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Katie Ledecky ends her longest break for winter nationals; TV schedule

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Katie Ledecky ends the longest break between meets of her brilliant career this week, suiting up for USA Swimming’s Winter Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., live on NBC Sports and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

Last we saw Ledecky, she wrapped up the year’s major international meet — the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo — with three golds, a silver and a bronze on Aug. 12. Close to her typical medal haul, but it came under the most difficult major-meet circumstances of her life.

Ledecky is usually back in competition by early fall. Not this year. Having turned pro, she no longer has a school team to rack up points for. She still trains and studies at Stanford, but she can’t race for the Cardinal.

USA Swimming’s database says Ledecky hasn’t taken three and a half months between meets since 2004, when she was 7 years old.

Winter Nationals is an opportune meet to ease back into racing. Ledecky and other headliners Simone ManuelDana Vollmer and Nathan Adrian don’t have the pressure of trying to make a national team. This meet, for many swimmers, is the first chance to post qualifying times for the 2020 Olympic Trials, which the aforementioned gold medalists don’t have to worry about.

Ledecky is entered in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles. Manuel joins her in the 100m and 200m frees and is on the 50m free start list.

Vollmer’s presence is notable. The five-time Olympic champion races for the first time since January. Vollmer skipped nationals in July as she works back from her second childbirth on July 4, 2017, meaning she missed not only Pan Pacs but also a chance at the 2019 World Championships.

MORE: Ledecky preps for new Olympic challenges in new suit

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Date Time (ET) Event Network
Thursday 5 p.m. Day Two Finals (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Friday 5 p.m. Day Three Finals (LIVE) Olympic Channel
Saturday 5 p.m. Day Four Finals (LIVE) Streaming
Sunday 10 p.m. Highlights NBCSN
Sun., Dec. 16 3 p.m. Highlights NBC

*All broadcast coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. All preliminary races stream live on usaswimming.org.

Tokyo Paralympic medals unveiled with historic Braille design, indentations

Tokyo Paralympic Medals
Tokyo 2020
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The Tokyo Paralympic medals, which like the Olympic medals are created in part with metals from recycled cell phones and other small electronics, were unveiled on Sunday, one year out from the Opening Ceremony.

In a first for the Paralympics, each medal has one to three indentation(s) on its side to distinguish its color by touch — one for gold, two silver and three for bronze. Braille letters also spell out “Tokyo 2020” on each medal’s face.

For Rio, different amounts of tiny steel balls were put inside the medals based on their color, so that when shaken they would make distinct sounds. Visually impaired athletes could shake the medals next to their ears to determine the color.

More on the design from Tokyo 2020:

The design is centered around the motif of a traditional Japanese fan, depicting the Paralympic Games as the source of a fresh new wind refreshing the world as well as a shared experience connecting diverse hearts and minds. The kaname, or pivot point, holds all parts of the fan together; here it represents Para athletes bringing people together regardless of nationality or ethnicity. Motifs on the leaves of the fan depict the vitality of people’s hearts and symbolize Japan’s captivating and life-giving natural environment in the form of rocks, flowers, wood, leaves, and water. These are applied with a variety of techniques, producing a textured surface that makes the medals compelling to touch.

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MORE: Five storylines to watch for Tokyo Paralympics

Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Tokyo Paralympic Medals

Alysa Liu lands quad Lutz

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Alysa Liu, a 14-year-old who in January became the youngest U.S. women’s figure skating champion, on Saturday landed a quadruple Lutz, something no other U.S. woman has done in competition.

Liu landed the jump at the Aurora Games, a women’s sports festival in Albany, N.Y. It does not count officially, since it’s not a sanctioned competition.

Previously, Sasha Cohen landed a quadruple Salchow in practice in 2001, but never in competition. At least three Russian teens landed quads in junior competition in the last two years.

Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva became the first woman to land a clean, fully rotated quad in senior competition en route to silver at last season’s world championships.

Liu, who landed three triple Axels between two programs at January’s nationals, makes her junior international debut at a Grand Prix stop in Lake Placid, N.Y., next week.

She will not meet the age minimum for senior international competitions until the 2022 Olympic season. But she can continue to compete at senior nationals.

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MORE: 2019 Grand Prix figure skating assignments