HIGHLIGHTS: World leaders 9.88 for Bromell and 74-6 1/2 for Kovacs; Pan-Am title for Lily Zhang; two British diving titles in Tokyo World Cup

Trayvon Brolmell, the 2016 World Indoor 60 m champ (Photo: Wikipedia/Erik van Leeuwen)

(For our updated, 506-event
International Sports Calendar for 2021, click here
)

Headline results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

Athletics ● The fifth World Athletics Relays in Chorzow, Poland, did not have many of the top teams as in years past, as the U.S., Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and several European countries did not come, or sent only small squads.

But like every relay meet, it was fun, watchable and had plenty of drama. The top eight teams in the 4×100 m and 4×400 m events qualified for Tokyo and that alone gave the event lots of excitement. No spectators, but lots of smiles for those athletes who earned a ticket to Tokyo. The marks were not outstanding, but the racing was intense. The main races:

Men/4×100 m: 38.71, South Africa over Italy (39.21) and Japan (39.42) as Brazil (2nd) and Ghana (3rd) were both disqualified. Akani Simbine won it for South Africa with a great lean at the tape over Paulo de Oliveira (BRA).

Men/4×400 m: 3:03.45 for The Netherlands, winning a down-the-stretch battle with Japan (3:04.45) and Botswana (3:04.77) after South African anchor Oscar Mavundla stormed to the lead entering the home straight, but then faded to fifth (3:05.76). All credit to Dutch anchor Tony van Diepen for sliding past Mavundla and taking control with 90 m left.

Mixed 4×400 m: 3:16.60, Italy over Brazil (3:17.54) and the Dominican Republic (3:17.54), thanks to Davide Re’s final leg and strong finish for the Italians.

Women/4×100 m: 43.79, Italy surprised themselves by winning against Poland (44.10) and the Netherlands (44.10). Dutch anchor Naomi Sedney was in position to win, but a bad take-off and a worse exchange with third leg Nadine Visser let Italy’s Vittoria Fontana take a lead which she did not relinquish.

Women/4×400 m: 3:28.41, Cuba, which surprised even themselves with a strong final leg from Roxana Gomez to hold off Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek on the home straightaway (3:28.81). Jessie Knight brought home Great Britain (3:29.27) in third.

Germany won the men’s 4×200 m in 1:22.43 over Kenya (1:24.26) and Poland won the women’s 4×200 m (1:34.98 national record), beating Ireland (1:35.93 national record). The duo of Joanna Jozwik and Patryk Dobek won the Mixed 2x2x400 m for Poland (3:40.92) and Germany won the Mixed Shuttle Hurdles Relay in 56.53.

Elsewhere, the comeback story of Trayvon Bromell took on another dimension as he raced to his fourth-fastest time ever in 9.88 – the world leader for 2021 – in winning at the North Florida Invitational in Jacksonville on Friday. He finished well ahead of Canada’s Andre De Grasse and Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru, both timed in 10.05.

Oduduru came back with the no. 2 in the world for 200 m later in the meet to win in 19.88 and Trevor Stewart (USA) won the 400 m in the no. 2 time for 2021 at 44.52 (with Randolph Ross (USA) now no. 4 at 44.69).

At the Texas Invitational in Austin, world-record holder Keni Harrison zipped to the no. 2 time in the women’s 100 m hurdles this year at 12.48, winning over Tara Davis of Texas (12.75). Davis, the world leader in the long jump, won at 6.97 m (22-10 1/2); she’s the world leader at 7.14 m (23-5 1/4).

At the Jesse Owens Classic in Columbus, Ohio, men’s shot World Champion Joe Kovacs showed that he’s not conceding anything to indoor world-record holder Ryan Crouser with a win at 22.72 m (74-6 1/2).

Kovacs was brilliant all day: 21.91 m (71-10 3/4), 22.72 m (74-6 1/2), 21.97 m (72-1), 22.28 m (73-1 1/4), 21.91 m (71-10 3/4) and 22.32 (73-2 3/4). His second throw is the outdoor world leader and equal-14th best in history. It’s the equal-9th performance in U.S. history. Wow!

Badminton ● Canada was everywhere at the XXIV Pan American Championships in Guatemala City (GUA), with players or teams in all five finals! However, while Canada won three titles, the U.S. took two.

The all-Canadian men’s Singles final ended with a win for second-seed Brian Yang, who split the first two sets with top-seed Jason Anthony-Ho-Shue, but then Ho-Shue had to retire due to injury. That also meant the U.S. pair of Phillip and Ryan Chew were awarded the men’s Doubles title in a walkover against Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura.

American Lily Zhang – the top seed – won the women’s Singles with a 21-14, 21-18 finals effort over Rachel Chan (CAN).

Canada enjoyed wins in the women’s Doubles, as Rachel Honderich and Kristen Tsai took Americans Francesca Corbett and Alison Lee, 21-12, 21-7 and in the Mixed Doubles, where Joshua Hurlburt-Yu and Josephine Wu defeated Christopher Martinez and Mariana Paiz (GUA), 21-18, 21-18.

Beach Volleyball ● The third of three FIVB World Tour competitions in a sequestered environment in Cancun, Mexico, had some very familiar faces on the podium.

For the third tournament in a row, Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan made the final, but this time against Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov of Russia. And the third time was a charm as Younousse and Tijan won, 21-15-21-12, for their second career win together in an FIVB World Tour event.

American Phil Dalhauser and Nick Lucena – both now 41 – scored their first medal of the season, winning the bronze over Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi of Italy, 21-19, 21-15. The Italians finished fourth for the second tournament in a row.

The women’s final pitted Brazil Agatha Bednarczuk and Duda Lisboa, winners of the second tournament and third in the first one, against Australian veterans Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho.

The Brazilians medaled in all three Cancun events, but Clancy and Artacho won their first  World Tour tournament since November 2019 – also in Mexico, with a determined, 19-21, 22-20, 16-14 effort.

Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman, bronze-medal winners in the second tournament, went for bronze again on Sunday against familiar opponents – and reigning World Champions – Sarah Pavan and Melissa Paredes-Humana of Canada, and got it, with a 21-16, 21-15 victory.

Curling ● The WCF women’s World Championship is ongoing in Calgary, Canada, but with some difficulty with the coronavirus. Last week, two cases were reported on the German team, just as the tournament was about to start, delaying the action until the 30th, when the games began. The German team was cleared to play with the remaining three players who did not test positive.

On Sunday, several positives were reported among the broadcast crew for the event:

“The entire competition broadcast staff have now been isolated in their hotel while additional testing and contact tracing takes place. The broadcast staff are situated in a different hotel from the athletes and competition officials in order to ensure the integrity of the competition bubble.”

No broadcasts of Sunday’s sessions are expected and the morning session was delayed. Oy.

On the ice and through the first six draws, only four teams remain undefeated: Russia (4-0; Alina Kovaleva, skip); Switzerland (3-0, Silvana Tirinzoni); Sweden (3-0, Anna Hasselborg) and Scotland (3-0, Eve Muirhead). The U.S., skipped by Tabitha Peterson, was 2-2.

The round-robin will continue through 7 May, with the playoffs to follow on the weekend.

Cycling ● It was back to the future for 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas (GBR), taking the title at the five-stage Tour de Romandie this week in Switzerland.

Now 34, Thomas was second in the flat Prologue to Rohan Dennis (AUS), then watched Peter Sagan (SVK), Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) and Marc Soler (ESP) take the first three legs, leading up to the mountainous fourth stage.

Soler was the overall leader heading into Saturday’s race, with 22 riders within a minute of the lead and Thomas sitting second, 14 seconds behind. The triple-climb, 161.3 km route from Sion to an uphill finish at Thyon 2000 was an impressive win for Canada’s Michael Woods, 17 seconds ahead of Ben O’Connor (AUS) and 21 seconds up on Thomas in third.

That made Woods the overall leader heading into the final-day, 16.19 km Individual Time Trial in Fribourg, with Thomas now 11 seconds behind and O’Connor, 21 seconds back. Dutch star Remi Cavagna was the fastest, clocking 21:54 on the hilly course, followed by Stefan Bissinger (SUI: 22:00) and then Thomas (22:11) in third. Woods, much more a climber than sprinter, finished 28th (+1:11) and that gave Thomas a clear win by 28 seconds over Australian sprint star Richie Porte (AUS) and 38 seconds up on Fausto Masnada (ITA), with Soler fourth (+0:39) and Woods fifth (+0:43).

It was Thomas’s first win since his Tour de France triumph three years ago.

Diving ● The much-delayed FINA Diving World Cup is underway in Tokyo and will continue through Thursday as both an Olympic qualifier and a test event for the organizing committee. The dominant Chinese have only a modest entry into the meet, mostly to check on the facility.

The synchronized events went first as usual, with Britain’s Jack Laugher and Daniel Goodfellow win the men’s 3 m Synchro with 440.94 points to 433.92 for Germany’s Patrick Hausdig and Lars Rudiger. The U.S. pair of Andrew Capobianco and Mike Hixon qualified for Tokyo in fourth place (414.18).

The British scored again with the men’s 10 m Synchro title, thanks to star Thom Daley and Matthew Lee, who won at 453.60 to 405.69 for Mexico’s Randal Willars and Ivan Garcia. Americans David Dinsmore and Brandon Loschiavo were eighth (369.18).

The women’s 3 m Synchro was a demonstration of excellence by Yani Chang and Yiwen Chen of China, who scored 317.16 to 289.98 for runner-ups Jennifer Abel and Melissa Citrini Beaulieu of Canada. Italy’s Chiara Pellacani and Elena Bertocchi were well back in third (283.77). Sarah Bacon and Kassidy Cook of the U.S. finished fifth (278.49), but will go to Tokyo as China had already qualified.

Canada took the women’s 10 m Synchro title behind Caeli McKay and Meaghan Benfeito (305.94), over Lois Toulson and Eden Cheng (GBR: 302.88) and Tina Punzel and Christina Wassen (GER: 292.86).

Fencing ● The Pan-American Qualifying Tournament was on in San Jose, Costa Rica, with competition in three events: men’s Epee and Sabre and women’s Foil.

The men’s Epee was won by Marc-Antoine Blais-Belanger of Canada, who defeated Yunior Reytor Venet of Cuba in the final, 15-10. The men’s Sabre was a triumph for Venezuela’s Jose Quintero, a 15-14 victor over Argentina’s Pascual Maria Di Tella.

The women’s Foil was a win for Chile’s Katina Proestakis, by 15-12 over Nataly Michel (MEX).

Blais-Belanger, Quintero and Proestakis all punched their tickets for Tokyo.

Karate ● A big field of 573 fighters from 79 countries gathered in Lisbon (POR) for the Karate-1 Premier League contests, with two reigning World Champions – from 2018 – taking golds: Steven Da Costa (FRA) in the men’s 67 kg class and Jovana Prekovic (SRB), at 61 kg.

No country won more than one class in either the men’s or women’s individual events. Only Turkey was able to win both a men’s and women’s event: Turkey (Enes Ozdemir/men’s Kata and Meltem Hocaoglu/women’s +68 kg).

Rowing ● The first World Cup of 2021 was held successfully in Zagreb (CRO), with a full program and significant performances from France and Germany, with three wins each.

The French wins came from Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias, who won the men’s Double Sculls by nearly three seconds, the men’s Fours over Poland and in the women’s Lightweight Double Sculls, with Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove.

Germany enjoyed gold-medal performances from Oliver Zeidler in the men’s Single Sculls, also in the women’s Quadruple Sculls, and by Jonathan Rommelmann and Jason Osbourne in the men’s Lightweight Double Sculls.

The home team did well, too, with Croatian stars – and World Champions – Martin and Valent Sinkovic taking the men’s Pairs impressively, and Ivana and Josipa Jurkovic winning the women’s Pairs by more than five seconds.

Wrestling ● The USA Wrestling national championships completed a busy three days in Coralville, Iowa by crowning 30 winners in men’s and women’s Freestyle and Greco-Roman, with 11 repeat winners.

In the men’s Freestyle division, three men won their second national titles. James Green won at 70 kg over Alec Pantaleo, 7-2; Austin Schafer defeated Nathan Rotert by technical fall (10-0) at 97 kg and Nick Gwiazdowski stopped Tony Casioppi by technical;, 12-0, in 1:48. Gwiazdowski was named the Outstanding Wrestler in men’s Freestyle and did not give up a point at the meet.

The women’s Freestyle competition had three prior champions who won again. Jennifer Page won her second national title at 65 kg, dominating a three-wrestler round-robin with a 20-0 total in her two matches. Erin Golston won at 50 kg and Alex Hedrick took the 53 kg title again. However, the Outstanding Wrestler selection went to Maya Nelson at 59 kg. Wrestling in a four-entry round-robin, Nelson won her three bouts by a combined score of 31-6.

In Greco-Roman, five former winners earned another national title, with Nick Boykin repeating at 97 kg by pinning James Souza in 1:48. The other multi-time national winners included Max Nowry (55 kg, over Brady Koontz, 1-1/criteria), Dalton Roberts (60 kg, over Dylan Koontz, 8-0), Hayden Tuma (67 kg, over Alston Nutter, 10-1) and Ben Provisor (82 kg, over Peyton Walsh, 6-3). The Outstanding Wrestler award went to Xavier Johnson, the winner at 72 kg.

While the U.S. Olympic Trials have already been held, the top finishers at the national championships will now go to the U.S. World Championships Trials in September, as United World Wrestling will also holds a Worlds in 2021 in early October in Oslo (NOR).

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