Kyle Chalmers wins, shushes at Commonwealth Games after ‘rock bottom’

Swimming - Commonwealth Games: Day 4
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Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers won his signature race at the Commonwealth Games, then celebrated with a shush two days after saying recent “false headlines” about his relationship with Australian teammates threatened his future in swimming.

Chalmers took the 100m free on Monday in 47.51 seconds, a day after recording a Commonwealth Games record 47.36 in the semifinals in Birmingham, Great Britain. He ranks second in the world this year behind 17-year-old Romanian David Popovici, who swam 47.13 at June’s world championships.

“It’s special to win, but unfortunately, I think it’s hard to enjoy the moment when all that’s happened has gone on,” Chalmers said on Australia’s Seven Network. “It makes it a very, very challenging time. I’m grateful that I was able to block it out enough to stand up and win tonight, but I just hope this is a learning point for everyone where no one else has to go through what I’ve had to go through the last couple of days.

“There was points where I thought that I wouldn’t continue on and do the race, but that just lets the media win, right?”

Chalmers, who took 100m free gold and silver at the last two Olympics, was referring to headlines and media questions toward him at the Commonwealth Games about fellow Australian swimmers Emma McKeon, his former girlfriend, and Cody Simpson, who is now dating McKeon.

Earlier, Chalmers shared Sydney Morning Herald article that reported that other media accused Chalmers of not congratulating McKeon after they were on the victorious mixed 4x100m free relay team Friday.

“Did you watch the whole race?” Chalmers said, according to the newspaper. “I said congratulations and we [McKeon] stood here right alongside you guys and spoke last night. I find that really hard to believe that I didn’t say congratulations after the race.”

McKeon said that Chalmers did shake her hand, according to the Herald, saying, “He did [congratulate me]. We always put a good team together, and mixed relays are always fun.”

Chalmers said the headlines date back to May’s Australian trials. In the 100m butterfly at that meet, Chalmers took second and Simpson took third. Chalmers said before the meet that he planned to skip the world championships, which would have meant Simpson was upgraded to the second and final spot on the world championships team in the event.

Then at the meet (and before the 100m fly final), Chalmers said he had not made up his mind. After the 100m fly final, he decided to take the spot, which meant that Simpson, a pop star who returned to swimming in 2020 after a decade break, would not be on the world team (but would make Commonwealths, where a nation can enter three swimmers per individual event).

“I ask that you please stop writing these false headlines otherwise my time in the sport will be finished,” Chalmers shared on social media on Saturday. “This could end my time in swimming, I hope you are all aware. My mental health right now from all of this over the months is at rock bottom, I really hope that pleases the key board warriors that continue to write false news. Thank you again for the people who love, care and support me. You’ve been there for me everyday through this journey.. and without you I would not have been standing here racing. I would have been retired, but you motivated me, inspired me and helped me get through this battle. For that I am forever grateful.”

Back in May, Simpson said that he and Chalmers “cleared the air” after Chalmers’ decision to take the spot and that “it was all good.”

“He changed his mind, which he has every right to do,” Simpson said then on Amazon Prime. “I respect his decision either way.”

Chalmers said at Commonwealths that he tells Simpson “good luck” and has messaged him post-race, according to the Herald.

“I do nothing but be positive,” Chalmers said, according to the report. “I try and support him on the team but again, people just want clickbait.”

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Noah Lyles runs personal best and is coming for Usain Bolt’s world record

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Noah Lyles ran a personal-best time in the 60m on Saturday, then reaffirmed record-breaking intentions for the 100m and, especially, the 200m, where Usain Bolt holds the fastest times in history.

Lyles, the world 200m champion, won the 60m sprint in 6.51 seconds at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston, clipping Trayvon Bromell by two thousandths in his first top-level meet of the year. Bromell, the world 100m bronze medalist, is a past world indoor 60m champion and has a better start than Lyles, which is crucial in a six-second race.

But on Saturday, Lyles ran down Bromell and shaved four hundredths off his personal best. It bodes well for Lyles’ prospects come the spring and summer outdoor season in his better distances — the 100m and 200m.

“This is the moment I’ve been working, like, seven years for,” he said. “We’re not just coming for the 200m world record. We’re coming for all the world records.”

Last July, Lyles broke Michael Johnson‘s 26-year-old American record in the 200m, winning the world title in 19.31 seconds. Only Bolt (19.19) and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake (19.26) have run faster.

Lyles has since spoken openly about targeting Bolt’s world record from 2009.

How does an indoor 60m time play into that? Well, Lyles said that his success last year sprung from a strong indoor season, when he lowered his personal best in the 60m from 6.57 to 6.56 and then 6.55. He followed that by lowering his personal best in the 200m from 19.50 to 19.31.

He believes that slicing an even greater chunk off his 60m best on Saturday means special things are on the horizon come the major summer meets — the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July (on the same Oregon track where he ran the American 200m record) and the world championships in Budapest in August.

After focusing on the 200m last year, Lyles plans to race both the 100m and the 200m this year. He has a bye into the 200m at world championships, so expect him to race the 100m at USATF Outdoors, where the top three are in line to join world champ Fred Kerley on the world team.

Lyles’ personal best in the 100m is 9.86, a tenth off the best times from Kerley, Bromell and 2019 World 100m champ Christian Coleman. Bolt is in his own tier at 9.58.

Also Saturday, Grant Holloway extended a near-nine-year, 50-plus-race win streak in the 60m hurdles, clocking 7.38 seconds, nine hundredths off his world record. Olympic teammate Daniel Roberts was second in 7.46. Trey Cunningham, who took silver behind Holloway in the 110m hurdles at last July’s world outdoor championships, was fifth in 7.67.

Aleia Hobbs won the women’s 60m in 7.02 seconds, one week after clocking a personal-best 6.98 to become the third-fastest American in history after Gail Devers and Marion Jones (both 6.95). Hobbs, 26, placed sixth in the 100m at last July’s world championships.

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the Olympic and world 400m hurdles champion competing for the first time since August, and Jamaican Shericka Jackson, the world 200m champion, were ninth and 10th in the 60m heats, just missing the eight-woman final.

In the women’s pole vault, Bridget Williams, seventh at last year’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, upset the last two Olympic champions — American Katie Moon and Greek Katerina Stefanidi. Williams won with a 4.63-meter clearance (and then cleared 4.71 and a personal-best 4.77). Stefanidi missed three attempts at 4.63, while Moon went out at 4.55.

The indoor track and field season continues with the Millrose Games in New York City next Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

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Birk Irving, last man on Olympic team, extends breakout season with Mammoth win

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One year ago, Birk Irving was the last man to make the four-man U.S. Olympic ski halfpipe team. Since, he continued to climb the ranks in arguably the nation’s strongest discipline across skiing and snowboarding.

Irving earned his second World Cup win this season, taking the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, California, on Friday.

Irving posted a 94-point final run, edging Canadian Brendan Mackay by one point. David Wise, the two-time Olympic champion who won his fifth X Games Aspen title last Sunday, was third.

A tribute was held to 2015 World champion Kyle Smaine, a U.S. halfpipe skier who died in an avalanche in Japan last Sunday.

“We’re all skiing the best we have because we’re all skiing with Kyle in our hearts,” Irving said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “We’re skiing for him, and we know he’s looking down on us. We miss you Kyle. We love you. Thank you for keeping us safe in the pipe today.”

Irving also won the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Dec. 17. Plus, the 23-year-old from Colorado had his best career X Games Aspen finish last Sunday, taking second.

The next major event is the world championships in Georgia (the country, not the state) in early March. Irving was third at the last worlds in 2021, then fifth at the Olympics last February.

The U.S. has been the strongest nation in men’s ski halfpipe since it debuted at the Olympics in 2014. Wise won the first two gold medals. Alex Ferreira won silver and bronze at the last two Olympics. Aaron Blunck is a world champion and X Games champion.

Irving is younger than all of them and has beaten all of them at multiple competitions this season.

New Zealand’s Nico Porteous, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, hasn’t competed since the Games after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

In snowboarding events at Mammoth, Americans Julia Marino and Lyon Farrell earned slopestyle wins by posting the top qualification scores. The finals were canceled due to wind.

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