Hunter Armstrong breaks world record at swimming trials

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U.S. Olympian Hunter Armstrong broke the world record in the 50m backstroke at the world championships trials in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday night.

Armstrong, who tied for ninth in the 100m back in Tokyo, clocked 23.71 seconds, taking nine hundredths off Russian Kliment Kolesnikov‘s record from last year in an event that’s not on the Olympic program.

It marked the first men’s world record broken at a U.S. trials meet since the super-suit era in 2009 (Michael PhelpsAaron Peirsol).

U.S. SWIMMING TRIALS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

“It’s a complete shock,” said Armstrong, an Ohio State junior whose personal best before Thursday was 25.45 in the rarely contested event. “It’s something I’ve always wanted. I’m over the moon.”

Armstrong was one of the surprise Olympic qualifiers last year. He was 13th at the March 2021 NCAA Championships, then at Olympic Trials lowered his 100m back personal best by 1.21 seconds to make the team. He was .73 slower in the Olympic semifinals to miss the final by one hundredth.

The world record marked validation.

“Show that making the Olympics wasn’t a mistake,” said Armstrong, who is 6 feet, 7 inches, with size 16 shoes and a left bicep tattoo that reads “Invictus maneo,” which translates to “I remain unvanquished.” “That was my biggest worry going into this meet is I had to prove to myself and to others that I deserved to be on that team. And hopefully I’m able to back this up at worlds.”

In other events Thursday, Caeleb Dressel won for the third time in as many races, taking the 100m butterfly in 50.20 seconds after posting the fastest time in the world this year in the morning prelims. Dressel has one event left, Saturday’s 50m freestyle, to set up a potential slate of eight events, including relays, at worlds in Budapest in June.

Chase Kalisz was nearly caught by Bobby Finke for the second and final spot in the 400m individual medley, which Kalisz won at the Olympics. Carson Foster, 20, won in 4:09.33. Kalisz, who took Olympic gold in 4:09.42, held off the Olympic 800m and 1500m free champ Finke by .07 in 4:10.50.

Olympic silver medalist Jay Litherland was sixth.

Katie Grimes, who was fourth in the Tokyo Olympic 800m free at age 15, won the women’s 400m IM in 4:36.17, a personal best by 4.85 seconds. Emma Weyant, the Olympic silver medalist, grabbed the other world team spot, while Olympic bronze medalist Hali Flickinger was third to miss the team in the event. Flickinger previously made the team in the 200m fly and the 4x200m free relay.

Torri Huske and Claire Curzan went one-two in the women’s 100m fly, just as they did at the Olympic Trials and in the 100m freestyle on Tuesday. They rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year.

In non-Olympic events, Katharine Berkhoff broke the American record in the women’s 50m back (27.12) and Michael Andrew did so in the 50m breaststroke (26.52).

Trials continue Friday with Katie Ledecky in the 400m free and a deep women’s 100m breast with Olympic gold medalists Lilly King and Lydia Jacoby and bronze medalist Annie Lazor.

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Mikaela Shiffrin barely denied in first bid to tie Alpine skiing World Cup wins record

Mikaela Shiffrin
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Mikaela Shiffrin was denied in her first bid to tie the Alpine skiing World Cup wins record by six hundredths of a second.

Shiffrin, trying to tie Ingemar Stenmark‘s 86 World Cup victories, led by 67 hundredths over German Lena Duerr after the first of two slalom runs in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, on Sunday.

The last racer to go in the second run, Shiffrin’s lead over Duerr dwindled as she neared the finish line. It was down to 15 hundredths at the last intermediate split with 10 seconds left of the course.

Shiffrin crossed the finish line, saw that she ended up six hundredths behind, opened her mouth, rocked her head and put her hand to her helmet. It was the closest slalom defeat of her career, which has included a record 52 World Cup slalom victories.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Duerr, 31, earned her second World Cup win, 10 years to the day after her first. Shiffrin won 82 World Cup races in that span.

“It took me a while,” Duerr said. “Crazy that today’s the day.”

Shiffrin’s next bid to tie Stenmark, the Swedish legend of the 1970s and ’80s, won’t be until March.

Next up are the world championships in France, starting Feb. 6, which are separate from the World Cup.

Shiffrin’s next planned World Cup races are either speed races in Kvitfjell, Norway, the first weekend of March or a giant slalom and slalom in Stenmark’s home nation of Sweden from March 10-11 ahead of her 28th birthday on March 13.

Shiffrin began last week tied with Lindsey Vonn for second place on the career wins list at 82. She then rattled off victories on Wednesday and Thursday in giant slaloms in Kronplatz, Italy, and Saturday in the first slalom in Spindleruv Mlyn, site of her World Cup debut in 2011 at age 15.

She has 11 wins in 23 starts this season, her best campaign since her record 17-win 2018-19 season.

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Novak Djokovic wins 10th Australian Open, ties Rafael Nadal for most men’s Slam titles

Novak Djokovic Australian Open
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MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic was simply too good at the most crucial moments and claimed his 10th Australian Open championship and 22nd Grand Slam title overall by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in the final at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night.

The victory allows Djokovic to return to No. 1 in the ATP rankings.

The 35-year-old from Serbia did not compete in the Australian Open a year ago after being deported from the country because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Government restrictions have eased since, and he was able to get a visa this time despite still not having gotten the shots against the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Now Djokovic has run his winning streak at the hard-court tournament to 28 matches.

His 10th trophy in Australia adds to the record he already held. His 22 major championships — which include seven from Wimbledon, three from the U.S. Open and two from the French Open — are tied with Rafael Nadal for the most by a man in the history of tennis.

He was superior throughout against Tsitsipas, but especially so in the two tiebreakers.

Djokovic took a 4-1 lead in the first and after it was 4-all, pulled off the last three points. He led 5-0 in the closing tiebreaker and, when it finished, he pointed to his temple then climbed into the stands, pumped his fist and jumped with his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, and other members of the entourage, before collapsing, crying.

Djokovic returned to the court, sat on his sideline bench, buried his face in a white towel and let some more tears flow.

Margaret Court, with 24, Serena Williams, with 23, and Steffi Graf, with 22, have the most championships among women.

This was also the 93rd ATP tour-level title for Djokovic, allowing him to break a tie with Nadal for the fourth-most. Jimmy Connors holds that mark, at 109.

Djokovic was participating in his 33rd major final, Tsitsipas in his second — and the 24-year-old from Greece’s other one also ended in a loss to Djokovic, at the 2021 French Open.

A win for Tsitsipas would have allowed him to get to No. 1 for the first time, supplanting Carlos Alcaraz, who got there after winning the U.S. Open last September but sat out the Australian Open because of a leg injury.

Little doubt this is of no solace to Tsitsipas, but there is no shame in failing to defeat Djokovic in Melbourne. Challenging his dominion on those blue hard courts is every bit the monumental task that taking on Nadal on the red clay at Roland Garros is.

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