TSX REPORT: Big talk at Pre from Bednarek, Kovacs, Ingebrigtsen; more athlete emotion in Paris TV coverage; FIFA-UEFA lose Super League round

Two-time World Champion Joe Kovacs sees the shot world record going beyond 24 m after Pre win! (Photo: Logan Hannigan-Downs for Diamond League AG)

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1. Bednarek: “first, that’s what matters”; Kovacs eyes world record
2. Ingebrigtsen second at Pre, sees two Paris golds!
3. Exarchos: Look for more post-race, on-screen chats in Paris
4. Madrid Court rules against FIFA, UEFA ban of Super League
5. Rowing raves on Florijn streak; World Tri on Olympic rankings

● Lots of talk after the Pre Classic, with men’s 200 m winner Kenny Bednarek looking for gold, regardless of who else is in the race and Joe Kovacs talking about a 79-foot shot put!

● Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen liked his seasonal opener at 3:45.60 for the mile (!), and sees two golds in Paris; hurdler Grant Holloway wants to sharpen up, but is also promoting his new sponsors!

● Olympic Broadcasting Services chief Yiannis Exarchos explained that the Paris 2024 plan will include Tokyo innovations such as the post-finish video links with family and friends. Rights-holding broadcasters continue to ask to “have greater access to athletes. Be closer to them, capture their emotions.”

● A Spanish court said that the actions of FIFA and UEFA to shut down the proposed European Super League by possible expulsion was anti-competitive and cannot be repeated. However, the decision did not ensure the Super League concept; it’s likely to be appealed anyway.

● Nice work by the international federations for rowing and triathlon, highlighting a world champion with a 29-race win streak, and how the World Championship Triathlon Series race in Italy affected the final Olympic Rankings … and who gets how many places in Paris!

Panorama: Winter Games (French Alps 2030 and Salt Lake City 2034 to meet winter feds online) = Athletics (2: Asinga banned for four years for GW1516; Kenyans threaten boycott at Olympic trials over stadium choice) = Canoe-Kayak (Pimenta wins three at Sprint World Cup II) = Judo (Berliner, Myers and Stout win fourth straight national titles!) = Swimming (Grevers, 39, qualifies for seventh Olympic Trials!) ●

Errata and schedule: Monday’s post stated that women’s 10,000 m world-record setter Beatrice Chebet of Kenya was the Worlds 5,000 m champ. Nope, she won the Worlds Road 5 km gold, with thanks to ace statistician Tom Feuer for the correction. Appreciation to Olivier Bourgoin for reporting four typos as well. Owing to some scheduled medical exams, TSX will not appear on Wednesday, but will be back on Thursday! ●

Bednarek: “first, that’s what matters”; Kovacs eyes world record

Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic was fun and memorable, but most of the stars saw it as a stepping stone to bigger meets coming up.

One of the most energetic was Tokyo Olympic 200 m silver medalist “Kung Fu Kenny” Bednarek, who won in 19.89, saying afterwards:

“My goal is just to come out and compete and win. And that’s what I did. I’m happy about this performance because the weather is pretty cold. So I wasn’t really worried about the times.

“I ended up stumbling in the beginning of the race and that was kind of like, ‘oh crap’ moment. So I just collected myself and got the job done. Just making sure just stay focused, get back in the zone and stay and relaxed and then everything else will come forward, not trying to put too much pressure on me and just relaxing.

“Trust my training, trust my coach, I’ve been here before so no reason to put too much pressure on myself. I just treat it like any other meet: go in there and, and execute it and I can win the thing.”

About the future, he explained:

“We’re all about elevating every single year and I don’t want to go backwards. So this year I’m going for the gold and you know, I’m a vet now, so I know how to get the job done.

“I have a strictly just gluten-free diet. Instead of having dairy. like almond milk and all that stuff, I just drink raw goat’s milk and all that stuff. So I was just trying to stay more organic and raw and farm-to-fridge lifestyle. So that’s been helping me out a lot. If your body’s already dealing with stuff, you’re going to run a little bit slower because your body can only work on so many things at a time.

“The times will come. Could be 20.0 that wins the race, 19.1. I don’t care. But as long as I’m going through the finish line first, that’s what matters.”

Bednarek owns the world lead in the 200 m at 19.67, but will have to deal with World Champion Noah Lyles at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Another big winner who is looking for a lot more is shot star Joe Kovacs, the two-time World Champion who won with two throws over 23 m, finally at 23.13 m (75-10 3/4), the no. 9 throw in history:

“I think every event has something that mark you want to get over. Sometimes it feels like it’s a wall. I think there’s a lot more in the tank, but we were really preparing for the Olympic Trials. I’m trying to make sure my minimum level is super high.

“I’m kind of maybe a little bit more conservative in the technique right now because I want to make sure that no matter what, I’m in the ring, I’m throwing far. I can punch a ticket on that team because once you do that, you can have a little fun. Get wild. That’s where the real far throws come.”

Kovacs gave all the credit to his wife and coach, Ashley:

“It’s all Ashley. You know, she’s the boss at home as my wife and of course, when we get to the track. Because for me, I end up going down some rabbit holes I don’t need to and she zaps them before they happen. The effort that we are putting together as a team, I wouldn’t be here without her. I wouldn’t be enjoying this without her. When we go to the Trials, we’re getting the job done because of course, you want to win that meet.

And he predicted a huge extension of the world record, now 23.56 m (77-3 3/4):

“I think Ryan [Crouser] will throw farther this year. I think I’ll throw farther and I think it’s not out of the question to throw another meter farther than we did today.

“But that’s going to come with the stress off and the excitement, and when we can just roll the dice, because when you do that, that’s when the real whips and the launches come and that’s when the excitement comes after.

“If I can throw a PR, I’ll be proud of that day. I know there’s guys behind us trying to take myself, Ryan and whoever’s next after that spot. So you got to just keep rising the level and keep running away from it. And I hope that I’ll be doing that right now.”

No need to run for a conversion table; 24.13 m is a fantastic 79-2!

Ingebrigtsen second at Pre, sees two Paris golds!

While World 1,500 m champ Josh Kerr (GBR) powered to a brilliant 3:45.34 mile win at Prefontaine – moving to no. 6 all-time – runner-up Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR) reacted with plenty of confidence following his season opener of 3:45.60:

“It’s a very good start, definitely better than I was fearing. I’ve been injured and lost a lot of training. So you never know 100% how it’s going. But if one thing is for sure, it’s that if you’re not able to do the work, then you’re losing in fitness. But at the same time, I know that every day from here I’m gonna be better.

“I think I’m going to win both [the 1,500 and 5,000 m] in Paris. But if that is to happen, I really need to have a flawless next two months. Which I believe that I’m able to do. With this race, I think, I can definitely reach the same fitness that I had last year, if not better.”

Kerr really wanted this victory, and he got it by being bold:

“I wanted to win and I knew it would take something along those lines [3:45] to go out and win. I wasn’t focused on the time, and trying to find comfort in that first 800. I was able to find that and then press through the field and 600 to go, I thought, you know, what, why not, why not take it on and press and scare myself a little bit.

“You need to take the lead at some point in the race to go out and win it. So why not take it out when, you know, it’s early in the season and everyone’s kind of not trusting their instincts quite yet. If anyone’s going to do it, I’m going to do it. These guys I’m racing against are going to get better and better each month, and I need to do the same to try and stay ahead. I’ve got into this position because of hard work and determination and the right staff around me and I’m going to stick to doing that for the rest of the season.”

And Paris?

“I want to get that title and then I’m going to have some real fun with lots of different records and distances and stuff, but that’s the last one to check off of childhood dreams. And then I can go out and try to entertain the people as much as I can.”

The biggest showman at Pre might have been hurdles winner Grant Holloway, with a world-leading 13.03, taking time off from thinking about his to promote his sponsors, including Viva Seltzer – started in 2020 by three former college athletes – and his new jewelry partner:

“Viva is worldwide. I just wanna be able just to go out there. Obviously the fans knew I had put a tweet out, so I just want to continue just doing that [chugging down a can of Viva after the race]. I guess that’s a new tradition. …

“Jewelry is one of my new sponsors, David Yurman Jewelry. It’s been great, obviously came out for a little bit of bling today in the Diamond League, but it’s been great. I’m excited about it.”

As far as the hurdling:

“It’s definitely a building block but I think I could be better. Going forward, I just want to continue just to build off of that. … It’s still end of May, but, going forward, we just continue to build off of that. Staying consistent.

“I mean, throughout the years, I’ve been running high 12.9s, low 13.0s, and I think that’s what it takes. Obviously on any given day, it could be faster, it could be slower, but I just want to continue to go out there with an attitude of winning and we’ll see whatever that falls into.”

Exarchos: Look for more post-race, on-screen chats in Paris

Madrid-based Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) is responsible for the television coverage of the Olympic Games. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the International Olympic Committee, some of the issues presented by the Covid-19 pandemic in Tokyo in 2021 are no longer present, but the innovations are going to stay.

For example, OBS chief Yiannis Exarchos (GRE) told the French-language FrancsJeux.com site that the post-event, online athlete-to-family and friends contact experience from Tokyo will be contined (computer translation):

“Setting up such a device for the Tokyo 2020 Games was very complex, especially in just three months. But the reactions were so positive, from the athletes but also from the broadcasters, that we decided to repeat the operation this year in Paris, where the stands will nevertheless be full. We will even amplify it.

“The system will concern a greater number of sports. And we will connect athletes not only to their families and loved ones, if they were unable to travel, but also to their club, their village, their community. Athletes are very demanding. And it will add even more emotional content to our coverage of the Olympics.”

Exarchos explained that as OBS has been asked to do more and more, his primary clients – the rights-holding broadcasters – have asked to “have greater access to athletes. Be closer to them, capture their emotions.”

OBS, however, also supports the IOC’s own online and social-media programming, and feeds the needs of the rights-holding broadcasters with clips and short-form materials they can also use. Thus, although the Paris 2024 Games will comprise about 3,500 hours of competitions, OBS will produce 11,000 hours of contents for broadcaster and IOC use.

Madrid Court rules against FIFA, UEFA ban of Super League

Judge Sofia Gil Garcia, head judge of Spain’s Madrid Commercial Court, issued a 71-page decision which confirms an earlier opinion by the European Court of Justice last December that FIFA and UEFA are not allowed to block projects such as the proposed European Super League from 2021.

The appeal was brought by the European Super League Company SL, which proposed a 12-club league with mid-week matches, featuring the best-known clubs from the English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A.

The opinion declared that “UEFA and FIFA have abused their dominant position … by arrogating to itself the discretion to prohibit participation in alternative competitions.” The ruling further noted:

Even though the Super League project as initially presented in the lawsuit has been abandoned and rejected by its creators, any requests related to it must also be dismissed. There should not be a blanket ban on future projects or changes to the existing one. To do otherwise would be to restrict any football competition project brought forward by the plaintiffs, which is not fair.

“It will be the responsibility of the parties involved to make adjustments and modifications as needed. This ruling does not mean that the approval of any competition is the focus of the case, but rather sets the groundwork for a fair competition system in organizing football events.”

ESLC sued, arguing that FIFA and UEFA were exercising monopolistic control of the European football market. UEFA issued a statement, acknowledging the holding, but also pointing to:

“In particular, UEFA is pleased to note that the judge confirmed the validity of a pre-authorisation system being in place for third party competitions to be approved under UEFA’s authorisation rules and recognised the undoubted benefits of such rules for the football sporting system. The court also confirmed that the current version of UEFA’s authorisation rules (as adopted in June 2022) is not affected by today’s ruling.

“Further, the court has not given the green light to, nor has it approved, projects like the Super League. In fact, the judge has asserted that the Super League project has long been abandoned and that she cannot be expected to rule on any abstract projects. In short, the judgment does not give third parties the right to develop competitions without authorisation and does not concern any future project or indeed any modified version of an existing project.”

A22 Sports Management, which was driving the Super League project, cheered the decision, saying “the era of the monopoly is now definitely over.” However, FIFA and UEFA can appeal the decision to the Provincial Court of Madrid, and this is widely expected to be filed.

Rowing raves on Florijn streak; World Tri on Olympic rankings

Trying to cover 40 sports on the program of the Olympic Games and Winter Games means there isn’t always the opportunity to research great performances in every one. So it’s a treat when some of the International Federations realize that they have good stories they can promote, like these:

● Following the close of the second World Rowing World Cup in Switzerland, the federation’s “Monday Debrief” included this:

“Another dominant boat since Tokyo is Karolien Florijn. Florijn won silver in the Dutch women’s four in Tokyo, but has been in the single sculls ever since and has so far picked up two European Champion titles, two World Champion titles and five World Cup wins. That’s an impressive 29 international races winning streak.”

Dutch star Florijn is the reigning World Champion in the event and won a high-profile race in Lucerne in a possible Paris preview, winning by daylight in 7:25.76, ahead of 2023 Worlds bronze winner Tara Rigney (AUS: 7:27.33) and New Zealand’s Tokyo Olympic champ Emma Twigg (7:28.25).

● World Triathlon strongly promoted its final World Triathlon Championship Series race prior to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, in Cagliari (ITA). Beyond its usual, detailed, day-of recap, it followed up with “The key moves in the Olympic triathlon rankings after WTCS Cagliari.”

The story was clear about which countries had won which spots for Paris, in the men’s and women’s races, and the Mixed Relay, starting with the 11th-place finish of Spain’s Alberto Gonzalez Garcia:

He finished 11th in his best ever WTCS performance to rise from 31st to 30th in the rankings. What it lacked in places gained, Gonzalez’s rise more than made up for in terms of significance. Indeed, his jump of one place might have been among the most impactful moves of the qualification period.

“With Gonzalez the last man and third Spanish athlete inside the top-30, Spain have earned the right to send three men to Paris this summer.”

Yep, 30th place meant three Paris qualifiers for Spain. A pretty important impact for finishing 11th. And the story explained how Hungary lost a third men’s qualifier, as Mark Devay finished 23rd, and coupled with other results, finished 31st in the Olympic rankings and a non-qualifier.

Although not dealt with specifically in the story, the women’s Olympic triathlon rankings showed the U.S. with four in the top 19 and seven inside the top 40. Because only Taylor Knibb has qualified for sure for Paris, Cagliari was the last chance to impress the USA Triathlon Olympic Games Athlete Selection Panel. The U.S. rankings:

● 4. Taylor Spivey
● 7. Taylor Knibb (already selected)
● 15. Kirsten Kasper
● 19. Summer Rappaport
● 38. Erika Ackerlund
● 39. Katie Zaferes
● 40. Gwen Jorgensen

In Tokyo in 2021, Zaferes won the bronze medal, with Rappaport in 14th and Knibb in 16th.


● Olympic Winter Games ● Online informational presentations will be made by the bid teams for the French Alps 2030 and Salt Lake City 2034 to the Olympic winter-sport federations on Tuesday.

Both groups will make 25-minute presentations covering the basic structures of their bids, followed by 35 minutes for questions. Both bids are expected to be confirmed ready for election at the 12-14 June meeting of the IOC Executive Board.

● Athletics ● Issam Asinga, born in Atlanta, but running for Suriname since mid-2022, set the track world alight with his world U-20 record of 9.89 in the men’s 100 m from the South American Championships in Sao Paulo (BRA) in 2023 at age 18.

On Tuesday, the Athletics Integrity Unit suspended Asinga for four years for the use of GW1516, a hormone and metabolic modulator:

“GW1516 modifies how the body metabolises fat. It was originally synthesised and evaluated for the treatment of obesity, diabetes and other disorders caused by metabolic problems but is now not approved for human use.”

He tested positive on 18 July 2023, prior to the South American Championships and so his performances there, the 9.89 win in the 100 m and 20.19 in the 200 m, are annulled.

Asinga claimed contamination, but failed to convince the appeals panel:

● “Asinga claimed he took the Gatorade Recovery Gummies the week before the positive test and that subsequent testing of two unsealed containers of Gatorade Recovery Gummies, provided by the athlete, revealed the presence of GW1516 and GW1516 sulfoxide. However, the Disciplinary Tribunal found that Asinga did not satisfy his burden of proof to establish that the Gatorade Recovery Gummies were the source of the GW1516 metabolites detected in his Sample.”

● “In making its decision, among other matters, the Disciplinary Tribunal took into account the fact that the Gatorade Recovery Gummies provided in unsealed containers by the athlete for testing contained significantly more GW1516 on the outside than on the inside, which practically excludes any contamination by raw ingredients during the manufacturing process; that the Gatorade Recovery Gummies were batch-tested by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and were credited with the NSF Certified for Sport certificate; and that a sealed jar of Gatorade Recovery Gummies, from the exact same batch taken by Asinga, tested negative by the Lausanne anti-doping laboratory.”

Asinga has not competed since the SoAm Champs last year; he can appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

From Kenyan site Pulse Sports: “Kenyan athletes have threatened to boycott the upcoming Olympics trials if the event is not held at a World Athletics-certified venue.

“Athletics Kenya (AK) is faced with a challenge of where to host the Olympics trials, slated from June 14-15, since Nyayo and Kasarani stadiums, the only two World Athletics-accredited venues in the country, are currently closed for renovation.”

The concern is that any marks made at the trials would not be allowed by World Athletics if made at a non-certified venue.

● Canoe-Kayak ● Five-time World Champion Fernando Pimenta of Portugal won three events to headline the second ICF Sprint World Cup, in Poznan (POL).

Pimenta won an Olympic bronze in the K-1 1,000 m in Tokyo, and tied for the win in the K-1 500 m with Poland’s Slawomir Witczak (1:45.29), took the K-1 1,000 m at 3:36.28 and the K-1 5,000 m in 20:58.14.

Another huge star, New Zealand’s five-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Carrington was busy, teaming with Alicia Hoskin to win the K-2 500 m, finishing second by 0.04 to teammate Aimee Fisher in the K-1 500 m and second by 0.18 in the K-4 500 m to China, 1:32.78 to 1:32.90.

The German men scored three wins, by Conrad-Robin Scheibner in the C-1 500 m (1:55.57), then a 1-2 finish in the K-2 500 m for Jacob Schopf and Max Lemke (1:33.36) and Max Rendschmidt and Tom Leibscher-Lucz (1:34.41), and then those four together – the reigning World Champions – in the K-4 500 m (1:20.32).

In the Olympic C-1 1,000 m final, Poland’s Wiktor Glazunow won in 4:06.61 and was second with Arsen Sliwinski in the C-2 500 m final to China’s Worlds silver winners Hao Liu and Bowen Ji, 1:40.50 to 1:41.84.

China scored four wins in the women’s paddling, with Olympic champs Shixiao Xu and Mengya Sun taking the C-2 500 m in 1:55.92 and also going 1-2 in the C-1 500, with Sun winning in 2:13.92 and Xu in 2:14.10. Mengdie Yin and Nan Wang were 1-2 in the K-1 200 m in 41.50 and 42.24, and China won the women’s K-4 500 over New Zealand.

Ukraine got wins from Valeriia Tereta in the C-1 1,000 m in 4:43.74 and the C-1 5,000 m in 28:29.49; she was also third in the C-1 500 m behind the two Chinese stars. In the C-1 200 m, Liudmyla Luzan was the winner at 47.67.

Sweden got two wins from Melina Andersson, the 2023 K-1 5,000 m Worlds bronzer, in the K-1 1,000 m in 4:02.94 and in the 5,000 m at 23:45.98. Germany’s Worlds bronze medalists Lisa Jahn and Hedi Kliemke won the women’s C-2 200 m in 45.50.

● Judo ● Despite the overlap of the World Judo Championships in the UAE, some of the top American judoka were able to make it back to compete at the USA Judo National Championships in Ontario, California.

Ari Berliner raced back and took his fourth consecutive national title in the men’s 66 kg class with four straight wins. Melissa Myers took her third women’s 70 kg division national championship – and second straight – in overtime after returning from the Worlds, with a waza-ari against Chloe Williams.

Nicole Stout did not compete at the Worlds, but won a fourth straight national title in Ontario in the women’s 78 kg class, throwing Madeline Solis for ippon.

Three-time national champ Alexander Knauf was looking for a fourth straight title, but was defeated in the final by two-time nationals bronze winner Issei Barefoot in the men’s 90 kg final. In the women’s +78 kg class, Anna Atkinson also broke through from 2023 silver to 2024 gold, taking all four matches by ippon.

Eight winners in the Olympic weight classes were juniors due to the Worlds team being away; in fact, Malia Manibog (15: women’s 48 kg) and Daniel Liubimovski (16: men’s 100 kg) both won national championships while still eligible to compete in the U-17 Cadet division!

Liubimovski had perhaps the most intriguing match of the tournament, facing 47-year-old Tokuzo Takahashi, an eight-time winner in the men’s Openweight class. Neither could score in regulation, but Liubimovski threw Takahashi for ippon in overtime for the win.

Dominic Rodriguez, 19, won the U.S. 73 kg national title last year, but moved up to 81 kg for 2024 and won in overtime on penalties against Johan Silot Suse.

● Swimming ● Four-time Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers, who won the 100 m Backstroke at the London 2012 Olympic Games – now 39 – qualified for his seventh U.S. Olympic Trials.

Grevers qualified in the 50 m Freestyle with a 22.50 time trial at the Southwest Classic in Tucson, Arizona, inside the 22.79 cut-off for the Trials. An Olympian in 2008-12, he also competed in the Trials in 2000-04-16-20, so this will be no. 7. He wrote on Instagram:

“This side hustle has been nothing but fun for me but I need to give a huge thanks to my wife, Annie, for picking up my slack with the family and allowing me the time to train. …

“Getting to pull one of my greatest mentors and coaches of all time, Rick DeMont, out of retirement and collaborating with him on the pool deck has been an unexpected thrill. …

“Can’t wait to swim in a football stadium. See you in INDY!”

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