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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Valencia Marathon produces historic times in men’s, women’s races

2022 Valencia Marathon

Kenyan Kelvin Kiptum and Ethiopian Amane Beriso won the Valencia Marathon and became the third-fastest man and woman in history, respectively.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old in his marathon debut, won the men’s race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 53 seconds. The only men to ever run faster over 26.2 miles are legends: Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:09 world record, plus a 2:01:39) and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41).

Kipchoge made his marathon debut at age 28, and Bekele at 31.

Beriso, a 31-year-old whose personal best was 2:20:48 from January 2016, stunned the women’s field Sunday by running 2:14:58. The only women to have run faster: Kenyans Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18).

Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey finished second in 2:16:49, the fastest-ever time for a woman in her marathon debut. Gidey is the world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Valencia is arguably the top annual marathon outside of the six World Marathon Majors. The next major marathon is Tokyo on March 5.

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill


BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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