Olympics roundup: Schmitt, Phelps, Franklin qualify
Canton’s Allison Schmitt is headed back to a third Olympics. And Michael Phelps is heading to his fifth Olympics.
Schmitt, a six-time medalist, finished fourth in the women’s 200-meter freestyle event Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.
That wasn’t enough to earn an individual event berth in the race she won four years ago at the 2012 London Games, but it did secure a relay berth for Schmitt, 26, at the Rio Olympics this summer.
Katie Ledecky, continuing a dominant showing at the trials, won the final with a time of 1 minute 54.88 seconds. Missy Franklin, who joined Schmitt with a five-medal haul in London, was second in 1:56.18.
Leah Smith (1:56.63) and Schmitt (1:56.72) were next to grab the relay spots.
“I’m going to Rio. It’s been a tough four years, but I’m so happy right now," said Schmitt, who became the ninth American female swimmer to qualify for her third Olympic Games roster.
But all eyes were on Franklin, who had finished seventh the night before in the 100 backstroke — a race she won at the London Games.
Sounding as though she’d be happy merely to land a spot in the relays, Franklin did even better. Rallying over the final half of the race, she grabbed the second spot — and a chance to swim the race in Rio — with a time of 1:56.18.
“That was probably the most proud race of my entire career," Franklin said. "I was telling myself (Tuesday night) I’m not done fighting.”
Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history held off a stiff challenge from Tom Shields to win the 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. swimming trials in 1 minute, 54.84 seconds.
After whipping around to look at his time — which was likely a bit slower than Phelps would’ve preferred — he held up all five fingers on his right hand to signify Olympics No. 5.
Shields came on strong to take the second spot on the Olympic team in 1:55.81.
“That was probably harder than any swim I've had in my life," Phelps said. "I didn't feel good the first two swims and didn't really feel that good tonight, but getting on the team was the most important thing, and that's the only thing I had to do tonight. So I tried to take it out and prayed to God that I was going to hang on.”
Watching from the stands was Phelps’ fiance and their 7-week-old son Boomer, who was wearing noise-canceling headphones adorned with American flags.
Phelps still has two more events at the Trials: the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley. He could swim as many as six events in Rio, counting relays, looking to build on his 18 golds and 22 medals overall.
Phelps was far off the world record of 1:51.51 he set at the 2009 world championships while wearing one of the high-tech suits that have since been banned.
But there’s time to work on his speed between now and Rio.
For now, Phelps is thrilled to be going back to the Olympics, where he’ll get a chance to add to the already staggering amount of hardware he’s accumulated at the last four Olympics: 18 golds and 22 medals overall.
Track and field
An injured right ankle won’t keep Allyson Felix from attempting to qualify for the 200 and 400-meter sprints at U.S. Olympic Trials this week.
Olympic officials changed the schedule for the track meet in Rio de Janeiro to allow for the 2-4 double.
All was on course for Felix, who already has six Olympic medals — all won in relays and the 200 — until she hurt the ankle in the spring and was sidelined for nearly a month.
... Popular and polarizing 100-meter hurdler Lolo Jones has withdrawn from the Olympic track and field trials, saying she didn’t have enough time to heal from hip surgery in November.
Jones, 33, posted a heartfelt video Wednesday on Instagram in which she said she wasn’t retiring and simply giving her hip more time to heal.
News columnist John Niyo contributed.