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Katie Ledecky routs field, wins another NCAA title

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Katie Ledecky won the 500-yard freestyle by more than eight seconds at the NCAA Swimming Championships in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday night.

The Stanford sophomore clocked 4:26.57 and won by 8.29 seconds over teammate Katie Drabot. Ledecky’s NCAA and American record time of 4:24.06 was set at last year’s NCAAs. Her time Thursday was the fifth-fastest ever.

Meet results are here.

Ledecky owns the 14 fastest times ever in the event, according to USA Swimming. NCAA events are not contested on the senior international level because they are held in 25-yard pools rather than 25- or 50-meter pools.

The next-fastest 500-yard free swimmer all-time is Olympic 400m freestyle bronze medalist Leah Smith, who clocked 4.28.90 to take second to Ledecky at 2017 NCAAs.

Ledecky’s margin of victory Thursday was the largest in NCAA Champs history in the event, beating the 5.91-second margin by Beijing Olympian Caroline Burckle in 2008, according to Swimming World.

Ledecky improved to 7-for-7 in career NCAA Championships events, including relays. She anchored Stanford to the 800-yard freestyle relay title Wednesday, splitting faster than she did in the same event at 2017 NCAAs (but slower than Louisville’s Mallory Comerford for a second straight year).

She has two individual finals left this week, the 400-yard individual medley on Friday and the 1,650-yard freestyle on Saturday, her 21st birthday. She holds the NCAA and American records in both events.

Ledecky and four-time Rio Olympic medalist Simone Manuel are expected to lead Stanford to a repeat national title.

Ledecky hasn’t discussed with Stanford whether she will return for her junior season or turn pro, according to the school.

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Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is about 9,800 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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