Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world/updated/:
● Archery ● The always-popular AAE Arizona Cup in Phoenix was not part of the U.S. Olympic selection process, but was the first step in qualifying for the U.S. World Championships team.
There were no surprises as the 72-arrow first qualifying stage was won by favorites Brady Ellison and Casey Kaufhold. Ellison shot 690, well ahead of Jack Williams (667), Matthew Nofel (667), Matthew Requa (658) and Josef Scarboro (656). Kaufhold, now 17, won her 72-arrow round at 668, ahead of Mackenzie Brown (648), Jennifer Mucino (641), Olympic veteran Khatuna Lorig (636) and Gabrielle Sasai (634).
Elimination rounds were held on Sunday to crown the Arizona Cup champions, with Ellison shutting out Nofel, 6-0 and Kaufhold edging Brown, 6-5. Williams won the men’s bronze over Requa, 6-4, and Sasai took the women’s bronze by defeating Mucino, 6-2.
● Athletics ● Sensational sprinting was on display in Miramar, Florida on Saturday for the Miramar Invitational, unfortunately with a lot of wind-aided marks. Still there were five world leaders:
● Men/400 m hurdles: 48.81, Kenny Selmon (USA)
● Men/Long Jump: 8.27 m (27-1 3/4), Tajay Gayle (JAM)
● Women/100 m: 10.72, Sha’Carri Richardson (USA)
● Women/400 m: 49.91, Shamier Little (USA)
● Women/100 m hurdles: 12.54, Keni Harrison (USA)
For Richardson, 21, her win was a lifetime best and moved her to no. 6 on the all-time world list in the event and no. 4 all-time U.S. She accelerated away from the field in the second half, and won the race alone as she cruised into the finish, with American Javianne Oliver well back at 11.07 for second. She tweeted afterwards, “Thank you for all the congratulations, It’s just the beginning.”
It’s worth noting that no one has ever run this fast this young. In her pre-doping days, Marion Jones ran 10.65 in 1998 at age 22, but Richardson’s 22nd birthday isn’t until 25 March 2022!
The men’s 100 m was won by Kyree King in 9.97, with Justin Gatlin close at 9.98, with a +1.9 m/s wind.
American Kenny Bednarek won the men’s 200 m in a superb 19.65, fastest in the world for 2021, but aided by a big 4.0 m/s wind aid; Emmanuel Matadi (LBR) was a well-beaten seconds at 20.20. American Jenna Prandini won the women’s 200 m in a wind-aided 22.29 (+2.3).
Little’s 400 m world leader was just enough to beat fellow American Quanera Hayes (49.92), with Kendall Ellis third at 50.48. She’s the 26th American to go sub-50 and is now a real threat for the U.S. team for Tokyo in the event. Much better known as a 400 m hurdler – the 2015 Worlds silver medalist in the event – Little had a 400 m best of 50.40 coming into the season, but has now run 50.19 and 49.91 in her two outdoor races!
In the short hurdles, Harrison’s 12.54 world leader came in the heats, with a +2.0 m/s wind reading. She ran a blistering 12.38 in the final to beat Britain’s Cindy Sember (12.55), but with an over-the-allowable 2.7 m/s aiding wind. Same in the men’s hurdles, where World Champion Grant Holloway of the U.S. had the fastest heat time (13.14) but with a 3.3 m/s wind aid; he won the final in 13.04 (+2.2) over fellow American Daniel Roberts (13.30).
On Friday, women’s World Hammer Champion DeAnna Price set an American Record of 78.60 m (257-7) in winning the Botts Invitational in Columbia, Missouri. She already owned the record at 78.24 m (256-8) in 2019, but moved to no. 3 on the all-time list in the fifth round and extended her world lead for 2021.
At the Wichita State Open on Saturday, fellow American Brooke Andersen reached a lifetime best of 78.18 m (256-6) to move to no. 4 on the all-time world list and no. 2 on the all-time U.S. list – just behind Price – also on her fifth throw. Wow!
Along with the still-active Gwen Berry, who has not yet competed in 2021, the U.S. now has the nos. 3-4-6 women’s hammer throwers in history, an astonishing achievement considering American women had not won a single medal in Olympic or World Championships competition until Price won in 2019!
There was other hot action in the U.S. on Saturday, including a world-leading 8,484 decathlon from Karel Tilga of Estonia, competing for the University of Georgia at the Spec Towns Invitational in Athens, Georgia.
● Curling ● The WCF men’s World Championships in Calgary (CAN) was set for the playoffs to begin, but had to stop due to a sudden incidence of the coronavirus on Friday (9th).
Three positive tests were returned from non-playoff teams and one more from a playoff team on Saturday morning, and the competition came to a halt. Everyone involved in the event was tested on Saturday morning and came back negative, allowing matches to resume on Sunday with the full playoff schedule condensed into one day.
At the close of the round-robin, Niklas Edin’s two-time defending champions from Sweden had an 11-2 record to qualify directly into the semifinals. Joining him was the surprise Russian team skipped by Sergey Glukhov, also 11-2. The next four qualified for the quarterfinals: the U.S., skipped by Olympic champ John Shuster (10-3), Canada (Brendan Bottcher: 9-4), Scotland (Bruce Mouat: 9-4) and Switzerland (Peter de Cruz: 8-5).
Both North American teams were eliminated in the qualification playoff games: Mouat’s Scottish team knocked out Canada, 5-3 and de Cruz and Switzerland scored two in the ninth end and defended expertly in the 10th end to preserve a 7-6 victory over Shuster and the U.S.
Edin and Sweden promptly knocked out the Swiss in the first semifinal, 11-3, while Mouat and Scotland eliminated Russia, 5-3, to place Scotland in the final for the first time since 2012.
In the final, Sweden and Scotland went back and forth, end by end, and were tied, 5-5 after eight ends. But Edin’s squad struck for five in the ninth end and came away with a third straight world title by a 10-5 final margin. It’s Edin’s fifth World Championship as skip in the last eight events and the 10th world title for Sweden overall, second only to Canada (36).
The bronze-medal match was another thriller, also tied 5-5, after nine ends. But the Swiss managed a point in the 10th end on a Benoit Schwarz shot and claimed the bronze medal, 6-5. It’s the second straight Worlds bronze for the Swiss and their fourth bronze in the last seven Worlds tournaments, all with de Cruz as skip.
● Cycling ● The 60th Itzulia Basque Country stage race ended on Saturday in Arrate (ESP) with favored Primoz Roglic of Slovenia – the 2019 and 2020 Vuelta a Espana champion – taking the title with a 52-second edge on Dane Jonas Vengegaard and 1:07 ahead of last year’s Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar (SLO).
It’s Roglic’s second win in this race – he also won in 2018 – and he led from the very start, winning the Individual Time Trial in Bilbao and finishing the six stages placing 1-6-2-14-7-2. Roglic gained time on the field with his second-place finish in stage 3, where Pogacar won at the line, but Roglic’s overall lead expanded from five seconds to 20.
But American Brandon McNulty took over the race lead after a third-place finish on the hilly fourth stage and maintained a 23-second edge after the hilly fifth stage.
But the final, sixth stage was always going to be decisive: a seven-climb, 111.9 km ride won by France’s David Gaudu in 3:05:42, with Roglic right behind. But everyone else was at least 35 seconds back, with McNulty finishing 7:57 in arrears, and gave Roglic his final margin of 52 seconds. McNulty ended up 17th overall.
● Football ● It always seems to be Sweden that challenges the U.S. Women’s National Team when it seems most unbeatable and that happened again on Saturday at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
The 41st game between the sides ended in a 1-1 tie after sub Megan Rapinoe converted a gift penalty handed to the U.S. when Sweden’s Sofia Jakobsson tackled defender Kelley O’Hara in the 87th minute just outside the penalty area. But the shot was called by referee Lina Lehtovaara (FIN) and Rapinoe saved the U.S. from its first loss since 2019.
Sweden dominated parts of the game, foiled U.S. counterattacks and ended a 610-minute shutout streak for the U.S. and a 938-minute scoreless streak for American keeper Alyssa Naeher in the 38th minute. A corner kick by Kosovare Asllani sailed toward the box and found the head of Sweden’s 5-10 Lina Hurtig, who redirected it into the U.S. net for a 1-0 lead. Naeher later made a brilliant save on a shot by striker Fridolina Rolfo in stoppage time at the very end of the first half.
Both sides had excellent second-half chances that were missed, but the Swedes found holes in the U.S. defense and the normally smooth U.S. offense was heavily pressured, and passes that normally resulted on shots on goal did not. The U.S. did control possession by 55-45%, and had a final 20-9 advantage on shots (6-2 on goal).
The tie ended a 16-game U.S. winning streak, all under coach Vlatko Andonovski, who is now 16-0-1. The U.S. women’s unbeaten streak extended to 38 games (34-0-4), going back to January 2019.
The U.S. women will play France in Le Havre (FRA) on Tuesday, at 3 p.m. Eastern time and shown on ESPN2.
● Golf ● The Masters resumed its normal April dates in Augusta, Georgia, and made more history with the first-ever Japanese winner of the tournament.
Going into the final round, the surprise leader was Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, 29, who shot a brilliant 65 to sit at -11 on Saturday, four shots clear of Justin Rose (ENG: 72), Xander Schauffele (USA: 68), Marc Leishman (AUS: 70) and Will Zalatoris (USA: 71) at -7.
On Sunday, Zalatoris made a final-round push with a two-under 70 to finish at 279, and Jordan Spieth (USA) also shot a 70 to move into third at 281. But Matsuyama was just steady enough, getting to -13 as late as the 14th, then giving back two shots and landing in a bunker at 18. But he got out and onto the green on his third shot and then two-putted for a one-over 73 on the day and a final score of 278 (-10).
Schauffele made a charge, reaching -10 after 15, but then suffered a triple-bogey on 16 and finished at -7, tied for third with Spieth.
Matsuyama’s win was his seventh on the PGA Tour and his first since 2017. His prior best at The Masters was a fifth in 2015 and he has finished in the top six in all four majors in his career.
● Modern Pentathlon ● The second UIPM World Cup of 2021 saw Korea’s Woongtae Jun confirm his contender status for Tokyo honors with an impressive win in Sofia (BUL). It’s his fourth career World Cup win and came after starting 16 seconds behind Ilya Palazkov (BLR). Jun took over after the final shooting stage and powered to the finish line first, just ahead of Robert Kasza (HUN), who also passed Palazkov, settling for third.
The final totals showed Jun with 1,457 points to 1,455 for Kasza and 1,451 for Palazkov, who won the fencing, but finished no higher than 12th in the other events.
France’s Marie Oteiza finished fifth in fencing, fifth in swimming and sixth in riding to take a 13-second lead into the Laser Run and that was enough, as she held on to win her second career World Cup (the first was also in Sofia, in 2019).
Pole Anna Maliszewska started second in the Laser Run, but British vet Kate French passed her quickly and actually grabbed the lead on the final lap before Oteiza finished with a flourish and took the victory. Oteiza scored 1,367 to 1,360 for French, 1,348 for Maliszewska and 1,342 for Britain’s Joanna Muir.
In the Mixed Relay, Vladislav Michshenko and Elena Potapenko won the fencing and never looked back, winning with 1,442 points over Pavel Tsikhanau and Kseniya Klimiankova (BLR: 1,420) and Korea’s Changwan Seo and Unju Kim (1,415).
● Swimming ● The Tyr Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, California was an important stepping stone for Tokyo as the schedule was arranged with morning finals, mimicking in a small way the Olympic schedule later this year.
What was obvious is that no matter what time the finals will be held, beating American distance superstar Katie Ledecky will be tough. There were four world-leading performances at the meet (and one tie) and Ledecky was the focus:
● Women/200 m Free: 1:54.40, Katie Ledecky (USA)
● Women/400 m Free: 4:01.37, Ledecky (in prelims)
● Women/400 m Free: 3:59.25, Ledecky
● Women/1,500 m Free: 15:40.55, Ledecky
● Women/100 m Breast: 1:05.32 (=), Lilly King (USA)
Ledecky said at the Team USA Media Summit last week that her Tokyo program would focus on the 200-400-800-1,500 m Freestyle events and the 4×200 m Free relay. But that does not mean she isn’t thinking about the 100 m Free, not so much to finish in the top two, but to get a spot on one or more of the relays. And she was the no. 2 qualifier in the 100 m Free at 54.26 and competing just an hour after winning the 1,500 m, moved from seventh to second on the final lap in the 100 m final at 54.22. Amazing.
Ledecky’s 200 m time of 1:54.40 is her second-fastest ever and equal-11th fastest in history; it’s also the second-fastest time in history before June 1! Her 3:29.25 in the 400 m Free is the 25th sub-4 time in history and she has 20 of them! And there is more history to be written.
Sprint superstar Caeleb Dressel was busy in Mission Viejo, winning the 200 m Free and the 100 m Fly, then second in the 50 m Free to Bruno Fratus (BRA), 21.80-21.83. He was the no. 2 qualifier in the 200 m Medley, but did not swim in the final.
Other two-event winners included Ryan Murphy in the 100 m-200 m Back; Nic Fink in the 100/200 m Breast events; Abbey Weitzeil in the 50/100 Frees and Lilly King in the 100/200 m Breaststrokes.
Two other performers moved to no. 2 on the world list for 2021: Hali Flickinger in the 200 m Fly prelims (2:06.68; she skipped the final), and Melanie Margalis in the 400 m Medley (4:35.18).
Elsewhere, American Claire Curzan, 16, jumped to the no. 2 spot on the 2021 world list with a 56.20 win on Saturday in the women’s 100 m Butterfly at the TAC Titans Premier Invitational in Cary, North Carolina; that’s no. 2 all-time U.S. and no. 8 on the all-time world list. Remember that name!
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