The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: Eugene to host 2024 T&F Trials (again); U.S. wrestling star Elor wins second straight Worlds gold; Ertz retires after 3-0 U.S. win

Two-time World women's 72 kg champ Amit Elor of the U.S. (Photo by Larry Slater)

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1. Eugene named as T&F Olympic Trials site for 2024
2. U.S.’s Elor wins back-to-back wrestling Worlds gold
3. U.S. women sail by South Africa as Ertz ends storied career
4. Minister: systemic doping never happened in Russia
5. Kipchoge returns to try for fifth Berlin Marathon win

● As expected, Hayward Field in Eugene will host the 2024 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials for the eighth time and the fifth time in succession.

● American wrestler Amit Elor, 19, won her second straight World Wrestling Championships gold, in the women’s 72 kg class. Still a teen, she now has seven Worlds golds in the Cadet, Junior, U-23 and senior divisions!

● The U.S. Women’s National Team sent star defender Julie Ertz out in style with a 3-0 win over overmatched South Africa in Cincinnati in their first game following the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

● The Russian Sports Minister said that his country has never engaged in systemic doping. Russia has not paid its dues to the World Anti-Doping Agency for 2023 and is asking for a new dues formula to be developed at a forthcoming meeting on the UNESCO anti-doping convention.

● Sunday brings the annual Berlin Marathon, with defending champs Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya and Tigst Assefa of Ethiopia both back, and Kipchoge looking to rebound from his sixth-place finish in Boston in May.

World Championships: Rugby (seven unbeatens left at World Cup) ●

Panorama: Athens 2004 (Olympic pool, closed since 2012, to be renovated) = Asian Games 2023 (sustainability means no fireworks at opening) = Russia (minister says no payments will be cut off to its athletes) = Aquatics (Russian federation rejects World Aquatics conditions for re-entry) = Football (Infantino meets with U.S. counterparts Goodell, Manfred, Bettman) = Luge (White Castle USA Luge Slider Search program continues) = Swimming (Grimes leads Golden Goggles nominee list) ●

Eugene named as T&F Olympic Trials site for 2024

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Eugene, Oregon was again selected as the site for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials.

The meet will be held from 21-30 June at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, hosted by TrackTown USA.

Eugene will be hosting its eighth Olympic Trials, dating back to 1972. The Olympic Trials meet dates back to 1920, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – site of the 1932 Olympic Games – was the preferred venue in the 1950s and 1960s, as the site for the men’s Trials in 1952, 1956 and 1964, and again as a “semi-Trials” in 1968, with a final Trials held at Echo Summit, California to mimic the high-altitude of Olympic host Mexico City.

Los Angeles bid again for the 1972 Trials, in the two-day format previously held there four times. Eugene offered a different concept, more-or-less replicating the planned, nine-day Olympic track & field schedule for Munich, proposing a format that would mirror the rounds and rest availability of the Olympic Games.

This was accepted by the AAU and the men’s Trials was held from 29 June to 11 July, and all Trials since have used the week-long format. This proved popular, and Eugene was selected to host the combined men’s and women’s Trials in 1976, in 1980 and then in 2008-12-16-21 and now 2024.

Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California – at the eastern end of the Los Angeles metro area – was originally selected to host the 2020 Trials, but the award was revoked and given to Eugene. In addition to the annual Mt. SAC Relays, Hilmer Lodge Stadium – now completely renovated – hosted the U.S. Trials for women in 1968.

The 2028 Olympic Trials could be held in the Coliseum in Los Angeles – as it was in 1984 in advance of the Olympic Games held in the same stadium – if the temporary track facility for the LA28 Games is ready, and available.

U.S.’s Elor wins back-to-back wrestling Worlds gold

The U.S. women completed a seven-medal performance at the 2023 World Wrestling Championships in Belgrade (SRB) with a repeat gold medal for Amit Elor at 72 kg, and a second-place finish in the women’s Freestyle standings.

The amazing Elor, still just 19, won three world titles in 2022, taking the United World Wrestling championships at the Junior, U-23 and senior levels, and is on track for another three-peat!

She won the World Juniors again in Amman (JOR) in August, and now won her second senior title in a row with an 8-2 win over Mongolia’s Enkh-Amaryn Davaanasan in the final. Elor won her prior matches by 7-0, 6-0 and 12-2 to get to the final.

Elor’s international championships record is almost unbelievable at 28-1:

Cadet Worlds: 6-1 (one gold, one bronze)
Junior Worlds: 11-0 (golds in 2021-22-23)
U-23 Worlds: 3-0 (gold in 2022)
World Champs: 8-0 (golds in 2022-23)

She plans to compete in the UWW U-23 Worlds in Finland in late October to try for her second consecutive triple title run!

At 68 kg, Turkey’s Buse Tosun pinned Enkhsaikany Delgermaa of Mongolia in the championship final, while being down 4-3 in the match. It’s Tosun’s first Worlds gold, after bronzes in 2018 and 2021.

American Emma Bruntil lost in a bronze-medal match by a 10-0 technical fall to Koumba Larroque of France.

Japan scored its fifth gold at 53 kg as Akari Fujinami defeated “neutral’ Belarus wrestler Vanesa Kaladzynskaya by technical fall, 10-0. It’s Fujinami’s second title after her 2021 Worlds victory; she won her four matches by 10-0, pinfall and 10-0 prior to the final.

In the 62 kg class, Aisuluu Tynybekova (KGZ) won her third Worlds gold with a 4-1 win over Japan’s Sakura Motoki. Tynykevona also won in 2019 and 2021.Two-time Worlds silver winner Kayla Miracle of the U.S. was eliminated in the round-of-16.

All of that combined to give Japan a 195-135 team win in women’s Freestyle over the U.S., its ninth in a row and 11th in the last 12. The U.S. women claimed seven medals – same as the men – and leads the overall medal table at 14 (4-3-7), with Japan at 10 (6-2-2).

The Greco-Roman division will finish out the championships on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

U.S. women sail by South Africa as Ertz ends storied career

In its first game since bowing out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in August, the U.S. Women’s National Team faced fellow Women’s World Cup contestant South Africa in Cincinnati and saluted retiring backfield star Julie Ertz with a dominant, 3-0 win.

The U.S. was on offense from the start, with the South African finding counterattack possibilities as the Americans closed in on the net. Ertz got a header at the corner of the penalty area off a corner kick in the 18th minute, but the shot went high, and in the 21st, but that shot was saved by keeper Kaylin Swart.

Another corner kick by midfielder Lindsey Horan in the 32nd was chased by Ertz, but caromed off the head of a defender and flew toward the center of the goal, where it was headed in by forward Lynn Williams for a 1-0 lead.

Just two minutes later, a pass from Horan down the left side of the pitch found striker Alex Morgan, who sent a perfect cross into the middle of the box to a charging forward Tiffany Rodman, who finished with a right-footed volley to make it 2-0 in the 34th.

At this point, Ertz was taken out to hearty cheers and replaced by Andi Sullivan, who got into the match quickly.

In the 41st, a Sullivan corner curved in toward the South African goal, which was brilliantly flicked on from the near-post area by Horan to the far post, where Williams was stationed and it bounced in off of her for a 3-0 halftime lead. The U.S. had 59% of possession and a 9-5 edge on shots in the half. 

The U.S. controlled possession, but substituted liberally in the second half, and did not score, although there were a couple of opportunities that went wide. The Americans finished with 62% of possession and 19-6 on shots.

Ertz, in her 123rd match for the national side, finishes as a two-time World Cup winner, two-time U.S. women’s player of the year and an Olympic bronze medalist from Tokyo. To say she had a magical career is an understatement: in her 123 games for the U.S., she was on the winning side 101 times, with 17 draws and just five losses.

The U.S. plays South Africa again on Sunday in Chicago, which will be the final game for star forward Megan Rapinoe.

Minister: systemic doping never happened in Russia

Another astonishing comment, once again designed to shore up internal opinion, came from Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin at the All-Russian Clean Games Forum in Suzdal concerning Russia and doping:

“This topic is very important not only for our country, but also in shaping the mindset of our young generation, adults. Despite the fact that they want to divide us, it is important for the state to cooperate with all organizations to create and strengthen the development of the anti-doping system in Russia.

“If we are accused of systematic doping, which has never happened, I can say that we have a very effective system for fighting it, [the system] certainly exists, and this has been confirmed by numerous commissions, representatives of UNESCO.

“The most important thing is that we should not focus on the highest international authorities. We should work out criteria and policies for ourselves, which should result in clean sport.”

This is essentially a denial of the long-term doping issues in Russia (an inheritance from the USSR days) and the state-sponsored doping program instituted from 2011-15, which together have resulted in the revocation of 43 Olympic medals from 2002-2016, including 13 from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and 15 from London 2012.

Moreover, Matytsin’s Sports Ministry also now refuses to pay its dues to the World Anti-Doping Agency, because the amount is based on its dues to the Council of Europe, which it left after its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. According to a Ministry statement:

“According to the decision of the WADA Executive Committee in 2023, Russia’s annual contribution should amount to $1,267,023. This figure is calculated on the basis of the scale of the country’s contributions to the Council of Europe, while Russia terminated its membership in the council on March 16, 2022. In this regard, it is necessary to work out a mechanism to pay the annual contribution to WADA for countries that are not members of continental organizations, in particular, the Council of Europe.”

Russia has asked for a new dues formula to be developed with reference to the anti-doping convention of UNESCO, to be considered in October. TASS also reported:

“According to documents from the World Anti-Doping Agency obtained by TASS, eight countries pay WADA an annual contribution exceeding $1 million. Russia, the UK, Germany, Italy and France had to pay $1,267,023 in 2023. The US ($3,419,795), Canada ($1,709,897) and Japan ($1,502,800) are expected to make the largest contributions to WADA’s budget in 2023. According to available documents, all of these countries, except Russia, have already paid their dues in full for 2023.”

The TASS story also explained that the WADA dues are paid by the Russian Sports Ministry and not by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. The head of RUSADA, Director General Veronika Loginova, told TASS:

“RUSADA is doing everything possible to ensure fair competition, clean and fair competitions on the territory of Russia, we are trying to cover everything. Our activities are not limited in any way, we conduct testing, a huge number of educational events. We will continue to achieve our recovery.”

A WADA statement noted that the dues may be paid anytime until the end of the year and that “We will strive to work with the relevant authorities to ensure that all contributions are made on time.”

Observed: This is a very interesting development, as Russia has been working diligently for RUSADA to be deemed compliant by WADA, but a prolonged dues issue could signal a willingness to continue as non-compliant given continuing pessimism about Russia’s participation at Paris 2024.

Comments by former Russian Athletics Federation President Valentin Balakhnichev at a State Duma forum pointed to this as well. He told TASS:

“We have talked a lot about what is happening today, but we haven’t said how long this situation will last. I can say that it will last at least 10 years. We need to prepare for a serious, not short, struggle and think not about whether our athletes will be allowed to go to the Olympics now, but about what will be happening in the Russian Federation over the next 10 years.

“The Olympic Games were the main motivation for the development of Russian sports. The [International Olympic Committee] has placed its people everywhere, while our representatives are practically gone. We will have to protect our interests ourselves, from here. They have prepared well.”

Balakhnichev also recommended considering the Chinese approach, which makes its domestic competitions highly prized. The Russian Sports Ministry has been working in this area, but more with international events such as the BRICS Games next June in Kazan and the Friendship Games in September 2024, in Moscow and Yekaterinburg.

Kipchoge returns to try for fifth Berlin Marathon win

What will Kipchoge do? That’s the question almost everyone is asking ahead of Sunday’s BMW Berlin Marathon, with Kenyan superstar Eliud Kipchoge returning to the scene of his two world-record runs in 2018 (2:01:39) and 2022 (2:01:09).

Kipchoge, the two-time Olympic marathon winner in Rio and Tokyo, won in Berlin in 2015-17-18-22, with his last two runs producing records on the pancake-flat course. However, he was sixth in Boston on 17 April, ending a string of four straight wins in the marathon. The men’s elite line-up offers several challengers (listed by lifetime bests):

2:01:09 (2022) Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) ~ two world records in Berlin
2:03:13 (2022) Amos Kipruto (KEN) ~ 2022 London winner, 2019 Worlds bronze
2:05:34 (2022) Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ERI) ~ 2015 World Champion
2:05:37 (2022) Ronald Korir (KEN) ~ 2016 Seoul runner-up
2:05:38 (2023) Tadu Abate (ETH) ~ 2022 Berlin third-placer
2:05:44 (2022) Philemon Kiplimo (KEN)
2:05:47 (2023) Enock Onchari (KEN)
2:05:49 (2015) Mark Korir (KEN)
2:05:52 (2021) Andualem Belay Shiferaw (ETH)
2:05:53 (2023) Haftu Teklu (ETH)

Defending champion Tigst Assefa of Ethiopia, fifth-fastest in history, is back for only her third career marathon and first competition of any kind this year. Sheila Chepkirui (KEN), the 10,000 m Commonwealth Games bronze medalist last year, is also running only her third career marathon:

2:15:37 (2022) Tigst Assefa (ETH) ~ 2022 Berlin champion
2:17:29 (2022) Sheila Chepkirui (KEN) ~ 2022 Valencia third, 2023 London fourth
2:18:03 (2022) Tigist Abayechew (ETH) ~ 2022 Berlin third-placer
2:18:51 (2022) Workenesh Edesa (ETH) ~ 2022 Berlin fourth-placer
2:19:10 (2022) Hiwot Gebrekidan (ETH)
2:19:24 (2023) Hitomi Niiya (JPN)
2:19:28 (2019) Zeineba Yimer (ETH)

Some 45,000 runners from 150 countries will line up in Berlin, with the start scheduled for 9:15 a.m. local time. No U.S. television partner is listed by the organizers.


● Rugby ● The third of four rounds of games in the group stage are starting at the Rugby World Cup in France, with only seven teams out of 20 still undefeated:

Group A: France (3-0: 13 points); Italy (2-0: 10)
Group B: Ireland (2-0: 10); South Africa (2-0: 9)
Group C: Wales (2-0: 10)
Group D: England (2-0: 9); Samoa (1-0: 5)

The top two from each group will advance to the quarterfinals beginning on 14 October, with the championship final on 28 October.

Attendance has been very good, with 753,061 reported through 18 matches for an average of 41,837.


● Olympic Games 2004: Athens ● One of the dead venues of the 2004 Athens is being brought back to life, as the city of Athens agreed with the Hellenic Olympic Committee to renovate the Athens Olympic Swimming Pool.

Originally built in 1940, it was renovated for the 2004 Games, but shut down in 2012 for lack of funds for maintenance and operations. It is expected to re-open in 2026.

● Asian Games 2023: Hangzhou ● The opening ceremony for the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou (CHN) will skip the traditional fireworks, opting for a light show instead. Xiaolan Sha, the general director of the opening event, told reporters:

“The opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games will break the tradition of having fireworks performance, as we are sticking to a green philosophy in hosting the event.

“As we want to reduce the carbon emissions as much as possible, so we have decided to cut the fireworks performances.”

● Russia ● In comments reported Thursday, Russian Sports Minister Matytsin appeared to contradict his First Deputy Minister, Azat Kadyrov, who said earlier that Russian athletes who participate at Paris 2024 as neutrals will receive no participation payments from the government.

Matytsin told the Russian news agency TASS:

“Our budget provides for the payment of prize money to the winners and medalists of the Olympic Games. After the International Olympic Committee determines the rules for the participation of Russian athletes and their status, a decision will be made on bonuses. But in no way will the state abandon measures of social protection and material support our athletes and coaches.”

● Aquatics ● The executive office of the All-Russian Swimming Federation issued a blanket refusal of the participation terms instituted for Russian and Belarusian entries for World Aquatics competitions, including the February 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Qatar.

According to a federation statement:

“The Presidium considers unacceptable the criteria for the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the World Aquatics competitions. The members of the Presidium expressed full support for the position of the Athletes’ Commission of the [Russian Olympic Committee] on the need to completely cancel any recommendations of a discriminatory nature and categorically unacceptable admission parameters, including the signing of any kind of political declarations.”

Among multiple requirements in the World Aquatics regulations is that potential Russian or Belarusian athletes not support the invasion of Ukraine.

● Football ● FIFA President Gianni Infantino (SUI) was in the U.S. earlier this week and took a tour of sports league offices in New York, including the NFL, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League.

His meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was of mutual interest, since all 11 U.S. stadiums for the 2026 FIFA World Cup will be in NFL venues. Infantino was also a guest at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas for the Cowboys-Jets game on Sunday (17th).

With MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, Infantino focused on new information flows for already-number-obsessed baseball fans:

“It was a pleasure meeting Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert Manfred to discuss the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2026 and exchange know-how on the operations of our respective sports.

“We spoke about employing technology to enhance fan experience and I highlighted FIFA’s innovative technological approach that helped to deliver the greatest-ever edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year.”

Also from the FIFA release:

“The FIFA President and the MLB Commissioner also discussed the technological innovations the MLB has recently introduced, notably the upgrades to the Statcast platform now employed in the current season.

“Five of the 12 stat-dedicated cameras covering MLB games have been upgraded to high frame rate devices, enabling the league to provide fans with new bat and biomechanics tracking output, bringing baseball lovers even closer to events on the field.”

Similarly, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Infantino was interested in new technologies for fans:

“Like the NHL, we want to take advantage of the rapid strides being made in technological innovations to get our fans as close to the action as possible at the inaugural 48-team FIFA World Cup in 2026.”

The FIFA announcement also pointed to “[r]ecent developments saw fans able to use a mobile phone application to view multiple camera feeds and angles of games from their device in real time inside the arena, while avatars and fun graphics are used to illustrate the on-ice entertainment for the very youngest of hockey fans.”

● Luge ● Fun feature on the FIL Web site about the introductory White Castle USA Luge Slider Search program, offering a chance for 9-to-13-year-old to experience street luge in a safe environment and as a pathway to developing young-athlete interest in the sport.

It began in 1985, with iconic midwestern burger chain White Castle titling the program to help recruit future members of the USA Luge Junior Development Team. More than 25,000 have tried out and after some instruction on the basics of street luge:

“athletes take several runs down a paved luge course on wheel-equipped luge sleds. Finally, athletes test their physical skills through a battery of fitness tests. Those who show promise in the summer program are invited to Lake Placid, N.Y., Park City, Utah, or Muskegon, Mich. to try luge on ice at a USA Luge sanctioned training site. The top young athletes from this group are selected for the next year’s development team.”

Amazingly, 70% or more of the U.S. Olympic luge team members since 2002 have come from the program.

● Swimming ● USA Swimming announced the nominees for its annual Golden Goggles Awards, to be held this year in Los Angeles on 19 November.

The name which popped up most often was the amazing Katie Grimes, 17, who earned four nominations for Female Athlete of the Year, Female Race of the Year for her bronze-medal performance in the Worlds women’s 10 km open-water race, Breakout Performer, and the Fran Crippen Open Water Athlete of the Year.

The other Female Athlete of the Year nominees are Kate Douglass, the 200 m Medley World Champion and 200 m Breaststroke runner-up, plus three relay medals; Katie Ledecky, the 800-1,500 m Freestyle Worlds gold medalist (plus two silvers), and Regan Smith, the Worlds silver medalist in the 50-100-200 m Backstrokes, 200 m Butterfly bronze medalist and gold winner on the 4×100 m Medley.

The other Female Race of the Year candidates are Douglass for her 200 m Medley gold; Ledecky, for her fifth career win in the 1,500 m Freestyle and the no. 3 performance of all-time.

The Male Athlete of the Year candidates include Jack Alexy, the 50-100 m Freestyle runner-up; Bobby Finke, who won silver in the 1,500 m and bronze in the 800 m; Carson Foster, the 400 m Medley silver winner, and Ryan Murphy, who won the 100 m Backstroke, was second in the 200 m Back and won a relay gold and bronze.

The Male Race of the Year nominees are Alexy for the 100 m Free silver, Finke for his runner-up performance in American Record time in the 1,500 m Free and Murphy for his win in the 100 m Back.

Fan voting for the awards is available now and runs through 15 October.

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