Simone Manuel, Nathan Adrian get last shots at Tokyo team at Olympic Trials

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Simone Manuel and Nathan Adrian own a combined 44 Olympic and world championships medals. Their Tokyo fates should come down to fractions of a second on the final day of U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials on Sunday.

Manuel and Adrian must finish in the top two of their 50m freestyle finals in Omaha to qualify for the U.S. team.

Each failed to make the final of the 100m free, which Adrian won by .01 at the London Olympics and Manuel tied for gold at the Rio Games, becoming the first U.S. Black female swimmer to take individual gold.

In the 50m free — the splash and dash, the shortest, fastest and usually closest race in swimming — Manuel and Adrian each qualified third into Sunday’s finals.

SWIM TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | ON HER TURF: Manuel carries unfair burden

Manuel finished ninth in the 100m free on Thursday. Then she disclosed an overtraining syndrome diagnosis in March, taking three weeks out of the pool, and depression.

She was pleased to swim 24.50 seconds in her Saturday semifinal of the 50m free, where she is reigning world champion and the American record holder (23.97).

Only Rio Olympic teammate Abbey Weitzeil (24.27) and 18-year-old Torri Huske (24.45) were faster in the semis. Manuel must beat one of them, plus hold off the other handful in the field.

“I desperately want to be on the team. I feel like I have so much to give this sport, not just in the pool but out of the pool,” Manuel said after being told that Michael Phelps said that the U.S. needs Manuel (and Adrian) on the team (presumably not just for their swimming, but for their leadership and experience). “I just want to see whatever I‘ve got. I want to walk away with my head held high at the end of this meet. Hopefully, it gets me a ticket to Tokyo, but if it doesn’t, I’m proud of myself.”

Adrian’s comeback story is different. It was known going into Olympic Trials that he was no sure thing to qualify in the 100m free, his primary event, even with up to six men going for relay purposes. Adrian, 32, was diagnosed with testicular cancer two and a half years ago and underwent two surgeries.

He entered Olympic Trials ranked eighth in the U.S. in the 100m free since the start of 2019 (though third in 2021). He was 13th in the 100m free semifinals. Adrian’s faster time from prelims, 48.37, would have qualified fifth into the eight-man final.

“I knew that prelims was going to be a lot faster, a lot more difficult than normal, so I probably threw a little bit more emotional energy into prelims than I should have,” he said.

Adrian, who made the last three Olympic teams, since Rio got married and became a father.

“When I had a bad practice before [having a family], it was a little bit of a dagger in the heart,” he said. “Now I sort of go home and I let it go immediately and get to give my wife and my baby a big hug and a kiss.”

PODCAST: Nathan Adrian talks cancer battle on ‘My New Favorite Olympian’

A look at today’s races

Men’s 50m Freestyle FINAL — 8:15 p.m. ET
It looks tougher for Adrian to make the team than Manuel. World champion Caeleb Dressel swam 21.51 in the semis (after a 100m butterfly final) and owns the American record of 21.04. Michael Andrew, one of the most impressive swimmers of the meet who won the 100m breaststroke and 200m individual medley, went 21.55. Adrian, who went 21.78 in semis, hasn’t gone 21.55 or faster since getting bronze at the Rio Olympics.

Women’s 50m Freestyle FINAL — 8:26
Like Adrian, Manuel came in third in semis behind two swimmers who already won events this past week in Weitzeil and Huske. In 2019 alone, Manuel went faster than Huske’s second-place semi time on a total of seven occasions. There’s reason to believe that Huske (and Weitzeil) will go faster in the final, but Manuel certainly can, too. She was hopeful after the semifinals that she can make improvements on her semifinal swim. She will likely need to.

Men’s 1500m Freestyle FINAL — 8:34
Bobby Finke, who won the 800m free, qualified fastest into the final by 3.27 seconds. If Finke wins, and Dressel wins the 50m, then all six men’s freestyles will have been won by current or former University of Florida swimmers. Michael Brinegar, who also made the team in the 800m, was second in the prelims. Jordan Wilimovsky, who made the team in the open-water 10km, was third. The U.S. put no men into the world championships 1500m finals in 2017 and 2019.

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Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid
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Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028
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Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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