Katie Ledecky has one Olympic Trials swim left, as does her Little Flower buddy

2021 U.S. Olympic Trials - Swimming - Day 6
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Katie Ledecky checked every box at the Olympic Trials so far. All that’s left is the event that made her famous nine years ago — the 800m freestyle — on Saturday night.

Ledecky qualified fastest into the final by 10.84 seconds in an eight-and-a-half-minute race. She is undefeated in this event since winning the 2012 Olympics at age 15.

Ledecky can become the fifth U.S. woman to swim in four individual events at an Olympics after Shirley BabashoffSummer SandersKatie Hoff (who did five in 2008) and Missy Franklin, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org. (Tracy Caulkins also won four events at the 1980 Olympic Trials, but the U.S. boycotted those Games.)

Ledecky will also be part of the 4x200m free relay in Tokyo, giving her the chance to become the first American woman to win five golds at a single Olympics in any sport (Simone Biles can, too, but Ledecky can do it first by a matter of days.)

But Ledecky trails Australian rival Ariarne Titmus in the world rankings in the 200m and 400m frees. Titmus doesn’t swim the 1500m like Ledecky, so the 800m is at the tail end of her distances.

The number to monitor Saturday is 8:15.57, Titmus’ winning 800m free time from the Australian Trials. Ledecky went 8:16.61 in prelims.

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

A look at tonight’s races …

Men’s 100m Butterfly FINAL9:04 p.m. ET
Caeleb Dressel swam the third-fastest 100m fly in history in Friday’s semifinals. He already owned the fastest two times, so the tattooed Floridian is an overwhelming favorite here. His world record of 49.50 is in play. Rio Olympian Tom Shields, who in December 2019 shared that he attempted suicide in 2018, was the second-fastest qualifier. Shields ranked sixth in the nation in 2019, but on Friday clocked his fastest time in five years.

Women’s 200m Backstroke FINAL — 9:12
Regan Smith, 19, is favored here, in her best event, to qualify for a third individual event in Tokyo. She’s the world-record holder, and nobody else in this field has ever come within two and a half seconds of that best time. However, 18-year-old Phoebe Bacon was .23 off Smith in the semifinals (and the lone swimmer within 1.15 seconds of her). Bacon, sixth in the 100m back, was Ledecky’s “little buddy” as a pre-K student at Little Flower School in Bethesda, Md., when Ledecky was a fourth-grader at the same institution.

Women’s 800m Freestyle FINAL — 9:22
Bella Sims, a 16-year-old who qualified in the 4x200m relay, was second-fastest in the prelims by 1.22 seconds. She is already set to become the youngest U.S. Olympic swimmer since Ledecky in 2012. Sims will look to hold off Erica Sullivan, who was second to Ledecky in the 1500m free, Haley Anderson, who made the team last year in the open-water 10km, and Ally McHugh, who was fifth in her best event, the 400m IM.

Men’s 50m Freestyle Semifinals — 9:39
Tony Ervin, at 40 the oldest swimmer at Trials, was eliminated in morning prelims in 23rd place. Ervin won the 50m free at the Olympics in 2000 and 2016, but said in 2018 that his goal was not to make it to Tokyo, but try and make the final to shake the hands of the two men who do go. Nathan Adrian, 32 and an eight-time Olympic medalist, gets his last chance to qualify for Tokyo in this event. He was third in the prelims behind Dressel, an overwhelming favorite, and Michael Andrew.

Women’s 50m Freestyle Semifinals — 9:52
Simone Manuel gets her last chance at making the Olympic team in this event (where she is world champion and holds the American record). She was second in prelims, two days after failing to qualify for the 100m free final. Abbey Weitzeil, a Rio Olympian who already made it in the 100m free, was fastest.

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U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new up-tempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

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The U.S. women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headlined a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, included neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team had nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 60 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The U.S. beat China in the final, while host Australia took bronze to send 41-year-old Lauren Jackson into retirement.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), wasn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule, Results

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA 88, Serbia 55 Quarterfinals
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada 79, Puerto Rico 60 Quarterfinals
4 a.m. China 85, France 71 Quarterfinals
6:30 a.m. Australia 86, Belgium 69 Quarterfinals
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. USA 83, Canada 43 Semifinals
5:30 a.m. China 61, Australia 59 Semifinals
11 p.m. Australia 95, Canada 65 Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. USA 83, China 61 Gold-Medal Game