TSX REPORT: Fab U.S. record for Regan Smith at Trials; IOC to safeguard 500M social-media posts; Russia, Belarus angry at IOC!

Another Olympic Trials win for Rio 2016 Olympic champ Lilly King (Photo: USA Swimming)

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1. Smith smashes own U.S. 100 Back mark at Swim Trials
2. IOC to use AI for athlete social-media safeguarding
3. Russian wrestlers to decide whether to go to Paris on 19 June
4. Belarus: IOC selections “harsh, limited and discriminatory”
5. FEI report shows Jumping is king, with solid finances

Stars Katie Ledecky, Ryan Murphy and Lilly King all won their events at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis, but 100 m Backstroke star Regan Smith stole the show by lowering her own American Record to 57.47 … in the semifinals!

● The International Olympic Committee announced a program of social-media “safeguarding” of enormous scope, to be powered by artificial intelligence tools, working in concert with the publishers of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and X. More than 17,000 athletes and coaches will be covered, with an expected 500 million messages to be scanned for abuse.

● The head of the Russian wrestling federation said that in view of the small number of approved Russian “neutrals” for Paris, a decision on whether to participate in the Games would be made on Wednesday. The Russian taekwondo federation confirmed that none of its athletes were approved for Paris, and the head of the weightlifting federation said he thought Russian athletes will not appear at the 2028 Games in Los Angeles, either.

● Disgusted by the IOC’s approvals of its “neutral” athletes, the National Olympic Committee of Belarus said it had yet to decide whether its athletes would participate at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games or not. It especially slammed the refusal to approve any athlete who had been allowed by their international federation to compete.

● The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) published its annual report online, showing that equestrian event totals have rebounded to be slightly ahead of the pre-pandemic level of 2019. The federation also offered statistics showing more it has more registered horses than people, and that Jumping is by far the favorite discipline.

World Championships: Modern Pentathlon (Korea wins Mixed Relay on final lap) ●

U.S. Olympic Trials: Diving (Cook and Bacon win women’s 3 m Synchro) ●

Panorama: Paris 2024 (Olympic opening rehearsals on the Seine continuing) = Athletics (Tokyo Olympic 5,000 champ Bob Schul passes at 86) = Cycling (Vollering still leads Tour de Suisse Women) = Football (EURO 2024: Belgium shocked, Mbappe gets broken nose as France wins) = Luge (FIL continues Russian suspension, intros new event) = Modern Pentathlon (Secretary General Fang extended to 2028) = Sailing (Olympian-to-be Rice dies in accident) = Shooting (Olympic stars Bacosi and Hansen hold off U.S. at ISSF World Cup) = Snowboard (Shaun White to start “The Snow League” in 2025) ●

Smith smashes own U.S. 100 Back mark at Swim Trials

The sensational swimming at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials continued in Indianapolis, with another world-leading mark, which was upstaged by another American Record performance in a semifinal!

Regan Smith, the 2022 World Champion in the women’s 100 m Backstroke and the 2023 Worlds runner-up looked astonishingly easy in her morning heats win in 57.93, a time only two others in the world had surpassed in 2024. So she was totally ready for semifinal two and took off from the start, had the lead and then extended it on the final lap to touch more than 1.3 seconds up on the field, in an American Record of 57.47!

That broke her own mark of 57.51 from earlier in the year and is the equal-fourth-fastest swim in history! That stole the limelight from semi one winner Katharine Berkoff, the four-time Worlds medal winner, whose 57.83 was a lifetime best and moved her to no. 3 in the world for 2024 … and to no. 4 on the all-time list! And this was in the semis!

There were five finals on Monday, with familiar American superstars everywhere. In a battle between the 2016 Olympic champ and 2024 World Champion in the men’s 100 m Backstroke, Rio gold medalist Ryan Murphy used a superior underwater on the final lap to expand his lead over current champ Hunter Armstrong and won in a world-leading 52.22. Armstrong was second, but well back in 52.72, just 0.04 off his seasonal best.

In the women’s 100 m Breaststroke final, Rio 2016 Olympic champ Lilly King would not be denied, especially in Indianapolis, where so many of her top performances have come. She got out in front and stayed there, winning in 1:05.43, moving to no. 4 on the 2024 world list. Former NCAA champ Kaitlyn Dobler got second over Tokyo Olympic champ Lydia Jacoby, 1:06.10 to 1:06.37.

Freestyle superstar Katie Ledecky won her second event of the meet in the women’s 200 m Freestyle – an event she at Rio 2016 – in 1:55.52. She was challenged by 17-year-old Claire Weinstein and Virginia star Paige Madden on the third lap, but pushed away, with Weinstein holding second in 1:56.18 and Madden at 1:56.36.

In the men’s 200 m Free final, NCAA 200-yard Free winner Luke Hobson took over by the end of the third lap and steamed home in 1:44.89, now no. 6 in the world for 2024. Notre Dame star Chris Guiliano got second in 1:45.38.

Katie Grimes was already on the plane for Paris in the women’s 10 km open-water, but secured her pass to the pool by winning the women’s 400 m Medley in 4:35.00. She had to come from behind and pass 2022 Worlds bronze medalist Emma Weyant for the win, and Weyant should also be on the way to Paris after her 4:35.36 runner-up finish.

USA Swimming announced a Sunday crowd of 17,697 at Lucas Oil Stadium, another solid turnout after the indoor world record of 20,689 on Saturday.

IOC to use AI for athlete social-media safeguarding

The International Olympic Committee has made a decided push to integrate artificial intelligence into its operations where possible and President Thomas Bach (GER) announced last Friday that an AI-powered project for athlete safeguarding on social media will be instituted:

“We could realize today that the IOC could use AI at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 already in different areas. One, and a very important one, is the area of safeguarding.

“Since we expect about half a billion social-media posts during these Games. … the IOC will instead provide a proactive, AI-supported safeguarding tool to protect athletes from cyber abuse during the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

“This AI tool offers extensive monitoring, covering 15,000 athletes and 2,000 officials across multiple platforms and languages. This AI tool automatically erases abusive posts to shield the athletes.”

Well, not exactly.

Since the IOC is not in the social-media platform business, its AI project will have to interact with the major social-media platforms it will monitor, as has already been done by FIFA for its World Cup and Women’s World Cup events, and World Athletics for its World Athletics Championships in 2022 and 2023.

The IOC Press Office clarified on Monday:

“The AI-powered monitoring service provided by the IOC will flag identified threats in real time, so that abusive messages can be dealt with effectively by the relevant social media platforms – in many cases before the athlete has even had the chance to see the abuse, which will then lead to the deletion of the content.

“The social media platforms that have integrated/are integrating this are: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and X.”

FIFA has been using a similar system of AI-powered reviews for its major events since the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. FIFA reported that across eight events in 2022 and 2023, 6,019 accounts were protected and 27.4 million posts were scanned.

Of these, 403,175 posts were hidden and 28,009 were forwarded to the platforms for follow-up action. The FIFA project covered the same four platforms as the IOC is targeting, but also included YouTube.

The IOC’s Paris 2024 project, obviously, will be much larger.

Russian wrestlers to decide whether to go to Paris on 19 June

Following up on the IOC’s announcement of 14 Russian athletes approved to be “neutral” athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games – including 10 wrestlers – the head of the Russian wrestling federation said a decision on whether to accept the invitations to compete will be decided on Wednesday. Mikhail Mamiashvili told the Russian news agency TASS:

“We have a decision deadline of June 20, so we will meet with the teams and coaches on the 19th. In general, taking into account who was admitted, the composition is far from optimal, but nevertheless we are able to perform well. We’ll decide.

“In order to convince our friends, including those who supported us, who said that it was unacceptable to limit us artificially and succumb to political pressure through IOC sanctions in the form of their recommendations, we went all this way. By doing this, we showed that people, those who usurped power showed complete disregard for the position of the United World Wrestling.

“We took this path, the UWW created a commission. Even I, the vice-president of this organization, do not know the names of the lawyers and other figures who were included in it. It is completely independent of any influence of mine.”

TASS reports confirmed that Russia submitted for approval Tokyo Olympic champions Zaur Uguev (57 kg) and Abdulrashid Sadulayev (97 kg), but both were rejected as insufficiently “neutral.” Artur Naifonov, the Tokyo bronze winner at 86 kg was apparently also considered, but was not confirmed.

In taekwondo, no Russian athletes will compete, according to coach Vadim Ivanov, who told TASS:

“I received information from the president of the Russian Taekwondo Union that Russian taekwondo athletes will not compete at the Olympics. The IOC’s decision not to admit our athletes causes me nothing but regret.”

Russia won four medals in the sport in Tokyo, with Maxim Khramtsov (80 kg) and Vladislav Larin (+80 kg) taking gold medals, plus a bronze for Mikhail Artamonov (58 kg) and a silver for Tatyana Minina in the women’s 57 kg class.

Protests against Khramtsov and Larin were lodged by Ukrainian sources, who said they supported the Russian war effort against Ukraine.

Looking ahead already to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Russian weightlifting federation chief Maxim Agapitov cast doubt on whether a team will be sent, telling TASS:

“I wouldn’t speculate on this topic, because the world is changing very quickly. The United States sees the enemy in us and is setting up everyone else; they want to inflict a strategic defeat on our sport for at least the last eight years. And now we see how their tactical unsportsmanlike behavior is emerging, aimed precisely at destroying our values, destroying our system of training athletes built over the years, discrediting, creating a negative image.

“Given the current situation, it is difficult to believe that it will change quickly in 2028. But, on the other hand, the world is rapidly rushing and changing, so I will not rule anything out. We miss the Olympic Movement that we know, which we created together someday, together with all continents, with all federations, with all countries, perhaps a miracle will happen and we will really be together.”

Belarus: IOC selections “harsh, limited and discriminatory”

The National Olympic Committee of Belarus complained loudly about the IOC’s approval of 11 athletes for the Paris 2024 Games as “neutrals” and said although invited, they may not attend.

In a statement reported by the Russian news agency TASS the Belarus NOC stated:

“Misunderstanding and indignation are caused by the opaque approaches and conclusions of the so-called commission to verify the neutral status of an athlete for admission to the Games. For inexplicable reasons, those athletes who successfully passed the checks [by international federations], participated in qualifying competitions and were able to win licenses are not allowed to participate.”

The IOC approved 11 Belarusian athletes as “neutrals” with six wrestlers, two weightlifters, two trampoline gymnasts and one cyclist. The Belarus NOC statement also noted that “the lists published by the IOC are not final (not all sports are represented) and are not officially approved by the Belarusian side” moreover, that the NOC intends to continue lobbying the IOC and to “fight individually for each athlete, for his right to compete at the Games.”

But they may not compete at all; per the NOC:

“The final decision on who will go to the Olympics in Paris will be made by the NOC together with the sports federations, as well as the athletes.

“At the same time, one of the main objective principles: only those who were able to win a license should compete to the Games in the harsh, limited and discriminatory conditions that have developed in world sports today.”

One of the highest-profile Belarusian athletes who could compete in Paris is women’s tennis star Aryna Sabalenka, ranked no. 3 worldwide and the 2024 Australian Open champion. She told reporters at media day for the ecotrans Open in Berlin (GER):

“Especially with all the struggles I’ve been struggling with the last months, I feel I have to take care of my health. It’s too much for the scheduling and I made the decision to take care of my health.

“I prefer to have a little rest to make sure physically and health-wise I’m ready for the hard courts, and I’ll have a good preparation before going to the hard court season. I feel that this is safer and better for my body.”

Sabalenka had some trouble at the French Open at Roland Garros – the Olympic site, of course – losing in the quarterfinals while battling a stomach illness:

“It was the worst experience I had in my life on court. I’ve played while being ill, I’ve played with injuries, but when you have a stomach bug and you don’t have any energy to play and you’re in the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, that was really terrible experience. But it is how it is.

“I think my body was just asking for some rest. I managed to find a couple of days to chill and recover after the tough months.”

FEI report shows Jumping is king, with solid finances

The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) published its annual report online, with interesting data showing activity has returned and slightly increased from pre-pandemic levels.

In terms of events:

2019: 4,708
2020: 1,990 ~ pandemic impact
2021: 3,719 ~ pandemic impact
2022: 4,545
2023: 4,774

There’s no question where interest in the sport is centered, based on the number of events in each FEI discipline:

1,719: Jumping, by 93 national federations (36.0%)
905: Dressage, by 87 national federations (19.0%)
819: Eventing, by 58 national federations (17.2%)
784: Endurance, by 68 national federations
308: Driving, by 33 national federations
158: Vaulting, by 58 national federations
81: Para Dressage + Driving, by 28 national federations

The three Olympic program events accounted for 72.2% of all FEI events in 2023. France staged the most events with 522, but the U.S. was second (501) and Italy was third (370).

The FEI has more registered horses than people! As far as the people side, registrations are close to being back to pre-pandemic levels:

2023: 42,961 total
2022: 42,352
2021: 29,162
2020: 30,870
2019: 43,870

As one would expect, the majority of registrants are involved in jumping: 24,140 or 56.2%. Eventing (5,903) and Endurance (5,503) are next, followed by Dressage (4,079).

As far as horses, 78,345 were registered in 2023, on a steady climb back from the 2020 pandemic-year level of 59,615, but still short of the 2019 level of 83,131. France was the worldwide leader in horses, with 11,509, followed by Germany (9,053) and Great Britain (5,703). The U.S. ranked seventh with 4,279 registered horses.

And, of course, most of the horses were involved in jumping: 51,905 or 66.3%, followed by Eventing (9,717 or 12.4%) and Endurance (7,310 or 9.3%).

Coupled with the financial report, which showed CHF 57.38 million in revenues for 2023 (only CHF 3.5 million of IOC television money), and CHF 24.07 million in reserves on assets of CHF 72.33 million, the report paints a picture of a federation with a solid operating base and a significant worldwide impact. (CHF 1 = $1.12 U.S.)


● Modern Pentathlon ● The 2024 UIPM Worlds concluded in Zhengzhou (CHN) with the Mixed Relay, won by Sunwoo Kim and Changwan Seo of Korea, in a truncated competition due to heavy rains. Fencing was moved indoors and riding was canceled.

So, Kim and Seo stood third after the completed portion of fencing and were second in the swimming, taking a two-second edge into the Laser Run, with five teams within 10 seconds. Challenged by Egypt’s Mohamed Elgendy and Malak Ismail, Seo finally broke away on the final lap and crossed first.

The Koreans finished second overall in the Laser Run and scored 1,116 points to 1,110 for the Egyptians, who were the fastest in the field. Lithuania’s Elzbieta Adomaityte and Titas Puronas won the bronze at 1,105.


● Diving ● Kassidy Cook and Sarah Bacon led through the morning preliminaries and scored big on their final, optional dives to win the women’s Synchronized 3 m event on the first day of the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials, being held in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Cook and Bacon finished second to Alison Gibson and Krysta Palmer in the 2021 Trials for Tokyo, but scored solidly to finish at 72.00, 73.47 and 70.20 for a total of 629.82.

The winning margin came from the third-to-last dive, where Gibson and Palmer scored only 56.70, but followed with high scores of 74.40 and 74.46 that were not enough to close the gap. They finished at 599.49. Kyndal Knight and Samantha Pickens were a distant third at 532.20.

Bacon and Cook finished fourth at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest (HUN), just 0.60 from a medal and will go to Paris with high hopes. Gibson and Palmer were eighth in Tokyo; Cook made the Rio 2016 team in the individual women’s 3 m event, but did not make the final.

The diving trials will continue through the 23rd.


● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● Rehearsals continued on the Seine River for the opening of the Olympic Games on 26 July, with The Associated Press reporting that 55 boats made the 6 km move from the Pont d’Austerlitz to Pont d’Iena, near the Eiffel Tower, where the protocol elements of the ceremony will take place.

Said Thierry Reboul, the executive director for ceremonies:

“Six months ago we had like 10 minutes delay on the timing and today we are very close, almost to the second to our targets. So it is very satisfying. We’ve respected an extremely precise level of timing.”

In addition to the barges, the parade rehearsal also had 10 police speedboats and additional boats for television cameras.

● Athletics ● Correspondent Karen Rosen reports that Bob Schul, the last (and only) American to win the men’s Olympic 5,000 m, passed away at age 86 on Sunday due to complications from dementia.

Originally from Ohio, he ran at Miami of Ohio, then became a world-class runner after he joined the Air Force in 1960. By 1963, he was the Pan American Games bronze medalist at 5,000 m and then had a brilliant 1964, setting American Records of 13:10.4 for three miles and 13:38.0 for 5,000 m and won the U.S. Olympic Trials to go to Tokyo.

At the Games, he was favored, but had to haul in France’s Michel Jazy, the Rome 1960 silver medalist at 1,500 m, on the finishing straight, and won in 13:48.8, with Jazy fading to fourth and Harald Norpoth (GER: 13:49.6) and American Bill Dellinger (13:49.8) winning the silver and bronze.

Injuries slowed him in 1965 and he finished sixth at the 1968 Olympic Trials for Mexico City. He later became a coach, and was the cross country and track coach at Wright State University from 1996-2007.

● Cycling ● Australia’s Neve Bradbury, 22, won a final sprint with Polish veteran Kasia Niewiadoma to win her first UCI women’s World Tour race in the hilly, 125.6 km third stage of the Tour de Suisse Women, after the pair broke away from a lead group of five with 10 km to go.

Dutch star Demi Vollering won the first two stages, and finished sixth on Monday as part of a four-rider chase pack. Her lead did not change much; Bradbury moved into second place, now 1:22 behind, with Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) still 1:26 behind. The fourth and final stage, a 127.5 hilly stage with a major descent in the final half, is on Tuesday.

● Football ● First-round play in the 17th UEFA European Championship in Germany continued on Monday, with a major shock as Slovakia defeated highly-regarded Belgium in Group E, 1-0, in Frankfurt on a seventh-minute goal from Ivan Schranz.

Belgian star striker Romelu Lukaku had two goals overturned by video review, in the 56th minute for offsides and in the 86th for a hand-ball. Meanwhile, Romania shot down Ukraine, 3-0 in Munich to take the lead in the group.

In Group D, tournament co-favorite France defeated Austria, 1-0, in Dusseldorf on an own goal in the 38th minute by defender Maximilian Wober on a failed header, trying for a clearance. French star Kylian Mbappe suffered a broken nose late in the match and had to be substituted for in the 90th minute; he is likely to miss several matches.

● Luge ● At its 72nd Congress, the Federation Internationale de Luge continued its suspension of Russia “by a large majority,” citing a high risk if they were returned:

“This risk affects the safety, peace, and integrity of these competitions and their participants, including those of the Russian federation itself. This threat makes the suspension proportionate and remains in effect as long as the hostilities in Ukraine continue.”

A new discipline was approved for the FIL World Cup series and the World Championships, the “Mixed World Cup” to replace the Sprint World Cup:

“[A] man and a woman will compete in the singles and, respectively, a men’s and women’s doubles team will compete in a separate mixed relay. Each discipline uses its usual starting height. The first sled starts as usual in its event, the second sled starts after the athlete of the first sled touches the pad at the finish line. The gate for the second sled will open automatically as in the Team Relay. The touchpad at the finish should have a different shape than in the team relay.

“For the first time, mixed teams of two nations are allowed if they cannot field a mixed team of their own.”

This will be a test competition in the 2024-25 World Cup season and will replace the Sprint World Championships, introduced in 2016.

In a move to help develop luge in new countries, the Congress also approved the standardization of sled parts and dimensions for sleds, allowing compatibility and interchangeability between manufacturers worldwide.

● Modern Pentathlon ● UIPM Secretary General Shiny Fang (CHN), in office since 2012, has been confirmed to continue through the end of 2028 by the federation’s executive board.

● Sailing ● Tragedy in Tonga, as American-born IQFoil sailor J.J. Rice, 18, died on Saturday. According Matangi Tonga Online:

“His father Darren Rice, confirmed that JJ was free diving from a boat on Saturday, when he died from a suspected shallow water blackout. His body was found on the seafloor underneath the boat at about 12:15pm by other divers. Attempts to resuscitate him had failed.”

Rice had been selected to represent Tonga in Paris in the men’s IQFoil event.

● Shooting ● Rio Olympic women’s Skeet champion Diana Bacosi (ITA) won a showdown with the two U.S. entries for Paris at the ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Lonato (ITA).

Bacosi, who also won silver in Tokyo, scored 57 in the final to edge 2017 World Champion Dania Jo Vizzi, hitting her last 10 shots in a row. Vizzi finished at 56, also making her last 10. Fellow American Austen Smith, a two-time Worlds Team gold winner, was third at 46 for the bronze.

The men’s Skeet final went to Jesper Hansen of Denmark, 43, the Tokyo silver medalist, scoring a one-point-win over U.S. Olympian-to-be Conner Prince, 54-53. Hansen hit 19 of his last 20, while Prince hit 18.

The Mixed Team final is on Tuesday.

● Snowboard ● Three-time Olympic Snowboard gold medalist Shaun White of the U.S. announced “The Snow League,” a new competition program for the halfpipe, with $1.5 million in prizes across five events.

The schedule is to be spread out from March of 2025 to March of 2026, with Freestyle Halfpipe to eventually be included as well. He told the Associated Press:

“In the end, we really want to be that premier thing, where it’s amazing to go to the Olympics and win a medal, but this is like winning Wimbledon or the NBA finals. It’s almost more prestigious.”

He sees his project as compatible with the existing snowboarding event schedule, not competitive, and hope to have his events be part of the Olympic qualifying regimen. The AP story said that the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association “backs the concept.”

The initial competition idea is to include 20 men ands 16 women in the qualifying round, then go to an elimination format on the second day, with quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds, with a $50,000 first prize.

Observed: This sounds a lot like the track & field concept championed by 1996 Atlanta icon Michael Johnson, who said more details on his league – also to start in 2025 – would be divulged this week. Very interesting, and with White’s backing, it will get a close listen from today’s competitors.

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