Ashley Twichell

Mariel Zagunis
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Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement

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For the 76 U.S. athletes who had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics, a new waiting game has begun, and many of them are talking through their mixed emotions on social media.

Shooter Kayle Browning‘s thoughts played out in real time. She gave a glimpse of her new routine on YouTube (after tending to her dog, who had to go out) but didn’t know whether she would keep her spot on the team. She learned afterwards that USA Shooting intends to keep its qualified athletes on the team despite the postponement.

Fellow shooter Phillip Jungman also went from sadness to relief: “When I saw the news that the Olympics was postponed, my heart dropped a little. A few hours later @usashooting put out an official statement backing all of their athletes that had earned Olympic berths. I just wanted to take this moment to thank them for supporting us all in this time of so much uncertainty.”

LIST: U.S. athletes qualified for 2020 Olympics

Other athletes were relieved that the uncertainty of knowing whether they would have time to train was no longer a problem.

Modern pentathlete Samantha Achterberg: “Lots of mixed emotions, but a sense of relief in some ways.”

Fencer Mariel Zagunis, who has qualified for her fifth Olympics, quipped that she’s throwing herself a “pity party” but was “glad a decision was made sooner rather than later.”

“Disappointed that I won’t be able to go out and fence in the Olympics in 2020, but I’m relieved that the IOC is putting global health first,” said fellow fencer Alexander Massialias.

Several athletes sounded as determined as ever.

“News of the postponement of the Olympic Games means its time to adjust the goggles and refocus,” said triathlete Summer Rappaport.

“Let’s roll,” said sailor Paige Railey. “One more year to become stronger and healthier!”

“I’ve waited my whole life for this moment,” said marathoner Molly Seidel. “To make the @olympics safer for everyone I’m willing to wait a bit longer.”

“If these past years have taught me anything it is that I am capable of going through hell and high water for the sake of achieving the Olympic Dream!” said taekwondo athlete Paige McPherson.

Sailor Charlie Buckingham spared a thought for Olympic organizers:

” I can’t help but think of Japan and what they’ve endured to host the games this summer, only to be faced with the current global situation. To have responded the way they did so quickly is impressive and knowing their culture, next summer’s show will be even better.”

The U.S. softball team is adding one year to a 12-year wait since the sport was last contested at the Olympics in 2008.

“(N)othing has changed as far as the mindset, the work ethic or the goal that we have as a team,” said Valerie Arioto.

Swimmer Ashley Twichell, who had locked down a spot on the open-water team, supported the decision but expressed disappointment and urged “everyone right now to acknowledge whatever feelings they’re having – anxious, sad, confused, lonely, scared, isolated, stressed, frustrated, just to name a few – and know that they are validated.”

But Twichell also drew inspiration looking ahead: “The Olympics can wait, and they’ll continue to be the beacon of hope that they’ve always been, perhaps now more than ever.”

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Ashley Twichell, Zane Grothe cruise to wins at TYR Pro Swim Series

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Former 5K open-water swimming world champion Ashley Twichell easily won the 1,500m freestyle Wednesday on the first night of action at the TYR Pro Swim Series opener in Greensboro, N.C.

Twichell, who has qualified for the 2020 Olympics in open water and will attempt to qualify in the pool as well, took the lead right away and extended the gap over the rest of the field to more than 20 seconds, winning in a time of 16:11.19. Hannah Moore took second in 16:32.84.

Zane Grothe won the men’s 1,500 in 15:18.71, with Chris Wieser second in 15:40.33.

Coverage will air on the Olympic Channel at 6 p.m. ET Friday and on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET Saturday. Earlier rounds, including Thursday morning prelims featuring Twichell, Grothe, Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Andrew Wilson, Hali Flickinger and Allison Schmitt will air at usaswimming.org

MORE: Ledecky, Manuel duel highlights TYR Pro opener

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Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel face off twice at TYR Pro Swim Series opener

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Two showdowns between Stanford training partners Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky will be among the featured races this weekend as the TYR Pro Swim Series begins in Greensboro, N.C.

Manuel is a sprint specialist who won world titles in the 50m freestyle and 100m free this summer, adding to a resume that includes the 2017 world championship and 2016 Olympic gold in the 100m along with countless relay golds. Ledecky has been nearly unbeatable in longer races for much of the 2010s, dating back to her gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in the 800m free at age 15, until battling illness during this summer’s world championships.

READ: Manuel defends world title from Lane 1

Despite their different specialties, the two swimmers will overlap in the 200m freestyle, and Ledecky will make a further foray into sprinters’ territory in the 100m free. Manuel doesn’t usually contest the 200m free but has posted a time that could make Ledecky sweat. Ledecky is only the sixth seed in the 100, which also includes 2012 200m gold medalist Allison Schmitt.

Ledecky will not be swimming in the 1,500m. The top seed in that event is Ashley Twichell, who has already qualified for the Olympics in open water swimming and is trying to complete a rare double by qualifying in the pool as well.

The meet also includes two world champions from Canada Kylie Masse (100m backstroke) and University of Michigan swimmer Maggie MacNeil (100m butterfly).

World championship silver medalist Hali Flickinger is the runaway favorite in the 200m fly and may compete with Ledecky, Schmitt and Twichell in the 200 and 400 free. Flickinger also is scheduled to swim in the 200m backstroke, where Kathleen Baker has the fastest seed time by more than two seconds as she continues her comeback from a rib injury.

Flickinger and Ledecky also are listed in the field for the 400m individual medley.

In the men’s races, world championship runner-up Jay Litherland is the favorite in the 400m medley. Andrew Wilson, who took silver in two world championship relays, leads the field for the 200m breaststroke.

Ryan Lochte, who returned from suspension to win the U.S. 200m medley title in August, is listed in the field for the 200m medley.

The series offers cash prizes for the top three in each event and a bonus for the men’s and women’s best performances, determined by FINA’s calculations of comparable times across all events, at each meet. The top men’s performance and top women’s performance across the five-meet series will be worth $10,000.

The rest of the series stops:

  • Jan. 16-19: Knoxville, Tenn.
  • March 4-7: Des Moines, Iowa
  • April 16-19: Mission Viejo, Calif.
  • May 6-9: Indianapolis

Coverage will air on the Olympic Channel at 6 p.m. ET Friday and on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET Saturday. Earlier rounds will air at usaswimming.org

READ: Simone Manuel’s Halloween costume: Simone Biles

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