HIGHLIGHTS: Collegiate long jump record for Tara Davis; U.S.’s Gerek Meinhardt wins Foil Grand Prix; U.S. men edge Northern Ireland, 2-1

Joy for NCAA Indoor Long Jump champ and now collegiate record-holder Tara Davis! (Photo: University of Texas)

Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

(For coverage of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, click here)

Athletics ● The Texas Relays once again sizzled, with world-leading marks all over the place and a special performance by NCAA Indoor long jump champ Tara Davis of Texas. First, the outdoor world leaders:

Men/100 m: 9.94, Ronnie Baker (USA)
Men/200 m: 19.81, Terrance Laird (USA)
Men/400 m: 44.62, Bryce Deadmon (USA)
Men/110 m Hurdles: 13.22, Damion Thomas (JAM)
Men/Pole Vault: 5.80 m (19-0 1/2), K.C. Lightfoot (USA)

Women/100 m: 11.12 (=), Tiana Wilson (USA)
Women/200 m: 22.17, Gabby Thomas (USA)
Women/400 m: 50.19, Shamier Little (USA)
Women/Long Jump: 7.14 m (23-5 1/4), Tara Davis (USA)

Davis’s sensational long jump came in the fourth round, after two fouls and a world-leading 6.97 m (22-10 1/2) third-round effort. She exploded off the board on her next try, with just a 1.0 m/s wind aid, reaching 7.14 m (23-5 1/4) to break Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s 6.99 m (22-11 1/4) mark for UCLA back in 1985.

Davis, the 2015 World Youth Champion in the event, entered 2021 with a best of 6.73 m (22-1) from 2017, but won the NCAA Indoor at 6.93 m (22-9) before the 6.97 m bomb in the third round and the 7.14 m crusher in round four. She passed the last two rounds, but now stands as the no. 5 long jumper in U.S. history!

Away from Austin, there were also world-leading efforts in the men’s 400 m hurdles (49.34) by Trevor Bassett at the Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, North Carolina, and an 8,008-point decathlon by American Steve Bastien at the Adams-Klein multis in Santa Barbara, California.

At the New Zealand national championships in Hastings, men’s shot star Tomas Walsh won his 12th straight title with a world outdoor leading mark of 21.79 m (71-6) while two-time Olympic champ Valerie Adams won her 17th career national shot championship at 18.43 m (60-5 3/4).

Biathlon ● The U.S. Biathlon national championships were on this week in West Yellowstone, Montana, with Sprint, Pursuit an Super-Sprint races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Joanne Reid and Scott Lacy were the big winners, with Reid sweeping all three of the women’s event. She won the 7.5 km Sprint on Friday ahead of Kelsey Dickinson, 23:39.2-24:44.2, with Lucy Hochschartner third (26:02.1). On Saturday. Reid took the 10 km Pursuit in 34:01.0, way in front of Dickinson (36:07.2) and Hochschartner (37:16.4). In Sunday’s 5 x1 km Sprint, the top three were the same again: Reid (20:18.0), Dickinson (22:37.5) and Hochschartner (23:28.9).

Lacy won the 10 km Sprint by more than a minute, finishing in 28:57.7 over Adam Farabaugh (28:59.4) and Luke Brown (30:17.4). On Saturday, Lacy scored again in the 12.5 km Pursuit, winning in 40:05.7, comfortably ahead of Brown (40:56.3) and Farabaugh (44:29.8.). Sunday saw Farabaugh win the 5 x 1 km Super Sprint in 23:40.9, with Brown second (23:44.8) and Lacy third (23:50.8).

Cycling ● The week-long 100th edition of the Volta Ciclista de Catalunya ended on Sunday in Barcelona, finishing a busy week in Europe that included three of the spring’s famous one-day Classics:

24 March: Belgium’s 45th men’s Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne covered 203.9 km on a flat, sprinter’s course, with Ireland’s Sam Bennett continuing an already outstanding year by getting to the line first ahead of Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen and German sprinter Pascal Ackermann. Bennett moved had with 800 m and then got to the front with just 200 m to go, passing Philipsen and holding on for his fifth race win of the young season.

25 March: The Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne race for women on a flat, 158.8 km course was a breakaway win for Australia’s Grace Brown, 28, her first in a Women’s World Tour event. Not known as a sprinter, she surged with 10 km to go and a chase group of a dozen riders could not catch her. Dane Emma Norsgaard and Belgian stars Jolien D’Hoore and Lotte Kopecky finished 2-3-4 as the top chasers, ending seven seconds behind the winner.

26 March: Edition 64 of what is now known as the E3 Saxo Bank Classic covered 203.9 km on a hilly course in and around Harelbeke (BEL), with a runaway victory by Denmark’s Kasper Asgreen. His initial attack with 67 km remaining was finally reeled in by a chasing group of six with 12 km left, but his final move with 4.6 km left was too strong. He finished 32 seconds up on Florian Senechal (FRA), Dutch star Mathieu van der Poel, Belgian Oliver Naesen and defending champ Zdenek Stybar (CZE).

28 March: Both the men’s and women’s historic Gent-Wevelgem Races were run on Sunday, with the men covering 254 km from Ypres to Wevelgem and the women on 141.7 km course.

In the men’s race, a seven-man sprint coming to the finish and home favorite Wout van Aert the fastest to the line, just ahead of an Italian trio of Giacomo Nizzolo, Matteo Trentin and Sonny Colbrelli, all given times of 5:45:11. Van Aert scored his third win of the year, after two stage wins in the Tirreno-Adriatico.

Dutch star Marianne Vos, 33, the three-time World Champion, won Gent-Wevelgem for the first time in her historic career, reaching the line first in a final dash ahead of Belgium’s Kopecky, Lisa Brennauer (GER) and Italians Elisa Balsamo and Marta Bastianelli. Vos launched her final attack from 300 m to go and no one could stay with her. Kopecky and Brennauer finished 2-3 in 2021, repeating their positions from 2020!

28 March: The centennial edition of the Volta Ciclista de Catalunya was always going to decided in the three climbing stages in the middle of the race. After Australia’s Rohan Dennis conquered the Individual Time Trial in stage 2, Britain’s Adam Yates took charge.

He won the duel on the uphill finish of stage 3 at the 2,145 m top of Vall de Camprodon by 13 seconds over Esteban Chaves (COL) and 19 seconds on home favorite Alejandro Valverde (ESP). That gave him the overall lead in the race by 45 seconds on Australian star Richie Porte and 49 seconds on Portugtal’s Joao Almeida.

That margin did not change during the rest of the week. Chaves won stage 4, with its triple climbs, but Yates was just seven seconds back in fourth as part of the chase pack (with Porte and Valverde). The hilly fifth stage was a runaway for German Lennard Kamna – his third career win – by 39 seconds over Ruben Guerreiro (POR), but where Yates finished fourth, Almeida was 13th and lost time.

Saturday’s sixth stage was a hilly, 193.8 km course that sprint superstar Peter Sagan (SVK) win for his first victory of the year in a final dash over Daryl Impey (RSA) and Colombian Juan Sebastian Milano. Yates finished 20th and entered the final day’s ride in and around Barcelona with the same, 45-second lead on Porte and 49 seconds up on 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas (GBR).

Sunday’s finale in and around Barcelona ended with a runaway win for Belgian Thomas De Gendt, who won by 22 seconds over Matej Mohoric (SLO) and 1:42 over Hungary’s Attila Valter. The leaders followed and the final leaderboard showed Yates the winner by 45 seconds over Porte, , 49 seconds over Thomas and 1:03 over Valverde and Wilco Keldermann (NED).

For Yates, 28, he moved up from second in this race in 2019 to the top spot, winning a multi-stage race for the second consecutive year after a victory in the UAE Tour in 2020.

In the Pan American Mountain Bike Championships in Salinas, Puerto Rico, Jose Ulloe of Mexico was an impressive winner in the Elite Cross Country division, taking the six-lap race in 1:29:03.70, easily ahead of Jonathan Botero (COL: 1:30:29.28) and Cutriel Soto (ARG: 1:31:30.31).

Daniela Campazano completed the Mexican sweep, winning the women’s five-lap race in 1:27:02.70, almost a minute-and-a-half ahead of Sofia Gomez (ARG: 1:28:30.43) with American Kelsy Urban third (1:28:30.97).

Fencing ● The revived FIE schedule brought the Foil stars to Doha, Qatar for the first Grand Prix of the season, with a significant win for American Gerek Meinhardt.

Ranked second worldwide, Meinhardt scored his third career Grand Prix win and now has a combined 14 career medals in Grand Prix and World Cup events. Meinhardt had to face teammate and fourth-ranked Race Imboden in the semifinals, winning by 15-8, then out-dueling Japan’s Takahiro Shikine in the final by 15-11. Imboden and France’s Alexandre Ediri shared the bronze. For Shikine, it was his first career Grand Prix or World Cup medal.

Russian superstar Inna Deriglazova, 31, shows no signs of slowing as she won her seventh career Grand Prix title and now has 20 combined wins in Grand Prix and World Cup events. Ranked no. 1 in the world coming in, she breezed by China’s Qingyuan Chen by 15-5 in the final, after a tough, 15-10 win over France’s Ysaora Thibus in the semis. Russian Marta Martyanova also shared the bronze medal. The three-time World Champion and reigning Olympic gold medalist Deriglazova remains the prohibitive favorite for Tokyo.

Football ● The CONCACAF men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament reaches the semifinals today, with Honduras and the U.S. in the first semifinal and Canada and Mexico in the other, both being played in Guadalajara, Mexico this evening. The winners of these two matches will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games this summer. (Results will be posted later this evening.)

In the final games in Group B, Canada and Honduras tied, 1-1, giving Honduras the group victory on goal differential (3-2) as both finished 1-0-2 with five points. El Salvador defeated Haiti, 2-1, for third.

The U.S. men’s National Team was in Belfast for a friendly vs. Northern Ireland on Sunday, with goals from Gio Reyna in the first half and a penalty from Christian Pulisic in the second half for a 2-0 victory.

Northern Ireland came in standing 45th in the FIFA World Rankings, but the American side dominated play and created multiple chances from both the starting group and with substitutes in the last half-hour of the game. Reyna scored in the 30th minute with a right-footed shot from outside the box as the U.S. had a 6-3 edge in shots in the half, and 63% of the possession.

The U.S. continued on the attack in the second half and Pulisic was taken down in the box in the 59th minute, then converted the penalty with a hard, low shot past keeper Conor Hazard.

Northern Ireland did little on offense until a surprise goal in the 88th minute on a sensational rocket of a shot by substitute striker Niall McGinn from the right side of the box that flew past U.S. keeper Zack Steffen to cut the score to 2-1.

However, it ended that way and the U.S. ended with 62% of the possession in the game, while both teams had nine shots on goal. This was only the second-ever meeting of the two countries, with Northern Ireland having won, 5-0, back in 1948; the series is now at 1-1. The American side extended its unbeaten streak to nine games (8-0-1) dating back to November of 2019.

Freestyle Skiing ● World Championships silver medalist Colby Stevenson of the U.S. won the final Slopestyle competition of the season in Silvaplana (SUI) and wrapped up the seasonal title as well.

Stevenson won last week in Aspen and was superb on Saturday (27th), taking the lead in round one at 94.25 – a score no one else reached – and then improving to 96.75 in round two. Norway’s Ferdinand Dahl scored 93.00 on his second trial to finish second, and Alex Hall of the U.S. grabbed third with his 92.25 effort in the second round. Stevenson ended the three-meet season with 245 points, easily ahead of Dahl (172).

The women’s Slopestyle event completed a season’s sweep – 3 for 3 – for France’s Tess Ledeux. Her second-round score of 88.75 bested Swiss Sarah Hoefflin (86.50) and Mathilde Gremaud (83.75). Ledeux ended with a perfect total of 300 points to 124 for Britain’s Kirsty Muir.

Gymnastics ● Rhythmic gymnastics returned to World Cup competition in Sofia (BUL), with Israel’s Linoy Ashram confirming she will be a medal contender in Tokyo.

She won the All-Around competition with 98.450 points, just ahead of Boryana Kaelin (BUL: 98.250) and Alina Harnasko (BLR: 96.150). American Laura Zeng was seventh at 90.200.

Ashram then won in Ball (26.500), but Kaelyn was the star of the individual finals, winning in Hoop (26.150), Clubs (26.100) and Ribbon (22.150). Ashram also won a bronze in Hoop (26.100). Zeng made the finals in Hoop (6th: 21.800) and Ball (8th: 20.300).

Judo ● A big field of 441 judoka from 80 countries gathered for the Tbilisi Grand Slam in Georgia, with Canada, Mongolia and Georgia each winning two classes. Many of the top stars did not compete, but that opened the door for others.

The hosts got gold-medal performances from Temur Nozadze (men’s 60 kg) and Gela Zaalishvili (men’s +100 kg); Mongolia enjoyed wins from Tosgtbaatar Tsend-Ochir in the men’s 73 kg class and from Urantsetseg Munkhbat in the women’s 48 kg class. Canadian winners were Shady Elnahas (men’s 100 kg) and veteran Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (women’s 63 kg). Georgia won the most medals overall with nine.

Modern Pentathlon ● The UIPM World Cup season opened in Budapest (HUN), with a surprise finish in the men’s final, with a 1-2 finish by athletes who had never won a World Cup medal before.

Latvia’s Pavels Svecovs forged a strong lead with second-place finished in the fencing and riding events, plus a seventh in swimming. But he barely held on against a charge from behind by Egypt’s Ahmed Hamed (EGY), who started the Laser Run some 19 seconds down. Both were credited with 1,478 points. Hamed won the fencing and was fourth in riding, but was let down by his swimming, with a 32nd-place finish. Patrick Dogue (GER) finished third with 1,464 points.

Veteran Kate French had a meet to remember, leading a 1-2 finish for Great Britain, , scoring 1,403 points to 1,388 for teammate Joanna Muir. French had the best fencing record in the history of the sport, winning 31 of 35 matches for a record total of 286 points; the old best was 280 (30 wins in 35 matches) by Xiaonan Zhang (CHN: 2013) and Lena Schoeneborn (GER: 2015).

Although only 17th in the pool and 21st in riding, French posted the ninth-fastest Laser Run and won with style for her fourth career World Cup gold. Starting with a nine-second lead over the field, French eventually won by 15 seconds over Muir. Gintare Venckauskaite of Lithuania grabbed the bronze with a strong finish in the final segment of the Laser Run.

Great Britain’s Olivia Green and Joseph Choong won the Mixed Relay on Sunday after dueling with Hungary’s Sarolta Simon and Balazs Szep until the final 300 m of the race. Korea was third.

Shooting ● Host India dominated the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, finishing with 30 medals (15-9-6) to eight (4-3-1) for the runner-up U.S.

India won the men’s Team Skeet, Mixed Team Skeet, men’s 50 m Rifle/3 Positions (Aishwary Tomar), went 1-2-3 in the women’s 25 m Pistol (Chinki Yadav, Rahi Sarnobat and Mahu Bhaker, with American Lexi Lagan sixth), women’s 25 m Team Pistol, Mixed Team 50 m Rifle/3 Positions, Men’s Team 50 m Rifle/3 Positions, went 1-2 in the Mixed Team 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol, and won the Mixed Team Trap and the men’s and women’s Team Trap event.

Slovenia’s Ziva Dvorsak won the women’s 50 m Rifle/3 Positions (with American Mary Tucker fifth) and Poland won the women’s Team 50 m Rifle/3 Positions. Slovakia’s 2018 World Champion Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova took the women’s Trap title. Daniele Resca (ITA) won the men’s Trap event and Estonia’s Peeter Olesk took the men’s 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol title.

The U.S. trio of Keith Sanderson, Jack Leverett III and Henry Leverett won the men’s Team 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol final over India by 10-2; they were the only teams entered.

Ski Jumping ● The final jumps of the 2020-21 World Cup season were in Planica (SLO) for the men and Chaykovsky (RUS) for the women.

The enormous 240 m ski-flying hill in Planica hosted three individual competitions and a team event, with Norway’s Halvor Egner Granerud already having salted away the seasonal title. On Thursday (25th), it was former World Cup champ Ryoyu Kobayashi talking the win, scoring 452.5 points over Germans Markus Eisenbichler (445.1) and Karl Geiger (431.2).

Weather shortened the second event to one round, with Geiger the winner (237.3) and Kobayashi second (227.7) and Slovenia’s Bor Pavlovcic third (225.2). The final jumping on Sunday saw Geiger confirm his standing as the best ski-flyer of the season, winning at 459.3. Kobayashi completed an excellent end of the season in second (452.4) and Eisenbichler was third (447.9).

For the season, Granerud finished at 1,572 points, well ahead of Eisenbichler (1,190) with Pole Kamil Stoch third (955).

This final weekend of the season was marred by a tragic crash of Norwegian star Daniel Andre Tande, 27, a 2018 Olympic Team Large Hill gold medalist, on Thursday (25th). Competing on the giant 240 m ski-flying hill on a practice run in Planica, he tumbled down the hill after losing control on his skis.

Unconscious, he was airlifted to a hospital in Ljubljana, and placed into a medically-induced coma. He suffered a broken collarbone, but it was reported that his head and neck were undamaged and that he is in stable condition.

The women’s season concluded in Chaykovsky with the Russian Blue Bird Tour, with the two individual competitions on Friday and Sunday. Austria’s Marita Kramer won her third World Cup event in a row, this time off the 102 m hill, scoring 258.1 points to 234.8 for Japan’s Sara Takanashi and 223.4 for Slovenian Nika Kriznar.

On Sunday, jumping off the 140 m hill, Kramer won again – her seven win of the season in 13 events – scoring 136.1 for the single-round event, to 120.1 for Silje Opseth (NOR) and 115.4 for Kriznar. The seasonal race rewarded consistency and went to Kriznar, 21, who finished in the top six in 12 of 13 events and won with 871 points to 862 for Takanashi and 860 for Kramer.

American women’s ski jumping pioneer Sarah Hendrickson announced her retirement on Instagram account on Friday (26th), finishing with 13 World Cup wins, as the 2011-12 seasonal World Cup champion and as 2013 World Champion. But she won’t be far away, writing:

“My career in the sport of ski jumping has undeniably been a dream come true. I am forever in love with this sport and every opportunity and person it has included. As I step away from being an athlete, my dedication to bettering the sport remains a top priority in my life. I will never be too far from the ski jumping family, as I remain involved politically.”

Snowboard ● The final Slopestyle event of the season was contested in Silvaplana (SUI), with Norway’s Markus Kleveland winning his second race in a row to take the seasonal title. Kleveland defeated Liam Brearley (CAN), 96.00-89.00 to win, with American Chris Corning third (83.25). That gave Kleveland 260 points for the season, well ahead of Brearley’s 116.

The women’s race in Silvaplana was a 1-2 for Japan, with Reira Iwabuchi scoring 91.00 to edge teammate Kokomo Murase (88.75), with Tess Coady (AUS) third at 86.25. Austria’s Olympic Big Air gold medalist Anna Gasser won the seasonal title with 195 points, ahead of Murase (166) and Coady (165).

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