Phelps and Bolt suffer rare defeats; more Olympic notes
Surely the Olympic rings were turned on their sides this past week. Two giants of their respective sports suffered rare defeats when
Bolt was outsprinted by
By his own admission, Bolt had been feeling "imperfect" and vulnerable this season. After the race he blamed his lower back for his poor form and decided on Monday night to skip the rest of the outdoor season, including meets to which he had already committed in Zurich and Brussels.
Gay's plan of attack in Stockholm was perfect. Get out fast and stay ahead. With his 6-foot-5 frame, Bolt's starts are sometimes iffy. In Stockholm, Gay was already a step ahead by the time the Jamaican began to stretch out his stride and hit full speed roughly a third of the way into the race. Gay went to the arms early and crossed in 9.84 seconds.
Bolt eased up in the final stride or two, perhaps knowing he'd lost his first dash in two years. He crossed in 9.97, well off the 9.82 he ran in Lausanne last month.
"This is my easy season," Bolt said afterward. "If you don't beat me this season, it's not going to happen next season."
It was the second time Bolt suffered defeat in the ancient stadium where
With only the Pan Pacific swimming championships -- rather than an Olympics or world championship -- to look forward to this summer, Phelps had not been in peak physical condition as he usually is during major years of his quadrennial cycles. His trip to nationals was marked by both a piece of history and disappointment.
The man with 14 Olympic gold medals on his mantel actually reached a new milestone last Wednesday. Phelps won the 200-meter freestyle and 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. nationals to increase his career total at the competition to 49, one more than
Phelps has won at least one title in nine of the 13 men's events: the 100-, 200- and 400-meter freestyles; and the 100 and 200 in the backstroke, butterfly and individual medley. He has never won one in the longest and shortest freestyle races (the 50 or the 1,500); nor in either of the breaststrokes, his weakest individual stroke. That still leaves him behind Caulkins in one measure. The 47-year-old, who now lives in Australia, remains the only U.S. swimmer, male or female, to have won at least one national crown in the IM and each of the individual strokes.
She also set at least one U.S. record in each of the strokes and in the individual medleys, the discipline in which she captured double gold at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.
Phelps bemoaned his less-than-Phelpsian form in winning those races and his relative rust finally caught up to him in the 200-meter individual medley, a race he had never lost at a major competition until Lochte topped him in Irvine. Phelps was in decent shape over the first 100 meters, holding leads of .31 after the butterfly and .29 after the backstroke. But Lochte shot ahead by .47 after the breaststroke leg and made a great turn at the third wall, giving him a chance to increase the lead over the final 50 meters. Lochte finished in 1:54.84, followed by Phelps, more than a second behind at 1:55.94.
Yes this isn't Phelps at his best, but for now, Lochte has raised his game to a higher level and won't be slowing down before London. For Phelps, who has already indicated he won't chase the 400 IM again in two years, it leaves him with a decision about whether to continue with the shorter medley or drop breaststroke training (and possibly backstroke training) altogether to concentrate on his two best individual strokes.
The Commonwealth Games that are set to take place in Delhi in October have become an uncommon mess. Last year, the Indian government released a report noting that 13 of the 19 venues where the athletes from 72 nations were set to compete were behind schedule. Organizing committee treasurer
Though some in the Olympic world feel that softball and baseball can only regain admission to the games as a unit -- in effect, under a single sports umbrella -- the sports will continue their long road to reapplication independent of one another. International Baseball Federation President
The IOC will vote on any potential changes to that year's program in 2013. Still, Porter, with the backing of the International Softball Federation board of directors, recently replied that his committee would not be willing to embrace a joint bid.
Even though it's only the summer, the U.S. luge team suffered two key losses as a pair of Olympians,