BEIJING 2022/Monday Review & Preview: Valieva OK to compete; Humphries & Meyers Taylor go 1-2 in Monobob; Gatlin retires at 40

The Beijing 2022 awards podium and backdrop (Photo: Beijing 2022)

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= BEIJING 2022 =
From Lane One

The decision is in, but it’s not the end. In fact, it’s barely the start.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport Ad Hoc Division, meeting in Beijing at the Olympic Winter Games, ruled Monday afternoon that 15-year-old Russian women’s figure skating star Kamila Valieva can compete in the women’s Olympic competition starting on Tuesday with the Short Program.

After a 5 1/2-hour hearing via video-conference from the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s temporary office in Beijing that ended at 2:10 a.m. on Monday, the three-member panel – Fabio Iudica (ITA), American Jeffrey Benz and Dr. Vesna Bergant Rakocevic (SLO) – issued a notice of decision on Tuesday at 2 p.m. (Beijing time) that concluded the World Anti-Doping Code is “silent with respect to provisional suspension imposed on protected persons.”

This includes Valieva, who at age 15, is considered protected as a minor and especially as she is under 16. But the crux of the decision is this:

“The Panel considered fundamental principles of fairness, proportionality, irreparable harm,
and the relative balance of interests as between the Applicants and the Athlete, who did not test positive during the Olympic Games in Beijing and is still subject to a disciplinary
procedure on the merits following the positive anti-doping test undertaken in December
2021; in particular, the Panel considered that preventing the Athlete from competing at the
Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm in these circumstances.”

Translation: If Valieva is allowed to compete, no opportunity was denied to her, and if a later hearing finds that she should be suspended for doping, then she can be disqualified and the results adjusted. But there is no way to make up for not being able to compete if the eventual decision is that her initial provisional suspension for doping was not correct.

So the cloud over Valieva, the Team Event and the women’s competition will continue, as the panel further noted:

“The CAS Ad hoc Division was requested to determine the narrow issue as to whether a provisional suspension should be imposed on the athlete. It was not requested to rule on the merits of this case, nor to examine the legal consequences relating to the results of the team event in figure skating, as such issues will be examined in other proceedings.”

So it goes on. The women’s Short Program begins on the 15th, with Valieva the favorite after winning both the Short Program and the Free Skate during the Team Event.

Asked once again at Monday’s daily briefing if the Valieva case would become what the Beijing Games are known for, International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams replied:

“Yes, it’s very important that we get to the bottom of this and yes, it’s important that the media and the press concentrate on this, but I would say outside of here, actually a lot of people are still watching, enjoying the Games. That’s not to dismiss this issue – that’s very important – but I would say the vast majority of coverage in newspapers and TV around the world and digital is on the sport, which is as we would all want it to be, and anything that takes away from that is terrible. …

“Of course it’s unfortunate, and as soon as we can get back to concentrating on sport, then I think we’ll all be very happy.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency issued a terse statement that was, essentially, in disbelief of the finding:

“WADA is therefore disappointed by today’s ruling of the CAS Ad Hoc Division. While WADA has not received the reasoned award, it appears that the CAS panel decided not to apply the terms of the Code, which does not allow for specific exceptions to be made in relation to mandatory provisional suspensions for ‘protected persons’, including minors.” (Emphasis added)

And there was the promise that WADA is going to inquire much further into how we got into this mess in the first place:

“According to information received by WADA, the sample in this case was not flagged by RUSADA as being a priority sample when it was received by the anti-doping laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden. This meant the laboratory did not know to fast-track the analysis of this sample. (Emphasis added)

“As previously announced, under the terms of the Code, when a minor is involved in an anti-doping case, there is a requirement to investigate that athlete’s support personnel. RUSADA has already indicated it has begun that process. In addition, WADA’s independent Intelligence and Investigations Department will look into it.”

The International Testing Agency noted that Valieva’s “B” sample has not been analyzed and that RUSADA will now follow up with the proceedings to determine if there was a doping violation or not.

The U.S. reaction was swift; barely two minutes after the CAS news release was posted, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee chief executive Sarah Hirshland’s statement condemned the holding:

“We are disappointed by the message this decision sends. It is the collective responsibility of the entire Olympic committee to protect the integrity of sport and to hold our athletes, coaches and all involved to the highest of standards. Athletes have the right to know they are competing on a level playing field.

“Unfortunately, today that right is being denied. This appears to be another chapter in the systemic and pervasive disregard for clean sport by Russia.

“We know this case is not closed, and we call on everyone in the Olympic Movement to continue to fight for clean sport on behalf of athletes around the world.”

CNN reported a statement from U.S. Anti-Doping Agency head Travis Tygart that Russia “hijacked the competition.” He also said the U.S. government might be in a position to prosecute this case under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act of 2019, “[i]f there’s a doctor, or a coach, or state officials, sport official, who conspired to dope her.”

Russian Minister of Sport Oleg Matytsin said in a statement,The Russian Sports Ministry welcomes a decision on behalf of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which resorted to the only true and just decision to allow Kamila Valieva to perform in the individual [figure skating] competition at the Olympic Games in Beijing.”

And what about the 15-year-old Valieva? She told Russia’s TV Channel One: “These days have been very difficult for me, emotionally. I am happy but emotionally fatigued. That is why these tears of joy and a little bit of sadness. But, of course, I am happy to take part in the Olympic Games. I will do my utmost to represent our country. Apparently, this is a stage I have to live through.”

The IOC announced that, in view of the decision, it is not moving forward with business as usual:

● “In the interest of fairness to all athletes and the NOCs concerned, it would not be appropriate to hold the medal ceremony for the figure skating team event during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 as it would include an athlete who on the one hand has a positive A-sample, but whose violation of the anti-doping rules has not yet been established on the other hand.”

● “Should Ms Valieva finish amongst the top three competitors in the Women’s Single Skating competition, no flower ceremony and no medal ceremony will take place during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.” A ceremony will be held later.

And the IOC went further, asking the International Skating Union to add a 25th skater to the Free Skate final in case Valieva qualifies; normally, 24 move on after the Short Program. The ISU agreed to this quickly.

The theme of Monday’s daily briefing was gender equality, with Adams explaining the impact of the flood of mixed-gender events now being introduced into the Olympic program at the IOC’s insistence:

“These are actually very, very important, because it sends a signal from the IOC to the National Olympic Committees that the mixed events are important as they need to build the capacity of their women’s teams and invest in their women’s teams and women athletes. And that’s very important for bringing forward, obviously for them, for individual events as well.”

As for the Beijing organizers, about 40% of the permanent staff are women and the 19,000-member volunteer corps is split 50-50.

The Olympic Covid incidence report for 13 February had just three total positives for the second straight day: all at the airport across just 32 entries and none among athletes and team officials or other stakeholders across 69,872 tests inside the closed loop.

The totals now show 183 total positives (arrivals and inside the closed loop) among athletes and team officials and 321 among all other stakeholders since the closed loop began operations on 4 January.

The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee reported Monday that there were no new cases among the 527 delegates in Beijing. The number currently isolated is down to one athlete.

Ratings reports from Japan show that 98 million people have watched some part of the Winter Games so far, about 78% of the entire country!

No report from NBC on its Friday or Saturday audiences, after 13.2 million watched on Thursday. The biggest primetime audience so far was 13.7 million on Sunday, 6 February; maybe today will be stronger with the Super Bowl also on NBC?

For the first seven days of the Games (not counting the pre-Games telecast), and subject to final confirmation once all of the numbers come in, the average primetime total audience was 12.5 million. That is down 36.8% from the nightly average of 19.8 million for the PyeongChang Games in 2018 and down from the 15.1 million nightly primetime average for the Tokyo Games last summer.

Norway continued on top of the medal table at 21 (9-5-7), with Russia at 18 (4-6-8) and the U.S. now up to third overall with 16 (7-6-3).

Germany (8-5-2), Austria (5-6-4) and Canada (1-4-10) all have 15 medals, with the Netherlands at 12 (6-4-2).

For a better comparison of team strength, here are our TSX scoring rankings, using the top eight places, via the time-honored U.S. scoring of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. So after 69 of 109 events:

1. 252, Norway
2. 230, Russia
3. 227, United States
4. 211, Germany
5. 205, Austria
6. 177, Canada
7. 152, Italy
8. 147, Netherlands
9. 140, Sweden
10. 129, Japan
11. 122, France
12. 121, China

After an indifferent start, the U.S. has moved up smartly in the scoring, with 40 events still to go.
~ Rich Perelman


● Bobsled: Women’s Monobob
The Monobob was a new event in the Winter Games and Kaillie Humphries, the 2010-14 two-woman gold medalist for Canada, is a new American citizen. It turned out to be a perfect match as Humphries won her third career Olympic gold in style.

She won both of the first two races, with a gap of 1.04 seconds over Canada’s Christine de Bruin, 1.22 over German Laura Nolte and 1.32 over teammate Elana Meyers Taylor.

Humphries kept the pressure on by winning the third run as well in 1:04.87, ahead of Breanna Walker (AUS) and Meyers Taylor, who moved up to third with a 1:05.28 finish.

On the final run, Walker had the lead with four sleds to go, but was passed by Nolte. Meyers Taylor came next and took advantage of her superior speed at the start – she had the fastest push in all four races – to work up excellent momentum. Her handling was superb and held to her line throughout the run, finishing with the fastest time in the field for the fourth run – 1:05.11 – propelling her into first place with two sleds left.

Meyers Taylor knew she had done something special, slamming the top of the sled and celebrating with her team. But there were two more to go.

De Bruin was only 14th off the start and had minor trouble with keeping her line through the course and the result was a 1:05.51 finish – fifth best in the last round – that kept her in second.

Then came Humphries, whose driving skills never faded and kept a smooth line all the way to the finish. She was “only” third-fastest on the last run (1:05.30), but it was more than enough to give her the gold medal and a 1-2 finish with Meyers Taylor in the inaugural Monobob final.

Humphries has three Olympic golds and Meyers Taylor medaled in her fourth straight Games (three silvers, one bronze) and they both still have the two-woman event to go.

● Figure Skating: Ice Dance
The performances were elegance and poetry-in-motion, but the standings did not change.

The top four after the Rhythm Dance were the top four scorers in the Free Dance, with Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) collecting their first Olympic golds to go along with four World Championship victories and their Olympic silver in 2018.

Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov were excellent, but no match for the French, who won the Free Dance by 136.15 to 131.66 to total 226.98 to 220.51 for the Russians.

The Rhythm Dance score for Papadakis and Cizeron was the highest ever, and their Free Dance was second only to their 2019 ISU Grand Prix/NHK Trophy victory (136.58). Their Beijing total of 226.98 is the best ever, eclipsing the 226.61 they scored in that 2019 NHK Trophy event.

The fight for the bronze medal was between the long-time American stars Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Hubbell and Donohue came in with a 87.13-84.14 lead after the Rhythm Dance, and both duos performed expressive and athletic routines.

But the judges liked Hubbell and Donohue just a little more, to the tune of 130.89-130.63, making them the bronze medalists, the fifth straight Games with an American medalist in this event. It’s the second straight U.S. bronze, after Maia and Alex Shibutani in 2018.

Chock and Bates finished fourth at 214.77, with Hubbell and Donohue scoring 218.02, in both cases their best scores ever.

Papadakis and Cizeron became France’s second gold winners in this event, after the 2002 champions, Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat.

● Freestyle Skiing: Women’s Aerials
China’s Mengtao Xu, 31, had every just about everything in her sport except an Olympic gold medal. Now her collection is complete.

The 2013 World Champion and 2014 Olympic silver medalist, Xu finished a disappointing ninth in 2018, but when the 2022 finals in Beijing were on, she came up big, scoring 108.61 points on a back somersault with three twists that had a high degree of difficulty.

That was just enough to win over defending champion Hanna Huskova (BLR), whose back layout with two twists was executed better, but had a lower difficulty and scored 107.95.

Two Americans were in the hunt for bronze, with Megan Nick getting her first international championship medal third over Ashley Caldwell, the 2017 World Champion, 93.76-83.71.

Xu won her third career Olympic medal – also a silver in the Beijing Mixed Team Aerials – to go along with seven World Championships medals, five World Cup seasonal titles and 27 World Cup victories. The trophy case is finally full.

● Ski Jumping: Men’s Large Hill Team
Austria got two tremendous jumps from Jan Hoerl and managed to out-last Slovenia for the gold medal by 942.7-934.4.

All eight jumps by Stefan Kraft, Daniel Huber, Hoerl and Manuel Fettner scored more than 110 points and six were above 115 points, while the Slovenians – Lovro Kos, Cene Prevc, Timi Zajc and Peter Prevc – were a little less consistent.

Germany got the biggest jump of the day from Markus Eisenbichler – 139.5 m, scoring 137.5 points – but finished third at 922.9, just edging Norway (922.1).


● Curling: Tabitha Peterson’s U.S. team defeated South Korea, 8-6, to improve to 4-2 and third place in the women’s tournament with three matches to play. Next up will be the tournament leader Switzerland, also the reigning World Champions.

● Ice Hockey: The inevitable gold-medal showdown is up next as Canada and the U.S. both won their semifinal matches on Monday.

The Canadians swamped the Swiss, 10-3, with Marie-Philip Poulin scoring twice and Canada with a 61-13 edge in shots.

The U.S. skated past Finland, 4-1, taking a 2-0 lead in the second period on goals from Cayla Barnes and Hilary Knight.

Hayley Scarmurra scored for the U.S. to make it 3-0 halfway through the final period and then the Finns pulled their goalie and Susane Tapani scored with 26 seconds left for a 3-1 score. Abby Roque got an empty-net goal with five seconds remaining to make the final 4-1. The U.S. out-shot the Finns, 42-26.

Everyone gets a couple of days of rest and the medal matches will be played on the 17th (Thursday). This will be the seventh women’s Olympic championship match, with the U.S. and Canada meeting for the sixth time; Canada has won four of the six.

(9 events across 7 disciplines)

● Alpine Skiing: Women’s Downhill
Italy’s Sofia Goggia is the defending champion from PyeongChang and is thrilling to watch with her go-for-broke skiing style, and she won four of the six World Cup Downhills this season. So, she’s the favorite, but just as likely to crash out as to win.

Two Swiss stars figure to be contenders: Lara Gut-Behrami and Corinne Suter. Both win World Cup Downhills this season – one each – and Gut-Behrami is already the Beijing Super-G gold medalist (and the 2018 bronze medalist); Suter won the 2021 Worlds Downhill gold after taking the 2019 Worlds silver.

Then come the Austrians: Super-G silver medalist Mirjam Puchner, with two World Cup medals this season, Ramona Seibenhofer, also with two World Cup medals in 2021-22, and World Cup medalist Cornelia Huetter, who won a World Cup bronze.

Germany’s Kira Weidle is definitely in the mix, after her 2021 Worlds silver and a silver on the World Cup tour this season.

Wild cards: Snowboard gold medalist Ester Ledecka, who sensationally won the PyeongChang Super-G and has a World Cup Downhill medal this season, and American Mikaela Shiffrin. Although Shiffrin has had almost no Downhill training this season, she does have two career World Cup Downhill wins and five medals; the last time was in 2020.

The U.S. had a real contender in the aptly-named Breezy Johnson, 26, but she suffered a massive crash in late January and could not make the trip.

● Biathlon: Men’s Relay
Norway won three of four World Cup races in this event and has to be the favorite; in fact, Tarjei Boe is going for his third Olympic medal in this event, already with a gold in 2010 and silver in 2018. Brother Johannes Thingnes Boe was a part of that 2018 silver squad.

The brothers have also been part of the last three Norwegian Worlds team that have won gold-silver-gold; the 2021 team is intact with Vetle Christiansen and Sturla Holm Lagreid.

Sweden and Russia went 2-3 in the 2021 Worlds and are contenders again, and France – with double gold medalist Quentin Fallon Maillet – the 2020 World Champions. The Russians won the one World Cup that the Norwegians didn’t and will depend on Eduard Latypov (already a bronze medalist) and Alexandr Loginov.

The wild cards are Germany and Belarus: both capable, but without the obvious depth of the others.

● Bobsled: Two-Man
The overwhelming favorite is Germany’s Francesco Friedrich, the winner of both golds in PyeongChang and winner of seven of eight World Cup races during the season. He’s a seven-time World Champion in the event.

Friedrich did lose once this season, to Russian Rostislav Gaitiukevich, who won one other bronze during the season. Lucky or an emerging star?

German Johannes Lochner was the clear no. 2 driver during the World Cup and the co-2017 World Champion (tie) with Friedrich, and second in 2020 and 2021. He’s the first choice for silver.

But there are others, like Canada’s Justin Kripps, who tied with Friedrich for the gold in 2018 and won four World Cup medals this season. Latvia’s Oskars Kibermanis won the 2020 Worlds bronze and he and Austria’s Benjamin Maier both won World Cup medals this season.

But Friedrich and Lochner showed their class on the first two runs, going 1-2 in the first and 2-1 in the second. Friedrich and Thorsten Margis have a 1:58.38-1:58.53 lead over Lochner and Florian Bauer.

Gaitiukevich and Aleksei Laptev stand third (1:59.32), also a full second behind the leader and essentially racing for the bronze medal. Four is the third German sled, driven by Christoph Hafer (with Matthias Sommer), just 0.05 behind and Maier and Markus Sammer (AUT) at 1:59.47.

The top U.S. sled so far is Frank Del Duca, with Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, in 15th (2:00.09).

● Freestyle Skiing: Women’s Slopestyle
Is Gu good for gold again?

All the attention will be on American-born Chinese star Eileen Gu, already the Big Air winner in Beijing. Still only 18, she is the 2021 World Champion in the event, beating Mathilde Gremaud (SUI) and Canadian Megan Oldham in Stockholm last year.

Gremaud was the 2018 Olympic silver winner and will be in the mix, along with French star Tess Ledeux, the 2017 World Champion in Slopestyle.

In Beijing, Gu beat Ledeux and Gremaud in the Big Air final, 188.25-187.50-182.50, with Oldham fourth.

But Gu’s biggest challenge may come from fellow teen Kelly Sildaru of Estonia (19), a two-time winner on the World Cup tour this season and was the 2019 World Halfpipe champ. Sildaru has a win over Gu this season, from the Mammoth World Cup in January, and led the qualifying round at 86.15, ahead of Johanne Killi (NOR: 86.00) and Gu (79.38).

Under the radar are Americans Maggie Voisin and Marin Hamill, both with World Cup medals this season and easy qualifiers on Monday.

● Nordic Combined: Individual Large Hill (140 m)
The medal winners from the Normal Hill (106 m) and 10 km race are back for more and Vinzenz Geiger (GER), Jorgen Graabak (NOR) and Lukas Greiderer (AUT) are all contenders once again.

During the World Cup season, only six of the 15 events were held off 140 m-plus hills. The early-season events were won by Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber, who is out of the Games due to Covid. But the last two, in January, were both won by Austria’s Johannes Lamparter, a medal favorite who finished fourth by 2.4 seconds in the Normal Hill race. He’s also the reigning World Champion from 2021.

Lamparter has to be a co-favorite with Geiger and Graabak (the 2014 gold medalist). The rest of the top-10 in the first event will be contenders, especially German Johannes Rydzek (fifth), the defending champion from 2018, and Japan’s Akito Watabe and Ryota Yamamoto. Could Finland’s Ilkka Herola – a 10-time World Cup medal winner – do something crazy?

● Snowboard: Men’s Big Air
The final men’s event of the Beijing 2022 is the second edition of Big Air at the Games, but has already had an upset, as defending champion Sebastien Toutant of Canada did not qualify for the final.

No worries, though: teammates Mark McMorris and Max Parrot went 1-2 at the 2021 World Championships, Parrot won the Slopestyle gold with McMorris third, and Parrot led the qualifying at 164.75.

They will all be fighting with China’s teen sensation, Yuming Su – 17 – who was sensational in Slopestyle, earning the silver. Su is also internationally experienced, having won one of the two World Cup events held this season, in Steamboat, Colorado and had the highest-scoring jump in the qualifying at 92.50.

Beyond these stars are Norway’s Marcus Kleveland, the two-time Worlds bronze medalist and 2021 Slopestyle World Champion, teammate Mons Roisland. The U.S. has a formidable team, including 2018 Olympic Slopestyle winner Red Gerard (third in qualifying) and 2019 World Slopestyle champ Chris Corning.

Japan’s Takeru Otsuka and Hiroaki Kunitake were especially impressive in the qualification round, finishing 2-4 and Otsuka getting the no. 2 of the day at 91.50.

● Snowboard: Women’s Big Air
The second Olympic Big Air has Austria’s Anna Gasser back to defend her title, and with good form during the World Cup season, where she won two silvers in the two events, in October and December.

She lost to Japan’s Kokomo Murase in the first event and to veteran Reira Iwabuchi in the second; they are both in Beijing, along with 2021 World Championships Big Air bronze winner Miyabi Onitsuka.

The returning bronze medalist from PyeongChang – New Zealand’s Zoi Sadowski-Synnott – won the Slopestyle competition for her second Olympic medal and comes in as the 2021 World Championships silver medalist in Big Air. Formidable.

What about the 2021 World Champion? That would be Canada’s Laurie Blouin, the PyeongChang Slopestyle silver medalist, and will be a factor, as will teammate Jasmine Baird and Australia’s Tess Coady, the Slopestyle bronze medalist.

The U.S. qualified only Hailey Langland for the final. Two-time Slopestyle gold medalist Jamie Anderson, who finished ninth in the Beijing Slopestyle final, wrote on her Instagram page:

“At the end of the day I just straight up couldn’t handle the pressure. Had an emotional breakdown the night before finals and my mental health and clarity just hasn’t been on par. Looking forward to some time off and self care. After big air of course.”

Anderson had trouble on her first two jumps and even with a strong 89.75 final effort, totaled only 119.75 and placed a non-qualifying 15th. Courtney Rummel was 19th.

● Speed Skating: Men’s Team Pursuit
The semifinals are set, with Norway and the Netherlands in the first race and the U.S. and Russia in the other.

The U.S. is a modest favorite, having won two of the four World Cup races held this season and setting the world record of 3:34.47 on 5 December in the thin air of Salt Lake City, with a team of Joey Mantia, Emery Lehman and Casey Dawson.

Advancement from the quarterfinals was based on time and the Norwegian trio of Hallgeir Engebraaten, Peder Kongshaug and Sverre Pedersen clocked 3:37.47 to 3:37.51 for the U.S. – with Ethan Cepuran instead of Mantia – finishing second in the same race.

The Russians won quarterfinal four, timed in 3:38.67 and the Dutch won quarterfinal two in 3:38.90.

The Dutch, the 2021 World Champions, won the World Cup season opener, but did not medal again. The U.S. set the world mark in defeating Norway in Salt Lake City and then did it again a week later in Calgary.

The Netherlands (2014) and Norway (2018) have won the last two Olympic golds, with the U.S. having won a silver in 2010. The Americans, with Mantia added, have a great chance to win this: it would be the first Olympic gold for the U.S. since Shani Davis won the 1,000 m in 2010.

● Speed Skating: Women’s Team Pursuit
The world and Olympic record-holders from Japan logged the fastest time in the quarterfinals and are favored to take a second straight Olympic title.

Japan improved their own Olympic Record to 2:53.61 in the first quarterfinal, with Miho and Nana Takagi and Ayano Sato on the ice. All three were part of the PyeongChang gold-medal team.

Canada is the logical challenger, winning three of four races on the World Cup circuit this season and winning quarterfinal three in 2:53.97 with Ivanie Blondin, Valerie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann. They are close enough in time to the Japanese to be a threat.

The Dutch are the reigning World Champions, with an intact team of Ireen Wust, Irene Schouten and Antoinette de Jong. They won quarterfinal two in 2:57.26, but have to go a lot faster to challenge; same for Russia, winner of quarterfinal four.

In the semis, Japan is matched up with Russia and Canada will skate against the Netherlands. The Dutch beat Canada at the 2021 Worlds, 2:55.795 to 2:55.973, with exactly the same line-ups. Russia was third.


● Athletics ● Notable retirements continue as Poland’s Adam Kszczot announced Monday he has finished his competitive career. The World Indoor Champion in 2018 at 800 m, he won outdoor Worlds silvers in 2015 and 2017, a World Indoors silver in 2014 and was a six-time European 800 m winner: three times each indoors and out.

Now 32, he finishes with a lifetime best of 1:43.30 outdoors and 1:44.57 indoors, was a 13-time national champion and an Olympian in 2012 and 2016. He will be remembered for his excellent sense of pace and a keen strategic feel that found him close to the front at the line, ahead of other runners with more foot speed.

That followed the Friday Instagram post by 2004 Olympic 100 m champion Justin Gatlin of the U.S. that he has also completed his career. Having celebrated his 40th birthday on the 10 February, Gatlin had one of the most tumultuous careers in the sport.

He suffered a one-year doping ban in 2001 while at Tennessee, that resulted from taking Adderall – he had been using it for years – which contained an amphetamine.

No problem; he went on to win the Olympic 100 m in 2004, the World 100 and 200 m titles in 2005 and was then suspended for doping (testosterone) for four years from 2006-10. Far from crushing his career, Gatlin came back to win the World Indoor 60 m title in 2012 and the Olympic bronze in London, and silver medals to Jamaica’s Usain Bolt in the 2013 and 2015 World Championships in the 100 m.

In Rio in 2016, he led Bolt to the line, but faltered at the finish and won silver again, but beat Bolt in the 2017 World Championships for the gold. He also won a silver in the 2019 Worlds 100 m, behind American Christian Coleman.

All told, Gatlin won 17 international medals, including relays and seven major titles. He finishes with outstanding lifetime bests of 9.74 in the 100 m from 2015 and 19.57 in the 200 m, also in 2015. He ranks no. 5 all-time in the 100 m and no. 6 in the 200 m.

A great competitor and an icon for resilience, Gatlin will be remembered for speed and grit, but also for his transgressions.

● Swimming ● The final day of the Southern Zone South Sectional Championships in Orlando was again a showcase for U.S. stars Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky.

Dressel swam 49.72 in the men’s 100 m Free in a time trial, after winning the 50 m Free (21.89), 200 m Free (1:49.96), 50 m Fly (23.44) and 100 m Fly (51.95), plus a second in the 50 m Breast (28.22).

Ledecky finished a busy meet with a 15:40.63 in the women’s 1,500 m Free, the world leader for 2022 and the no. 18 performance of all time. Ledecky owns the top 12 and now 16 of the top 20; the time is a little more than three seconds slower than her Tokyo Olympic title swim … in February. Wow.

USA Swimming announced today that Anthony Nesty (men) and Todd DeSorbo (women) will be the head coaches for the American teams at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest.

Both were assistant coaches for the U.S. in Tokyo; Nesty is the head coach at Florida – where he also trains stars Dressel and Ledecky – and DeSorbo is the head coach at Virginia, the 2021 NCAA Champions.

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