TSX DAILY: Stunning results at U.S. swim Nationals, anti-Games activists channeling Groucho, and remembering Jesse, Mary Lou and King Carl at the Games

Groucho Marx, in cap and gown, as Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff in Horse Feathers (1932)

= TSX DAILY ~ 5 August 2019 =

| 1. | SWIMMING: New talent shines at the 2019 USA Swimming Nationals, as if the U.S. didn’t have enough stars already

In the aftermath of the 2019 FINA World Championships, where a U.S. team picked in 2018 won 27 medals and won 14 events while the next closest country won five, how important could the USA Swimming Nationals Championships a week later at Stanford be?

Great, as it turned out, no doubt causing the rending of garments and tearing of hair among coaches and athletes of other countries when they saw a whole new generation of stars emerge:

● Maxime Rooney (21) came into the meet with a lifetime best in the men’s 100 m Butterfly of 52.28 and left as national champ after swimming 50.68 in the heats, a time which would have won the Worlds silver medal. He now stands no. 2 in the world for 2019, behind only World Champion Caeleb Dressel.

● Regan Smith (17), already a double gold medalist and double world-record setter in the Worlds in the Backstroke, won the 200 m Butterfly in 2:07.26, no. 6 on the 2019 world list. Another event for 2020? “I love butterfly,” she said.

● Emma Weyant (17), won the women’s 400 m Medley in 4:35.37, a lifetime best by five seconds and fastest by an American this year and no. 5 on the world list. She beat both members of the U.S. Worlds team in the final.

● Shaine Casas (19) finished second in the 200 m Backstroke in a lifetime best of 1:55.79 to move to sixth on the year list, then exploded in the 100 m Back, dropping almost two seconds to win in 52.72, no. 5 on the world list and a time that would have won the Worlds bronze medal!

● Bobby Finke (19) appears ready to breathe some life into American men’s distance swimming; he won three events at Stanford, in the 800 m Free, 1,500 m Free and the 400 m Medley. His Medley time of 4:13.15 ranks no. 9 on the world list, as does his 1,500 m win (14:51.15) and his 7:47.58 for the 800 m is no. 11.

There was much more, including a 47.39 in the 100 m Free – no. 3 for 2019 – by veteran Ryan Held (with Rooney – pictured below – right behind at 47.61 (no. 5 for 2019) and the return of Ryan Lochte – at age 35 – who won the 200 m Medley in 1:57.76, placing him no. 11 in the world for 2019.

Not only is the rest of the world shaking its head, but so are some members of the U.S. World Championships team that will have to deal with these folks at the Olympic Trials in Omaha next summer.

| 2. | LANE ONE: Anti-Olympic activists appear to be getting their strategy from … Dr. Quincy Adams Wagstaff?

I don’t know what they have to say
It makes no difference anyway
Whatever it is, I’m against it!

That’s how Groucho Marx – as the new head of the fictional Huxley College – opened the 1932 comedy classic “Horse Feathers” and over 87 years later, his position has been adopted as the stance to be used by anti-Olympic activists in Japan in advance of the 2020 Olympic Games. Groucho’s lines went over a lot better – then and now – and despite the dire predictions to the contrary, and a taxpayer cost estimated at about $7 billion, the Japanese public has embraced the Games and volunteered in droves (about 154,000!) and more than 7.5 million online applicants are chasing the 7.8 million tickets available for the Games.

There are significant issues related to the Olympics in Tokyo, but decrying how the Games will impact the homeless for a few weeks instead of solving their long-term care needs demonstrates that the activists actually don’t care about the Games at all, but about trying to use the Games to get some attention for their failed political agenda by another means.

(Yes, the video of Groucho singing “I’m Against It!” is embedded.)

| 3. | PAN AMERICAN GAMES: U.S. on target, as Rhode goes 6-for-6 with Skeet gold

As expected, the United States is running away with the medal count at the Pan American Games in Lima (PER). Through the first nine full days of competition, the American squad has earned 132 medals (54-44-34) to 79 for Canada (19-36-24) and 72 for Brazil (22-16-34).

The most impressive U.S. team at the PAG has been from USA Shooting, which won an astonishing 20 medals (10-8-2) to 25 for everyone else! The American gold winners included Sandra Uptagrafft in the 25 m Pistol, Alison Weisz and Lucas Kozeniesky in the men’s and women’s 10 m Air Rifle; Tim Sherry and Sarah Beard in the 50 m Rifle/3 Positions; Brian Burrows and Ashley Carroll in men’s and women’s Trap; Christian Elliott and Kim Rhode in men’s and women’s Skeet and the Mixed Trap duo of Carroll and Derek Haldeman.

Kozeniesky had a wild week of canceled flights, lost luggage, stolen equipment and a kidney infection (more here) – and still won – but Rhode (pictured below) might be an even more amazing story. She has already won six Olympic medals in her six Olympic Games in 1996-2000-04-08-12-16, but she has also now won six Pan American Games medals in six different Games: 1999-2003 golds in Double Trap and then when that event was dumped from the Olympic program, she started fresh and won a 2007 silver in Skeet and now golds in Skeet in 2011-15-19.

At 40, she has no interest in slowing down, and is well aware of the feats of Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who won a gold medal in 1912 at age 64 and a silver medal at age 72 in 1920!

The U.S. also had noteworthy success in weightlifting, with victories from Wesley Kitts in the men’s 109 kg class (389 kg/~858 lbs.), and Sarah Robles, who dominated the women’s +87 kg division, lifting a combined total of 284 kg (~626 lbs.).

The U.S. boxers won a total of 10 medals (1-4-5), with Oshae Jones winning the women’s 69 kg division. The American men won five medals (0-2-3), but were 0-4 in bouts against Cuba, which won eight of the 10 men’s weight classes. The U.S. women won medals in all five weight classes.

Competition continues this week, with more than 200 events remaining, including major attractions including track & field, swimming and wrestling.

| 4. | FOOTBALL: U.S. Women’s National Team swamps Ireland, 3-0 at Rose Bowl

The first game of the five-stop “Victory Tour” for the U.S. women was an easy, 3-0 victory over outclassed Ireland in front of an impressive crowd of 37,040 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Saturday night.

The American squad, playing without Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, got first-half goals from Tobin Heath (16th minute), Lindsey Horan (31st) and Carli Lloyd (41st), her 114th for the United States. The U.S. out-shot Ireland, 29-2 for the game, and will next face Portugal twice, on 29 August in Philadelphia and on 3 September in St. Paul.

| 5. | VOLLEYBALL: U.S. women one of six to qualify for Tokyo, but it wasn’t easy

After surviving a real scare against Bulgaria in its second game, the U.S. women’s team punched its ticket to Tokyo by defeating Argentina on Sunday in straight sets (3-0) to win its “regional” in Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana.

There were six Tokyo qualifying spots on offer in four-team competitions in six different groups worldwide. Italy, China and Serbia all swept through their qualifiers, winning all three matches fairly easily. Russia won all three of its matches to qualify and Brazil survived scares and barely made it through five-set wins against Azerbaijan and the Dominican Republic.

The U.S. women breezed past Kazakhstan in straight sets, but then almost got beat by a tenacious Bulgarian squad. The U.S. lost the first set, 25-21, won the second set by 25-19, lost the third set by 25-21 again and had to win two sets in a row. The fourth set went back and forth, but excellent blocking keyed a 25-20 win. In the final set, strong hitting from Jordan Larson and Jordan Thompson helped the U.S. survive with a 15-10 victory.

Said U.S. coach Karch Kiraly, “It was pretty rough, and we got pushed to the brink, and I loved the response that our team had down 2-1.”Now they can look ahead to Tokyo, where they will be favorites for a medal.

| 6. | BEACH VOLLEYBALL: And the gold-medal favorites for Tokyo are …

Just in case you are interested, the favorites for the gold medals in Tokyo – as of right now – are Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum and Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes. Both won impressively at the FIVB 5-star Major in Vienna (AUT) on Sunday.

Mol and Sorum have become almost invincible over the last two years and won their seventh tournament of this season, tying with four other squads for the second-most wins in one campaign. They’re two short of the record of nine held by Americans Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers from 2020, but they’re just about out of tournaments for 2019. The Norwegians beat Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Alvarho Filho in the final and have now won 61 of their 65 matches this season!

Pavan and Humana-Paredes won the world title in 2019 and have followed up with two more wins, this time defeating Brazil’s Maria Antonelli andCarol Salgado by 21-19, 21-16 in 47 minutes. It’s the sixth World Tour win for the Canadians as a team and they will be hard to beat in Tokyo.

The World Tour season will end in early September with the World Tour Final in Rome (ITA).

| 7. | FLASHBACK: Remembering Jesse Owens, Mary Lou Retton in their Olympic moments

● Games of the XIth Olympiad/Berlin 1936Jesse Owens won the first of his four gold medals in the infamous Berlin Olympic Games on 3 August, leading a 1-2 finish for the U.S. with Ralph Metcalfe in a wind-aided 10.3-10.4. He followed that up with the long jump gold on the following day, taking the lead in the first round (7.74 m/25-4 3/4), then extending his lead to 7.87 m (25-10) in the second round and 7.94 m (26-0 3/4) in round five. German Luz Long reached 7.87 m (25-10) in round five, so Owens felt the pressure going into his final jump, and he responded with the best jump of the day: an Olympic Record of 8.06 m (26-5 1/2) to confirm his second gold.

The final of the 200 m was on 5 August and Owens won his third gold in three days with a world-record time of 20.7, leading another 1-2 sweep ahead of Mack Robinson – older brother of Jackie Robinson – at 21.1. His fourth gold didn’t come until 9 August, when he and Metcalfe replaced Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller – both Jewish – on the 4×100 m relay, and the combo of Owens, Metcalfe, Foy Draper and Frank Wykoff equaled the world record (40.0) in the heats and then set it at 39.8 in the final. Set against the backdrop of the Nazi government in Germany, it was one of the most important moments in sports history.

● Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad/Los Angeles 1984: It seems impossible, but it was 35 years ago that the revolutionary Los Angeles Games were underway and had already made heroes out of gymnast Mary Lou Retton and sprinter Carl Lewis.

Retton, standing all of 4-9, electrified the crowd at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion with her energetic and powerful style that presaged today’s stars like Simone Biles. She finished the Team competition with 39.525 points for the All-Around, slightly ahead of Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo. Retton scored 10.0s on the Vault and Floor to one for Szabo (on Beam) and managed a 0.5-point victory, 79.175-79.125 in what was considered a noteworthy upset.

Szabo showed why later. In addition to winning the Team gold, Szabo claimed individual golds on Floor, Vault and Beam (shared with teammate Simona Puica) and left with four golds packed in her suitcase, along with the All-Around silver. Retton also won five medals, with a Team silver, Vault silver and bronzes on Floor and Uneven Bars. But the All-Around is what American fans remember.

Lewis was trying to equal Owens’s feat 48 years later and won the 100 m on 4 August impressively in 9.99, ahead of American Sam Graddy (10.19) and Canadian Ben Johnson (10.22; remember him?). On 6 August, Lewis won the long jump at 8.54 m (28-0 1/4), taking only two jumps and choosing rest with the 200 m coming up. No one was close; Gary Honey (AUS) finished second at 8.24 m (27-0 1/2).

Gold medal no. 3 came on 8 August in the 200 m, as Lewis led a U.S. sweep in an Olympic Record of 19.80, ahead of Kirk Baptiste (19.96) and Thomas Jefferson (20.26). The fourth gold, in the 4×100 m relay, was assured when Calvin Smith got the stick on the third leg and gave Lewis an insurmountable lead that finished in a world record 37.83 on 11 August.

Was it really 35 years ago?