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● Plus: Russia: Putin slams restrictions on athletes; Lithuanian gold medalist gives medal to support Ukraine = Berlin 1936: More on the “Olympic oaks” = Los Angeles 2028: UCLA expanding housing, will easily accommodate ‘28 Village = Mediterranean Games: Oran on track after earlier worries = Athletics: Diamond League bans Russians and Belarusians = Football: Court of Arbitration for Sport rejects Russian stay request vs. FIFA = Ice Hockey: Russia and Belarus replaced for men’s 2022 Worlds ●
Key status updates on the urgent stories in Olympic sport:
≡ SPOTLIGHT ≡
A tremendous World Athletics Indoor Championships opened Friday in Belgrade (SRB), with world-leading marks in five events:
● Men/Long Jump: 8.55 m (28-0 3/4), Miltiadis Tentoglu (GRE)
● Men/Triple Jump: 18.74 m (57-10 1/2), Lazaro Martinez (CUB)
● Women/60 m: 6.96, Mujinga Kambundji (SUI)
● Women/Shot: 20.43 m (67-0 1/2), Auriol Dongmo (POR)
● Women/Pent.: 4,929, Noor Vidts (BEL)
The first medal event was the men’s triple jump, immediately grabbed by Cuba’s Lazaro Martinez, who zoomed to a world-leading 17.64 m (57-10 1/2) in the first round and never looked back. Martinez jumped second in the order and survived only a modest challenge from former Cuban (now Portuguese) Pedro Pablo Pichardo, the Tokyo Olympic champ, who got out to 17.42 m (57-2) in the first round and 17.46 m (57-3 1/2), but could go no further. Americans Donald Scott (17.21 m/56-5 3/4) and Will Claye (17.19 m (56-4 3/4) went 3-4.
The men’s long jump was a showcase for Greece’s Olympic champ Miltiadis Tentoglu. He exploded to 8.55 m (28-0 3/4) in the second round, making him no. 6 on the all-time indoor list, with the equal-eighth-best jump ever! And he showed this wasn’t a fluke, jumping 8.51 m (27-11) – equal-12th all-time – to finish the event!
Behind him were Americans Marquis Dendy and Jarrion Lawson for most of the event. Dendy reached 8.27 m (27-1 3/4) in the third round and Lawson got out to 8.19 m (26-10 1/2), also in the third. But Sweden’s Thobias Montler got his best-ever jump – indoors or out – in the final round at 8.38 m (27-6) to give Dendy the bronze and leave Lawson fourth.
One of the most anticipated events was the women’s 60 m, with Poland’s Ewa Swoboda leading the world at 6.99, the first sub-7.00 since 2018. But the heats showed American Mikiah Brisco the fastest with a lifetime best of 7.03, matched by Swoboda in the first semifinal. Then Brisco won the second semi in 7.03 again, with Jamaican Briana Williams winning the third semi in 7.08.
In the final, however, it was Swiss star Mujinga Kambundji who had the best reaction time and the best race, stunning the field from lane eight in a world-leading 6.96, making her the equal-fourth-fastest in history, with the fastest time since 1999!
Brisco led for much of the race, but was passed in the final 5 m and ended second at 6.99, a lifetime best and the 11th woman (and third American) to run under seven seconds. Marybeth Sant-Price, who emerged as a force during this indoor season, got the bronze with a lifetime best of 7.04, just edging Swoboda by 0.002.
Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum came into the Worlds with the best mark in the world for 2022, winning in Lievin (FRA) in February in 8:23.23, ahead of teammate Ejgayehu Taye (8:26.77). The unheralded member of the team was 20-year-old Lemlem Hailu, who reached the Tokyo Olympic 1,500 m semis.
But Hailu stayed near the front and took command from Taye with 600 m left and stayed there. She won in a season’s best of 8:41.82, just ahead of hard-charging Ellie Purrier St. Pierre of the U.S. (8:42.04), who won her first international medal, moving up from fifth on the final lap. Taye got third (8:42.23), with Seyaum fifth and American Alicia Monson seventh (8:46.39).
The women’s shot was expected to be a coronation for Portugal’s world leader, Auriol Dongmo and it was, big-time. She exploded to a personal all-time best of 20.43 m (67-0 1/2) in the fifth round to win her first world title and with the biggest indoor throw since 2013!
American Chase Ealey was second with her fifth-round try of 20.21 m (66-3 3/4), tying the American Indoor Record of Rio Olympic winner Michelle Carter from 2016. Maggie Ewen of the U.S. finished fifth at 19.15 m (62-10).
The women’s pentathlon was won by Belgium’s Noor Vidts with a national record 4,929, ahead of Adrianna Sulek (POL: 4,851) and American Kendell Williams (4,680). It’s a world-leading performance for Vidts, who moves to no. 6 on the all-time list with a national record!
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
● Russia ● President Vladimir Putin opened the “replacement Paralympics” for 70 athletes from Russia and Belarus on Friday, slamming the restrictions on his country’s athletes during a video-link piped into the event in Khanty-Mansiisk:
“Unfortunately, the majority of international sports tournaments were marred recently by developments, which had nothing to do with the world of sports, its spirit and its will.
“We have witnessed more than once dubious and biased decisions of referees, and we [Russia] were subjected to slander, hostile actions and clear provocations. We witnessed how previously sacred initiatives of Pierre de Coubertin went blurred.
“What we are witnessing now is the equality taking a shape of a perverted tolerance and justice assuming double standards, while the fight for the clean sports turns into the politically-orchestrated dictatorship in the sphere of the anti-doping bureaucracy.”
On the opposite end, International Olympic Committee member Daina Gudzineviciute – the head of the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania – donated her gold medal from the 2000 Olympic Trap event to “StrongTogether,” a non-governmental organization helping Ukrainian people affected by the war.
● Games of the XI Olympiad: Berlin 1936 ● Lots of response to yesterday’s post on the 1936 “Olympic oak” saplings given to the gold medalists at the Berlin Games:
● Reader Bruce MacNeill shared a 2018 report on the tree given to New Zealand’s men’s 1,500 m champion Jack Lovelock. That tree stands at Timaru Boys’ High School, where Lovelock attended from 1924-28. The story noted:
“The tree became sickly during its boat trip to New Zealand and was planted at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens until 1941, when it was healthy enough to be transported to the school.”
Another story, from 2017, added that Lovelock was presented with the seedling “by Dr Theodor Lewald, the chairman of the Reich’s Olympic Committee (ironically, of Jewish descent).”
Lovelock was also given a crystal chalice, onto which was etched the Imperial Eagle and swastika symbol of the Third Reich:
“Lovelock left the trophy in the care of a 14-year-old boy working at the Olympic village, saying it was too cumbersome to carry on the long sea voyage to New Zealand. The boy kept the chalice throughout World War II, but after Lovelock died in 1949, it was sold in auction to a private collector. The crystal trophy came up for auction again in 2005 and was bought on New Zealand’s behalf by Coca Cola.”
● McNeill also found a lengthy report on the sapling given to U.S. 800 m gold medalist John Woodruff, who planted his tree at his high school in Connelsville, Pennsylvania.
● Dr. T.J. Rosandich, President of the U.S. Sports Academy in Daphne, Alabama, wrote in to add:
“John Woodruff sprouted an acorn from his tree a couple of decades ago and donated it to the Academy. We planted it on the campus where it has thrived. Evidently, Black Forest Oaks like the southern climate.”
Amazing, truly amazing.
● Games of the XXXIV Olympiad: Los Angeles 2028 ● The core of the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 and then 2028 Games was the use of existing facilities, with the LA28 organizers not needing to build even a single new venue.
This was underlined in a Los Angeles Times story this week that UCLA will become the first University of California campus to guarantee on-campus housing availability for four years for incoming freshman students and for two years for transfer students.
Two new housing complexes with a total of 3,446 new beds will open this fall:
“With the opening of UCLA’s two new residences, Gayley Heights and Southwest Campus Apartments — and two dorms, Olympic and Centennial, that opened last fall — the university expects to house 13,620 undergraduates on campus in fall 2022 in 17 residential buildings. Another 9,300 graduate and undergraduate students live in off-campus but university-owned apartments purchased or developed over the years.”
With some of the student amenities removed to allow for use as the Olympic Village in 2028, capacity will expand beyond 15,000, all already existing and fully integrated into the university’s operations well prior to the Games.
Another bonus for 2028 Olympians: UCLA’s on-campus dining service was named “Best College Food in America” for 2022 by niche.com, its fifth win in the eight years of the survey.
● XIX Mediterranean Games: Oran 2022 ● Good news from Algeria, where the organization of the event had been under severe criticism at the end of 2021, but with a positive report this week from the Executive Committee of the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games.
ICMG President Davide Tizzano (ITA) said, “I am really happy with the progress of the preparations for the next Mediterranean Games. I am even more happy after the conclusions of the work meetings that we had with the local Organizing Committee. … [and] that we are on the right track to make a very good edition of the Mediterranean Games.”
The report added: “It was noted that the pace has decidedly accelerated, especially in the completion of work on the sports facilities and in the Mediterranean Village, which is ready to welcome its approximately 5,000 residents during the Games.”
The Games will be held from 25 June-6 July.
● Athletics ● A brief statement posted Friday noted:
“At the Diamond League General Assembly held in Belgrade today, the Wanda Diamond League meetings accepted the recommendation of the Board that Authorised Neutral Athletes (ANA) and Belarus athletes be excluded from all Diamond League meetings for the foreseeable future.”
The “ANA” athletes are from Russia and so the Diamond League – which is sponsored by China’s Wanda Group and includes two meets in China – has now banned Russian and Belarusian athletes, in line with the World Athletics position.
The first Diamond League meet is slated for 13 May in Doha (QAT).
● Football ● The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s appeals division rejected the request of the Football Union of Russia for a stay of the FIFA Council decision to suspend all Russian teams from competitions until further notice.
This means that the suspension will stay in place throughout the requested arbitration of the FIFA ban, which may be awhile:
“The CAS arbitration proceedings continue. A Panel of arbitrators is currently being constituted and the parties are exchanging written submissions. No hearing has been fixed yet.”
● Gymnastics ● A positive note from the USA Gymnastics case continuing at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana, where Judge James W. Carr, called back in to help mediate an undisclosed issue, reports that the issue has been settled.
A hearing on Monday indicated that the “effective date” of the settlement plan will soon be filed with the District Court, allowing the insurers’ payments to go forward.
● Ice Hockey ● The International Ice Hockey Federation Council decided to replace Russia and Belarus in the 2022 men’s World Championships with France and Austria, the next-highest-ranked teams.
The women’s Worlds will have Sweden replacing Russia. And:
“With respect to the Russian and Belarusian national teams, at the point when it is safe for the teams to return to the IIHF Competitions, Council will decide how the teams will reincorporated into the IIHF Championship Program.”
≡ SCOREBOARD ≡
● Swimming ● Penn’s transgender swimmer Lia Thomas stormed to the women’s 500-yard Freestyle title at the NCAA Championships in Atlanta, amid protesters outside the McAuley Aquatic Center at Georgia Tech on both sides of the issue.
Thomas finished in 4:33.24, way ahead of Virginia’s Emma Weyant (4:34.99), Erica Sullivan of Texas (4:35.92) and Brooke Forde of Stanford (4:36.18). Weyant was the Tokyo Olympic silver medalist in the 400 m Medley, Sullivan was the Olympic silver medalist in the 1,500 m Free and Forde won a Tokyo silver on the U.S. 4×200 m Free relay team. Thomas dusted all of them, easily.
Swimming World wrote:
“Most times, a national championship should be celebrated, the athlete commended for her hard work, dedication, and discipline.
“Not this time.
“No, this title-winning effort in the 500-yard freestyle should be met with nothing less than a head shake, an eye roll or a shrug of the shoulders. Why? Because Lia Thomas’ victory is an insult to the biological women who raced against her. Against those who fought for Title IX and equal opportunities for female athletes. Against science, and the unmistakable physiological differences between the male and female sexes. …
“Because the NCAA only required one year of hormone-suppressant therapy for a transgender female to compete in women’s sports, Thomas was eligible to race for the Quakers. And, to be clear, Thomas has followed all rules. The problem is that the NCAA’s guidelines were based on outdated science and didn’t account for the advantages of Thomas undergoing male puberty and significant testosterone production. A 6-3 frame. Greater natural strength. Larger hands and feet. Enhanced lung capacity. None of these edges, for the record, can be fully mitigated.”
Thomas will also contest the 200-yard Free – and will be favored to win – and the 100-yard Free.
The USA Swimming guidelines for transgender participation are far more stringent than the NCAA regulations, so Thomas is not a candidate for the American team at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest this summer. But this weekend’s NCAA meet will be another touchpoint in the continuing debate over fairness in the transgender debate.
For our 832-event International Sports Calendar for 2022 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!