Michael Phelps after finishing seventh in the men's 100 free at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Michael Phelps after finishing seventh in the men's 100 free at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Swimming

For one night, no Phelps magic

Before Michael Phelps had won even the first of his 22 Olympic medals he was, in 2003, the United States men’s national champion in the 100-meters freestyle.

The circle turns. It’s back to the future. Pick your metaphor as the 2014 U.S. nationals got underway in earnest Wednesday in Irvine, California, with Phelps stepping to the blocks for the finals of the 100 free.

Kendal Williams on Florida State signing day, flanked by grandfathers James Williams and Langston Austin // photo courtesy Williams family

Kendal Williams on Florida State signing day, flanked by grandfathers James Williams and Langston Austin // photo courtesy Williams family

Track and field

A sprint champion to want to believe in

Wouldn’t American track and field be so much better, goes the mournful refrain, if only there were a sprint champion everyone could actually believe in? Who wasn’t, you know, doped to the gills?

Maybe Kendal Williams doesn’t go on to run 9.57. But now that he has won the men’s 100 at the world juniors in Eugene, Oregon, maybe it’s time, too, to celebrate the very sort of young athlete everyone says they really want — but then hardly gives more than a moment to when he does exactly what they say they’re begging for.

Rafer Johnson with the torch at the 1984 30th anniversary party. That's Mary Lou Retton at the right // photo courtesy LA84 Foundation

Rafer Johnson with the torch at the 1984 30th anniversary party. That's Mary Lou Retton at the right // photo courtesy LA84 Foundation

Los Angeles 1984

Sustainability? Legacy? LA 1984 revisited

No one likes I-told-you-so’s, and if there is a good lord up above, he — or she — knows full well that others find it tiresome, indeed, to hear Americans boasting about anything.

So this is not — repeat, not — that column. There’s no point. At the same time, it’s just plain dumb to ignore reality. So, now, with International Olympic Committee extolling a renewed commitment to “sustainability” and “legacy,” and with the true believers this week celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Games that changed everything, it’s entirely reasonable to look anew at those Los Angeles Olympics. Because they didn’t just save the modern Olympic movement — they set the standard for sustainability and legacy, too.

Kendal Williams crossing the finish line to win the men's 100 at the 2014 world juniors // photo Getty Images

Kendal Williams crossing the finish line to win the men's 100 at the 2014 world juniors // photo Getty Images

Track and field

‘Anything is possible’: Williams wins juniors 100

EUGENE, Oregon — Two days ago, after Universal Sports posted onto Twitter a shot of a skinny Usain Bolt racing at the IAAF world junior championships — before a home crowd in Kingston, Jamaica, in 2002 — he told his 3.4 million-plus followers, “Still the greatest moment of my life.”

This from a guy who, of course, has gone on to win six Olympic individual and relay medals as well as eight world titles and who holds the world record in the 200 meters, 19.19 seconds, and the 100, 9.58.