Lilly King, Annie Lazor bonded by promise at Olympic Swimming Trials

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Lilly King, the world’s best breaststroker, qualified for the Olympics earlier this week. That was never in doubt.

But Annie Lazor, who finished third in the 100m breast on Tuesday to miss the team by one spot, had one final shot to make her first Olympics in Friday’s 200m breast final.

She delivered, leading a one-two with King, her training partner the last three years in Bloomington, Indiana. Lazor, at 26, is going to Tokyo along with King, who made it in both breaststrokes. They’re bonded by more than all those laps in the pool.

On April 25, Lazor’s father, David, died suddenly at home.

“He lavished love on his daughter Annie and encouraged her big dreams,” an obituary read. “They traveled together to many swim meets where he was her ardent cheerleader – win or lose, he always let her know that she is so much more than her athletic accomplishments.”

King drove five hours north to the visitation in Michigan. There, she made a promise to Lazor’s mom.

“That she was going to do everything it took to put me on the [Olympic] team, and she was going to pull me through practice every day,” Lazor told NBC Sports before Olympic Trials. “That meant the absolute world to me and to my mom.”

King followed through every day for the next two months. She pushed Lazor as a training partner. She distracted her as a friend with silly stories.

“She’s being authentically Lilly by doing that,” Lazor said of King, known for her brash comments and intimidation on the starting blocks, but also for teaching middle school PE, eating a Happy Meal each week in her college days and wearing Crocs everywhere. “That’s what’s really helped me kind of humanize her the last few months.”

At age 26, Lazor was trying to become the oldest American woman to qualify for her first Olympic team in the pool in 17 years.

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

She failed in her first chance Tuesday night, when King won the 100m breast and qualified to defend her Olympic title in Tokyo. The 17-year-old Alaskan Lydia Jacoby took second.

“I honestly felt kind of bad because I could tell Lilly was excited to make her second Olympic team, but she was just as heartbroken for me,” Lazor said. “That says everything that you need to know about our relationship, about how she wants me to be there with her for those amazing moments.”

Four years ago, Lazor was what they call a swammer. She quit after missing the Rio Olympic team in both breaststrokes, graduated from Auburn and took an operations internship in the Cal-Berkeley athletic department.

Lazor, feeling the itch to give it one more shot, returned to the pool after a year away in 2017. She eventually worked up the guts to ask if she could train with the world’s best breaststroker.

King and her coach, Ray Looze, welcomed Lazor into their training group in April 2018. By the end of the year, Lazor won a world short-course championship.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Lilly,” Lazor said in 2019, according to Swimming World. “Honestly, given what I thought I knew about her prior to that, I was pretty surprised. Lilly, obviously, has somewhat of a reputation. I would think if it were my competitor and she had this program that’s working really well for her, why would you want to share that with her other competitors?”

In 2019, Lazor took 1.86 seconds off her 100m breast personal best. She chopped 4.19 seconds off her best 200m breast time from before leaving the sport. She finished the year ranked Nos. 2 and 3 in the world in the events after never previously ranking in the top 10.

“I was good,” in the past, Lazor said on a podcast with retired Australian swimmer Brett Hawke, “but I wasn’t that name that everyone knew.”

After finishing third on Tuesday, Lazor allowed herself to be sad.

“I think it’s pretty valid for me to be upset given I swam the third-fastest time in the world but got third to two other people in my country. That sucks,” Lazor said Thursday. “It was time to turn a new leaf when I woke up this morning.

“This [200m breast] is my best event. I’m really protective over this event.”

In Rio, King failed to make the 200m breast final after winning the 100m breast. She made it a goal to improve in the longer distance. She was asked Thursday night, after swimming the top 200m breast semifinal time, how she prepared over the last year for one of the sport’s toughest events.

“Honestly, just keep racing Annie in practice,” she said. “She is a much, much better long-course breaststroke trainer than I am.”

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Ryan Crouser breaks world record in shot put at Los Angeles Grand Prix


Two-time Olympic champion Ryan Crouser registered one of the greatest performances in track and field history, breaking his world record and throwing three of the six farthest shot puts of all time at the Los Angeles Grand Prix on Saturday.

Crouser unleashed throws of 23.56 meters, 23.31 and 23.23 at UCLA’s Drake Stadium. His previous world record from the Tokyo Olympic Trials was 23.37. He now owns the top four throws in history, and the 23.23 is tied for the fifth-best throw in history.

“The best thing is I’m still on high volume [training], heavy throws in the ring and heavy weights in the weight room, so we’re just starting to work in some speed,” the 6-foot-7 Crouser, who is perfecting a new technique coined the “Crouser slide,” told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Sha’Carri Richardson won her 100m heat in 10.90 seconds into a slight headwind, then did not start the final about 90 minutes later due to cramping, Johnson said. Richardson is ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100m in 2023 (10.76) and No. 2 in the 200m (22.07).

Jamaican Ackeem Blake won the men’s 100m in a personal best 9.89 seconds. He now ranks third in the world this year behind Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala and American Fred Kerley, who meet in the Diamond League in Rabat, Morocco on Sunday (2-4 p.m. ET, CNBC,, the NBC Sports app and Peacock).

The next major meet is the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in early July, when the top three in most individual events qualify for August’s world championships.

Richardson will bid to make her first global championships team, two years after having her Olympic Trials win stripped for testing positive for marijuana and one year after being eliminated in the first round of the 100m at USATF Outdoors.

LA GRAND PRIX: Full Results

Also Saturday, Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico won the 100m hurdles in 12.31, the fastest time ever this early in a year. Nigerian Tobi Amusan, who at last July’s worlds lowered the world record to 12.12, was eighth in the eight-woman field in 12.69.

Maggie Ewen upset world champion Chase Ealey in the shot put by throwing 20.45 meters, upping her personal best by more than three feet. Ewen went from 12th-best in American history to third behind 2016 Olympic champion Michelle Carter and Ealey.

Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic ran the fastest women’s 400m since the Tokyo Olympics, clocking 48.98 seconds. Paulino is the Olympic and world silver medalist. Olympic and world champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas is on a maternity break.

Rio Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy won the 800m in 1:44.75, beating a field that included most of the top Americans in the event. Notably absent was 2019 World champion Donovan Brazier, who hasn’t raced since July 20 of last year amid foot problems.

CJ Allen won the 400m hurdles in a personal best 47.91, consolidating his argument as the second-best American in the event behind Olympic and world silver medalist Rai Benjamin, who withdrew from the meet earlier this week.

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Primoz Roglic set to win Giro d’Italia over Geraint Thomas

106th Giro d'Italia 2023 - Stage 20
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Primož Roglič all but secured the Giro d’Italia title on Saturday by overtaking leader Geraint Thomas on the penultimate stage despite having a mechanical problem on the mountain time trial.

Roglič started the stage 26 seconds behind Thomas — who was trying to become the oldest Giro champion in history — but finished the route 40 seconds quicker than the British cyclist after the demanding climb of the Monte Lussari.

That saw Roglič move into the leader’s pink jersey, 14 seconds ahead of Thomas going into the race’s mainly ceremonial final stage.

Roglič was cheered on all the way by thousands of fans from just across the border to his native Slovenia. They packed the slopes of the brutal ascent up Monte Lussari, which had an elevation of more than 3,000 feet and gradients of up to 22%.

The 33-year-old Roglič celebrated at the end with his wife and son, who was wearing a replica of the pink jersey.

“Just something amazing, eh? It’s not at the end about the win itself, but about the people, and the energy here, so incredible, really moments to live and to remember,” said Roglič, who had tears in his eyes during the post-stage television interview, which he did with his son in his arms.

It will be a fourth Grand Tour victory for Roglič, who won the Spanish Vuelta three years in a row from 2019-2021

Roglič also almost won the Tour de France in 2020, when he was leading going into another mountain time trial on the penultimate stage. But that time it was Roglič who lost time and the race to compatriot Tadej Pogačar in one of the most memorable upsets in a Grand Tour in recent years.

It appeared as if the Jumbo-Visma cyclist’s hopes were evaporating again when he rode over a pothole about halfway through the brutal climb up Monte Lussari and his chain came off, meaning he had to quickly change bicycles.

His teammates and staff had their hands over their heads in disbelief.

Despite that setback, Roglič — who had been 16 seconds ahead of Thomas at the previous intermediate time check — went on to increase his advantage.

“I dropped the chain, I mean it’s part of it,” he said. “But I got started again and I just went … I had the legs, the people gave me extra (energy).”

The 33-year-old Roglič won the stage ahead of Thomas. Joao Almeida was third, 42 seconds slower.

For Thomas, his bad luck at the Giro continued. In 2017, he was involved in a crash caused by a police motorbike, and three years later he fractured his hip after a drinks bottle became lodged under his wheel – being forced to abandon both times.

Thomas turned 37 on Thursday. The Ineos Grenadiers cyclist had seemed poised to become the oldest Giro winner in history — beating the record of Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

“I could feel my legs going about a kilometer and a half from the top. I just didn’t feel I had that real grunt,” Thomas said. “I guess it’s nice to lose by that much rather than a second or two, because that would be worse I think.

“At least he smashed me and to be honest Primoz deserves that. He had a mechanical as well, still put 40 seconds into me so chapeau to him. If you’d told me this back in (February), March, I would have bit your hand off but now I’m devastated.”

Thomas and Roglič exchanged fist bumps as they waited their turn to ride down the ramp at the start of the 11.6-mile time trial.

The Giro will finish in Rome on Sunday, with 10 laps of a seven-mile circuit through the streets of the capital, taking in many of its historic sites.

“One more day to go, one more focus, because I think the lap is quite hard, technical. So it’s not over til it’s finished,” Roglič said. “But looks good, voila.”

The route will pass by places such as the Altare della Patria, the Capitoline Hill, the Circus Maximus and finish at the Imperial Forums, in the shadow of the Colosseum.

The Tour de France starts July 1, airing on NBC Sports and Peacock.

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