The Sports Examiner

TSX INTEL REPORT: The Int’l Swimming League is half over; have you noticed? + Tokyo gets a refund for moving the marathons & walks & Jepkosgei upsets Keitany in NYC Marathon

Russian star Kliment Kolesnikov: "If I wasn't a swimmer, I wouldn't watch swimming."

≡ TSX INTELLIGENCE REPORT ~ 4 November 2019 ≡

● LANE ONE ● Is the International Swimming League making an impact? It doesn’t appear to be making money …

The International Swimming League is on a break from its first four meets – two in the U.S. and two in Europe – and will resume on 16 November.

Did you know that it was happening at all?

The attendance has been modest, especially at the two U.S. meets, in Indianapolis and in the Dallas area, and a little better – meaning more than 1,000 per day – in Naples, Italy and Budapest, Hungary.

The television production is good in some respects, but overheated in others, and the “set” is always dark outside of the pool itself, with heavy graphics to obscure the small crowds.

But the athletes love it. They’re the stars of a heavily-produced show, with the names and images shown life-size or bigger on multiple video screens and they are (1) getting paid well by swimming standards and (2) are part of a team which has its travel expenses covered, so that they aren’t out of pocket.

But without fans in the stands, modest viewership on television and no sponsors that can be discerned, the $4 million-plus cost of the league is on founder and financier Konstantin Grigorishin of Ukraine.

Now, he’s a billionaire, so he might decide to keep this going for a long time. But is it making an impact?

Not only has the fan response been modest in terms of revenue, the ISL is not even the most important thing to the swimmers participating. During one of the many coach interviews in the show from Dallas, L.A. Current coach David Marsh said on the air what everyone in the sport knows: that his choices of which swimmers are entered in which events is subject to their training priority, which is to get ready for the 2020 Olympic Games, or in some cases, national Olympic trials.

That’s a problem. The ISL’s fight with FINA has receded for the moment, but the federation would be well served to help ISL wherever it can, but having a program like ISL is already helping it. How? More here.

● TOKYO 2020 ● Tokyo government concedes marathons and walks move to Sapporo, but could get a big refund

The International Olympic Committee, spooked by the sight of marathoners dropping in the Doha heat at the IAAF World Championships in late September and early October, has moved the men’s and women’s marathons and the three race-walking events from Tokyo to Sapporo in 2020.

It did so without prior consultation with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which is paying for a significant part of the 2020 Games and set off a diplomatic incident with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike that came to a head in last week’s meetings with the IOC’s Coordination Commission.

The outcome was fairly predictable, and the Tokyo government conceded that the IOC has the legal right to move the events, even nine months prior to the 2020 Games. But Koike hardly came away empty-handed.

She got a promise that no more events will be moved, which is hardly good news for the open-water swimmers and triathletes, who endured brutal conditions during their 2019 test events. She also got the agreement of the IOC to relieve the Tokyo government and the Tokyo 2020 organizers of the costs of putting on these races – including the media infrastructure – and of any expenses already incurred in the planning, which “cannot be used elsewhere.”

Koike’s political party estimated the total expenses of putting on the races in Sapporo at up to $310 million, meaning her agreement might save her government and the organizers as much as $100 million. Not bad! More here.

ATHLETICS ● First-timer Jepkosgei upsets Keitany to win New York City Marathon

The annual TCS New York City Marathon was held Sunday and was expected to be a celebration of a fifth win for Kenyan star Mary Keitany. It didn’t work out that way.

Keitany was in good form and broke from the pack after about 20 miles, but she had company: the world-record holder in the Half Marathon, fellow Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, who had won the New York City Half Marathon earlier in the year, but making her marathon debut.

At about 22 1/2 miles, Jepkosgei took off and Keitany could not respond. On a cool and clear day, perfect for distance running, Jepkosgei finished in 2:22:38, the second-fastest time in race history, with Keitany 54 seconds behind. Including a big time bonus, Jepkosgei won $145,000 on the day.

The men’s race was similar, but it was 2017 winner Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya who was full of run and broke away after mile 23 and won easily. His time of 2:08:13 was 23 seconds ahead of countryman Albert Korir. Third was Ethiopia’s Girma Bekele Gebre, who was not among the elite field and started at the front of the regular runner pack. He set a lifetime best of 2:08:38 and won $55,000, including a $15,000 time bonus. More here.

● FIGURE SKATING ● Chen wins big in Grenoble and Kostornaia upsets Zagitova in ISU Grand Prix

The Internationaux de France leg of the ISU Grand Prix was another showcase for World Champions Nathan Chen of the U.S. and Ice Dance stars Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron from France, but not for fellow World Champion Alina Zagitova of Russia.

Chen (pictured) followed his Skate America victory with another solid performance that scored 297.16 points, well ahead of Russian Alexander Samarin (265.10).  Papadakis and Cizeron won the Ice Dance at 222.24, in front of Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates (204.84).

Zagitova, 17, was upset by 16-year-old fellow Russian Alena Kostornaia, in her first season on the senior level, 236.00-216.06. Kostornaia won both the Short Program and Free Skate, while Zagitova fell to third in the Free Skate behind a lifetime best performance from American Mariah Bell, who remained in third overall.

Russia went 1-2 in Pairs, with Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov winning the Free Skate to take the overall victory from Short Program leaders Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin, 207.58-206.56. Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier were third.

More here and here.

● FOOTBALL ● Brazil and France only perfect teams remaining in FIFA U-17 World Cup

At the FIFA men’s U-17 World Cup in Brazil, the group stage has been completed, with just two teams posting a perfect 3-0 mark: Brazil and France.

Of the 24 teams that started the event, 16 advanced to the knock-out round. The group winners included Brazil and France, plus Nigeria (2-1-0 won-lost-tied), Japan (2-0-1), Spain (2-1-0) and Paraguay (2-0-1). The elimination matches start on Tuesday (5th).

The U.S. was eliminated, losing to Senegal, 4-1; tying Japan, 0-0, and losing 4-0 to the Netherlands. Scores and schedules are here.

● SWIMMING ● Hosszu wins three, but Chupkov and Campbell lead in FINA World Cup points race

The next-to-last meet in the 2019 FINA World Cup was held in Kazan (RUS) over the weekend, with Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu once again the individual star, but not the points leader.

The race for points, based on wins and the quality of an athlete’s best race, determines who wins the big bonus payments for the final two-meet cluster and for the final overall standings, which pays $150,000-100,000-50,000 to the top three in each gender.

Hosszu won the 200 m Fly and both medleys and was the only swimmer with three individual victories. But Australian rival Cate Campbell won two events and finished second in another, but had the best performance according to the FINA Points table and leads the women’s points standings with 57. Fellow Aussie Kayle McKeown also won two events and had the third-best performance to score 45, wile Hosszu got no performance bonuses and sits at 36.

In the men’s division, Russian Anton Chupkov won two Breaststroke events and had the fastest performance for 48 points, leading Dutch star Arno Kamminga (36) and perennial World Cup scoring leader Vladimir Morozov (33).

The World Cup will finish up next week in Doha (QAT), with Morozov to be crowned the men’s overall winner and Campbell holding a 24-point edge over Hosszu and nearly sure to win as well. More here.

● SCOREBOARD ● Roberts win BMX Freestyle Park World Cup; Valente takes four medals in Track Cycling

The winter seasons are coming alive, not only on ice and snow, but also in cycling and fencing, which are starting their World Cup programs.

In Chengdu (CHN), the final BMX Freestyle World Cup was held, with American Hannah Roberts winning both the event and the seasonal World Cup title, followed by teammate Perris Benegas, the reigning World Champion.

In Minsk (BLR), the first UCI Track Cycling World Cup was held, with American Jennifer Valente (pictured) putting on a show. She won her specialty, the Omnium, but also scored victories in the Points Race and Team Pursuit with three teammates. She also picked up a bronze in the Scratch race.

Italy’s Filippo Ganna scored two world records in the men’s Individual Pursuit, taking the mark down to 4:04.52 in the qualifying and then to 4:02.647 in the final. Dutch sprinter Harrie Lavreysen won three events, taking the Sprint, the Team Sprint and Keirin.

At the USA Luge National Championships, Summer Britcher won her second straight title and Jonny Gustafson his first in a weather-shortened program of one day and two runs.

There’s much more with reports on Badminton ~ Beach Volleyball ~ Cycling ~ Fencing here, and on Freestyle Skiing ~ Luge ~ Snowboard ~ Short Track here.

● THIS WEEK ● U.S. women start new era, swimming World Cup ends in Qatar

There’s a lot of action coming up this week, including the first games for the U.S. women’s National Team under new coach Vlatko Andonovski, vs. Sweden in Colombus, Ohio on Thursday (7th) and Costa Rica on Sunday (10th) in Jacksonville, Florida.

The FINA Swimming World Cup will conclude in Doha (QAT), while the first of USA Swimming Tyr Pro Swim Series comes in Greensboro, North Carolina (yes, they overlap!).

American Hannah Roberts will be the favorite in the UCI Urban Cycling Championships in Chengdu (CHN) in the BMX Freestyle Park, a debut event for the 2020 Olympic Games. Previews coming later this week.

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