HIGHLIGHTS: American Junior 400 m mark for Mu; Andrew brilliant trifecta in Tyr Pro Swim Series; Knibb wins World Tri Yokohoma!

A win for American Taylor Knibb at the World Triathlon Series in Yokohama! (Photo: Worth Triathlon/Janos Schmidt)

Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

Athletics ● Fireworks were expected at the SEC Championships in College Station, Texas and LSU’s JuVaughn Harrison delivered on Friday with a sensational win at 2.36 m (7-8 3/4), the world leader for 2021 and equal-seventh all-time U.S. Harrison had to be that good to beat Darryl Sullivan (USA/Tennessee), who finished second at 2.33 m (7-7 3/4).

The big marks kept coming on Saturday, with LSU’s Terrance Laird (USA) winning both the 100 m and 200 m with big-time marks of 9.80w (+3.2 m/s) and a legal 19.82 (+1.7), the no. 2 mark in the world this year before his own 19.81 at the Texas Relays.

World leader Noah Williams (USA/LSU) won the 400 m in 44.37, the no. 2 time of the year, ahead of Texas A&M’s Bryce Deadmon (USA), at 44.50, a lifetime best and no. 3 on the year list. Third was Georgia soph Elija Godwin (USA), with a huge lifetime best of 44.61, now no. 6 in 2021. His old best was 45.21!

Alabama’s Tamara Clark (USA) also sizzled in the women’s sprints, winning in wind-aided times of 10.87 (+2.7) and 21.89 (+4.1). Then came Texas A&M fresh superstar Athing Mu, who won the 400 m in a stunning 49.84, no. 4 on the year list for 2021. That makes her equal-19th all-time U.S. and gives her the American Junior Record, moving Sanya Richards-Ross’s 49.89 time from 2004 out of the record books.

What event(s) will Mu run at the Olympic Trials? 400 or 800? 400 and 800? Could we see a leg on the 4×400 m in Tokyo?

Trinidad’s Tyra Gittens, competing for Texas A&M, won the SEC title with a world-leading 6,418, the no. 3 performance in U.S. collegiate history.

At the Big 12 Championships in Manhattan, Kansas, Iowa State soph Wesley Kiptoo (KEN) won all three distance events in 8:31.82 (Steeple), 13:29.92 (5,000 m) and 28:22.98 (10,000 m). Certainly not world leaders, but still pretty impressive!

The first outdoor stop of the 2021 American Track League circuit – “The Track Meet” – at Crean Lutheran HS in Irvine, California featured strong fields, including impressive wins by two Rio 2016 gold medalists:

Matthew Centrowitz powered away at the finish to win the 1,500 m in 3:35.26, his fastest since the 2019 World Championships (8th: 3:32.81) and his fastest before June 1 since 2017.

● Jamaica’s Omar McLeod won the men’s 110 m hurdles in 13.11 (wind +1.4 m/s), the no. 2 mark in the world for 2021, ahead of Devon Allen (13.26) and Daniel Roberts (13.30).

In the men’s 100 m, Trayvon Bromell continued his undefeated 2021 outdoor season in the event, winning easily in 9.92 (+1.5 m/s), well ahead of fellow American Chris Royster (10.22).

Saturday’s evening session saw a world-leading 14:35.34 win by Dutch superstar Sifan Hassan in the women’s 5,000 m, and a 13:18.49 win for Canada’s Mo Ahmed in the men’s 5,000.

Canoe-Kayak ● The first ICF Sprint World Cup of the season was on in Szeged (HUN), with the home team taking home 15 medals to 10 for the Ukraine and nine for Germany. The regatta also included the European Olympic Qualifier for Tokyo.

In the open racing, American Nevin Harrison – the 2019 World Champion in the C1 200 m, held at this site – won again in 47.59, clearly ahead of Yarisleidis Cirilo Duboys of Cuba (47.88) and Liudmyla Luzan of Ukraine (47.91). Harrison also teamed with Ken Kasperbauer to finish fifth in the C2 Mixed 200 m final.

Ukraine’s Luzan came back to win the women’s C1 500 m race and two medals with Anastasiia Chetverikova in the C2 200 m final (bronze) and a win in the C2 500 m.

Germany won seven events in all, including the men’s C1 500 m (Moritz Adam), C1 1,000 m (Conrad-Robin Scheibner), the C2 1,000 m (Sebastian Brendel and Tim Hecker), the men’s K1 1,000 m (Jacob Schopf) and K2 1,000 m (Max Hoff and Schopf). Their two women’s wins came in the K2 500 m and K4 500 m events.

Hungary scored individual wins in the men’s K1 500 m (Bence Nadas), men’s K1 5,000 m (Balint Noe) and women’s K1 1,000 m (Emese Kohalmi).

Cycling ● The 104th Giro d’Italia took a turn to the favorites on Sunday, as 2019 Tour de France winner Egan Bernal (COL) won the challenging 158 km from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice, with six climbs and an uphill finish to the Rocca di Cambio.

Simon Carr (GBR) and France’s Geoffrey Bouchard broke from the peloton with about 27 km left in the stage, then Bouchard carried on alone and had a 25-second gap on the field. But he was slowly being reeled in as the race went uphill to the finish and was joined by Koen Bouwman (NED) with 1,000 m left.

But with less than 500 m remaining, Bernal stormed past both, with Italy’s Giulio Ciccone close behind and they roared to a 1-2 finish in 4:08:23-4:08:30, with the rest of the overall contenders strung out over the next 12 seconds.

That gave Bernal the race lead, 15 seconds up on Dutch star Remco Evenepoel, 21 seconds clear of Russia’s Aleksandr Vlasov and 36 seconds ahead of Ciccone. Twelve riders are within 1:20 of the leader and there is a lot of racing still to do. Prior race leader Attila Valter (HUN) fell to fifth overall, 43 seconds back.

Saturday’s four-climb route of 170 km from Foggia to Guardia Sanframondi was yet another breakthrough victory, this time for France’s Victor Lafay, his first win in a UCI World Tour event. He was a clear winner, breaking away 11 km from the tape, finishing 36 seconds up on Francesco Gavazzi (ITA) and 37 seconds ahead of Germany’s Niklas Arndt.

The race has a rest day on Monday, then continues on Tuesday.

The UCI Track Cycling Nations Cup tour got going in Hong Kong last week, with an impressive performance by Japanese rider, who led the medal table with seven golds and 15 total medals.

Yudai Nitta and Yuta Wakimoto went 1-2 in the men’s Sprint and then 2-3 with Wakimoto and Nitta in the Keirin behind winner Muhammad Mohd Zonis (MAS). Eiya Hashimoto won the Omnium and the men’s Elimination race.

In the women’s division, Yumi Kajihara was the star, winning the Omnium, and the Elimination Race, teaming with Kisato Nakamura to win the Madison and also placing second in the Scratch race. Japanese sprinter Yuka Kobayashi won the Keirin and was second in the Sprint to home favorite (and three-time World Champion) Wai Sze Lee (HKG). Lee also finished second in the Keirin.

Americans won two medals: Maralyn Godby took the bronze in the women’s Sprint and Ashton Lambie won the men’s Individual Pursuit over Germans Domenic Weinstein and Leon Rohde.

Germany had three winners on the men’s side, with Felix Gross winning the 1,000 m Time Trials, Moritz Malcharek and Theo Reinhardt winning the Madison and Gross, Reinhardt, Rohde and Marco Mathis taking the Team Pursuit.

The second leg of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series, this week in Nove Mesto (CZE), was a showcase for young riders.

Britain’s Tom Pidcock, 21, has already made a name for himself with the U-23 World Championships Cross Country gold in 2020, and now he’s a World Cup winner as well. He took over the race with breakaway efforts on the second, fourth and fifth laps and won by exactly a minute – 1:20:55 to 1:21:55 – over Dutch star Mathieu van der Poel, with Swiss Mathias Flueckiger well back in third (1:22:10). Reigning World Champion Jordan Sarrou (FRA) was fifth (1:23:16).

France’s Loana Lecomte, also 21, backed up her win last week in Albstadt (GER) with a second straight triumph, casting the field aside for a 1:25:13-1:26:52 win over American Haley Batten, who moved up from third last week. Lecomte simply exploded from the start and was never headed. Australia’s Rebecca McConnell was third (1:27:04) and reigning World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot finished fourth (1:27:23).

Van der Poel did beat Pidcock in the Short Track race, as both and Sarrou all timed 20:48. Batten won the women’s Short Track race by 23:35-23:51 over Lecomte.

Modern Pentathlon ● The UIPM World Cup Final in Szekesfehervar, Hungary was a confirmation that Britain’s Kate French is the one to beat in Tokyo.

She sailed through the abbreviated 2021 World Cup season finishing gold-silver-gold after winning by 1,384-1,378 over Annika Schleu (GER) and Michelle Gulyas (HUN: 1,376). French was third in fencing (23 wins), then posted good marks in swimming (17th) and riding (11th) to set a charge at the Laser Run leader, Amira Kandil (EGY), who started with a 25-second edge.

But French got to the lead just after halfway and got home first to cement her status. Schleu passed Gulyas on the final lap to capture silver. Kandil finished 10th.

France’s Valentin Prades had won the World Cup Final in 2013 and 2017, so four years later, he finished on top again in 2021. He was in a tough fight with Britain’s Thomas Toolis, a first-time World Cup medal winner, starting one second behind Toolis on the Laser Run. And while Prades established a lead, he spent 25 seconds on the last shooting stop and Toolis took over. But Prades regained his composure, shot past Toolis in the final 200 m and claimed the win. China’s Shuai Luo was third (1,471).

Germany’s Christian Zillekens and Schleu won the Mixed Relay title with the third-fastest Laser Run in the field, 1,447-1,443 over Ilya Palazkov and Volha Silkina of Belarus.

Rowing ● A prediction of stormy weather canceled the final day of the World Rowing final Olympian qualifier in Lucerne, Switzerland, but all of the racing got done in time, and completed the fields for Tokyo.

Some 18 nations claimed qualifications spots for Tokyo, after the uneven qualifying program over the past year. Russia fared well with qualifiers in five events; Canada qualified in three.

Russian Alexander Vyazovkin won the men’s Single Sculls, and teammates Ilya Kondratyev and Andrey Potapkin won the Double Sculls. Estonia edged the Russians, 5:50.94-5:50.99 to win the Quadruple Sculls. Estonia’s win means that Tonu Endrekson, who rowed third, will be off to a fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Dutch rowers Nicolas van Sprang and Guillaume Krommenhoek won the men’s Pairs; South Africa won the men’s Four and New Zealand took the men’s Eight. The Lightweight men’s Double Sculls went to Patrick Keane and Maxwell Lattimer of Canada.

Anneta Kyridou of Greece took the women’s Single Sculls title by more than four seconds; Russians Ekaterina Pitirimova and Ekaterina Kurochkina won the Double Sculls over Germany, and Australia was a clear winner in the women’s Quadruple Sculls.

Russia won a fourth event with Vasilisa Stepanova and Elena Oriabinskaia in the women’s Pairs; the Irish Fours were an easy winner, and China took the women’s Eight.

The U.S. won a Tokyo place with a win in the women’s Lightweight Double Sculls, thanks to Molly Reckford and Michelle Sechser. They finished in 7:06.62 over 2,000 m to win by almost a second over Switzerland.

Shooting ● The United States finished as the top medal winner in the ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Lonato, Italy, winning two events and reporting seven total medals.

The American medals parade started with the first event, as Austen Smith, 19 – the 2019 World Junior Champion – won the women’s Skeet final, scoring 55/60 to best Britain’s top-ranked Amber Hill (52) and London Olympic bronze medalist Dante Bartekova (SVK: 43). It was Smith’s first World Cup medal on the senior level.

In men’s Skeet, two-time Olympic champ Vincent Hancock of the U.S. was locked in a tight battle with Egypt’s Azmy Mehelba, but missed his last shot to fall short of a shoot-off, 56-55. It was Mehelba’s first World Cup win, and the 17th career World Cup medal for Hancock (who also coaches women’s winner Smith!).

Italy won the men’s and women’s Team Skeet titles, with the women’s squad of Diana Bacosi, Chiara Cainero and Chiara di Marziantonio besting the American trio of Smith, Amber English and Sam Simonton, 6-4 in the final. The Italian men defeated Denmark, 7-5, while France defeated the U.S. (Hancock, Hayden Stewart, Philip Jungman) for the bronze, 6-4.

The U.S. scored a fourth Skeet medal with a victory in the Mixed Team event, with Hancock and English defeating Italy’s Cainero and Tammaro Cassandro, 36-34.

In men’s Trap, Kuwait’s Talal Al-Rashidi won the gold, defeating Russian Gennadii Mamkin in the final, 46-45, with Egypt’s Abdel Aziz Mehelba third (36). The women’s Trap was a win for San Marino’s Alessandra Perilli, her first World Cup win in 10 years! She edged American Madelynn Bernau in a shoot-off by 2-1 after a 42-42 tie in the 50-shot final. Spain’s Fatima Galvez won the bronze.

In the Trap team events, France defeated Russia by 7-1 for the men’s gold and Croatia won the bronze over Kuwait (6-4). Spain defeated Italy, 6-0, for the women’s title, with the U.S. easing past Finland, 6-2, for the women’s bronze (by Bernau, Kayle Browning and Rachel Tozier).

Great Britain won the Mixed Team Trap event by edging San Marino, 39-34, while Spain defeated Italy, 46-38, for bronze.

Swimming ● The final leg of USA Swimming’s Tyr Pro Swim Series finished on Saturday in Indianapolis, with Michael Andrew stealing the show with wins in three events:

100 m Breaststroke: 58.67, moving him to no. 4 on the 2021 world list;
100 m Butterfly: 50.80, placing him no. 2 on the 2021 world list;
200 m Medley: 1:56.84, now no. 4 on the 2021 world list.

Andrew, 22, set lifetime bests in the 100 m Breast and 100 m Fly and missed his best in the Medley by 0.01. The 58.67 win on Thursday in the 100 Breast was the no. 2 performance in American history, just 0.03 of the U.S. record by Kevin Cordes in 2017. Very, very impressive.

Rio gold medalist Lilly King continued her domination of the women’s Breaststroke events, winning the 100 m race in 1:05.47, the no. 2 performance of the year (she’s already the world leader) and the 200 m distance in 2:21.82, a season’s best and maintaining her position at no. 5 on the 2021 world list.

Two other women won multiple events: Ally McHugh posted two impressive wins in the 800 m and 1,500 m Freestyles and Regan Smith won both the 100 m Backstroke (58.77: no. 7 performer of 2021) and the 100 m Butterfly.

Just as many of the big names in U.S. swimming were competing at the Atlanta Classic, held at Georgia Tech, with Olivia Smoliga posting a sensational win in the 100 m Backstroke. She dueled with Rhyan White to the finish, touching first in 58.31, moving her to no. 3 on the world list for 2021. White finished second in 58.43, and is now no. 4 on the world list.

Double Olympic champ Ryan Murphy also starred in the men’s 100 m Back final, winning in 52.95; that puts him no. 5 on the 2021 world list.

The meet finishes tonight.

The Australian Sydney Open produced four world-leading performances, mostly by 19-year-old Kaylee McKeown:

Women/100 m Free: 52.29, Emma McKeon
Women/100 m Back: 57.63, Kaylee McKeown
Women/200 m Back: 2:04.31, McKeown
Women/200 m Medley: 2:08.73, McKeown

McKeown scared the world record in her 100 m Back win on Friday (14th), improving her lifetime best by 0.30 and just 6/100ths behind the 57.57 world mark set by American Regan Smith in 2019.

All this in preparation for the Australian Olympic swimming trials, coming up on 12-17 June.

Triathlon ● The opening leg of the 2021 ITU World Triathlon Series in Yokohama, Japan, also served as an Olympic qualifier and the best possible news for American Taylor Knibb.

She broke away during the 40 km bike phase with Maya Kingma (NED) and established a lead of two minutes over the rest of the racers heading into the run. But Knibb took over quickly and had a 35-second lead on Kingma by the halfway mark of the 10 km run and cruised home in 1:54:27, a full 30 seconds ahead of everyone.

American Summer Rappoport passed Kingma for second, 1:54:57 to 1:55:05 and American Taylor Spivey was fourth (1:55:23). Katie Zaferes, currently ranked no. 1 worldwide, finished 22nd in 1:57:12.

Knibb joins Rappoport as an automatic qualifier for Tokyo under the USA Triathlon selection program; the U.S. will be eligible for a third women’s entry, but the USA Triathlon Games Athlete Selection Committee will decide who goes, likely between Zaferes and Spivey.

In the men’s race in Yokohama, Norway’s Christian Blummenfelt pulled away from Jelle Geens (BEL) in the final 2 km of the race to win in 1:42:55, with Geens at 1:43:05. It was Blummenfelt’s second career World Triathlon Series win.

American Morgan Pearson also surged during the run and won his first-ever World Triathlon Series medal in third (1:43:12), securing his place for Tokyo this summer. Britain’s Alex Yee was fourth (1:43:17) and American Kevin McDowell was 11th (1:43:41).

You can receive our exclusive TSX Report by e-mail by clicking here. You can also refer a friend by clicking here, and can donate here to keep this site going.

For our 649-event International Sports Calendar for 2021 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!

Previous articleTHE TICKER: Tokyo may be the only Olympic opportunity for 8,174 athletes; EOPAAA Commission won’t meet until October? Metcalf earns T&F 0.49 TV rating
Next articleLANE ONE: College football showed that being “athlete-centric” means the Tokyo 2020 Games will go on