(REUTERS) – Ryan Lochte’s Tokyo ambitions came to a crashing thud on Friday (June 18), as he failed to make the cut at the US Olympic swimming trials, while 25-year-old Ryan Murphy secured his chance to once again vie for the backstroke double.
Six-time Olympic gold medallist Lochte, who left the 2016 Rio Games mired in scandal, had hoped to make his fifth Olympics in a bid for redemption but finished seventh in the 200m individual medley final.
“This ain’t the end of the road,” the 36-year-old told a reporter after the race in Omaha.
“There’s a lot more I want to accomplish in the sport of swimming, whether it’s in the pool or outside of the pool making swimming bigger.”
Michael Andrew, 22, who won the event in 1min 55.44sec and also qualified in the 100m breaststroke, said he was “honoured to carry the torch”.
Murphy will have the chance to defend both of Rio backstroke titles this summer, after winning Friday’s 200m race in 1:54.20, while 24-year-old Abbey Weitzeil punched her ticket to Tokyo, winning the women’s 100m freestyle in 53.53 seconds.
Annie Lazor, 26, defeated reigning Olympic champion and training partner Lilly King in the 200m breaststroke final in 2:21.07 to book her first trip to the Olympics, an emotional triumph just weeks after her father’s sudden death.
“It’s been a rough couple of months for me and I just couldn’t have done it without (King),” said Lazor, as she choked back tears and stood with her teammate.
“She’s pulled me through practice every day – I’m so thankful for her.”
King, who finished 0.68 of a second behind, also made the team and will have the opportunity to defend her title in Tokyo.
“We really just wanted to do it together and it couldn’t have gone any better than that, honestly,” said Lazor.
Elsewhere in the action, five-time Olympic gold medallist Katie Ledecky made light work of her 800m freestyle heat, posting the top time of 8:16.61 and Caeleb Dressel scorched the men’s 100m butterfly semi-final in 49.76.
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