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The latest news, notes and quotes from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:
● Athletics ● /Updated; please see below/ It was a greatly-reduced AG Memorial Van Damme in Brussels (results here) with only nine events, but it turned out to be a memorable one, with three “world records”!
● The men’s Hour had nine starters (and four pacesetters) trying for Ethiopian legend Haile Gebreselassie’s 2007 world mark of 21 km, 285 m. Only six finished, but five set national records in the event.
Britain’s four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah, running in his race on the track since 2017 and first event of 2020, was expected to challenge the record and he and training partner Bashir Abdi (BEL) were well clear of the rest of the competitors by 12,000 m and ran together behind the pacesetters.
But it was Farah in the end, winning in style by sprinting away from Abdi in the final minute of the race, winning with a new mark of 21,330 m (~ 13 miles, 447 yards).
Abdi did not come away empty-handed, however. He was the leader at 20,000 m at 56:20.02, breaking Gebreselassie’s 56:26.00 mark en route in 2007 and now holds the world best (not a world record) in the event. Farah was close behind at 56:20.30, the no. 2 performance of all-time.
(Update: Reader and ace statistician Phil Minshull notes that the IAAF “deleted” the 20,000 m, 25,000 m and 30,000 m marks as world-record distances in November 2019, even though these events are still shown in the World Athletics page of “World Records”! So Abdi gets a “world best,” but not a world record.)
● In the women’s Hour, Dutch double World Champion Sifan Hassan took the lead from Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei with less than a minute remaining, finishing with a world record of 18,930 m (about 11 miles, 1,342 yards). Kosgei was disqualified for running out of her lane, when she stepped on the interior curb late in the race, leaving Israel’s Lonah Salpeter second at 18,571 m.
Hassan stomped the existing mark of 18,517 m by Ethiopia’s Dire Tune from 2008, and Salpeter recorded the no. 2 distance in history.
Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen was all alone on the final lap of the 1,500 m and won by more than 50 m in 3:30.69, ahead of Spaniard Jesus Gomez (3:34.64) and Boaz Kiprugut (KEN: 3:37.93).
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, the reigning Olympic 1,500 m champ, made a game run at the world record in the women’s 1,000 m, winning in 2:29.92, well ahead of Spain’s Esther Guerrero (2:35.64). It’s the no. 5 performance in history for Kipyegon and only the fifth-ever performance under 2:30.
Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis won the pole vault as the only one to clear 5.80 m (19-0 1/4), ahead of Belgium’s Ben Broeders, who cleared 5.70 m (18-8 1/4). Duplantis then moved up to 6.00 m (19-8 1/4), but missed three times at 6.15 m (20-2), again trying to claim the best-ever vault outdoors.
The next to last Diamond League stop of the season will be in Rome on 17 September. There is a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meet in Chorzow, Poland on Sunday, with American shot superman Ryan Crouser, pole vault World Champion Sam Kendricks and British distance star Laura Muir, among others, scheduled to compete.
● Cycling ● The Tour de France moves toward its second weekend with no change on the leaderboard, as Britain’s Adam Yates holds a small lead, with 14 more riders within 41 seconds of the lead. This week’s stages in review:
● Stage 2: 30 Aug. (Sunday): An emotional win for French star Julian Alaphilippe on the twin-peaked, 186 km stage in and around Nice, just edging Tour rookie Marc Hirschi (SUI) and Yates in 4:55:27.
● Stage 3: 31 Aug. (Monday): A sprint stage from Nice to Sisteron, with a mass finish won by Caleb Ewan (AUS), ahead of Sam Bennett (IRL) and Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA). Alaphilippe maintain his small overall lead.
● Stage 4: 1 Sep. (Tuesday): A short, 160.5 km stage, but with an uphill finish, perfect for Slovenia’s star climber Primoz Roglic, who won over countryman Tadej Pogacar and France’s Guillaume Martin.
● Stage 5: 2 Sep. (Wednesday): Belgian Wout van Aert, 25, added the Tour de France to his list of race wins in 2020, in a mass finish sprint over Dutch rider Cees Bol and Bennett (IRL). Van Aert already won the Strade Bianche and Milan-Sanremo, and a stage at the Criterium du Dauphine, so it’s his fourth World Tour triumph this season. Yates took the overall lead when Alaphilippe was penalized 20 seconds for taking food during the final 20 km.
● Stage 6: 3 Sep. (Thursday): A major uphill finish to the Mont Aigoual by Kazakhstan’s Alexey Lutsenko, who broke away and won by 55 seconds over Jesus Herrada (ESP).
● Stage 7: 4 Sep. (Friday): Another win for van Aert, who was best on the mass finish in the mostly-downhill second half of the 168 km route from Millau to Lavaur. Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) was second, as 41 athletes received the same finishing time.
Yates holds a three-second lead over Roglic, nine seconds over Martin and 13 seconds over seven riders that includes defending champ Egan Bernal (COL), Dutch star Tom Dumoulin, Colombia’s Nairo Quintana and France’s Roman Bardet and Thibaut Pinot. Alaphippe is 15 seconds back.
Coming up is a major climbing stage on Saturday, a 141 km race from Cazeres to Loudenvielle and then a tough, double-climb stage on Sunday of 153 km from Pau to Laruns. Monday will be a rest day, so look for the climbers to make moves for the yellow jersey on one or both days.
● Triathlon ● The only World Triathlon Series event remaining in 2020 takes place tomorrow in Hamburg (GER), which has been recognized as the 2020 World Championships.
A specially-designed sprint course with a 750 m swim, a six-lap bike ride of 20 km and a 5 km run will be used. Defending World Champions Vincent Luis (FRA) and American Katie Zaferes are expected to be on the starting line. The World Mixed Relay Championships will be held on Sunday.
● Wrestling ● Iran is being scorned internationally for a double death sentence – plus six months imprisonment and 74 lashes! – was handed down against 27-year-old wrestler Navid Afkari on Monday (31st).
Afkari, 27, was “convicted” by a court in Shiraz, Iran over peaceful protests held in 2018. His two brothers were also “convicted”: Vahid was sentenced to 54 1/2 years in prison and 74 lashes and Habib is to be imprisoned for 27 1/4 years and receive 74 lashes.
The sentences have resulted in outrage from many quarters, including one comment on Twitter noting that Iran sits on the U.N. Commission on Criminal Justice.
According to the International Organization to Preserve Human Rights:
“It has been reported that Navid Afkari was tortured and forced to confess. A letter from him states that he was subjected to brutal torture – including covering his head with plastic bags and pouring alcohol in his nostrils — in order to “confess” to fabricated statements on which the charges against him were then based.”
The IOPHR stated that the execution could happen at any time. According to a letter from Afkari posted by the IOPHR:
“I want to say, if I was executed, I want the world to know that in the 21st century even with the existing international community, UN and human rights orginations [sic] around the world, the Iranian regime are killing innocent persons.”