Caeleb Dressel qualifies for Tokyo at Olympic Trials ahead of potentially historic summer

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Caeleb Dressel just qualified for his second Olympics, and his first since becoming a megastar in his sport. But he still feels like that 15-year-old kid, the youngest male swimmer at the 2012 Olympic Trials, where he also watched finals from the nosebleeds.

“I got to swim in the same pool as Ryan [Lochte],” nine years ago, Dressel said last week. “I got to swim in the same warm-up lane as Michael [Phelps].”

Now Dressel, after an unconventional teenage ascent, is the man turning heads in U.S. swimming. Phelps retired five years ago. Lochte is still around, and just might qualify for Tokyo at age 36 tomorrow, but is no longer a medal favorite.

Dressel won the men’s 100m freestyle in 47.39 seconds on Thursday night, prevailing by .33 over Zach Apple (who will also swim the event in Tokyo). Dressel is ranked second in the world this year behind 20-year-old Russian Kliment Kolesnikov, who has gone 47.31.

But the American does own the fastest time in history outside of the super-suit era of the late 2000s, a 46.96. He also owns the fastest textile time in the 50m free and the world record in the 100m butterfly, events he contests over the next three days in Omaha.

All told, Dressel is expected to swim six or seven events in Tokyo, when including relays, with medal possibilities in all of them. The list of swimmers to win seven medals in one Olympics: Phelps, Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi.

Dressel isn’t one for medal counts. He actually gifted some of his 15 medals between the last two world championships, performances that catapulted him into the leading man role, to important people in his life.

“I don’t very much care for the spotlight,” he said before Olympic Trials.

Also Thursday, Olympic and world champion Simone Manuel missed Friday’s eight-woman 100m free final by .02. She was ninth fastest in the semifinals. Manuel has one more chance to qualify for Tokyo. More on Manuel here.

SWIM TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Women’s Event Previews | Men’s Event Previews

In other finals Thursday, world silver medalist Hali Flickinger won the 200m butterfly in 2:05.85. She’s joined on the Olympic team by Regan Smith, who already made the team in the 100m back. Smith is also likely to qualify in the 200m back, where she holds the world record.

Nic Fink won the 200m breaststroke in 2:07.55, distancing Andrew Wilson by .77 of a second. Wilson was also second in the 100m breast and should swim both events in Tokyo. Will Licon was third for a second consecutive Trials, missing two Olympic teams by a combined .32 of a second.

Bobby Finke won the first Olympic Trials men’s 800m free in 7:48.22. Michael Brinegar, 1.72 seconds back, is set to join him in Tokyo, 45 years after his mom, Jennifer Hooker, swam at the Olympics.

The men’s 800m free and the women’s 1500m free were added to the Olympic program for Tokyo, so men and women swim all the same events.

In semifinals, Ryan Lochte qualified sixth-fastest into Friday’s 200m individual medley final, his lone shot to become the oldest U.S. Olympic male swimmer in history. Lochte, a 12-time Olympic medalist, must finish in the top two to make the Games at age 36.

Lilly King, the Olympic and world champion in the 100m breast, was the fastest qualifier into Friday’s 200m breast final. She’s followed by training partner Annie Lazor, who was .07 behind. King already won the 100m breast. Lazor was third in the 100 breast, making the 200m her last shot at Tokyo.

Ryan Murphy, who swept the backstrokes in Rio, led the qualifiers into Friday’s 200m backstroke final with the fastest time by .66 of a second.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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