medalist Nathan Adrian won the men’s 50m free in 21.97, well off Brit Pen Broud‘s fastest time this year of 21.30. Neither Proud nor world champion Caeleb Dressel were in the field.

World bronze medalist Jacob Pebley prevailed in a 200m backstroke that lacked Olympic champ Ryan Murphy. Pebley clocked 1:57.03, 1.18 seconds off his fastest time this year.

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