TSX DAILY: Terrific Pan Am Games close in Lima, with clouds ahead, while Biles and Mikulak make history at U.S. Gymnastics nationals

Lots of happy faces from the cast of the Lima 2019 Closing Ceremony! (Photo: Lima 2019)

= TSX DAILY ~ 12 August 2019 =

| 1. |  LANE ONEWhat did we learn from the Lima Pan Ams? It’s going to get harder going forward

Any retrospective on the just-completed XVIII Pan American Games must start with this: the Games was a success.

With 6,687 athletes and 11,192 volunteers, this was the largest sporting event ever held in Peru and if the country can harness the energy it took to put on the Pan Ams – and the Parapan American Games coming on 23 August – the future opportunities could be significant.

Peru’s legacy from this Games will depend on its leadership, not the buildings it built. More takeaways from Lima 2019:

● The PanAm sports folks who own the Pan American Games will have their hands full over the next four years to try and generate more interest in the U.S. and Canada. Neither sent their best teams and the U.S. still ran away with the medal count with 293 (120 golds), the most it has won at this event in 20 years! Canada won 152 medals, third-best behind Brazil (171).

In 2023, the event will be held in Santiago (CHI) starting in late October. What U.S. athletes are going to be interested in going there? Not the top stars in track or swimming, whose seasons are already over. Not collegiate athletes, already back in school. And the pro basketball season will be starting as well. Good luck on that one.

● There were U.S. athletes who were brilliant in Lima who will become much better known in the coming months. Teens like Evy Leibfarth (Canoe Slalom), Hannah Roberts (BMX Freestyle) and Casey Kaufhold (Archery) all won gold in Lima. And veterans like 45-year-old Khatuna Lorig (Archery) and the immortal Kim Rhode (Shooting) will be medal contenders long after most athletes have retired.

● The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is going to have its hands full in 2020. In addition to the Larry Nassar-related lawsuits and Congress looking at deeper oversight, two American athletes staged awards ceremony protests: Race Imboden took a knee during the Team Foil ceremony and hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised a clenched fist during her ceremony. Statements were issued about both and future sanctions will be considered.

● ESPN did a credible job in covering the Games, but did not make a substantial investment in added cameras or technology at the Games. However, the announce teams were generally good and the track and swimming teams were excellent. Could the network have done more to promote its coverage? Sure, but to tell the truth, the Pan Am Games is just not as important today as it was once was.

The future? It gets bumpy from here.

| 2. | PAN AMERICAN GAMES: Busy final day sees U.S. score more gold in archery and BMX

The United States sent a team of 643 athletes to the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima confident of coming back with the most medals. Boy, did they.

Even on the final day of the Games, the U.S. was thriving, scoring two golds, two silvers and a bronze on the archery field alone. World record-setter Brady Ellison missed a medal in the men’s individual event, but 45-year-old Khatuna Lorig won the women’s silver and 15-year-old Casey Kaufhold won the bronze.

Those two combined with Erin Mickelberry to win the women’s team title (pictured below) and Ellison, Tom Stanwood and Jack Williams won the men’s team bronze. Finally, it was Ellison and Kaufhold shooting together to score gold in the Mixed Team event and earn the U.S. another spot in Tokyo in 2020.

Another teen, Hannah Roberts, remained the queen of the BMX Freestyle set. One day after her 18th birthday, she won the first-ever women’s BMX Freestyle gold, scoring 86.67 on her first run. She was satisfied, but knew there was more in the tank if she needed it. “Today has been breathtaking, it’s awesome,” she said. “I held a few things back from my bag of tricks that aren’t quite ready for contests yet. I had a few mistakes and I just had to work through them. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do but I am happy to take the win.”

The U.S. ended with a total of 293 medals (120-88-85), well ahead of Brazil (171) and Canada (152) and the most medals won by the U.S. since 1999. More details? Sure! Click here.

You can check out all of our Pan Ams coverage here.

| 3. | GYMNASTICS: Biles storms to sixth national title, but Suni Lee stuns as runner-up

Barring a catastrophic injury, Simone Biles was going to win her sixth national All-Around title at the USA Gymnastics National Championships in Kansas City, but she was a lot happier with Sunday’s performance that the one she had on Friday.

No stumbles, no hops, and near-perfection on all four apparatus, as she scored 59.850 this time – a full point better than Friday – to win going away with a sensational total of 118.500. Biles’ sixth title ties her for the most ever with Clara Schroth, who won hers between 1945-52.

Biles’ score gave her a huge margin of victory of 4.95 points, which was not unexpected. The shocker was that 16-year-old Suni Lee, competing in the senior division for the first time at the Nationals, finished second on Friday and then tied for the third-highest score on Sunday and ended with second overall and a prime candidate for the U.S. team at the 2019 World Championships.

Lee further had the best scores on the Uneven Bars on the field – Biles included – and won the event title with a combined (two-night) score of 29.800.

Grace McCallum and Morgan Hurd mounted major charges on Sunday. McCallum, only ninth after Friday’s All-Around, had the no. 2 score on Sunday at 56.950 to move to third overall. Hurd, the 2017 World Champion, was eighth after Friday, but tied for third-best on Sunday (56.650, with Lee) and finished fourth, missing a medal by 0.150.

It was an impressive show for the U.S., which now has more depth than ever and will make the choice of the Worlds team – after a September training camp – extremely difficult. More coverage here.

| 4. | GYMNASTICS: Mikulak makes history with sixth Nationals A-A win, but the story was Shane Wiskus

After his excellent opening-night performance last Thursday, there was little doubt that Sam Mikulak (pictured above) was on his way to a sixth U.S. national All-Around championship and he was even better on Saturday, increasing his score from 86.750 to 87.400 to finish with a total of 174.150, with a dominating winning margin of 5.55 points.

With six wins, he tied Makoto Sakamoto, who won six All-Around titles between 1963-70 for second all-time. The all-time leader in national titles is Alfred Jochim, who won seven between 1925-33.

Behind Mikulak came the drama, as Minnesota sophomore Shane Wiskus – who tied for third on Thursday – performed brilliantly and even saved a sure fall on his High Bar routine with one hand to move into second place in the final rotation. That put the pressure on 2017 national champ Yul Moldauer and veteran Akash Modi, but both scored well: Modi on Vault (14/.500) and Moldauer on Floor (14.700) to secure second for Moldauer and third for Modi.

However, the fourth-place finish suddenly puts Wiskus into the mix for the U.S. team for Tokyo and could help the U.S. men in their search for an Olympic Team medal for the first time since Beijing in 2008.

On Saturday, Mikulak won the Horizontal Bar and Parallel Bars and tied with Moldauer for the Pommel Horse honors. Modi won the Vault and Trevor Howard had the top score on Rings. For more, check our coverage for Thursday and Saturday.

| 5. | SWIMMING: Morozov, Campbell and Hosszu star in second FINA World Cup

The competition level came down a notch in Jinan (CHN) for the second leg of the FINA Swimming World Cup, but the race for the big bonuses for the first three-meet “cluster” got hotter on the women’s side.

Two-time World Cup champion Vladimir Morozov (RUS) continued his steady march to a $50,000 bonus with three more wins, but American breaststroke ace Andrew Wilson suddenly got into the conversation with a win and two seconds, but also a big points bonus for the best mark of the meet, his 2:08.24 to win the 200 m Breast.

So, going into the final meet of the first cluster in Singapore, Morozov has a 96-87-72 lead over Wilson and Australia’s Mitch Larkin, and all three will be looking for that one fast time that will give them more bonus points. However, second isn’t all that either, at $35,000.

In the women’s event, Hungary’s five-time World Cup champ Katinka Hosszu won four events, but only three count for the points standings. Australia’s sprint star Cate Campbell (pictured above) won three events, but her impressive 52.34 to win the 100 m Free won 24 bonus points as the best performance of the meet and now she leads with one meet to go. Campbell has 105 points, to 102 for Hosszu and 63 for Emily Seebohm.

While Hosszu is rightly known as “The Iron Lady” for her ability to swim in multiple events, Russian Vitalina Simonova completed 14 events out of the 16 contested for the second World Cup in a row. With less world-class competition, she got a win too, in her specialty, the 200 m Breaststroke! More details here.

| 6. | VOLLEYBALL: U.S. storms through Rotterdam to join five others as Tokyo qualifiers

The U.S. men’s volleyball team joined Brazil, Italy, Poland, Russia and Argentina as qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic tournament in Tokyo by winning its pool in Rotterdam (NED). The U.S. won nine of 11 sets, sweeping past Belgium (3-1), South Korea (3-0) and the Netherlands (3-1) to secure its spot in its ninth straight Olympic Games.

The most impressive pool winner was probably Russia, which won all nine sets in sweeping Iran, Cuba and Mexico. Brazil had the most trouble, going down 0-2 to Bulgaria in the deciding game of its pool, then surviving the third set with a 32-30 win. It then won the final two sets by 25-16 and 15-11 to advance. More details here.

| 7. | ATHLETICS: Former World Champion Tatyana Chernova’s doping ban finalized

The lengthy doping saga of 2011 heptathlon World Champion Tatyana Chernova (RUS) has apparently come to a close as the IAAF’s Athletics Integrity Unit announced the finalization of her disqualification on Friday.

The case is important not only for the results which are altered, but because – per the AIU – “she accepted an anti-doping rule violation following charges based on McLaren evidence. This means her career results from Aug ‘08-Feb ‘16 have been disqualified.”

The “McLaren evidence” refers to the reports filed by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren in 2016, detailing the Russian doping scandal and providing significant additional evidence to assist federations in determining which athletes were doping. It’s an important precedent as the IAAF tries to determine whether to reinstate the Russian Federation and for the AIU as it works its way through the mountain of evidence provided to it by the World Anti-Doping Agency from the Moscow Laboratory earlier this year.

Chernova, now 31, was the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in the hep, then won the 2011 World Championships and the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. She has been disqualified from these events. Her best score of 6,880 from 2011 would rank her 11th all-time, but with the annulment of her results from 2008-16, she reverts to her 2007 score of 6,768, now 22nd.