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Cameron van der Burgh, Olympic breaststroke champ, retires

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Cameron van der Burgh, the first African man to win an individual Olympic swimming event, announced his retirement after winning the 100m breaststroke at the world short-course championships on Wednesday.

“It is the last [100m breast]. It is sad, but I am happy to end on a high,” he said, according to FINA. “The last 25 meters was the most pain I have ever had in my life in swimming, so it was a good way to finish.

“It is funny how these things turn out. At least I have no loose ends to tie up or reason to come back.”

Van der Burgh, 30, won the 100m breast at the 2012 London Games to join fellow breaststroker Penny Heyns, backstroker Joan Harrison and the 2004 men’s 4x100m free relay as South Africa’s Olympic swimming gold medalists.

Chad le Clos joined the club later in the Games when he upset Michael Phelps in the 200m butterfly.

At the 2012 Games, van der Burgh won in a then-world record and dedicated it to Norwegian Alexander Dale Oen, the 2011 World champion who died suddenly while training in Arizona that spring.

Van der Burgh kept Japanese megastar Kosuke Kitajima from becoming the first male swimmer to win the same event at three Olympics, paving the way for Phelps to do it in the 200m individual medley later in the Games.

Van der Burgh added world silver medals in the event in 2013 and 2015 and Olympic silver in Rio, ceding the top spot to Brit Adam Peaty, who is not racing at short-course worlds this week.

Van der Burgh also earned 50m and 100m breast medals at every world championships between 2009 and 2015.

He is still entered in the 50m breast later this week.

MORE: The U.S. breaststroke hope to end Olympic drought

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Jordan Wilimovsky qualifies for Tokyo Olympics in open-water swimming

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Open-water swimmer Jordan Wilimovsky is the first male athlete on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.

Wilimovsky, who placed fourth and fifth in two distance events at the 2016 Rio Games, joined fellow open-water swimmers Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell in qualifying for Tokyo via the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

Wilimovsky, 25, placed fifth in the 10km event on Tuesday. Anderson and Twichell were second and sixth in the women’s 10km on Sunday. Top-10 finishers at worlds qualified for Tokyo.

German Florian Wellbrock won by two tenths of a second over French Olympic bronze medalist Marc-Antoine Olivier after 1 hour, 47 minutes in the water. Wilimovsky led with 600 meters left. Olympic 1500m freestyle champion Gregorio Paltrinieri also qualified for Tokyo in the open-water 10km by finishing sixth.

The other American, David Heron, was 25th, missing the Olympic team, but he can try again in the 1500m free in the pool at the Olympic trials next June.

Wilimovsky missed a medal in the Rio Olympic 1500m in the pool by 4.17 seconds, taking fourth. Three days later, he was fifth in the open-water 10km, 1.2 seconds out of bronze.

Wilimovsky, a Malibu native who redshirted at Northwestern to train for Rio, earned gold and silver in the 10km at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.

A U.S. man has never earned an Olympic open-water medal. The event debuted at Beijing 2008.

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Ted Ligety scales back race schedule

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Two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety is scaling back his race schedule as he enters the final portion of his decorated Alpine skiing career.

Ligety, a 34-year-old who has endured many injuries since his last World Cup win in 2015, said he will race strictly giant slaloms this year. The World Cup season starts in late October.

“So it’ll be a little bit easier schedule on my body,” Ligety said in a KPCW radio interview in his native Park City, Utah. “I’ll be able to be home a little bit more as well, and then we see. I mean, I would like to keep going as long as I feel like I can win races and feel healthy. That’s really the biggest part, and nowadays I have a 2-year-old son, and there’s more factors than there was when I was 25 years old.”

Ligety, nicknamed “Mr. GS” for his giant slalom prowess, has a 2014 Olympic gold medal and three world titles in that event.

He also owns an Olympic combined title from 2006 and world titles in the super-G and combined from 2013, but he hasn’t won a race in one of those disciplines since January 2014. And since then, he has undergone back and knee surgeries and dealt with hip problems.

“There’s a lot of hard miles on my body up to this point, but I’m still enjoying it,” said Ligety, whose 321 World Cup starts are the most among active Olympic medalists now that Lindsey Vonn and Aksel Lund Svindal have retired. “Right now, I feel really healthy and trying to get to a point where I feel I can win races. That’s the goal right now.”

Ligety, a four-time Olympian, has not publicly committed to a 2022 Olympic run.

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