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Australian women break 4x100m freestyle relay world record

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Australia lowered the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay world record for the third time in four years, taking gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast on Thursday.

Shayna JackBronte CampbellEmma McKeon and Cate Campbell clocked 3:30.05, bettering their 3:30.65 record from the Rio Olympics.

Cate Campbell, the former individual 100m free world-record holder, anchored in 51.00 seconds, believed to be the fastest split in history. The previous fastest was believed to be Campbell’s 51.59 from the medley relay at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Campbell had the individual 100m free world record of 52.06 before Swede Sarah Sjöström clocked 51.71 at the 2017 World Championships.

Though Campbell’s split is ineligible for world-record purposes because it was off a relay exchange, it’s still the first 100m free by a woman faster than Mark Spitz‘s fastest-ever individual 100m free (then-world record 51.22 at Munich Olympics; though Spitz was 50.90 on his relay split in Munich).

The Aussie women have a history of great freestyle sprinters but struggled at recent major competitions since winning the 2016 Olympic 4x100m free relay over the U.S. (and ultimately keeping Katie Ledecky from five golds in Rio).

Cate Campbell was fifth and sixth in the 50m and 100m frees in Rio after clocking the fastest 50m free in a textile suit at the Australian Olympic Trials and breaking the 100m free world record one month before the Games. Campbell later said that she swam in Rio with a hernia.

She then skipped the 2017 World Championships because she needed a break to continue on to a possible fourth Olympics in 2020, according to the Australian.

“I’m just making sure I get my body right and my mind right because I do want to continue through to 2018, and at the moment, 2020,’’ she said 13 months ago, according to the newspaper. “I’ve battled injuries pretty much my whole career, and my injuries aren’t just an issue in the swimming pool. I wake up a couple of times every night because I’m sore from my neck and it carries over into day to day life.”

At the 2017 Worlds, sister Bronte and McKeon were seventh and eighth in the 100m free. The last time Australia failed to put a woman in the top six at an Olympics or worlds was 2001.

Also at 2017 Worlds, the Australian women lost the 4x100m free relay by .29 to a U.S. quartet that broke its national record. The U.S., with Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel, clocked 3:31.72 that day. On Thursday in Gold Coast, Australia went 1.67 seconds faster, benefitting from Campbell’s return.

There are no Olympics or worlds this summer, but the U.S. and Australia should both compete at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo in August.

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Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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