Missy Franklin has been touted to become the next big star at the London Olympics, but Allison Schmitt is starting to make her own case. At the Longhorn Aquatics Elite Invite in Austin on June 1-3, Schmitt blitzed the field to win the 100 and 200-meter freestyle events. In the 100m free, the Georgia Bulldog swam a time of 53.94, a personal record by more than half a second. Fellow Georgia Bulldog swimmer Megan Romano finished second, and Franklin, 17, placed third in the race.
To be fair, this was not a race Franklin figured to contest at the Olympic Trials in Omaha this summer (look for her in the backstroke races and on the relays). However, it isn't Schmitt's best race either. She's more suited for the 200m free, a race in which she was a world silver medalist in 2009. In Austin Schmitt set a U.S. Open record in the 200m free with a 1:55.04, a time that would have won gold at the world championships in Shanghai last summer. Franklin finished second in 1:57.91. Schmitt also finished second in 50m free, another event that is not her best. Surprised? So was Schmitt, who will turn 22 this week. "There's no way I expected to swim this fast at this meet," she said afterwards.
The Prefontaine Classic in Eugene is still a special pilgrimage for track fans because of the great fields and historic setting. Among this year's highlights...
Justin Gatlin won the men's 100 meters in 9.90 against a field that included Walter Dix and Darvis Patton. Absent from the meet was Tyson Gay, but look for him to race in New York on June 9. Gay is still suffering from the effects of a hip injury that has plagued him the last few years, despite two surgeries: one last fall and another in March.
LaShawn Merritt crushed the field in the 400 meters, finishing in 44.91, ahead of Angelo Taylor (45.24) and Jeremy Wariner (45.68). Britain's Mo Farah won an impressive 5,000 meters race in 12:56.98; Galen Rupp broke 13 minutes and Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele just missed it. Liu Xiang took another step toward winning the gold that eluded him in Beijing, winning the 110 meter hurdles in 12.87, ahead of Aries Merritt (12.96) and well ahead of Jason Richardson in third (13.11).
Allyson Felix ran a strong 200 meters with a great turn and handily crossed first in 22.23 seconds. Now she has to figure which of her other two race options, if either the 100 meters or the 400 meters, she will also run at trials. Reigning world champ Brittany Reese had a tough time in the long jump, placing seventh with a jump of 6.48 meters. Britain's Shara Proctor had the longest leap of the day (6.84). In the 1,500 meters Alice Schmidt held off the surprise world champion Jenny Simpson in a field of mostly U.S. runners.
And as an additional highlight, the Kenyan Olympic Trials for 10,000 meters were held on the first day at the meet (Kenyan officials decided to hold the trials in Eugene because of the ideal timing and altitude). Of the 14 athletes in the race, 11 of the runners had run under 27 minutes in their careers, meaning 27:00 was likely the time to beat. Wilson Kiprop took over the lead with 150 meters to go and traded places down the backstretch with Moses Masai to finish first in 27:01.98, a lifetime best by 25 seconds. Bitan Karoki took third.
The announcement of the U.S. men's water polo team's final roster, originally scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed until further notice in order to give coach Terry Schroeder a chance to sort through the injury bugs biting his team and cut his roster from 14 to 13. Center Ryan Bailey has been nursing a knee injury, but is expected to join attacker and team captain Tony Azevedo as a four-time Olympian in London. Center J.W. Krumpholz was hit in the head last month by a teammate's errant pass last month and was subsequently diagnosed with a concussion after coughing up a mouthful of blood. Defender Layne Beaubien tore the rotator cuff in his left shoulder early last month after blocking a shot. The team has been using a hyperbaric chamber lately to help some of the hobbled players recover from injuries.
Savannah Vinsant won the first international trampoline medal for the U.S. in 16 years, taking bronze at a world cup meet in China. Jennifer Parilla was the last trampoline athlete to win an international gold medal, back in 1996. Vinsant qualified an Olympic place for the U.S. team with her performance at the world championships last year, but she must still win the berth for herself at the U.S. trials June 27-28 in San Jose. The U.S. will send one man and one woman to the Olympics in trampoline this summer.
The U.S. Olympic archery team is nearly complete after the Olympic Trials, held June 1-3. Brady Ellison, Jake Kamenski and Jacub Wukie make up the three-member men's team, which has already qualified for the London Games. Ellison, a medal favorite in London, led the men's shoot with 149 points. Kamenski was next with 129, and Wukie edged Joe Fanchin, the early leader, 103 to 101.25 for the final spot.
Miranda Leek paced the women with 126.75 to ensure an individual berth in London. Khatuna Lorig (116.50) and Jennifer Nichols (114) took the next two spots, but they are still trying to qualify their remaining quota slots for the Games. Born in Tbilisi, Lorig competed for the Unified Team at the 1992 Games and then for her native Georgian republic in 1996 and 2000. The naturalized U.S. citizen made her Olympic debut as a U.S. Olympian in Beijing four years ago.
At the Olympic shooting trials in Fort Benning, Ga., Daryl Szarenski overcame a broken pistol and won the 50-meter free pistol match. Szarenski, who had already made the Olympic team in 10-meter air pistol, will now also compete in the 50-meter free pistol match.
The U.S. Figure Skating Association announced on June 5 that Boston will host the 2014 national championships on Jan. 5-12. The championships are the closest thing the sport has to Olympic Trials, since a selection committee announces the team after the competition and has the option to name the top finishers in order or choose other skaters it deems worthier of places on the team. The 2013 U.S. championships will be held in Omaha, Neb., and the world championships will be held in London, Ont.