HEARD AT HALFTIME: Lyles featured in Diamond League opener; Jakobsen out of coma; another Nassar victim asks to join the proceedings

U.S. sprint superstar Noah Lyles

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News, views and noise from the non-stop, worldwide circus of Olympic sport:

Athletics ● It may be hard to believe, but it appears that the annual Herculis meet in the Principality of Monaco is on for Friday, with an all-star line-up led by American sprint star Noah Lyles ready to go.

Although there have been faux Wanda Diamond League meets in Oslo and Zurich, this is a real track meet, with live coverage in the U.S. on the NBC Olympic Channel beginning at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon. Among the attractions:

Men/200 m: Lyles ran 19.65 on this track in 2018 – his second-fastest ever – and appears to be in brilliant shape. Something special this time? He should be in a happy place with his brother Josephus (20.24 this season) running, as well as old rivals like former World Champion Ramil Guliyev (TUR: 19.76 best) and Britain’s Adam Gemili (19.97).

Men/800 m: World Champion Donavan Brazier is already the world leader at 1:43.84; can anyone challenge him? Kenyan Ferguson Rotich (1:42.54 lifetime best) and Amel Tuka (BIH) will try, as well upcoming American star Bryce Hoppel (1:44.25).

Men/1,500 m: We finally get to see the usually-unbeatable Tim Cheruiyot (KEN) lock up with two of the three Ingebrigtsens Filip (3:30.01 lifetime best) and Jakob (3:30.16). Is Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha in good enough shape to spoil the party?

Men/110 m Hurdles: World champ Grant Holloway of the U.S. is in, along with Spain’s star Orlando Ortega, France’s Pascale Martinot-Lagarde and 2020 world leader Andy Pozzi of Great Britain.

Men/400 m Hurdles: A small field of five, but anytime World Champion Karsten Warholm (NOR) is running, it’s worth watching.

Men/Pole Vault: Another showdown between world-record holder Mondo Duplantis of Sweden (via Louisiana) and World Champion Sam Kendricks of the U.S. Duplantis is the world leader at 5.94 m (19-5 3/4).

Women/1,000 m: Intriguing match-up with Britain’s Laura Muir, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, Uganda’s Winnie Nanyondo and American Raevyn Rogers.

Women/5,000 m: World 1,500 m and 10,000 m Champion Sifan Hassan (NED) will cross swords once again with Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, the 2017-19 World Champion at 5,000 m. There are many more stars, including Germany’s Konstanze Klosterhalfen and American Shannon Rowbury.

The final event, the men’s Steeple, was to be another match-up between Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali, the 2017 World Champs silver medalist and arch-rival (and Olympic and World champ) Conseslus Kipruto, but the latter is out with the coronavirus. The crowd – such as there is; it was reported that up to 5,000 will be allowed – will cheer El Bakkali against Kenyan Leonard Bett and Getnet Wale (ETH), among others.

The Paavo Nurmi Games was held – really – in Turku, Finland today (11th), with world-leading performances from Britain’s Pozzi (13.17) in the 110 m hurdles, Germany’s Johannes Vetter in the javelin (91.49 m/300-2) and Dutch hurdler Nadine Visser (12.68).

There was some fast sprinting in Jamaica last Saturday (8th), where Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the 100 m in a world-leading 10.87 and Elaine Thompson-Helah running 10.88 in a separate section.

Sweden’s Daniel Stahl extended his world lead in the discus with a monster toss of 71.37 m (234-2) in Sollentuna (SWE) on Monday. Stahl has had a remarkable 11 competitions in 2020, winning 10, with two meets beyond 70 m already.

The soap opera which is the Russian Athletics Federation continued on Monday (10th) with the announcement that Yevgeny Yurchenko, who resigned as federation president on 13 July, would stay on until 30 November when a new president will be elected.

Coming up on Saturday (15th) is the deadline for World Athletics to receive the $6.31 million it is owed for fines and expenses from the Russian federation. Russian sports minister Oleg Matytsin has promised that it will be paid by that date.

Cycling ● The best news of the weekend was that Dutch star Fabio Jakobsen came out of an inducted coma following his brutal crash at the finish of the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne on 5 August:

“The hospital in Sosnowiec, southern Poland, said that Jakobsen will have to go through a long rehabilitation process, but his condition is good and he does not show any neurological symptoms.”

The hospital medical director said he believed that Jakobsen, 23, can return to the sport.

In the meantime, the Tour de Pologne did continue, with the hilly fourth stage determining the winner. Belgium’s Remco Evenpoel climbed from 19th to first by winning the stage by 1:48 over Dane Jakob Fuglsang and Simon Yates (GBR) and they finished 1-2-3 in the final standings.

For Evenpoel, 20, it’s his first UCI World Tour multi-stage race victory and his fourth win in four events this season; the other three were at lower-level events in Argentina, Portugal and Spain.

The 111th edition of the famed Milan-Sanremo race was another showcase for Belgian star Wout van Aert, who followed up his win at Strade Bianche in and around Siena (ITA), with a lean to at the finish to edge France’s Julien Alaphilippe.

This was a long race at 305 km, but it came down to a sprint between van Aert and Alaphilippe, with the Frenchman attacking off the final climb and van Aert trying to keep close. But van Aert had the lead going into the final straight and just held off Alaphilippe for another win after an exhausting 7:16:09 of riding!

The UCI World Tour continues this week with the Criterium du Dauphine, a five-stage race which usually a preview of the Tour de France, which starts on 29 August. On Saturday comes another of the “monument” races in cycling, the 114th Il Lombardia, from Bergamo to Como.

Gymnastics ● A hearing will be held on 26 August at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana to determine whether to allow a new claimant into the USA Gymnastics bankruptcy case.

Terin Humphrey, now 33, was a two-time silver medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games in the Team event and on the Uneven Bars, declared on a 30 July filing that she was abused by Larry Nassar during a 2002 meet in Virginia during an examination for a hip injury.

Although the filing date for all abuse claims was 29 April 2019, Humphrey’s motion states:

“Although Claimant received notice of the Bankruptcy and of the opportunity to file a claim in the Bankruptcy prior to the Bar Date, she did not do so because it was only within the past month that Claimant came to recall and realize that she had been abused by Nassar.”

Humphrey’s motion further declares that during and after her recent pregnancy – she gave birth in January 2020 – she suffered “distressing memories and flashbacks” and “first began to realize that she may have suffered abuse by Nassar” in June of 2020.

The motion also asks for her to be placed in Class 6A for elite athletes, which would entitle her under the currently-proposed plan to $1.25 million in settlement funds.

While Humphrey’s motion will be heard, discussions should now be underway between mediators for the committee of survivors – the negotiating entity for those alleging abuse by Nassar – and USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and its insurers. A hearing on a potential settlement plan is currently scheduled for 9 October.

U.S. National Governing Bodies ● The “Giving Games,” a donation portal for 21 of the U.S. National Governing Bodies finished its primary fund-raising effort during what would have been the period of the 2020 Tokyo Games, ending on 9 August.

Created in collaboration with the Colorado-based CFC Collective fund-raising consultancy, the Giving Games allowed (and still allows) individuals to donate to one of 21 NGBs, including both Olympic and Paralympic sports. While the total amount of donations has not been disclosed, the Giving Games site did show the top donations to each sport. The top 10 individual donations:

$36,240 to the U.S. Equestrian Team by an anonymous donor
$35,000 to USA Bobsled & Skeleton by Oscar Tang & Agnes Hsu-Tang
$10,000 to USA Bobsled & Skeleton by Mac Riley
$10,000 to USA Bobsled & Skeleton by Sherry Cushman
$10,000 to the U.S. Equestrian Team by the Ziegler Family Foundation
$10,000 to USA Judo by Joe and Enid Ragan
$7,500 to the American Canoe Assn. by Sara Perkovic
$5,540 to USA Artistic Swimming by Chris Leahy
$5,100 to the U.S. Equestrian Team by Karen Long Dwight
$5,100 to USA Pentathlon by Neal Linthicum

The largest total to a single sport might have been the $72,480 donated to the U.S. Equestrian Foundation, which also had the largest single donation (be far).

USA Swimming, in conjunction with the USA Swimming Foundation, announced a second round of grants to local clubs totaling more than $1.52 million.

The federation noted that “722 clubs requested and received funding through the program, totaling more than $3 million thanks to the USA Swimming Foundation” and that 59 USA Swimming Local Swimming Committees also made grants, bringing the total amount of support to local organization to more than $9 million so far.

At the same time, USA Weightlifting has been busy with its own, unique program of fund-raising to help its member clubs during the pandemic, in collaboration with SnapRaise.

Chief executive Phil Andrews reported that the $66,000 goal has nearly been reached, with the rest of today (11th) remaining. At posting time, an impressive $65,507 had been received!

At the BuZZer ● Long-time sponsorship guru Michael Payne (GBR) tweeted on Monday (10th):

“Major news – surprised not more coverage to this breaking story. China’s Vivo pulls out of their $330m Indian cricket sponsorship due to China / India border tensions. Don’t ever recall a similar case sponsor and politics! Hold tight”

Vivo is a Chinese smartphone maker and title sponsor of cricket’s Indian Premier League. The Times of India reported that “had retained the IPL sponsorship rights for 2018-2022 for nearly 22 billion rupees ($293 million).”

A member of the IPL council “said Vivo had withdrawn partly because of the weak business environment due to the Covid-19 pandemic and because of widespread anti-China sentiment in India following a border clash.” IPL officials expected Vivo to be replaced quickly, for this season at least.