News, views and noise from the non-stop, worldwide circus of Olympic sport (updated):
● Athletics ● The comeback story of 2020 is 2016 Olympic sprinter Trayvon Bromell, who finished eighth in Rio and ran 9.84 in 2015 and 2016, then was felled by injuries.
Could he come back? Would he come back? Yes to both.
He impressed with a 10.04 clocking on 4 July in Monteverde, Florida, then stormed to a 9.90 win (wind: +1.4 m/s) in Clermont, Florida on Friday, besting Noah Lyles (10.04) in heat three.
Lyles went on to win in the final in 9.93w (+2.3), then took the 200 m final in a speedy 19.94, the world leader for 2020. Steven Gardiner (BAH) showed he’s in good form with a win in the second section of the 200 m, winning in 19.96, ahead of Lyles’ brother Josephus, who ran a lifetime best of 20.24.
With Bromell’s return from injury, the U.S. sprint corps is as solid as ever; using combined 2019 and 2020 times, the top Americans:
9.76 Christian Coleman ‘19 (provisional suspension as of 14 May)
9.86 Noah Lyles ‘19
9.86 Michael Norman ‘20
9.87 Justin Gatlin ‘19
9.90 Trayvon Bromell ‘20
9.93 Cravon Gillespie ‘19
Adding in 2018, Ronnie Baker ran 9.87 before his own injury issues, veteran Mike Rodgers was at 9.89, Isiah Young ran 9.92 and Cameron Burrell timed 9.93. Wow!
Other marks of note last week:
● Men’s 110 m Hurdles: 13.35 for world champ Grant Holloway (USA) in Clermont;
● Men’s Shot Put: Another contender to watch, as Nick Ponzio reached 21.72 m (71-3 1/40 for a lifetime best in a small meet in Kutztown, Pennsylvania last Friday.
● Men’s Discus: Colombia’s Mauricio Ortega got a national record and a world leader at 70.29 m (230-7) in a meet in Portugal on 22 July.
● Men’s Hammer: Impressive 80.70 m (264-9) for American Rudy Winkler, the world leader and making him the no. 3 American of all time. He had the series of his life, reaching lifetime bests of 77.97 m (255-9) on his first throw and 79.45 m (260-8) on his second try before his explosion in round five.
● Women’s 100 m: 10.98 world-leader for Shaunae Miller-UIbo (BAH) in Clermont; also a windy 10.79 for Sha’Carri Richardson at the AP Ranch High Performance II meet in Ft. Worth and a windy 10.73 from Jamaica’s reigning Olympic 100 m champ Elaine Thompson-Helah in Kingston, Jamaica.
● Women’s 200 m: 21.98 for Miller-Uibo, another world leader, at Clermont.
● Women’s 1,500 m: Ex-Missouri star Karissa Schweizer continued her rampage, running a lifetime best and world-leading 4:00.02 to win the third Portland Intrasquad meet on 21 July, shattering her prior best from 30 June of 4:02.81. Before the season started, her best was 4:06.77!
On Friday (24th), legendary American distance runner Jim Ryun, now 73, was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
One of the sport’s all-time distance icons, Ryun came to prominence at Wichita East High School, becoming the first prep to run the mile under four minutes and then went on to amazing success at Kansas.
He set four world records in his career, including 1:44.9 for 880 yards in 1966 (also equaling the 800 m record of 1:443.3), 3:33.1 for 1,500 m (1967) and 3:51.3 (1966) and 3:51.1 (1967) for the mile. He was an Olympian in 1964, 1968 and 1972. Favored to win the 1,500 m in Mexico City in 1968, he finished second to Kip Keino (KEN) and then fell in his heat of the 1,500 m in Munich in 1972.
He ran in the International Track Association for a couple of seasons, but finished racing in 1974. He then ran a series of popular sports camps and was a motivational speaker for more than 20 years.
Ryun later become the U.S. Representative for the 2nd District of Kansas as a Republican, serving from 1996-2007.
On the same day that Ryun was honored, Kenyan great Ben Jipcho died in Eldoret, at age 77.
One of the world’s great distance runners of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Jipcho paced eventual gold medalist Keino in the final of the 1968 Olympic 1,500 m in a tag-team effort that was successful in defeating Ryun, who won silver.
Jipcho won a silver medal himself at the 1972 Munich Games behind Keino in the 3,000 m Steeplechase and then went on to set two world records in the race in 1973, at 8:19.8 (hand) and 8:13.91.
He finished with sensational lifetime bests of 3:33.16 at 1,500 m and 13:14.30 for 5,000 m, both in 1974 at the British Commonwealth Games, where he won the 5,000 m and finished third in the 1,500. He joined the short-lived International Track Association for a few meets in 1974 and 1975, but retired during the 1975 season.
The Los Angeles Marathon announced that its “Stadium to the Sea” race course has been revised, beginning with the 2021 race, to finish in Century City, on Avenue of the Stars.
The race had finished on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica from 2011-19, but the race was canceled for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The reason given for the finish line move concerned more space in the finish area, but the driver was the enormous costs for holding the final four miles of the race in Santa Monica at an annual cost to the race of about $400,000, or as one observer put it, “$100,000 a mile.” Future costs will be considerably less, with the race still taking place in Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
The new course will be nicknamed “Stadium to the Stars,” which makes good sense since Century City itself was built on the old 20th Century-Fox Studios backlot, sold for development in 1961 as the cost for the epic “Cleopatra” soared out of control.
● Gymnastics ● Superstar Simone Biles participated in an Instagram chat, which included:
“[T]he four-time artistic gymnastics Olympic champion did not explicitly rule out competing at Paris 2024, where she would be 27 years old. Her coaches, Laurent and Cecile Landi, are both from France, and Biles said they often mention it during practice sessions.
“‘You know, Cecile and Laurent joke about that a lot. It’d be really crazy because I don’t get any younger as time goes on,’ Biles noted. ‘I try to pass it on to the younger girls, telling them ‘I’ll probably be there to watch you. But I’ll be there, one way or another. Probably in the stands.’”
Of dealing with the one-year delay of the 2020 Games:
“Obviously there were times where I was like, I don’t know if I can do this. It’s a major setback for everybody, it’s not just me, so that’s what kept my spirits and hopes up. That made it easier. I know I have a great team surrounding me so with all of that I know we’ll be solid. Don’t give up, we’re all in this together, literally the entire world is in this together so you’re not alone.”
● International Olympic Committee ● The IOC announced the passing of Flor Isava Fonseca, its first-ever female member, last Saturday (25th) at age 99.
A Venezuelan Olympian in equestrian in the 1956 competition held in Stockholm (SWE), she was elected in 1981 and with Finland’s Pirjo Haggman, were the first women members of the IOC. Fonseca was the first to take the oath as a member of the IOC.
Fonseca became the first female member of the IOC Executive Board, in 1990 and served into 2002 and then became an honorary member. She will forever be remembered as a barrier breaker in the Olympic Movement.
The IOC was slammed for tweeting a video of the 1936 Berlin Games last Thursday (23rd) as part of a series to highlight the history of the torch relay, which was first held as a part of that Games.
Response to the video was quick, and the IOC deleted the tweet. The Associated Press reported an IOC statement on Friday that included “We apologize to those who feel offended by the film of the Olympic Games Berlin 1936.
“We have deleted this film, which was part of the series of films featuring the message of unity and solidarity, from the @Olympics Twitter account.”
Among those condemning the video was the museum at the site of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps: “For 2 weeks the Nazi dictatorship camouflaged its racist, militaristic character. It exploited the Games to impress foreign spectators with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany. Later, Germany’s expansionism, the persecution of Jews & other ‘enemies of the state’ accelerated.”
● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● A new fund-raising program has been started by the USOPC in conjunction with its Athletes Advisory Council and the U.S. National Governing Bodies.
The COVID Athlete Assistance Fund was announced on the year-to-go date of 23 July, using the U.s. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation “to work with its network of donors to raise funds, 100% of which will go directly to eligible athletes who are currently training and in contention to represent the U.S. at the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Games.”
The fund-raising effort is slated to run through the end of September and has already had success:
“An anonymous long-time USOPF supporter has made an initial contribution of $500,000 to help launch the fund, and Ralph Lauren, an official Team USA Outfitter since 2008, is committing 25% of the purchase price from each unit from its Team USA One-Year-Out Collection to this effort.”
● Games of the XXXII Olympiad: Tokyo 2020 ● Although the Tokyo Games have been put off for a year, two of the venues already built are opening for athlete training.
The Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, which will host water polo, will open on 21 August 2020 for elite-athlete use only, and the Canoe Slalom Centre will be available for training usage starting today (27th July).
● Games of the XXXV Olympiad: 2032 ● Now Qatar has sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee, “explore our interest further and identify how the Olympic Games can support Qatar’s long-term development goals.”
It’s the latest move in an aggressive period for Qatar, which hosted a poorly-attended version of the IAAF World Championships last year in Doha and which will play host to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The obvious problem for Qatar is its summer heat, which forced the IAAF Worlds into the fall and has the FIFA World Cup in November and December. The IOC wants the Olympic Games to be held in July and August, the most convenient slot for its American and European broadcasters.
● At the BuZZer ● The sixth “Sporlympic” auction of Olympic memorabilia was held on Saturday by Vermot & Associes of Paris (FRA), including multiple Olympic torches. Highlights:
● Lot 106: 1936 torch (Berlin), sold for € 2,100 (~$ 2,468)
● Lot 107: 1992 torch (Barcelona), sold for € 1,500 (~$ 1,763)
● Lot 108: 1996 torch (Atlanta), sold for € 2,300 (~$ 2,703)
● Lot 110: 2000 torch (Sydney), sold for € 5,000 (~$ 5,876)
● Lot 112: 2012 torch (London), sold for € 3,000 (~$ 3,526)
Torches from Moscow 1980, Nagano 1998 and Rio 2016 did not sell. A set of seven of the official posters from Moscow 1980 did sell, for € 150 (~$177).
The Associated Press reported that an original drawing of the Olympic rings by Pierre de Coubertin from 1913 was sold an auction in Cannes (FRA):
“‘The drawing was sold to a Brazilian collector for a price of €185,000 plus 27% costs, or €234,950,’ [$276,055] associate director of Cannes Encheres Alexandre Debussy told French media.”
The rings symbol debuted at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp (BEL), the first Games held after the conclusion of World War I.
(Thanks to readers Jim Bendat for correcting Ryun’s 3:51.3 mile world record to 1966, not 1965 as originally shown, and Brian Springer for a grammatical error.)