HIGHLIGHTS: Maroulis returns to the mat as U.S. secures 11 spots for Tokyo; final race is a win for Biathlon star Fourcade

Back in action: Olympic and World Champion Helen Maroulis of the U.S.

Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

Many of the international federations shut down their sports this past week, with most events canceled or postponed into April, but there was still a fair amount of action that did take place, including the return of an American wrestling superstar.

BADMINTON ● The All-England Open in Birmingham was completed this week, while the BWF World Tour will go on hiatus until (at least) 12 April.

In Birmingham, second-seeded Viktor Axelsen (DEN) got past top-seeded Tien Chen Chou (TPE), 21-13, 21-4, while Taipei’s no. 2-seed Tzu-Ying Tai took the women’s Singles over top-seeded Yufei Chen (CHN), 21-19, 21-15.

Japanese teams dominated Doubles play: Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe scored a rare win over Indonesian stars Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, 21-18, 12-21, 21-19, while Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota won the women’s title, dispatching Yue Du and Yin Hui Li (CHN), 21-13, 21-15. Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan and Melati Oktavianti won the Mixed Doubles over Thai stars Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, 21-15, 17-21, 21-8. Full results here.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL ● The first four-star tournament of 2020 on the FIVB World Tour was for men only in Doha (QAT) with seventh-seeded Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek (POL) taking their first win of the season over Mexico’s Josue Gaxiola and Jose Luis Rubio (16-21, 21-19, 15-11).

Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo won the bronze medal over Evandro Oliveira and Bruno Oscar Schmidt (BRA). The FIVB announced that it would evaluate World Tour events on a one-by-one basis relative to the threat in each country in which a tournament is held, so play continues. Full results from Doha are here.

BIATHLON ● The IBU World Cup in Kontiolahti (FIN) began on time on 8 March, but the final two days were canceled and the season-ending World Cup Final in Oslo was also canceled, ending the season.

In the men’s racing that did take place, Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe won the 10 km Sprint ahead of France’s retiring Martin Fourcade and Emilien Jacquelin. Fourcade came back to win the 12 km Pursuit in a French sweep, with Quentin Fillon Maillet and Jacquelin second and third, and Boe fourth.

Those results gave Boe the seasonal title – his second in a row – by just two points, 913-911, over Fourcade with Fillon Maillet third (843).

The Pursuit win was Fourcade’s final race, completing his brilliant career at 31, with seven World Cup overall titles, five Olympic gold medals and 13 World Championships golds.

There was similar drama in the women’s races, with German Denise Herrmann winning her third race of the season in the 7.5 km Sprint, this time over teammate Franziska Preuss and Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff. France’s Julia Simon won the 10 km Pursuit for her first-ever World Cup win, ahead of Swiss Selina Gasparin.

Italy’s Dorothea Wierer finished 19th in the Sprint and 11th in the Pursuit, but that was enough to hold onto the seasonal title, with 793 points to 786 for Eckhoff and 745 for Herrmann. Full results here.

CYCLING ● This should be the busiest time of the season in Europe, but the UCI World Tour and Women’s World Tour are both shut down until the beginning of April at the earliest.

However, the 78th edition of Paris-Nice that began on 8 March was concluded on Saturday, shortened by one day due to the coronavirus. Germany’s Maximilian Schachmann won the hilly first stage and was never headed. He stayed close to the front on every stage, finishing 1-8-13-2-17-12-6 and won his first career multi-stage race by 18 seconds over Tiesj Benoot (BEL) and by 58 seconds over Sergio Higuita (COL) with Italian star Vincenzo Nibali fourth (+1:16). See the results summary here.

Colombia’s Nairo Quintana won the main mountain stage on Saturday from Nice to Valdeblore de Colmiane, ahead of Benoot (+0:46) and Thibault Pinot (FRA: +0:56).

GYMNASTICS ● The FIG Artistic World Cup for the AGF Trophy in Baku (AZE) completed the qualifying rounds on Thursday and Friday, but the finals were canceled.

Qualifying results are here. Greece’s 2016 Olympic Rings Champion Eleftherios Petrounias was the most noteworthy qualifying leader, scoring 15.100 in his specialty. Future events are on hold.

NORDIC SKIING ● In Ski Jumping, the season was ended this week while the jumpers were in Norway for the Raw Air tournament that should have finished on Sunday. In the men’s events, Slovenia’s Peter Prevc scored his first win of the season last Monday in a wind-delayed competition in Lillehammer, ahead of German Markus Eisenbichler. Poland’s Kamil Stoch won the second individual event in Lillehammer, ahead of Slovenians Ziga Jelar and Timi Zajc.

The qualification event in Trondheim was held on the 11th, with a win for Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi, but that was the last one for the season. Austria’s Stefan Kraft won his second World Cup title with 1,659 points to 1,519 for Karl Geiger (GER) and 1,178 for defending champ Kobayashi.

The women’s situation was the same, with Japan’s Sara Takanashi getting her first win of the season in Lillehammer last Monday, ahead of Maren Lundby (NOR). Lundby won in Lillehammer on Tuesday and managed to defend her seasonal title – her third in a row – with 1,220 points. Austrians Chiara Holzl (1,155) and Eva Pinkelnig (1,029) were second and third.

Trondheim results are here.

SWIMMING ● Although the Artistic Swimming season is at a standstill, the late-reported results from the first FINA World Cup meet in Paris (FRA) from 6-8 March should be noted.

Ukrainian swimmers were the stars, with Marta Fiedina defeating American Ruby Remati in the Solo Technical, 89.6571-79.8813, and American Anita Alvarez in the Solo Free, 91.8000-86.1333.

Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk won the Duet Technical over Laura and Charlotte Tremble (FRA), 90.8721-85.7933, and Duet Free, ahead of Tremble & Tremble, 92.8667-87.8667. The Ukrainians won the women’s Team Free and Free Combination and Team Highlight, all with Fiedina included, so she won seven golds in all!

France won the women’s Team Technical; full results here.

TAEKWONDO ● World Taekwondo has stopped its competition schedule, but the Pan American Olympic qualifying tournament was held in San Jose (CRC) on Wednesday and Thursday.

A total of 16 quota positions – two per weight class – were available with Lucas Guzman (ARG: 58 kg), Pie Bernardo (DOM: 68 kg), Lucas Hernandez (DOM: 80 kg) and Rafael Alba (CUB: +80 kg) winning the men’s divisions. Andrea Ramirez Vargas (COL: 49 kg), Fernanda Aguirre (CHI: 57 kg), Aliyah Shipman (HAI: 67 kg) and Briselda Acosta (MEX: +67 kg) won the women’s class. American Anastasija Zolotic, 17, took the 57 kg silver and also qualified for Tokyo.

WRESTLING ● The Pan American Championships in Ottawa (CAN) finished last Monday for most of the men’s Freestyle division, with the U.S. coming away with seven wins in 10 divisions. In addition to the early victories for Anthony Ashnault (70 kg) and Jason Nolf (79 kg), five more U.S. wrestlers won their classes. These included previous Olympic champs Jordan Burroughs (74 kg) and Kyle Snyder (97 kg), plus Tyler Graff (61 kg), John Diakomihalis (65 kg) and Anthony Nelson (125 kg).

The Pan American Olympic qualifier was held in Ottawa this weekend, but without spectators. The finalists in each weight earned a quota spot for Tokyo and in the Greco-Roman bouts, Cuba won three of the six divisions: Luis Orta Sanchez (60 kg), Yosvanys Pena Flores (77 kg) and Gabriel Kindelan (97 kg). American Joe Rau won at 87 kg as Cuban Daniel Hechavarria defaulted due to injury. Silver medalists Ildar Hafizov (60 kg), Alejandro Sanchez (67 kg) and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg) all earned places for the U.S. in Tokyo.

The women’s bouts saw the return of 2016 Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis of the U.S., who had been suffering through a long recovery from a concussion and then shoulder surgery over the past two years. But she stormed through her bracket, winning her bouts by 10-2, 9-0, 6-2 and 11-0 to reach the final. But all four American women who reached the final – and earned a quota spot for Tokyo – defaulted and left with silver medals. This includes Sarah Hildebrandt (50 kg), Jacarra Winchester (53 kg), Maroulis at 57 kg and Kayla Miracle at 62 kg.

The men’s Freestyle competition on Sunday saw U.S. wrestlers Tom Gilman (57 kg), David Taylor (86 kg) and Nick Gwiazdowski (125 kg) all advance to the finals of their classes and earn a quota spot for Tokyo. All were gold medalists as their opponents defaulted in the final. Zain Retherford won a bronze at 65 kg, pinning Albaro Rudesindo (DOM) in 2:45.

Full results here. The U.S. Olympic Team will be decided at the Olympic Trials, now postponed from their original 4-5 April dates.

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