Phelps’ comeback win presents golden opportunity in London

OMAHA, Neb. – Michael Phelps’ Olympic program is set. He’ll be going for another eight gold medals.

He’s not the only one who’ll be busy in London. Get ready to see a lot of Missy Franklin.

And how about Anthony Ervin? After eight years away from swimming, he’ll be at the Olympics, too.

Phelps wrapped up another stellar week at the U.S. trials on Sunday, rallying to win the 100-meter butterfly and secure his spot in five individual races at the Olympics. Throw in the three relays, and that adds up to eight.


“I guess that’s OK,” said Phelps, who won an Olympic-record eight golds at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Franklin will have four individual races in London after capping her week with a dominating win in the 200 backstroke. She’s expected to swim all three relays, as well, setting her up to become the first U.S. woman to swim seven events in a single games.

Actually, she’s still a girl, a 17-year-old who’ll be a high school senior in the fall. But first, she’s got some important business this summer: the Olympics.

“I can’t believe I have seven events,” Franklin said. “It’s so overwhelming but so exciting. The whole week went really, really well.”

Ervin will have one event in London, a chaotic dash from one end of the pool to the other. But it’s amazing that he’s going at all, considering he walked away from the sport in 2003 at the peak of his career, burned out and desperate to discover a deeper meaning to life. He spent eight years working odd jobs, finished his college degree and even auctioned off the gold medal he won in the 50 free at Sydney in 2000 to aid tsunami victims.

Now, after returning to the sport just a year ago, he’s got a chance to win another gold. A runner-up finish behind Cullen Jones in the 50 freestyle locked up his improbable spot on the American team.

Other races provided quite a generation gap. Fifteen-year-old Kathleen Ledecky earned a spot on her first Olympic team with a win in the 800 freestyle, while 45-year-old Dara Torres advanced to the final of the women’s 50 free – and a shot at her sixth Olympic team – with the third-fastest time in the semifinals.

In the 100 butterfly, Phelps was slow off the blocks and made the turn in sixth place. But he caught Tyler McGill on the return lap and surged to win in 51.14 seconds, well off his world-record pace (49.82) but fastest in the world this year.

McGill hung on for the second Olympic spot in 51.32. Ryan Lochte, swimming an event he normally doesn’t in major competitions, took third as he just missed adding another race to his already busy program.

■ TRACK AND FIELD – At Eugene, Ore., with a runoff looming today in the women’s 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic trials, Wallace Spearmon kept the men’s 200 controversy-free with an easy victory.

Spearmon got off to a slow start, but recovered in time to win in 19.82 seconds. His victory was an expected finish to what should have been the conclusion to the trials.

Instead, Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh will run at 5 p.m. today to settle a third-place tie in the 100 for the final spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Felix and Tarmoh finished in a dead heat for third in the 100 more than a week ago.

Former UNLV standout Christine Spence’s bid for the Olympics came up short after she finished seventh in the 400 hurdles final with a time of 55.72.

Meanwhile, in Kingston, Jamaica, Yohan Blake made it 2-for-2 against Usain Bolt, winning the 200 at the Jamaican trials in 19.80 seconds, 0.03 ahead of his more renowned countryman. The win came two days after Blake, the reigning world 100 champion, beat Bolt in the 100 by running a 9.75.

■ GYMNASTICS – At San Jose, Calif., 16-year-old Gabby Douglas upset world champion Jordyn Wieber for the first time, winning the U.S. Olympic trials and the lone guaranteed spot for the London Games.

Douglas, bolstered by a dazzling uneven bars routine, beat Wieber by a mere 0.1 points after finishing a close second at last month’s U.S. championships and in the first night of trials Friday.

After the trials, Wieber, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross were added to the team by a three-person committee headed by Martha Karolyi. Led by Douglas and Wieber, the Americans will take their strongest team since 1996 to the Olympics.

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