Simone Manuel qualifies for Tokyo Olympics in last shot; Nathan Adrian misses


Simone Manuel, arguably the world’s most clutch swimmer, stared down a 50-meter pool on Sunday night. She knew that, after a beep, the next 25 seconds — after five years and thousands of hours in the water — would determine if she made it back to the Olympics.

“Before I dove in,” she said, “I felt like it was my moment.”

Manuel qualified for the U.S. Olympic swim team in her final chance, winning the 50m freestyle on the eighth and final day of the Olympic Trials. She did so three days after failing to make the final of the 100m free — her Olympic gold-medal event — and disclosing that she was diagnosed with overtraining syndrome that significantly affected her prep all spring.

Manuel took somewhere between 35 and 40 strokes in the final, smashed her hand on the wall and thought to herself, “God, please!”

She emerged from the surf, turned to her right and saw Abbey Weitzeil shooting over the lane line. That’s the moment Manuel realized she made the team (later learning she won the race by .01 over Weitzeil, who also qualified in the event).

“More than anything I’m relieved,” Manuel said. “Today may have been the longest day of my life. That 50m may have been the longest 50m of my life.”

Manuel capped an unreal week, an unreal spring and an unreal one-year Olympic postponement. It’s another line in a career that, if Manuel let critics and personal challenges affect her determination, would never have gotten this far.

“My existence in the sport of swimming and the success that I’ve had in the sport of swimming is a protest in itself,” she said last year, “because I’m successful in a sport that, in some ways, people think that I shouldn’t be successful.”

SWIM TRIALS: Results | U.S. Olympic team qualifiers | ON HER TURF: Manuel carries unfair burden

One Olympic champion got onto the team on the last day in Omaha. Two others did not.

Eight-time Olympic medalist Nathan Adrian finished third in the men’s 50m free, missing the team by one spot in a bid to make a fourth Olympics.

Caeleb Dressel won and tied his American record of 21.04 seconds. Dressel was followed by Michael Andrew (21.48), who like Dressel, qualified for his third individual event in Tokyo.

Adrian was third in 21.73. The 32-year-old said afterward he doesn’t know what’s next for him in swimming.

“If I was to commit to anything right now, it would really, genuinely mean nothing,” said Adrian, who swam at every major international meet from 2008-19. “What I will commit to doing is taking a good break, letting my body, letting my mind just recover.”

Adrian, who won the 2012 Olympic 100m free by .01, was diagnosed with testicular cancer two and a half years ago and had two surgeries before returning to swimming in 2019.

Ryan Held, who was in the 2016 Olympic 4x100m free relay final with Dressel, Adrian and Michael Phelps, missed the Olympic team in an unprecedented situation.

For the first time in modern history (since 1984), the U.S. Olympic swim team must leave home a swimmer who would otherwise go to the Games due to roster limits. Thirteen different Americans qualified to swim only in relays, but the maximum a nation can enter is 12.

Held, sixth in the 100m free, had to be left off due to a world rankings formula that put him behind the other relay-only swimmers in priority order.

Bobby Finke and Michael Brinegar went one-two in the men’s 1500m free, the last event of Trials. They also went one-two in the 800m free last week.

The U.S. Olympic swim team of 53 is marked by youth and turnover. There are 10 teenage women, most since 1996. None of the men have been to multiple Olympics. First time that’s happened since 2000.

The storylines going into Olympic Trials led with Katie Ledecky and Dressel. Each won all of their finals and are ticketed for more individual gold in Tokyo.

Manuel, who won a female record seven medals at the 2019 Worlds, must now navigate training for another month. On Thursday, she said that a doctor told her that she needs two months off to let her body rest. That’s obviously not going to happen before August.

It’s unknown what she’ll be able to produce at the Olympics.

But in the last five years, Manuel has raced in six individual events among the Olympics and world championships. She won six medals in those races (four gold), went a personal best five times and set four American records. Manuel proved that she is the most clutch swimmer in the nation, if not the world.

And she did it again on Sunday, while being three tenths off her best time, but maybe more emphatically than ever.

“She could have not had a coach for the last year and still done what she did,” said her coach, Greg Meehan.

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

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Madison Chock, Evan Bates win an ice dance world title for the ages

Madison Chock, Evan Bates

After 12 years and three Olympics together, Madison Chock and Evan Bates won their first world title in ice dance, becoming the oldest gold medalists in the event and the second U.S. couple to win.

Chock, 30, and Bates, 34, won worlds in Saitama, Japan, totaling 226.01 points between the rhythm dance and free dance for their first gold after three previous silver or bronze medals.

Despite Chock’s fluke fall in the middle of Saturday’s free dance, they prevailed by 6.16 over Italians Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri. Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier took bronze.

“We wouldn’t be sitting here today without many of those challenges that we faced, not just this season, but through all the many seasons of our career,” Chock said. “We really persevered and showed a lot of grit, and, I think, maybe our performance today was a little reflection of that — perseverance and grit yet again. That little blip in the middle was so fast and so unexpected.”

All of the medalists were in their 30s, a first for any figure skating discipline at worlds since World War II, in an event that included none of last year’s Olympic medalists. None have decided whether they will continue competing next season.


French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who won last year’s Olympic and world titles, skipped this season on an indefinite and possibly permanent break from competition. Olympic silver medalists Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov have been barred from competing since last March due to the blanket ban on Russians for the war in Ukraine. Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the Olympic bronze medalists, retired.

Chock and Bates, the top returning couple from last season, became the oldest couple to win the ice dance at worlds or the Olympics.

Birthdates are hard to come by for the earliest world champions from Great Britain in the 1950s — before ice dancing became an Olympic event in 1976 — but the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame confirmed many ages, as did Brit Paul Thomas, a 1956 gold medalist who now coaches in Canada.

Chock and Bates join their former training partners, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, as the lone Americans to win a world title in ice dance. Davis and White did it in 2011 and 2013, then in their final competition in 2014 became the first (and so far only) U.S. couple to win an Olympic ice dance title.

Chock and Bates’ competitive future is uncertain, but they are committed to a summer 2024 wedding.

Perhaps no ice dancers, and few, if any, figure skaters since World War II worked this long and hard at the elite level to reach the top podium step.

Each was looking for a new partner in 2011 when they teamed up, a year after Bates placed 11th in his Olympic debut with Emily Samuelson.

After Davis and White stopped competing, Chock and Bates ascended as the next top U.S. couple in the nation’s strongest figure skating discipline.

For years, it looked like their peak came at the 2015 World Championships, when they led after the short dance and then posted their best free dance score of the season. But Papadakis and Cizeron relegated them to silver minutes later with a breakout performance.

The next season, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani overtook Chock and Bates as the top U.S. couple. When the Shibutanis stepped away from competition in 2018, Hubbell and Donohue inherited the American throne.

Chock and Bates endured her ankle injury in the 2018 Olympic season (they were ninth at those Games, a nadir), her concussion after fainting on a walk on a hot Montreal day in 2020 and a fourth-place finish at last year’s Olympics, missing a medal by 3.25 points.

They did earn an Olympic medal in the team event that will be gold or silver, pending the resolution of Russian Kamila Valiyeva‘s doping case.

“When I think about the totality of our career, I’m struck by what our coaches have done for us and the lifeline that they gave us five years ago,” Bates said, noting their move from Michigan to Montreal in 2018. “After PyeongChang, we could have easily been done.”

Chock and Bates ranked second in the world this season after the fall Grand Prix Series. Things changed the last two months.

In January, Chock and Bates won the U.S. title by the largest margin under a 13-year-old scoring system, with what Bates called probably the best skating of their partnership. In February, Chock and Bates won the Four Continents Championships with the best total score in the world this season to that point.

Meanwhile, Gilles and Poirier, the top couple in the fall, lost momentum by missing their nationals and Four Continents due to Gilles’ appendectomy.

World championships highlights air Saturday from 8-10 p.m. ET on NBC, and the NBC Sports app.

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships results


2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, top 10 and notable results …

Gold: Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 224.61
Silver: Lee Hae-In (KOR) — 220.94
Bronze: Loena Hendrickx (BEL) — 210.42
4. Isabeau Levito (USA) — 207.65
5. Mai Mihara (JPN) — 205.70
6. Kim Chae-Yeon (KOR) — 203.51
7. Nicole Schott (GER) — 197.76
8. Kimmy Repond (SUI) — 194.09
9. Niina Petrokina (EST) — 193.49
10. Rinka Watanabe (JPN) — 192.81
12. Amber Glenn (USA) — 188.33
15. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 184.14

Men (Short Program)
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 104.63
2. Ilia Malinin (USA) — 100.38
3. Cha Jun-Hwan (KOR) — 99.64
4. Keegan Messing (CAN) — 98.75
5. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 95.56
6. Jason Brown (USA) — 94.17
7. Kazuki Tomono (JPN) — 92.68
8. Daniel Grassl (ITA) — 86.50
9. Lukas Britschgi (SUI) — 86.18
10. Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) — 82.71
17. Sota Yamamoto (JPN) — 75.48
22. Andrew Torgashev (USA) — 71.41


Gold: Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) — 222.16
Silver: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 217.48
Bronze: Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii (ITA) — 208.08
4. Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps (CAN) — 199.97
5. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe (USA) — 194.73
6. Lia Pereira/Trennt Michaud (CAN) — 193.00
7. Maria Pavlova/Alexei Sviatchenko (HUN) — 190.67
8. Anastasia Golubova/Hektor Giotopoulos Moore (AUS) — 189.47
9. Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel (GER) — 184.60
10. Alisa Efimova/Ruben Blommaert (GER) — 184.46
12. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea (USA) — 175.59

Ice Dance
Gold: Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 226.01
Silver: Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri (ITA) — 219.85
Bronze: Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) — 217.88
4. Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson (GBR) — 214.73
5. Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN) — 214.04
6. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons (USA) — 201.44
7. Allison Reed/Saulius Ambrulevicius (LTU) — 199.20
8. Natalie Taschlerova/Filip Taschler (CZE) — 196.39
9. Juulia Turkkila/Matthias Versluis (FIN) — 193.54
10. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) — 190.10
11. Kana Muramoto/Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) — 188.87

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