Five For Friday: Aug. 22, 2014
While more than 90 U.S. athletes are in Nanjing, China, to chase after medals as the Youth Olympic Games heads into its second week of competition, other Team USA athletes are scattered around the globe chasing after titles in swimming, softball, track & field and water polo. Additionally, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kyla Ross and other Olympians are competing on U.S. soil at the P&G Gymnastics Championships in Pittsburgh.
As we ready for the weekend, here’s a look at five events to follow:
There is plenty of U.S. Olympic star power at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships this week in Australia.
Olympic gold medalists Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky headline a 60-member U.S. team featuring 26 U.S. Olympians. Combined, they have won 28 Olympic gold medals. The event, held in Gold Coast, Australia, goes through Sunday.
Ledecky, who owns the world records in the 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle events, won her first international title in the 200 Thursday and also won the 800 free — the event in which she is the reigning Olympic champion. She is set to compete in the 400 free Saturday and the 1,500 free Sunday.
Franklin, a five-time Olympic medalist in London, has been suffering from back spasms but she was back in the pool Thursday for the women’s 200 free and 100 backstroke prelims. Franklin told reporters in Australia that she injured her back on a backstroke start.
“I’m just going to go for it,” Franklin told reporters. “We’ll see what happens. I have some really tough competition, but regardless of what happens, I want to know I went out there and fought for it. If I do that, I’ll be able to sleep regardless of the times.”
Meanwhile, Phelps, the most decorated Olympian with 22 medals, decided not to compete in his first two events in this meet, the 200 free and 100 back. He does plan, however, to compete in the 100 fly Saturday and the 200 individual medley Sunday.
TV: 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET Saturday and 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC
The 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships feature Simone Biles, the 2013 world all-around women’s champion and defending national champion, and 2013 U.S. men’s champion Sam Mikulak. The competition, which began Thursday, runs through Sunday at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
Mikulak, a 2012 Olympian, is joined in the senior men’s field by two-time Olympic medalist Jonathan Horton, 2012 Olympic all-around bronze medalist Danell Leyva, and 2013 world medalists Jake Dalton, Steven Legendre, John Orozco and Brandon Wynn.
Kyla Ross, a team gold medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, is the only member of the “Fierce Five” in the women’s field. A three-time silver medalist at the 2013 worlds, Ross finished second to Biles at the 2014 Secret U.S. Classic in Chicago.
After the first day of competition Thursday night, Biles was dominant, earning 61.80 points. Maggie Nichols came in second (58.65) and Alyssa Baumann placed third (58.40). Ross was fifth (57.95). The women will compete again Saturday. The men begin their competition Friday and finish Sunday.
The competition will play a large role in determining the U.S. teams for the world championships and the Pan American Championships. More than 130 gymnasts qualified for the national championships.
The 1984 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team, which won 16 medals at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, will be honored during a ceremony Saturday night. Members of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team were honored Thursday night. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Los Angeles Games and the 10th anniversary of the Athens Olympic Games.
TV: 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET Friday, NBC Sports Network; 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC
Webcast: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, PGChamps.com and universalsports.com
The USA Softball Women’s National Team locked down a first-place seed in the ISF Women’s World Championship by winning its first six games in pool play. The playoff round begins Friday in Haarlem, Netherlands, leading up to the medal round Sunday.
Hallie Wilson hit a three-run home run and two-run single in a 10-0 four-inning win against the Dominican Republic Wednesday. Team USA also defeated Netherlands, 10-0, and Great Britain, 11-0, and Italy, 7-0. Team USA faces Canada in the playoff round Friday.
4) Track & Field
Allyson Felix, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and eight-time world champion, is among a number of U.S. Olympians who will compete Sunday in Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix, an IAAF Diamond League event. Felix is entered in a stacked women’s 100-meter race that also includes U.S. teammates Tori Bowie, English Gardner, Jeneba Tarmoh, Jessica Young and three-time 2012 Olympic medalist Carmelita Jeter. Jeter earned the silver medal in the 100 in London.
Olympic champion Jennifer Suhr and Mary Saxer are in the women’s pole vault, and Ajee’ Wilson and Brenda Martinez are in the women’s 800.
Men’s contenders include Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor in the long jump, 2012 Olympian Michael Rodgers in the 100, Jeremy Dodson and Curtis Mitchell in the 200, and Gil Roberts and Josh Mance in the 400.
5) Water Polo
The USA Men’s Senior National Team won its first two matches in the FINA World Cup this week and will play in the quarterfinal round against Australia Friday in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, followed by the medal round Sunday.
John Mann, a 2012 Olympian, scored two goals in Wednesday’s 11-7 win over Montenegro. Other Olympians on the squad include Merrill Moses and Jesse Smith.