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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Biles dominates for eighth All-Around title at U.S. Gymnastics Champs
2. Spanish football chief Rubiales won’t quit, so FIFA suspends him
3. Ireland and Swiss reject move to World Boxing, for now
4. Entrance stampede kills 12 at Indian Ocean Island Games opening
5. U.S. women drop to third in new FIFA rankings
● American superstar Simone Biles won her eighth U.S. All-Around title at the USA Gymnastics nationals in San Jose, giving her 27 national titles from 2013-23. Stanford’s Asher Hong, 19, won his first U.S. A-A title in the men’s division, leading a youth movement.
● Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales refused to resign, declaring his will to stay in a lengthy Friday speech to a special assembly of the federation. The response was angry, with 11 coaches and technical staff resigning, 81 players refusing to play for the national team – including the entire Women’s World Cup squad – and actions against Rubiales initiated by two sectors of the Spanish government. Oh yes, the FIFA suspended him as well.
● In separate actions, the boxing federations of Ireland and Switzerland decided to stay affiliated – for now – with the International Boxing Association. A vote of Irish clubs to affiliate with both the IBA and World Boxing failed to pass in a close vote, and SwissBoxing, in a special assembly, overrode its Board’s decision to move, and the 17-year head of the federation resigned immediately.
● A crush of spectators trying to get into the opening of the Indian Ocean Island Games in Madagascar saw 12 people killed and 80 injured. The ceremony went on as scheduled, with the Madagascar president asking for a moment of silence for the victims, and saying the state will care for the injured.
● The U.S. Women’s National Team dropped to third in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, their lowest position ever since the list debuted in 2003. Sweden is the new no. 1, with Women’s World Cup winner Spain at no. 2.
● World Championships ● Badminton (Korea wins three golds!) = Basketball (2: U.S. wins opener, Canada now 2-0; record number of NBA players in World Cup) = Canoe-Kayak (Carrington stars with three more golds) = Gymnastics (Varfolomeev finishes individual sweep) = Modern Pentathlon (Chooing and Micheli repeat at Worlds) = Shooting (U.S. scores silver in Mixed Trap Worlds final) = Volleyball (China wins FIVB women’s U-21 Worlds) ●
● Panorama: Athletics (Ostrander serves four-month drug suspension) = Cycling (4: Vuelta a Espana now underway; Wellens leads Belgian 1-2-3-4 in Renewi Tour; van Vleuten captures Tour of Scandinavia; Flueckiger gets fifth career XCO World Cup win) ●
● Errata: Typo in Friday’s post on “Brisbane 2036″ instead of the correct “Brisbane 2032.” Thanks to reader Dan Bell for noticing; now corrected on the site. ●
● Schedule: No TSX Report on Tuesday due to a technology installation and upgrade. Back on Wednesday! ●
Biles dominates for eighth All-Around title at U.S. Gymnastics Champs
All eyes were once again on U.S. superstar Simone Biles at the 2023 U.S. Artistic Gymnastics Championships in San Jose, California, and she delivered – again – winning both sessions of the women’s All-Around and the combined score.
Biles led the field after Friday’s first All-Around, scoring 59.300 to 56.750 for 2022 Worlds runner-up Shilese Jones, 55.700 for 2022 Worlds Team winner Skye Blakely, 55.350 for 2021 Worlds silver medalist Leanne Wong and 54.600 for 2022 Worlds Vault and Floor silver medalist Jordan Chiles.
Biles won on Vault (15.700), Beam (14.450) and Floor (14.800), and was third on the Uneven Bars (14.350), won by Jones (14.900).
On Sunday, Biles was revved up again, winning the Vault at 14.850, following up with a 14.050 on the Uneven Bars, 14.850 on Beam and 15.400 on Floor. That gave her a second-day score of 59.150, just 0.150 behind her Friday tally and a two-day total of 118.450.
Jones was second at 114.500, improving on Sunday to 57.800. Wong was third, also better on Sunday than Friday, at 55.750 (total of 111.100). Blakely scored 55.050 to finish fourth at 110.750 and Chiles scored 53.150 to get fifth at 107.750.
Biles led the Vault with a combined score of 30.550, won the Beam at 29.300 and Floor – of course – at 30.200. Her Bars total of 28.400 ranked her third, to Jones (29.900) and Blakely (28.800).
The iconic Biles has now won eight national All-Around titles, and her performance – score-for-score – is right in line with her last three:
● 2013: 60.500 (one All-Around only)
● 2014: 122.550 (61.800 + 60.750)
● 2015: 124.100 (61.100 + 63.000)
● 2016: 125.000 (62.900 + 62.100)
● 2018: 119.850 (60.100 + 59.750)
● 2019: 118.500 (58.650 + 59.850)
● 2021: 119.650 (59.550 + 60.100)
● 2023: 118.450 (59.300 + 59.150)
In terms of national apparatus championships, she now has 19 of those:
● Vault: 6
● Bars: 1 (2018)
● Beam: 6
● Floor: 6
Tokyo Olympic All-Around champ Suni Lee contested only the Vault (13.350 + 13.400 = 26.750: 20th) and Beam (13.650 + 14.200 = 27.850: 3rd), owning to her ongoing health issues.
The 10-member women’s national team was named, but the team for the World Championships in Antwerp (BEL), starting 30 September, will be named after a training camp in Katy, Texas from 18-21 September.
In the men’s competition, Stanford’s Asher Hong, 19, took his first national title, leafing after Thursday’s first All-Around at 85.615, then staying steady on Saturday to post another 85.315 score – again the top total – to finish at 170.930.
Teammate Khoi Young, 20, was similarly consistent, scoring 84.781 on Thursday and 84.674 on Saturday for a silver-medal total of 169.455. Michigan’s Fred Richard, also 19, was third at 169.311.
The third Stanford entry, Colt Walker, 22, finished fourth at 168.811 and three-time U.S. champ Yul Moldauer was fifth (167.446).
The individual apparatus titles went to Michigan’s Paul Juda on Floor at 29.300, while 2021 World Champion Stephen Nedoroscik on Pommel Horse (31.301), with Young second (28.601) and Moldauer third (28.158).
Defending champ Donnell Whittenburg won on Rings (30.272), with Hong second (30.098) and Moldauer fourth (28.628). Ohio State’s Kameron Nelson on Vault (28.325) and Moldauer took the title on Parallel Bars (31.360). Richard was tops on the Horizontal Bar, scoring 29.802.
Hong, Juda, Moldauer, Rchard and Young were named to the U.S. team for the World Championships in Antwerp, with Walker as the alternate.
USA Gymnastics announced that its new mascot has been, appropriately, named “Flip.” About 1,000 suggestions were received online by Saturday evening, with “Flip” the most popular submission.
Spanish football chief Rubiales won’t quit, so FIFA suspends him
Turning from an embarrassment at the end of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sydney’s Stadium Australia into a cause celebre for women in Spain and elsewhere, Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales refused to resign on Friday and was provisionally suspended on Saturday (26th) by FIFA:
“The chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, Jorge Ivan Palacio (Colombia), in use of the powers granted by article 51 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC), has decided today to provisionally suspend Mr. Luis Rubiales from all football-related activities at national and international level. This suspension, which will be effective as of today, is for an initial period of 90 days, pending the disciplinary proceedings opened against Mr. Luis Rubiales on Thursday, August 24.”
FIFA further directed both Rubiales and the RFEF not to contact midfielder Jenni Hermoso, who was controversially kissed by Rubiales during the medal presentation ceremonies.
It appeared that Rubiales would resign at an extraordinary general assembly on Friday, but instead stunned the room, the Spanish federation membership and the soccer world with a defiant, 21-minute address that included:
● “Is it so serious that I need to leave, having done the best management in the history of Spanish football? Do you think I have to resign? Well, I’m going to tell you something: I will not resign, I will not resign, I will not resign. I will not resign. I will not resign.”
● “To my daughters [who were in the room] I say that today they have to learn a lesson: what equality is. You have to differentiate between truth and lies, and I am telling the whole truth. You are feminists and not the false feminism that is out there. They don’t care about people. They are preparing a social execution so they can put on a medal and say they are moving forward.”
● “It has taken them five days to congratulate us on the World Cup. They have referred to ‘sexual violence.’ What will the women who have been sexually assaulted think? To these people who have said this about me, who are trying to publicly assassinate me, I say that I will defend myself in court.”
● Rubiales also dismissed all of the regional vice presidents of the RFEF except Pedro Rocha, telling the assembly:
“He will be the interim president if the process opened by the CSD prevents me from continuing as president.”
The response came fast and furious, starting with Victor Francos, head of the National Sports Council (CSD):
“The government starts today the procedure so that Mr. Rubiales has to give explanations before the Sport Court and if the Sport Court agrees, I can announce that we will suspend Mr. Rubiales from his functions.”
And from the Spanish prosecutors:
“This Provincial Prosecutor’s Office has received the complaint against Luis Rubiales Béjar in which he recounts facts that could constitute a crime of sexual assault. I hereby inform you that having verified that the territorial jurisdiction to hear the facts corresponds to the Prosecutor’s Office of the National Court, the present Government File has been sent to it, for the appropriate purposes.”
Hermoso released a statement through the Spanish players union, FUTPRO, which included:
● “I want to make it clear that at no time did the conversation to which Mr. Luis Rubiales refers to in his address take place, and, above all, was his kiss ever consensual. I want to reiterate as I did before that I did not like this incident.”
● “I feel the need to report this incident because I believe that no person, in any work, sports, or social setting should be a victim of these types of non-consensual behaviors. I felt vulnerable and a victim of an impulse-driven, sexist, out of place act without any consent on my part.”
● “Despite my decision, I must state that I have been under continuous pressure to make a statement that could justify Mr. Luis Rubiales’ actions. Not only that, but in different ways and through different people, the RFEF has pressured my surroundings (family, friends, teammates, etc.) to give a testimony that had little or nothing to do with my feelings.”
FUTPRO’s statement noted that 81 players – including the entire Women’s World Cup team – will refuse any call to compete for the national team “if the current leaders continue.”
In addition, 11 Spanish football coaches and technical staff all resigned from the federation.
Then the RFEF dropped its own bomb, posting a lengthy statement in defense of Rubiales, including:
● “The RFEF announces its intention to take any necessary legal actions in defense of the honorability of the President of the RFEF. He has clearly and simply explained how the events, which have become a source of controversy and ridicule by wide sectors of society against him, transpired.”
● “In a state governed by the rule of law, as the President has advocated, opinions are countered with facts and evidence, and falsehoods are challenged in the courts.
“The President of the RFEF has sought to handle this matter with the utmost respect for the players and institutions, and only when an insurmountable red line was crossed did he publicly provide his version of the events.
“The version of events presented by the President is corroborated by internal records that have been opened.”
● “The RFEF and the President will demonstrate each falsehood that is spread, whether by someone on behalf of the player or, if necessary, by the player herself.
“Given the gravity of the content in the press release by the Futpro union, the RFEF and the President will initiate the appropriate legal actions.”
What a mess.
Ireland and Swiss reject move to World Boxing, for now
Two national boxing federations expected to move to World Boxing were slowed by their members, who decided – for now – to remain with the International Boxing Association, now un-recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
The SwissBoxing statement included:
“At the extraordinary delegates’ meeting of SwissBoxing on Saturday in the House of Sports in Ittigen, the delegates did not support the decision unanimously taken by the association council regarding immediate withdrawal from the IBA (formerly AIBA). Instead, it was decided to rejoin the IBA. The IOC, based in Lausanne, excluded the IBA from Olympic sport by decision of June 22, 2023. As a result, President Andreas Anderegg announced his immediate resignation. Former amateur boxer Amir Orfia was elected the new president.”
Anderegg had been the President of the federation for 17 years. In a follow-up message, Orfia observed:
“The current situation, marked by significant changes and important decisions, requires a united, transparent and forward-looking approach. The recent decision regarding our affiliation with the IBA, the concerns raised and the departures within our organization demonstrate the importance of our collective commitment to moving in the right direction.”
The Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) also had an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in Dublin last Saturday; its statement included:
“A majority of Irish boxing clubs attending today’s EGM voted in favour of constitutional change, which would have allowed the Irish Athletic Boxing Association to join any international federation the members voted for. The special resolution cannot, however, be enacted.
“71% of delegates voted in favour, and 29% against. As the special resolution proposed change to our Constitution, it required 75% to pass.”
The vote was 84-34 for the resolution, with four votes spoiled, and since it did not pass, a follow-up motion – “Does your club wish IABA to remain a member of the International Boxing Association (IBA) AND affiliate to World Boxing?” – did not come up.
IABA Chair Niall O’Carroll‘s statement noted:
“The vote was very tight, just 4% in the difference, but the clubs have spoken. It is very important to note that the majority of clubs here today wanted to change our constitution to allow us flexibility and choice, the bar for passing this special resolution is very high – 75%. It means that IABA remains constitutionally tied to IBA. The Board of Directors respects the outcome of this vote. … We’ll consult with members on what that looks like, and create a path forward, together, from there.”
If the IABA motion had passed, it would have meant that the Irish federation could not be a member of the IBA since that organization bars membership in any other federation.
World Boxing has announced 12 members and is processing other applications, in advance of a November Congress to elect its first officers. Its goal is to become the IOC’s recognized federation for Olympic boxing, since IBA’s recognition was ended in June.
The IBA, headed by former Russian Boxing Federation Secretary General Umar Kremlev, was thrilled with these outcomes, of course, but remains outside of the Olympic Movement.
It should be noted that neither Switzerland or Ireland, or any national federation, have had their opportunities to participate in boxing at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, since neither the IBA nor World Boxing have anything to do with it, and the qualifying process is being overseen by the IOC itself, as it did for Tokyo in 2021.
Entrance stampede kills 12 at Indian Ocean Island Games opening
“An unfortunate event happened. There was a stampede at the entrance. There were a lot of injuries. We will observe a few seconds of silence because compatriots have died when they wanted to enter.”
That announcement was made by the President of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, on Friday night during the opening ceremony of the 11th Indian Ocean Island Games, being held in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Madagascar Prime Minister Christian Ntsay reported that 12 people died and another 80 were injured, including 11 in critical condition. But the ceremony, at the 41,000-seat Mahamasina stadium, continued. A report on the Games opening noted:
“President Andry Rajoelina called for a minute of silence following the death of several people after a stampede in front of a stadium gate. The Prime Minister as well as several members of the Government immediately went to the bedside of the victims. Those injured will be taken care of by the State. The Head of State Andry Rajoelina sent a message of comfort to the victims and took the opportunity to challenge the various officials so that such a tragedy could not happen again.”
A similar incident, with one death and 40 injured at the same stadium, took place before a football match in 2018.
A reported 4,213 athletes from seven island nations – Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion and Seychelles – are competing in 17 sports. The event continues to 3 September.
U.S. women drop to third in new FIFA rankings
Spain’s remarkable run to the championship of the FIFA Women’s World Cup was rewarded up a significant move in the new FIFA Women’s World Rankings, but not to the top spot.
That belongs to Sweden, which eliminated the U.S. on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals and ended up in third place after beating Australia:
● 1. 2069.17 points: Sweden (+2)
● 2. 2051.84 points: Spain (+4)
● 3. 2051.21 points: United States (-2)
● 4. 2030.14 points: England (same)
● 5. 2004.17 points: France (same)
● 6. 1987.67 points: Germany (-4)
● 7. 1984.50 points: Netherlands (+2)
● 8. 1961.35 points: Japan (+3)
● 9. 1949.41 points: Brazil (-1)
● 10. 1944.84 points: Canada (-3)
It’s the first time ever for Sweden at no. 1; the Spanish could have been top-ranked but lost on out on some valuable points in their 4-0 group-stage loss to Japan.
Germany was the biggest loser (-4) in the top echelon, failing to make it out of the group stage, and Canada lost three spots for the same result.
The U.S. moved two slots lower to third, which is its lowest position ever in the history of the rankings, which began in 2003. The U.S. women had never placed lower than third in the prior Women’s World Cups and had been top-ranked since June 2017.
The biggest gain in the list came from Morocco, which rose from 72nd to 58th by making the playoff round.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Badminton ● Big news for Korea at the BWF World Championships in Copenhagen (DEN), with three wins … for a country that hadn’t won a gold since 2014, and came into the tournament with nine wins all-time!
The fun started with Mixed Doubles, as fifth-seeded Seung-jae Seo and Yu-jung Chae defeated defending champs and top-seeded Si Wei Zhang and Ya Qiong Huang (CHN), 21-17, 10-21, 21-18.
Japan’s 2022 silver winners, Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino, won a bronze, along with Zhenbang Jiang and Yaxin Wei (CHN).
Then, top-seeded Se-young An, the 2022 bronze medalist, topped three-time champion Carolina Marin (ESP), 21-12, 21-10.
Defending champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan won a bronze, along with 2022 runner-up Yufei Chen (CHN).
Finally, Mun-hyuk Kang and Seung-jae Seo (KOR) won the men’s Doubles with a 14-21, 21-15, 21-17 victory over 2021 bronze winners – and home favorites Kim Astrup and Anders Rasmussen (DEN).
Malaysia’s defending champs, Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik, shared the bronze with China’s Weikeng Liang and Chang Wang.
Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn, the 2022 silver winner, defeated Kodai Naraoka (JPN) in the men’s Single final, 19-21, 21-18, 21-7 for the country’s first medal in the event.
China’s two-time defending champions Qing Chen Chen and Yi Fan Jia (CHN) won the women’s Doubles over 11th-seeded Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Ramadhanti (INA), 21-16, 21-12.
China won six medals overall (1-1-4), then came the Koreans (3-0-1) and Japan (0-1-2).
● Basketball ● The 2023 FIBA men’s World Cup is underway in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines, with the U.S. scoring a win in its opening game against New Zealand.
Playing in Group C in the Manila suburb of Pasay, the U.S. was down early, but rallied for a 19-18 lead at the quarter and extended to a 45-36 halftime lead. A 31-22 third quarter decided the issue and the Americans also won the fourth quarter en route to a 99-72 win.
Forward Paolo Banchero (Magic) scored 21 to lead the U.S., supported by guards Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves: 14), Austin Reaves (Lakers: 12) and Jalen Brunson (Knicks: 10). Edwards had seven rebounds and Reaves had six assists. The U.S. shot 59.3% from the floor, to 36.5% for New Zealand and had 41 rebounds to 33.
The Americans will face Greece next, on Monday (28th) and then Jordan on the 30th, before moving on to the second round.
Canada crushed France, 95-65, in Group H play, and Slovenia defeated Venezuela, 100-85, thanks to 37 points and seven rebounds from Mavericks’ star Luka Doncic.
In the second round of games played on Sunday, the Dominican Republic went to 2-0 by beating Italy, 87-82; Lithuania and Montenegro are both 2-0 in Group D, and Germany surprised Australia, 85-82, to go to 2-0 in Group E. Canada won its second game in Group H, stomping on Lebanon, 128-73.
The Philippine hosts already set a World Cup record for attendance, as 38,115 saw the home team lose to the Dominican Republic, 87-81, in Group A at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue. That surpassed the 32,616 who attended the 1994 final at the SkyDome in Toronto (CAN).
The World Cup quality level continues to rise, as FIBA reported:
“A total of 55 NBA players from 20 different countries were included in the 32 rosters for the World Cup – up from the previous record of 54 players in 2019 after 45 NBA players at the 2014 World Cup.”
Said U.S. head coach Steve Kerr:
“The USA team is always going to have 12 NBA players. So the fact that we are breaking a record in the World Cup means that the other teams are getting better and better. The game is getting more globalized and improving everywhere. And that’s why you have so many great players in the NBA from overseas. They’re getting good training, they have good competition to allow them to get to this point, and it means it’s that much harder for the United States to win a gold medal.”
● Canoe-Kayak ● New Zealand’s brilliant Lisa Carrington was once again the star of the ICF World Sprint Championships, held in Duisberg (GER), with multiple Olympic qualifying quotas on the line. Carrington, a five-time Olympic gold medalist in the women’s kayak sprints, won three events, the women’s K-1 500 m (1:47.769; fifth title), the non-Olympic K-1 200 m (38.932; ninth title) and on the K-4 500 m with Alicia Hoskin, Olivia Brett and Tara Vaughn, the country’s first Worlds gold in that event (1:30.606).
Denmark’s Emma Jorgensen, the Rio silver and Tokyo bronze K-1 500 m medalist, finished second to Carrington in that race, then teamed up with Frederikke Matthiesen to win the K-2 500 m, ahead of Poland’s Martyna Klatt and Helena Wisniewska, 1:38.956 to 1:40.824. The Poles won the non-Olympic K-2 200 m title in 36.681.
Canada’s Katie Vincent, a three-event winner at the 2022 Worlds, won three more golds in the C-1 500 m (2:01.545), C-1 5,000 m (25:57.255) and with Connor Fitzpatrick in the Mixed C-2 500 m (1:45.771). She also took a bronze with Sloan Mackenzie in the C-2 500 m.
The Olympic-class women’s C-1 200 m was won by Cuba’s Yarisleidis Cirilo in 44.799, ahead of Spain’s Antia Jacome (45.418), her second silver in the event (also 2021). Jacome teamed with Maria Corbera to take silvers in the C-2 500 m (1:52.916 behind Olympic champs Shixiao Xu and Mengya Sun of China: 1:52.775), and the non-Olympic C-200 m (42.760, behind China’s Changwen Shuai and Wenjun Lin: 42.516).
The most popular winner on the men’s side was Czech Martin Fuksa, who won the C-1 1,000 m gold in 3:45.124, ahead of Catalin Chirila (ROU: 3:45.958) and German four-time winner Sebastian Brendel (3:46.581). Fuksa had placed second in this race five times previously – in 2014-15-17-18-21) – but finally got the win. It was his third career Worlds gold, with wins in the C-1 500 m in 2015 and 2017.
Chirila also won the non-Olympic C-1 500 m (1:45.373), and Brendel finished second in the non-Olympic C-1 5,000 m to Balazs Adolf (HUN), 22:12.975 to 22:18.863.
Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta won his fifth career Worlds gold, and third in the K-1 1,000 m, in 3:27.712, ahead of Adam Varga (HUN: 3:28.141). Pimenta also collected a silver in the non-Olympic K-1 5,000 m (20:09.974, behind Dane Mads Pedersen, 19:55.467), and a bronze in the non-Olympic K-1 500 m (1:36.908, behind winner Balint Kopasz (HUN): 1:36.262).
Portugal got a second win in the K-2 500 m from Joao Ribeiro and Messias Baptista (3:11.512), and Germany won the K-4 500 m in 1:19.183, with daylight ahead of Hungary (1:19.570).
● Gymnastics ● The 40th FIG Rhythmic World Championships in Valencia (ESP) concluded with Germany’s 16-year-old Darja Varfolomeev completing an individual sweep of the four apparatus finals and the All-Around.
She took the four apparatus titles on the first two days, then took the All-Around at 137.450 points, ahead of defending champ Sofia Rafaelli (ITA: 135.700), with Israel’s Daria Atamanov third (131.400). Varfolomeev’s feat had not been achieved since 2011, when Russian Yevgeniya Kanayeva did the same.
Bulgaria took the combined team title with 330.150 points, followed by Germany (326.350) and Italy (323.850). The U.S. was 14th, scoring 292.850.
In the group events, Israel won the Group All-Around at 70.800, followed by China (70.050) and Spain (68.600). Using the same group, the Israelis won the 3 Ribbons + 2 Balls final at 34.800, ahead of China (32.800) and Ukraine (32.300).
China won the 5 Hoops team event, scoring 36.550, with Spain second (36.100) and Italy (35.850).
Thanks to Varfolomeev, Germany led the medal standings with six (5-1-0), with Italy at five (0-3-2), Bulgaria at four (1-2-1) and Israel (2-0-1) and China (1-2-0) with three.
● Modern Pentathlon ● The 2023 UIPM World Championships are ongoing in Bath (GBR), but have a strong similarity to the 2022 edition.
In the men’s final, Tokyo Olympic champ and defending Worlds gold medalist Joe Choong (GBR) finished second in fencing, first in riding and eighth in the swimming to carry a 10-second lead into the final Laser Run event. His time of 10:15.70 was only 12th-fastest in the field, but it carried him to the line with a third straight title and 1,523 points.
Mexico’s Emiliano Hernandez, the Central American and Caribbean Games winner, had the performance of a lifetime to grab second at 1,518 points, with a second in riding and seventh in fencing before a 10th-place finish in the Laser Run. Egypt claimed the next three places, with Mohanad Shaban third (1,514), Ahmed Elgendy fourth (1,510) and Mohamed Elgendy fifth (1,506).
The Egyptian men were easy winners of the team title at 4,530, with Britain second (4,450) and South Korea third (also 4,450).
Italy’s Elena Micheli came in as the defending champion, and like Choong, won again! She had the highest score in the semis, and was ultra-consistent, placing sixth in fencing, sixth in riding and second in swimming. That gave her a two-second edge on the field going into the last event.
Her fifth-best 11:14.40 time on the Laser Run brought her home with 1,429 points, nine seconds ahead of teammate Alice Sotero, who had the fastest time on the Laser Run (11:00.10) and moved her from ninth to second, scoring 1,420 points. Britain’s unheralded Kerenza Bryson also made a big move, from sixth to the bronze, with the third-fastest Laser Run (11:09.80), ending with 1,419.
Micheli and Sotero got a second gold for winning the team title with Alessandra Frezza (13th), scoring 4,221 to edge Britain (4,207), with Hungary third (3,537).
The championships will conclude with the Mixed Relay on Monday.
● Shooting ● The ISSF World Championships continue in Baku (AZE), with the Olympic events concluded, but the U.S. continuing to win medals.
Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein and Rachel Tozier took silver in the Mixed Trap event, in a shoot-off with Portugal. After a tie at 142, the Portuguese managed a 13-12 win for the gold.
China’s Yu Xie won the men’s 50 m Pistol, 558-557 over Lauris Strautmanis (LAT), and Austria’s Sylvia Steiner took the women’s 50 m Pistol, 540-534, against Bayartsetseg Tumurchudur (MGL).
Two-time Worlds medalist Istvan Peni (HUN) won the 300 m Standard Rifle Open event, matching Kim Andre Lund (NOR) at 587, but won on criteria. American Timothy Sherry was third, just one shot back (586).
The championships continue with non-Olympic events through the end of the month.
China piled up 11 medals (6-3-2) in the Olympic events; the U.S. scored three (1-1-1); Greece, India and Germany also had three.
● Volleyball ● China won the 22nd FIVB Women’s World U-21 Championship held in Leon (MEX), with a 3-1 finals victory over Italy, 19-25, 25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 15-8. Brazil swept Japan, 3-0, for the bronze medal and the U.S. finished sixth.
It’s China’s fourth title, after wins in 1995, 2013 and 2017, and kept Italy from a second straight title after its win in 2021. The U.S., despite fielding exceptional senior teams, has never won a medal in this event.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Athletics ● American Steepler Allie Ostrander, a three-time NCAA women’s champ for Boise State, agreed to a four-month sanction from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency:
“Ostrander, 26, tested positive for canrenone, a metabolite of spironolactone, as the result of an out-of-competition urine sample collected on March 30, 2023. Ostrander’s violation resulted from her use of a topical acne medication containing spironolactone for which she had a prescription. However, Ostrander failed to obtain a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for the medication.”
Her suspension began on 28 April 2023 and has now ended. She hasn’t competed since finishing second in the Carlsbad 5 km on 2 April, a result which has now been nullified.
● Cycling ● The final Grand Tour of the year, the 78th Vuelta a Espana, began on Saturday with the Team Time Trial and got going with a 181.8 km, hilly stage on Sunday, from Mataro to Barcelona.
Danish rider Andreas Kron took the lead on the final, small climb on the Montjuic and pedaled away to win in 4:10:06, with Kaden Groves (AUS) getting the same time, as did the top 40. Due to heavy rains before the stage, the timing for the overall standings was taken with 9 km remaining, when Andrea Piccolo (ITA) and Javier Romo (ESP) were 18 seconds ahead and Piccolo now leads the race by 11 seconds over Romo.
There were some reports of thumbtacks on the road, also a problem from protesters at the Tour de France in July.
Monday’s third stage is more formidable, with a major climb up the Coll d’Ordino and then an uphill finish into Arsinal in Andorra.
Defending champ Remco Evenepoel (BEL), three-time winner Primoz Roglic (SLO) and two-time Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) are the favorites. The 21-stage race continues through 21 September, finishing in Madrid.
The second Renewi Tour – formerly known as the Benelux Tour – finished Sunday, with Belgians taking the top four places with Tim Wellens, Florian Vermeersch, Yves Lampaert and Jasper Stuyven.
Belgium’s sprint star Jasper Philipsen took the flat stage one, then Joshua Tarling (GBR) won the Individual Time Trial to take the lead after two stages. Wellens took the race lead with a second straight runner-up finish in stage three, as Mike Teunissen (NED) won the stage, and Wellens held a 23-second lead after a mass-sprint finish to the fourth stage, won by Tim Welsford (AUS).
On Sunday, Slovenia’s Matej Morohic got to the line first in the mass-sprint finish, winning the 187.3 km route in 4:07:00, ahead of Matteo Trentin (ITA) and Soren Kragh Andersen (DEN).
Wellens finished in 15:51:52, with Vermeersch 23 seconds back, and third-place Lampaert in the same time.
Dutch star Annemiek van Vleuten, who plans to retire at the end of the season, took the lead in the women’s Tour of Scandinavia on Saturday in Denmark, passing Dane Cecile Uttrup Ludwig, coming from 12 seconds down to forge a 17-second lead, heading into Sunday’s finale.
The first three stages were held in Norway, with Lorena Wiebes (NED) won the initial, flat stage in a sprint, the Ludwig took stage two and the race lead, with a win over van Vleuten at the line of the uphill finish. Wiebes came back to win stage three, in another mass sprint, but Ludwig was third and maintained the lead, before van Vleuten’s third-place finish in the time trial. Australia’s Grace Brown won, with van Vleuten third (+0:23) and Ludwig 17th (+0:52).
The mostly flat final stage ended in Haderslev (DEN), with Ludwig winning with a late attack, in 3:35:55, but only five seconds up on the mass finish, with Wiebes second, Elisa Balsamo (ITA) third and van Vleuten 15th, in the same time. That gave the Dutch star the win in 14:31:05, just 0:02 up on Ludwig and 33 seconds ahead of Amber Kraak (NED) in third.
The fifth leg of the UCI Mountain Bike Cross Country World Cup was in Pal Arinsal (AND), with two first-time winners this season in the Cross Country Olympic final.
Tokyo Olympic runner-up Mathias Flueckiger (SUI) dominated the men’s Cross Country Olympic final from the start, taking a quick lead and then breaking away on the second (of seven) laps to win in 1:28:03. That was 23 seconds ahead of Thomas Griot (FRA) – his first World Cup medal – and 44 seconds up on Britain’s World Champion, Tom Pidcock in third. It’s Flueckiger’s fifth career XCO World Cup win.
Austria’s Mona Mitterwallner, 21, was 36 seconds behind after the first of five laps in the women’s race, but worked her way back and had the fastest laps in the field when they counted most: laps four and five, to win in 1:14:09. Alessandra Keller (SUI), the 2018 World U-23 champ, was second, but 34 seconds back in 1:14:43 and four-time World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot (FRA) was third in 1:15:37. American Sevilla Blunk was ninth in 1:17:40.
Mitterwallner is a comer; she won the 2020 World Junior title and 2021 World U-23 gold, and now this, her first World Cup race at the senior level.
In the Short Track racing on Saturday, Luca Schwarzbauer (GER: 20:13) won a tight finish in the nine-lap men’s race, finishing just ahead of Swiss legend Nino Schurter (20:14) and Jordan Sarrou (FRA) and Alan Hatherly (RSA), both in 20:15.
Keller took the eight-lap women’s race, 20:36 to 20:42 over Britain’s Evie Richards with Puck Pieterse (NED: 20:53) third.
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!