TSX REPORT: ASOIF angry over World Athletics pay plan; Chinese doping allegations for Tokyo explode; vault and marathon world records!

A happy Mondo Duplantis chats after his eighth world vault record! (Photo: World Athletics video screenshot)

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1. ASOIF rips World Athletics over $50,000 Paris pay plan
2. Claim of China doping in Tokyo swimming explodes!
3. World record 20-5 1/2 for Duplantis in Xiamen!
4. Women-only world record 2:16:16 for Jepchirchir in London
5. Four U.S. Olympic wrestling medalists now Paris bound

● The usually calm Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) issued a cross statement, criticizing the World Athletics’ plan to pay $50,000 to the winners of its 48 events in Paris. Most of the other federations can’t afford that and ASOIF expressed annoyance and shock at not being informed and at the lack of “solidarity.” Are we at a pivot point?

● A furious weekend of charges and counter-charges, with someone from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency telling American swimmers that Chinese doping in Tokyo will result in a re-allocation of their silver medal in the women’s 4×200 m Free Relay to gold. This was denied by the World Anti-Doping Agency, with name-calling back and forth with USADA chief Travis Tygart. There is a lot at stake here and it’s a considerable mess.

● Sensational track & field weekend, with world-leaders in 13 events at Xiamen Diamond League and Continental Tour Gold Keino Classic in Nairobi, with Mondo Duplantis getting his eighth world vault record at 6.24 m (20-5 1/2). And there were eight more world-leading performances elsewhere!

● The expected women’s-only marathon world record came through in London, as Olympic champ Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya fought off absolute world-record holder Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia, 2:16:16 to 2:16:23.

● Surprises at the U.S. Olympic Trials for wrestling at Penn State, with three of the four U.S. medal winners from Tokyo being defeated, but four prior Olympic medal winners are on a powerful American teams for Paris, with other still having to qualify next month.

Panorama: Beach Volleyball (second-ranked Ahman and Hellvig win Elite 16 in Mexico) = Cycling (3: Pogacar dominates Liege-Bastogne-Liege; Niewiadoma wins final sprint in women’s La Fleche Wallonne; U.S.’s Batten sweeps Mountain Bike races in Brazil) = Diving (China wins eight of nine events at World Cup Super Final) = Fencing (Volpi beats Errigo as Italy sweeps Foil World Cup in Georgia) = Gymnastics (2: Davtyan brothers both win at Doha Apparatus World Cup; Varfolomeev dominates Rhythmic World Cup in Baku) = Modern Pentathlon (Seo gets first World Cup win) = Shooting (U.S. scores another qualifier in Rifle-Pistol finale in Brazil) ●

ASOIF rips World Athletics over $50,000 Paris pay plan

“ASOIF was neither informed nor consulted in advance of the announcement, which was made one day after the ASOIF General Assembly and during SportAccord. As a matter of principle, ASOIF respects and defends the autonomy of each and every member federation. However, when a decision of one IF has a direct impact on the collective interests of the Summer Olympic IFs, it is important and fair to discuss the matter at stake with the other federations in advance. This is precisely why ASOIF was created more than 40 years ago, with the mission to unite, promote and support its members, while advocating for their common interests and goals.”

That’s from an unusually blunt statement issued Friday by the Association of Summer International Sports Federations concerning the World Athletics plan to pay $50,000 to the winners of its 48 events in Paris: a total of $2.4 million. The statement ran on for 13 paragraphs, including:

● “During the last days, ASOIF’s membership has expressed several concerns about World Athletics’ announcement.

“First, for many, this move undermines the values of Olympism and the uniqueness of the Games. One cannot and should not put a price on an Olympic gold medal and, in many cases, Olympic medallists indirectly benefit from commercial endorsements. This disregards the less privileged athletes lower down the final standings.”

● “Second, not all sports could or should replicate this move, even if they wanted to. Paying prize money in a multi-sport environment goes against the principle of solidarity, reinforces a different set of values across the sports and opens up many questions.”

● “If the Olympic Games are considered as the pinnacle of each sport, then the prize money should be comparable to, and commensurate with, the prizes given in the respective top competitions of each sport. This is technically and financially unfeasible.”

Then came the key portion of the statement:

“While some National Olympic Committees and governments have put in place schemes to reward athletes for outstanding performances at the Olympic Games, these are for purposes of national pride and are applied consistently across all the sports at the Olympic Games.

“Finally, there has been consensus that Olympic revenues should, at least for the more commercially successful and financially independent IFs, be invested as a priority into development and integrity matters. Development and integrity are the principal areas where IFs can distinguish themselves from commercial operators and promoters.”

The statement concluded with ASOIF saying that it “will raise these concerns with World Athletics” and with the International Olympic Committee.

Observed: This is an unusually strong statement in the Olympic world, which always couches its communications in terms of unity and shared purpose. Which is to say that the World Athletics has struck a nerve with its fellow International Federations.

The ASOIF statement makes it clear that while World Athletics believes it can afford to pay $2.4 million in Olympic prize money for Paris and possibly double that in Los Angeles in 2028, very few other federations can. FIFA, for sure. World Aquatics, yes, and some others. But for the 20 federations in the third, fourth and fifth tiers of IOC television payments, almost certainly not.

World Athletics received $39.48 million from the IOC for the Tokyo 2020 Games, the most of any federation. Those in the third tier received $17.31 million, the fourth tier got $15.14 million and the fifth tier, $12.98 million. Those federations have to make that money stretch across four years until the next Olympic distribution comes, as their own revenue is often insufficient to cover its program and salary costs. That’s the reality.

World Rowing, for example, had annual revenue – outside of IOC television money – in 2021 of CHF 2.61 million and in 2022 of CHF 3.45 million (CHF 1 = $1.10 U.S.). It spreads its $17.31 million in IOC money over all four years to stay solvent and run its programs; outside of its IOC funding, it showed CHF 3.63 million in reserves. That’s not much. Many other federations are similar.

And if they were to offer Olympic prize money, the amount would be a fraction of the World Athletics payout, for first place or otherwise. So now, the International Federations are even further classified into successes and failures by what they would pay in Olympic prize money.

Long term, this could put future pressure on the IOC to drop some of these commercially-uninteresting sports, who would ask the IOC itself to pay prize money. For its part, the IOC has said only that federations are on their own to decide how to spend the money they get from the TV rights sales, and harking back to its Greek origins, would be much more likely to make a grant to all Olympians than to those who won medals, as the ancient city-states were the ones who sent and rewarded their champions who returned in glory.

This is a new and unexpected division point within the Olympic Movement, and will be a headache that will face the next IOC President, whoever that ends up being.

Claim of China doping in Tokyo swimming explodes!

In a confused series of statements, clarifications and name-calling, a claim that China’s gold-medal-winning and world-record-setting women’s 4×200 m Freestyle team from Tokyo 2020 was disqualified for doping was refuted by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

In a 21-tweet thread by ARD investigative reporter Nick Butler (GBR), the key facts:

● “ARD Doping Editorial Team world exclusive after two-year investigation: Mass doping suspicion in China – WADA fails to act: 23 top Chinese swimmers tested positive in 2021 but were secretly cleared in time to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. With @hajoseppelt 1/”

● “The 23, which included Tokyo 2020 gold medallists – Zhang Yufei and Wang Shun, plus current World Aquatics Swimmer of the Year, Qin Haiyang, all tested positive in January 2021 for trimetazidine, the same substance taken by Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva 2/”

● “After months of silence, the athletes were all cleared of doping following an internal Chinese investigation, which supposedly found traces of the substance in the kitchen of the hotel where the athletes had stayed during their competition 3/”

A further post, noting shared reporting with the New York Times, listed the 23 athletes involved, which included Tokyo 2020 medal winners Zhang (women’s 200 m Fly gold, 4×200 Free relay gold), Junxuan Yang (women’s 4×200 m Free relay gold), Wang (men’s 200 m Medley gold), and Zibei Yan (mixed 4×100 m Medley silver).

Another story reported that a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency representative had told U.S. swimmers on Friday that their Tokyo women’s 4×200 m Freestyle relay silver would be upgraded to gold due to the doping of at least one Chinese swimmer on their world-record-setting team.

But that was countermanded on Saturday, with World Aquatics telling SwimSwam.com that it “not currently aware of any Anti-Doping Rule Violation that might lead to a disqualification of results obtained in competition, and resulting consequences, for the Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay at Tokyo 2020.” Moreover, the USADA said it did not tell anyone that China was doping in Tokyo.

More fireworks came quickly from Travis Tygart, the head of the USADA, who released a Saturday statement:

“It’s crushing to see that 23 Chinese swimmers had positive tests for a potent performance-enhancing drug on the eve of the 2021 Olympic Games, as reported by the New York Times and ARD. It’s even more devastating to learn the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency secretly, until now, swept these positives under the carpet by failing to fairly and evenly follow the global rules that apply to everyone else in the world.

“Our hearts ache for the athletes from the countries who were impacted by this potential cover-up and who may have lost podium moments, financial opportunities, and memories with family that can never be replaced. They have been deeply and painfully betrayed by the system. All of those with dirty hands in burying positive tests and suppressing the voices of courageous whistleblowers must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the rules and law.”

WADA released its own Saturday statement, which included:

“Following some misleading and potentially defamatory media coverage this week, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) wishes to provide more information in relation to a group of 23 Chinese swimmers who tested positive for trimetazidine (TMZ) in 2021.

“WADA was notified in June 2021 of the decision by the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) to accept that the swimmers had tested positive in early 2021 for TMZ after inadvertently being exposed to the substance through contamination. As it always does, WADA carefully reviewed the decision and, in this instance, requested the full case file. As part of its review, WADA collected additional, unpublished scientific information on TMZ and consulted with independent scientific experts to test the contamination theory and also whether low doses of TMZ could have benefited the athletes during a swimming competition event. During this review process, which spanned several weeks, scientists and external legal counsel thoroughly put the contamination theory presented by CHINADA to the test. It was not possible for WADA scientists or investigators to conduct their enquiries on the ground in China given the extreme restrictions in place due to a COVID-related lockdown. WADA ultimately concluded that it was not in a position to disprove the possibility that contamination was the source of TMZ and it was compatible with the analytical data in the file. WADA also concluded that, given the specific circumstances of the asserted contamination, the athletes would be held to have no fault or negligence. As such, and based on the advice of external counsel, WADA considered that an appeal was not warranted.”

Tygart fired back in another Saturday release, including:

“It is disappointing to see WADA stoop to threats and scare tactics when confronted with a blatant violation of the rules governing anti-doping. When you blow away their rhetoric, the facts remain as have been reported: WADA failed to provisionally suspend the athletes, disqualify results, and publicly disclose the positives. These are egregious failures, even if you buy their story that this was contamination and a potent drug ‘magically appeared’ in a kitchen and led to 23 positive tests of elite Chinese swimmers.”

WADA then issued another statement, including:

“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is astonished by the outrageous, completely false and defamatory remarks made by the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Travis Tygart, who has made very serious accusations against WADA in connection with the case of 23 swimmers from China that was reported upon by the media earlier today.

“Mr. Tygart’s allegations are politically motivated and delivered with the intention of undermining WADA’s work to protect clean sport around the world. WADA notes that the damaging comments have been delivered without any supporting evidence whatsoever.

“The truth of this matter is that according to all available scientific evidence and intelligence, thoroughly gathered, assessed and tested by leading anti-doping experts, WADA had no basis to challenge the explanation of environmental contamination. At all times, WADA acted in good faith, according to due process and following advice from external counsel when it decided not to appeal this case. In the absence of any other evidence WADA, still today, stands by the results of its rigorous scientific investigation as well as the approach of its Intelligence and Investigations Department.”

That’s where we are as of now.

Observed: This is a mess. At stake is the credibility of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has been good and steadily improving. And its defense against Tygart’s charges is weakened by this key sentence:

“It was not possible for WADA scientists or investigators to conduct their enquiries on the ground in China given the extreme restrictions in place due to a COVID-related lockdown.”

WADA was not on the ground and accepted CHINADA’s explanation, yet it did not do so when a positive test came back against Russian figure skater Valieva in the run-up to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

It is also not clear what the view of the International Testing Agency is, which was responsible for the testing of athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Some of the athletes on the positives list published by ARD are stars in position for glory in Paris, including breaststroker Haiyang Qin, who won the men’s 50-100-200 m Breast events at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships and will be favored in Paris. Will they receive extra scrutiny now from the ITA?

All of this creates more questions than answers and the matter is certainty not over.

World record 20-5 1/2 for Duplantis in Xiamen!

A sensational Saturday in track & field, with the Diamond League opening in Xiamen (CHN) and the Continental Tour Gold Kip Keino Classic in Nairobi (KEN), with a world record and 13 world-leaders between them:

Xiamen (8):
Men/800 m: 1:43.61, Marco Arop (CAN)
Men/Steeple: 8:20.54, Abraham Kibiwot (KEN)
Men/5,000 m: 12:58.96, Lamecha Girma (ETH)
Men/110 m hurdles: 13.11, Daniel Roberts (USA)
Men/Vault: 6.24 m (20-5 1/2), Mondo Duplantis (SWE) ~ World Record
Men/Triple Jump: 17.51 m (57-5 1/2), Pedro Pichardo (POR)

Women/1,500 m: 3:50.50, Gudaf Tsegay (ETH)
Women/Steeple: 8:55.40, Beatrice Chepkoech (KEN)

Nairobi (5):
Men/200 m: 19.71, Courtney Lindsey (USA) and Letsile Tebogo (BOT)
Men/400 m: 44.10, Bayapo Ndori (BOT)
Men/800 m: 1:43.57, Emmanuel Wanyonyi (KEN)
Men/1,500 m: 3:31.96, Reynold Kipkorir (KEN)
Men/Hammer: 84.38 m (276-10), Ethan Katzberg (CAN)

Duplantis stole the spotlight with his eighth world record, taking only four jumps! He made first-time clearances at 5.62 m (18-5 1/4), 5.82 m (19-1), 6.00 m (19-8 1/4) and then the world record of 6.24 m (20-5 1/2). American Sam Kendricks was second at 5.82 m (19-1). Said the Swedish star afterwards:

“This result is more than what I wanted it to be, so I was very excited about it. You know this my first time to jump in China. You always get a bit nervous when you jump in front of a new crowd, because it’s people that haven’t seen you do what you can do. So I really want to show the people here. …

“I know that every competition I go to, there’s gonna be very high expectations and everybody’s gonna be expecting. I think that myself too. I expect a lot of things out of myself. I want to have high all the time and I want to keep jumping high. My expectations on myself always outweigh everything else.”

What a way to start the season! And there was more.

In Xiamen, 2022 World Champion Fred Kerley got out ahead of usual-super starter Christian Coleman – the 2019 World Champion – but Coleman took over in mid-race and won, 10.13 to 10.17 (wind: -0.6 m/s).

In the men’s 800 m, Canada’s 2023 World Champion Marco Arop took over after the bell and held on to get a world-leading win in 1:43.61 over Kenya’s Wycliffe Kinyamal (1:43.66). Same for Ethiopia’s Steeplechase world-record holder, Lamecha Girma, took the lead with 300 m left in the men’s 5,000 m and charged to the finish in 12:58.96, ahead of Nicholas Kipkorir (KEN: 12:59.78) and Birhanu Balew (BRN: 13:00.47).

Americans Daniel Roberts and Cordell Tinch were 1-2 in the men’s hurdles in 13.11 and 13.16, with Japan’s Shunsuke Izumiya third in 13.17 (wind: -0.3), and fellow American Shelby McEwen defeated three-time World Champion Mutaz Essa Barshim (QAT) in the high jump, both at 2.27 m (7-5 1/4).

A shocker came in the women’s 200 m, as American star Sha’Carri Richardson stormed into the lead in the final 30 m over countrywoman Anavia Battle, but it was Australian Torrie Lewis (19) who jumped everyone at the line out of lane 9 in 22.96! Richardson was second in 22.99 (-0.4), with fellow Americans Tamara Clark (23.01) and Battle (23.02) going 3-4.

Dominican World Champion Marileidy Paulino was the clear and expected winner in the 400 m at 50.08, with American Britton Wilson third (51.26). One of the most dominant performances came in the women’s 1,500 m, with 2022 World Indoor Champion Gudaf Tsegay (ETH) taking over after 800 m and running away with a brilliant, 3:50.30, moving her to no. 3 all-time, with the no. 3 performance! She led a 1-2-3-4-5 Ethiopian finish, with 18-year-old Birke Haylom second in 3:53.22, now the no. 10 performer ever! Worknesh Mesele got a lifetime best of 3:57.61 in third.

Kenya’s world Steeple record holder Beatrice Chepkoech ran away from the field in the Steeple in 8:55.40, the no. 11 performance of all time, of which she owns four. Countrywoman Faith Cherotich was second in 9:05.49, no. 2 this season. Olympic champ Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (PUR) won the women’s 100 m hurdles in a speedy 12.45, no. 3 in 2024 (wind -0.2), defeating indoor world-record-setter Devynne Charlton (BAH: 12.49), with outdoor world-record-holder Tobi Amusan (NGR: 12.58) in fifth.

The home crowd enjoyed seeing Olympic champ Lijiao Gong win the women’s shot at 19.72 m (64-8 1/2), with 2023 World Champion Chase Jackson of the U.S. in third (19.62 m/64-4 1/2). Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Valarie Allman (USA) dominated the discus field, winning at 69.80 m (229-0) in the fifth round, to defeat Cuba’s world-leading Yaime Perez (68.83 m/225-10).

In Nairobi, “Kung Fu Kenny” Bednarek came from the USOPC Media Summit in New York to win the 100 m in a wind-aided 9.91 (+2.2), ahead of Emmanuel Matadi (LBR: 9.99w). But the best action was in the 200 m, as American Courtney Lindsey, the 2023 NCAA 100 m winner for Texas Tech, led into the final meters with 2023 Worlds 200 m bronze medalist Letsile Tebogo (BOT) coming hard … but started too late and Lindsey was in front at the line, with both timed in a world-leading 19.71 into a 1.5 m/s headwind!

Botswana’s Bayapo Ndori also emerged as a star to watch, winning the 400 m in a world-leading 44.10, now no. 30 all-time! He as clear of 2023 U.S. champ Bryce Deadmon (44.41). Kenya dominated the distance races, with 2023 Worlds silver winner Emmanuel Wanyonyi getting a world-lead in the 800 m in 1:43.57, ahead of Aaron Kemei’s lifetime best of 1:44.10 in second. Raynold Kipkorir, a 2023 Worlds 1,500 m finalist, won his race in a world-leading 3:31.96, lead a Kenyan sweep of the top four places, with Brian Komen (3:32.29) second.

In the Steeple, 2023 Worlds bronze winner Abraham Kibiwot led a Kenyan 1-2-3-4-5 finish, in a world-leading 8:20.54, ahead of Amos Serem (8:21.40).

The highlight of the women’s racing was Kenyan World Champion Mary Moraa’s 1:57.96 win in the 800 m, moving to no. 2 this season. American Janee Kassanavoid won the women’s hammer at 75.99 m (249-3) to move to no. 3 on the 2024 world list.

And there were more world-leading outdoor performances all over the place as the outdoor season got into full swing:

Men/100 m: 9.93, Christian Miller (USA)
Men/High Jump: 2.34 m (7-8), JuVaughn Harrison (USA)
Men/Shot Put: 21.80 m (71-6 1/4), Josh Awotunde (USA)
Men/Decathlon: 8,732, Ayden Owens-Delerme (PUR)

Women/100 m hurdles: 12.42, Tonea Marshall (USA)
Women/4×100 m: 42.03, Team International (mixed)
Women/Hammer: 76.91 m (252-4), Brooke Andersen (USA)
Women/Heptathlon: 6,372, Michelle Atherley (USA)

Tokyo Olympic men’s 400 m hurdles silver winner Rai Benjamin opened his season with a win at the Mt. SAC Relays in the men’s 400 m flat in 44.42.

There was also a world record in the rarely-run Distance Medley Relay (1200-400-800-1600 m), with the all-U.S. “Brooks Beasts” team of Brannon Kidder, Brandon Miller, Isaiah Harris and Henry Wynne winning at the Oregon Relays in Eugene at 9:14.58.

Kidder started off at 2:49.60, with Miller at 46.60, followed by Harris in 1:45.75 and Wynne finishing in 3:52.64. Their time broke the record of 9:15.50 by the U.S. at the 2015 World Athletics Relays.

Women-only world record 2:16:16 for Jepchirchir in London

The women’s-only race at Sunday’s London Marathon was expected to be fast, and it was, with Olympic champ Peres Jepchirchir finally running away with a 2:16:16 victory, the fastest ever in a women’s-only race.

There were nine in the lead pack by the 10 km mark, with absolute world-record holder Tigist Assefa (ETH) in the lead, and seven were together at the half, with Assefa still leading at 1:07:04. Only five were left in the lead pack by 30 km and by 35 km, it was a four-women race, with Jepchirchir finally in the lead, followed closely by 2023 London runner-up Megertu Alemu (ETH), Assefa and 2021 London winner Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN).

Alemu was the first to fall back and then Jepchirchir threw in a burst of speed and pulled away for the win and the women’s-only record, winning by seven seconds over Assefa, 2:16:16 to 2:16:23, with Jepkosgei just behind in third in 2:16:24. Alemu finished fourth in 2:16:34.

It’s the no. 14 performance all-time, but well ahead of Kenyan Mary Keitany’s 2:17:01 women’s-only winner from the 2017 London race, which had been the record. It was a lifetime best for Jepchirchir by a full minute from her 2020 Valencia victory and moves her to no. 11 on the all-time women’s marathon list.

The top four are now nos. 4-5-6-7 on the 2024 year list.

The men’s race wasn’t a record-breaker, but came down to a duel between Kenyan Alexander Mutiso Munyao, the 2023 Valencia runner-up and the legendary Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia’s 41-year-old, three-time Olympic champ on the track and the third-fastest marathoner in history.

Ten were in the lead pack at the half in 1:01:29, but only six by 30 km, with Ethiopia’s 2022 World Champion Tamirat Tola in the lead. But he faded as Bekele and Munyao surged and were 1-2 by 35 km, with Munyao continuing to press and Bekele unable to stay close.

Munyao had a six-second lead by 40 km and cruised home in 2:04:01, good for no. 5 on the world list for 2024. Bekele – at 41 – finished in 2:04:15, his third-fastest marathoner ever, in second, with Emile Cairess (GBR) – in his second marathon – coming up from eighth at the 35 km mark to get third in 2:06:46. Brian Shrader was the top American, in 10th at 2:10:50.

Four U.S. Olympic wrestling medalists now Paris bound

The all-or-nothing U.S. Olympic Trials in wrestling was held at State College, Pennsylvania over the weekend, with only the winners making it either to Paris – 13 – or moving on to a final qualifying opportunity next month (5). There are four U.S. Olympic medal winners who are now headed to the Games once again, but with some stunning upsets that will leave former Olympic stars home.

In the men’s Freestyle finals, three of the four U.S. medalists in Tokyo will not return. Heavyweight Gable Steveson decided not to compete, 86 kg winner David Taylor and 57 kg bronze medalist Thomas Gilman both were beaten.

At 74 kg, however, Tokyo bronze medalist and two-time World Champion Kyle Dake will return, beating Jason Nolf, 4-1 and 3-1. At 86 kg, Aaron Brooks, the 2023 U.S. champ and World U-23 Champion, stunned Tokyo gold medalist Taylor, 4-1 and 3-1 and is on the plane to Paris. No doubt about the 97 kg class, as Rio 2016 gold medalist Kyle Snyder made the U.S. Olympic or Worlds team for the 10th straight time, wearing down Isaac Trumble, 5-0 and 4-0. Mason Parris, the 2023 Worlds bronze medalist, was the clear winner at 125 kg, taking two 7-0 victories against Hayden Zillmer.

The U.S. men’s Freestylers have not yet qualified in two categories for Paris, and have one more shot at the World Qualification Tournament in Istanbul (TUR) from 9-12 May. At 57 kg, two-time national champ and former three-time NCAA champ at Iowa, Spencer Lee, defeated Gilman by 6-3 and a pinfall. At 65 kg, 2023 World 70 kg Champion Zain Retherford swept Nick Lee, 2-1 and 5-0.

In the women’s Freestyle finals, the U.S. had already qualified in all six classes, so the Olympic Trials winners are on the plane. Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Sarah Hildebrandt had no trouble winning against Audrey Jimenez, taking 10-0 technical falls in both matches. The 2022 World Champion at 53 kg, Dominique Parrish, is off to her first Olympic Games, after sweeping 2012 Olympian Haley Arguello, 2-1 and 5-2.

Helen Maroulis, the memorable Rio 2016 Olympic 53 kg champion, made history as the U.S.’s first three-time women’s Olympian in wrestling, defeating 2020 Olympian Jacarra Winchester by pinfall and then 6-0, at 57 kg. Maroulis won the Tokyo bronze in this weight class.

At 62 kg, two-time Worlds silver medalist Kayla Miracle heads to her second Olympic Games after sweeping Macey Kilty, 8-5 and 4-1.

Then came the continuing saga of phenom Amit Elor, the 20-year-old who has won eight (!) Worlds golds over the last three years – Cadet in 2021, Junior in 2021-22-23, U-23 in 2022-23 and Senior in 2022-23 – and is on to Paris after 6-0 and 2-1 wins over 2021 Worlds 65 kg bronze winner Forrest Molinari. In her eight Worlds appearance, Elor is 29-0 and has outscored her opponents by 251-9. And in Paris?

Finally, a stunner at 76 kg for 20-year-old Kennedy Blades, the 2020 Trials runner-up at 68 kg, who moved up and defeated six-time World Champion Adeline Gray, 11-6 and 8-3 to make it to her first Olympic Games. Wow.

In Greco-Roman, the U.S. has qualified in three of six classes, with Payton Jacobsen coming from the seventh seed at 87 kg to win the Trials over Spencer Woods (2-1) to make the team, Joe Rau winning the 97 kg class over Alan Vera (2-1) to make the Olympic team on his third try, and 2018 Worlds runner-up Adam Coon taking the 130 kg title, coming from a match down to defeat Cohlton Schultz, two matches to one.

Three others will have to try to qualify in Turkey next month, with Dalton Roberts defeating Ildar Hafizov at 60 kg, in their 17th meeting by two matches to one, and his 10th win in the series. Ellis Coleman was a 20-year-old Olympian in 2012 and has a chance to go back at 32, winning at 67 kg over Alejandro Sancho, also by 2-1. Pan American Games winner Kamel Bey took the 77 kg title with 9-1 and 6-0 wins against Aliaksandr Kikinou.

This is a powerful U.S. team, with Snyder and Maroulis already well known, but Elor a potential break-out star.


● Beach Volleyball ● At the Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 in Tepic (MEX), world no. 2 and 2023 Worlds silver winners David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig (SWE) scored their first win of the season with a 21-17, 19-21, 15-10 victory against fifth-ranked George Wanderley and Andre Loyola Stein (BRA). It’s the fourth Elite 16 tournament win for Ahman and Hellvig and they defended their 2023 title.

Cuba’s Noslen Diaz and Jorge Alayo won the third-place match against Nils Ehlers and Clemens Wicker (GER), 21-18, 21-17.

Two-time European champions Tanja Huberli and Nina Brunner (SUI) won the women’s final, defeating two-time European medalists Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon (NED), 21-14, 19-21, 19-17. It’s the second career win for the Swiss on the FIVB World Tour, but first in an Elite 16-level tournament.

In the third-place match, Brazil’s Carol Solgado and Barbara Seixas won by 22-20, 21-23 and 25-23 over Valentina Gottardi and Marta Menegatti (ITA).

● Cycling ● The ancient Liege-Bastogne-Liege race in cycling-mad Belgium, first contested in 1892, was a showcase for Slovenian star Tadej Pogacar, the two-time winner of the Tour de France, who escaped with 34.4 km to go on the 254.5 km circuit and won with ease in 6:13:48, some 1:39 up on the field, with French stalwart Romain Bardet second and Dutch star Mathieu van der Poel in third (+2:02).

Van der Poel was hampered as part of a crash at the 160 km mark and had to chase hard to get back into contention for the podium. But when Pogacar attacked on the Col de La Redoute, no one could respond.

For Pogacar, still just 25, it’s his second win in this race – one of the five “Monument” races in the sport – after 2021, and his sixth career Monument, also including Il Lombardia (3x) and the Ronde van Vlaanderen in 2023. Bardet won his second medal in this race, after a bronze in 2018.

The women’s race, 152.9 km from Bastogne to Liege, came down to a six-rider sprint, with Australia’s Grace Brown overtaking Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) in the final meters to cross first in 4:29:00, with defending champ Demi Vollering (NED) third and Swiss Elise Chabbey fourth, all with the same time. It’s Brown’s first win in this race after being runner-up in 2020 and 2022, and the second straight runner-up finish for Longo Borghini.

At the La Fleche Wallonne races on Wednesday, it was Britain’s Stephen Williams who got the sprint finish to win the 88th edition of the men’s race, in 4:40:24 for the 198.6 km ride from Charleroi to Huy in Belgium. Williams was just better than Kevin Vauquelin (FRA) and Maxim van Gils (BEL) and is the first British rider to win the race! Vauquelin and van Gils were also first-time medal winners.

Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma got her fifth career UCI Women’s World Cup win in the women’s race of 146.0 km in and around Huy. She won a final sprint from defending champion Vollering (+0:02) and Longo Borghini (+0:04) in 3:55:29. Niewiadoma had been second in 2021 and third in 2017, but now owns a gold.

At the second leg of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, in Araxa (BRA), former World Junior Champion Simon Andreassen (SUI) won a tight battle to the finish with Victor Koretzky (FRA) and 2018 U-23 World Champion Alan Hatherly (RSA) by a second: 1:20:00 to 1:20:01 over the nine-lap course.

Koretzky had already won the Short Course race, 19:26 to 19:29 over American Christopher Blevins, with Hatherly third (19:30).

American Haley Batten, the 2022 Worlds bronze medalist, won the women’s race in a runaway, finishing in 1:23:04 for the eight laps, 17 seconds up on Rio 2016 Olympic champ Jenny Rissveds (1:23:21) and 40 seconds up on fellow American Savilia Blunk (1:23:44). Former World Champion Kate Courtney of the U.S. was ninth (1:25:48).

Batten and Blunk also finished 1-3 in the Short Course race in 22:01 and 22:07, with Swiss Linda Indergand in second (22:05).

● Diving ● China won eight of nine events at the World Aquatics World Cup Super Final in Xian (CHN), with 2024 World Champions Zongyuan Wang (3 m Springboard) and Hao Yang (10 m Platform) winning by 49.45 and 26.05 points, respectively.

The women’s individual winners were 2024 Worlds silver medalists Yiwen Chen (3 m Springboard) and Yuxi Chen (10 m Platform) won by 74.10 and 32.50 points, with China 1-2 in the 10 m with Hongchan Chan.

The men’s Springboard Synchro winners were World Champions Wang and Daoyi Long (+53.94) and on Platform, World Champions Junjie Lian and Yang, by 32.55 points over Britain’s Worlds silver winners, Tom Daley and Noah Williams.

World women’s Platform Synchro winners Yuxi Chen and Quan were 68.76-point winners, but in the women’s 3 m Springboard Synchro, Australia’s Maddison Keeney and Anabelle Smith won with 284.67 points, ahead of Sarah Bacon and Kassidy Cook of the U.S. (284.10), as the Chinese did not enter.

China won the Mixed Team event by 500.75 to 456.75 over Great Britain, with the U.S. fifth (377.60).

● Equestrian ● The FEI World Cup Finals for Dressage and Jumping were held in Riyadh (KSA), with a repeat victory for Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (and King Edward) in Jumping.

Von Eckermann, 42, the 2022 Jumping World Champion and 2023 Grand Prix Final winner, led with 70 points after the second final and no penalties, and then had a clean third round to finish perfect (0)! France’s Julien Epaillard suffered a fault in the second round and none in the third to take silver (4), with Swede Peder Fredricson third with 6 fault points. American Kent Farrington (10) was fourth.

In the Dressage Grand Prix, Britain’s 2022 World Champion, Charlotte Fry (and Everdale), won at 75.388%, ahead of Patrik Kittel (SWE: 73.292%) and Nanna Skodborg Merrald (DEN: 72.904%). The ageless Isabell Werth (GER: 54) – a five-time winner in this event – was fourth at 72.236%.

The Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle was a win for Kittel, 47, and Touchdown, scoring 81.661%, ahead of Skodborg Merrald (81.429%) – runner-up for the second straight year – and the amazing Werth (81.404%).

● Fencing ● At the FIE women’s Foil World Cup in Tbilisi (GEO), Italy swept the top four places, led by two-time World Champion Alice Volpi, who won a match of Worlds gold medalists, 15-9, over Arianna Errigo, the 2013 and 2014 World Champion. For Volpi, it’s her ninth career World Cup win and 18th World Cup medal.

Martina Favaretto and Anna Cristino both won bronze medals.

Naturally, the Italian team was a winner as well, taking the final from France, 45-36, with the U.S. (Jacqueline Dubrovich, Zander Rhodes, Lauren Scruggs and Maia Weintraub) and Japan taking bronze medals.

● Gymnastics ● The final FIG Apparatus World Cup was in Doha (QAT), with the Armenian Davtyan brothers each scoring wins.

Artur Davtyan, the 2022 World Champion on Vault, won his third World Cup out of four in his specialty, scoring 15.166 to best 2021 World Champion Carlos Yulo (PHI: 15.066), while older brother (and three-time European Champs medalist) Vahagn Davtyan, 35, won on Rings at 14.833, over Nikita Simonov (AZE: 14.800).

Yulo got his own gold in the Parallel Bars, where he is a two-time Worlds medal winner, scoring 15.200 to 14.966 for Yuan-hsi Hung of Chinese Taipei. Hung’s teammate, Chia-hung Tang won his third World Cup on the Horizontal Bar, 15.133 to 14.700 for Lithuania’s Robert Tvorogal.

Jordan’s Ahmad Abu Al-Soud won his second World Cup on the Pommel Horse, barely out-scoring Chih-kai Lee (TPE), 15.500 to 15.400, with two-time World Champion Rhys McClenaghan (IRL: 15.233) third. Kazakhstan’s Milad Karimi, the 2023 Worlds Floor Ex bronzer, won that event at 14.766, ahead of Luke Whitehouse (14.566).

In the women’s competition, Algeria’s Kaylia Nemour, the 2023 Worlds runner-up on the Uneven Bars, won that event (15.366) and got a second gold on Floor, scoring 13.700 to beat Ruby Evans (GBR: 13.300).

Karta Navas of Panama took the Vault at 13.850, and Ukraine’s Anna Lashchevska won on Beam at 13.533, with Nemour second (13.400).

The third FIG Rhythmic World Cup was in Baku (AZE), with a big meet for five-event 2023 World Champion Darja Varfolomeev, 17, of Germany. She won the All-Around at 71.200, ahead of Elvira Krasnobaeva (BUL: 69.750) and Italian star Sofia Raffaeli (68.300).

Varfolomeev then took wins in Hoop (35.550), Ball (34.200) and Ribbon (33.400). Raffaelli, who won five golds at the 2022 Worlds, won on Clubs (34.500) – with Varfolomeev third – and was second on Hoop and fourth on Ball.

● Modern Pentathlon ● At the UIPM World Cup in Ankara (TUR), Korea’s Chang-wan Seo finally got his first World Cup gold after three finishes in the top four in 2023. He scored 1,497 points to edge Egyptians Mohamed Moutaz (1,490) and Ahmed Elgendy (1,483). Seo was second in the fencing, 10th in riding and sixth in the swimming to start the Laser Run with a 23-second lead on Moutaz and although eighth overall, broke the tape with eight seconds to spare.

Britain’s Kerenza Bryson got her second career World Cup win in the women’s division, at 1,427 points to 1,401 for Seung-min Seong (KOR) and Malak Ismail (EGY: 1,396). Bryson won the fencing and was second in riding and after a 16th in swimming, entered the Laser Run with a 16-second margin. Seong was sitting seventh – 25 seconds back – at the start but moved up nicely, finishing seventh in the Laser Run to move up to second overall. Bryson, after some early shooting issues, won by 26 seconds!

In the Mixed Relay, Pavel Ilyashenko and Elena Potapenko (KAZ) won with 1,327 points over Moutaz and Amir Kandil of Egypt (1,318).

● Shooting ● Norway was the only country to win more than once at the ISSF Olympic Qualification tournament for Rifle and Pistol in Rio de Janeiro (BRA), taking the women’s 50 m Rifle gold, and the Mixed 10 m Air Rifle team event, over France, 16-14. The winners:

Men/10 m Air Pistol: Federico Maldini (236.8)
Men/25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol: Martin Podhrasky (CZE: 28)
Men/10 m Air Rifle: Lazar Kovacevic (SRB: 249.0)
Men/50 m Rifle/3 Positions: Aleksi Leppa (FIN: 461.9)

Women/10 m Air Pistol: Elmira Karapetyan (ARM: 240.7)
Women/25 m Sport Pistol: Josefin Eder (GER: 35)
Women/10 m Air Rifle: Oceanne Muller (FRA: 250.4)
Women/50 m Rifle/3 Positions: Jeannette Duestad (NOR: 462.9)

The U.S. earned a second qualifier in the men’s 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol from the already-qualified Keith Sanderson, who finished fifth. The already-qualified Ivan Roe finished fourth in the men’s 50 m Rifle/3 Positions.

Turkey won the Mixed 10 m Air Pistol final over Ukraine, 17-13.

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