SCOREBOARD: Wins for U.S. skating star Brittany Bowe and 43-year-old Jake Gibb

Gold medal for American Brittany Bowe in the World Cup opener (Photo: ISU)

Highlights and results of noteworthy competitions around the world:

● BASEBALL ● Japan wins WSBC Premier 12 over Korea, as Mexico gets third over U.S.

There will only be six teams in the 2020 Olympic Baseball Tournament in Tokyo and four of them are now known: Japan as the host, Israel as the European qualifier and South Korea and Mexico from the Premier 12 tournament that finished Sunday in Tokyo.

The Japanese, already the favorites for 2020, won their group with a 3-0 record, as did South Korea and Mexico. In the six-team Super Round, Japan lost only to the U.S., 4-3, and finished on top with a 4-1 record. That sent them into the championship game in the Tokyo Dome against the Koreans, who finished second at 3-2.

In front of 44,960 fans in Tokyo, Japan defeated South Korea, 5-3, to win the tournament. However, as 2020 hosts, Japan is already qualified and so the next two placers got an invitation for 2020.

In the third-place game, Mexico battled and U.S. and the Mexicans prevailed in 10 innings, 3-2, to earn the second qualifying spot. The U.S., which played a team of younger, minor-league talent, will get another chance in the Americas Qualifier in March to make it to Tokyo.

Scores and statistics are here. Japan’s right fielder Seiya Suzuki was named Most Valuable Player for the tournament; the U.S. had four players on the All-Tournament squad, including Erik Kratz (catcher), Bobby Dalbec (1B), Brent Rooker (DH) and reliever Brandon Dickson.

● BADMINTON ● Joy for Hong Kong as unseeded Lee wins men’s Singles in Hong Kong Open

It’s one of the reason we watch sports, to see the underdog come through. On Sunday, it was unseeded, 23-year-old Cheuk Yiu Lee who thrilled the home crowd with a stunning men’s Singles victory in the Hong Kong Open.

Lee had played the tournament of his life, coming out of the qualifying round into the main draw and then defeating China’s Yuqi Shi (world rank: 7) in the second round, Dane Viktor Axelsen (5) in the quarters, and India’s Srikanth Kidambi (13) in the semifinals. He then had to deal with Indonesia’s Anthony Ginteng (8) in the final and after dropping the first set, 16,21-, he rallied to win the next two, 21-10 and then 22-20 to win his first BWF World Tour title. He’s only second Hong Kong men’s player to win the Hong Kong Open!

The men’s Doubles was another upset as SolGyu Choi and Seung Jae Seo (13) took down no. 2 Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.

The women’s events held more to form, as no. 3 YuFei Chen and no. 2 QingChen Chen and YiFan Jia won the Singles and Doubles titles. Japan’s no. 3-ranked pair of Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino won the Mixed Doubles. Finals:

BWF World Tour/Hong Kong Open
Hong Kong ~ 12-17 November 2019
(Full results here)

Men/Singles: Cheuk Yiu Lee (HKG) d. Anthony Ginteng (INA), 16-21, 21-10, 22-20. Men/Doubles: SolGyu Choi/Seung Jae Seo (KOR) d. Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (INA), 13-21, 21-12, 21-13.

Women/Singles: YuFei Chen (CHN) d. Ratchanok Intanon (THA), 21-18, 13-21, 21-13. Women/Doubles: QingChen Chen/YiFan Jia (CHN) d. YeNa Chang/Hye-Rin Kim (KOR), 21-11, 13-21, 21-15.

Mixed Doubles: Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino (JPN) d. Ji Ting He/Yue Du (CHN), 22-20, 21-16.

● BEACH VOLLEYBALL ● Jake Gibb, 43, teams with Taylor Crabb to win in Chetumal

Maybe age really is just a number.

At the FIVB World Tour 4-star tournament in Chetumal, Mexico – part of the 2019-20 schedule – Americans Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb won the final over top-seeded (and former World Champions) Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands, 21-16, 16-21, 15-12.

It was the first World Tour title for the pair (and Crabb’s first World Tour medal), but it was especially noteworthy as Gibb is 43, making him the oldest man to win a tournament, surpassing John Hyden of the U.S. (41).

Said Gibb, “It feels amazing right now. That’s obviously pretty cool but what makes it more important to me is that it’s my first gold medal with Taylor. I have to thank him for believing in me and sticking with me. The older I get the more court he covers and that’s a wonderful thing. Today we’re the number one team in the world and we’ll enjoy it.”

Even better for Crabb was that his older brother Taylor was half of the bronze-medal-winning team with Tri Bourne, who overcame Germany’s Sven Winter and Alexander Walkinhorst, 21-16, 21-12.

The women’s final was a showcase for Australian stars Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, who defeated China’s Fan Wang and Xinyi Xia, 15-21, 21-14, 15-12. It was the sixth Tour win for the Australians. The Dutch pair of Madelein Meppelink and Sanne Keizer defeated Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima for the bronze when the Brazilians had to withdraw due to injury. Complete results are here.

● FENCING ● Anstett wins third career World Cup gold men’s Sabre in Cairo

France’s Vincent Anstett returned to the top of the podium in the FIE World Cup in men’s Sabre in Cairo, Egypt over the weekend, defeating Italian Luigi Samele in the final.

It was the first World Cup medal for the 37-year-old Anstett in two years and his first win in three years. Summaries:

FIE World Cup
Cairo (EGY) ~ 15-17 November 2019
(Full results here)

Men: 1. Vincent Anstett (FRA); 2. Luigi Samele (ITA); 3. Fares Ferjani (TUN) and Jungwhen Kim (KOR). Final: Anstett d. Samele, 15-14.

Men/Team: 1. Korea (Gu, Jungwhan Kim, Junho Kim, Sang-Uk Oh); 2. Hungary; 3. Italy; 4. Russia. Third: Italy d. Russia, 45-31. Final: Korea d. Hungary, 45-41.

● FOOTBALL ● Brazil wins transplanted FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brasilia

The 2019 FIFA men’s U-17 World Cup was originally going to be played in Rwanda and then in Peru, but it was moved to Brazil, and the hosts came away happy with their fourth title with a 2-1 win over Mexico.

It wasn’t easy, however, as the Brazilians eked out a 3-2 over Chile in the Round of 16, then defeated Italy, 2-0, in the quarters and France, 3-2, in the semis. In the final, Mexico scored in the 66th minute on a Bryan Gonzalez goal, but Brazil came back late. A penalty was called on the Mexicans in the 84th minute and Kaio Jorge converted to tie the game.

With overtime almost assured, the Brazilians kept attacking in stoppage time and Lazaro managed to score in the 93rd minute for the game- and trophy-winner. He had already been the hero in the 3-2 win over France, scoring in the 89th minute for the win.

The French won the bronze medal with a 3-1 win over the Netherlands, as Arnaud Kalimuendo-Muinga scored a hat trick at the 22nd, 54th and 62nd-minute marks to turn around a 1-0 deficit.

Complete results are here.

● SPEED SKATING ● Bowe starts 2019-20 World Cup with two medals and a win at 1,000 m

The 2019-20 ISU Speed Skating World Cup got started in Minsk, Belarus and there were lots of familiar names on the medal stand … except one.

Japan’s super sprinter Nao Kodaira had a 23-race winning streak coming into the season in the women’s 500 m, but found herself in a tough spot when her heat partner, World Champion Vanessa Herzog (AUT) false-started twice. That left Kodaira to race by herself and she finished third behind Russia’s Olga Fatkulina, with American Brittany Bowe sixth.

Bowe, however, was busy and won the 1,000 m and finished third in the 1,500 m, the only medals of the meet for the U.S.

Dutch skaters, used to dominating World Cup racing, won four men’s races with Thomas Krol taking the 1,000 m and Kjeld Nuis (1,500 m), Patrick Roest (5,000 m) and Jorrit Bergsma (Mass Start) taking the gold medals. Ireen Wust took the women’s 1,500 m, but Canada scored two golds in the women’s events with Isabelle Weidemann (3,000 m) and Ivanie Blondin (Mass Start). Winners and other notable placers:

ISU World Cup
Minsk (BLR) ~ 15-16 November 2019
(Full results here)

Men: 500 m: Jun-Ho Kim (KOR), 34.870. Team Sprint: Netherlands (Mulder, Nuis, Berboj, Krol), 1:21.63. (Also: 11. United States (Griffin, Perry, Kleba)).

1,000 m: Thomas Krol (NED), 1:09.011 (18. Kimani Griffin (USA), 1:11.303). 1,500 m: Kjeld Nuis (NED), 1:46.223. 5,000 m: Patrick Roest (NED), 6:16.615. Mass Start: Jorrit Bergsma (NED), 7:50.360 (13. Joey Mantia (USA), 7:53.490).

Women: 500 m: Olga Fatkulina (RUS), 37.920 (3. Nao Kodaira (JPN), 38.172; … 6. Brittany Bowe (USA), 38.452; … 14. Kimi Goetz (USA), 38.990). Team Sprint: Netherlands (L. de Jong, de Neeling, Leerdam, M. De Jong), 1:29.230.

1,000 m: Bowe (USA), 1:15.354. 1,500 m: Ireen Wust (NED), 1:56.468 (3. Bowe (USA), 1:57.253). 3,000 m: Isabelle Weidemann (CAN), 4:04.679. Mass Start: Ivanie Blondin (CAN), 8:22.630 (6. Mia Kilburg-Manganello (USA), 8:25.050.

● TABLE TENNIS ● Japan wins three at Austrian Open

The powerful Japanese team had the best of the Austrian Open in Linz, especially with world no. 7 Mima Ito overcoming no. 4 Yuling Zhu in the women’s Singles final.

Ito, still just 19, had only won once against Zhu in their four meetings, but she had no trouble with a 4-1 win. It was one of three for Japan, with Miyuu Kihara and Miyu Nagasaki winning the women’s Doubles and Tomokazu Harimoto and Hina Hayata taking the Mixed Doubles.

World no. 1 Zhendong Fan of China looked like it in the men’s Singles, winning 4-0, 4-0, 4-2 in his first three elimination matches. He had a tough win over German star Timo Boll, 4-3, in the semis, then stomped countryman Zihao Zhao, 4-0 in the final. Finals:

ITTF World Tour Platinum/Austrian Open
Linz (AUT) ~ 23-17 November 2019
(Full results here)

Men/Singles: Zhendong Fan (CHN) d. Zihao Zhao (CHN), 4-0. Men/Doubles: Jingkun Liang/Gaoyuan Lin (CHN) d. Youngsik Jeoung/Sangsu Lee (KOR), 3-0.

Women/Singles: Mima Ito (JPN) d. Yuling Zhu (CHN), 4-1. Women/Doubles: Miyuu Kihara/Miyu Nagasaki (JPN) d. Szu-Yu Chen/HsienTzu Cheng (TPE), 3-2.

Mixed Doubles: Tomokazu Harimoto d. Hina Hayata (JPN) d. Gaoyuan Lin/Yuling Zhi, 3-1.