The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: IOC U-turns on Russians in Asian Games; LA28 added sports coming Friday; Lithuania beats U.S. in FIBA World Cup

Hey! An American - Sepp Kuss, at right - is leading a Grand Tour for the first time in 10 years! (Photo: Filip Bossuyt via Wikipedia)

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1. IOC pulls U-turn on Russia and Asian Games; “not feasible”
2. LA28 added sports expected to be revealed Friday
3. U.S. beats Montenegro, loses to Lithuania in FIBA World Cup
4. Coleman equals world lead with 9.83 win in Xiamen Diamond League
5. Rubiales apologizes, rips “political and media lynching”

● After pushing for months to have Russian and Belarusian “neutral” athletes compete internationally again, the International Olympic Committee halted the integration of as many as 500 such athletes into the 2023 Asian Games in China for “technical reasons.” Now everything is as clear as mud.

● The IOC announced an Executive Board meeting for Friday, at which the added sports proposed for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles are to be revealed. Nine sports are reported to be under consideration, but only one or two are expected to be added.

● At the FIBA World Cup in Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines, the U.S. finished the second group stage at 4-1, losing to Lithuania on Sunday. But they will advance to the quarterfinals and face Italy on Tuesday. By doing so and as one of the top two teams from the Americans still remaining, the U.S. qualifies for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

● U.S. sprint star Christian Coleman won the men’s 100 m at the Diamond League Xiamen meet in China in 9.83, equaling the best time in the world this year. World leads were set in the men’s 800 m, women’s 3,000 m and equaled in the women’s high jump. At the ISTAF meet in Berlin, Ethiopia’s Letsenbet Gidey ran the fourth-fastest women’s 5,000 m ever, and American discus star Valarie Allman got a world lead at 70.47 m (231-2), the third-longest throw in U.S. history.

● The chaos in Spain over the actions of RFEF President Luis Rubiales continue, as he apologized again on Friday, but will not resign. An action against him is moving through the Spanish court system, but will take a while to resolve.

Panorama: Australia (Study shows 46% of elite athletes earn less than poverty-line wages from sport) = Archery (Ellison and Kaufhold win national title, but Williams and Vijay win U.S. Open) = Athletics (Lyles said he’s done for season, but maybe not) = Boxing (2: Finland heading to World Boxing; Pacquiao fighting at Paris 2024?) = Break dancing (Shigekix and Nicka won in BfG World Series in Porto) = Canoe-Kayak (2: Carrington & Fuksa headline Sprint World Cup in Paris; Fox wins gold and silver in Slalom World Cup) = Cycling (4: American Sepp Kuss leads La Vuelta a Espana!; Madouas wins Bretagne Classic; new Dutch star Bredewold takes Classic Lorient Agglom.; Bruni & Hoell win Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup) = Football (2: UEFA needs to recruit 40,000 referees a year, will not implement FIFA’s added-time strategy) = Gymnastics (Chusovitina wins again at FIG World Challenge Cup) = Taekwondo (Rashitov & Jones only repeat winners in Paris Grand Prix) = Volleyball (Dom. Rep. overcomes U.S. in NORCECA women’s championship) ●

IOC pulls U-turn on Russia and Asian Games; “not feasible”

Last December, the International Olympic Committee hosted its annual “Olympic Summit,” which included:

“The [Olympic Council of Asia] offered to facilitate the participation of athletes from Russia and Belarus in competitions in Asia under its authority, while respecting the sanctions in place.”

On 8 July, Russian and Belarusian athletes were approved to compete at the Asian Games in China in September:

“[T]he OCA General Assembly in principle agreed the guidelines for the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games as independent athletes, competing under a neutral flag, should the IOC approve their participation at the Olympic Games Paris 2024. These guidelines include a maximum quota of 500 athletes across no more than 12 individual sports, and that the athletes will not be eligible for medals.”

A few days later, the IOC expressed satisfaction with the arrangement:

“This was the principle agreement to the proposal that was made by the then-OCA President at the Olympic Summit in December 2022, and in line with the recommendations of the IOC Executive Board on the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport in international competitions.

“Discussions on if and how this can be implemented are ongoing.”

All tracking toward Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in Hangzhou, where the Asian Games will be held from 23 September to 8 October, with 481 events across 40 sports and 61 disciplines.

But on Friday, the Mumbai-based, English-language Indian Express newspaper carried this:

“In a brief statement on Thursday, the OCA said the IOC did not give the green signal. The continental body told The Indian Express: ‘No Russian and Belarusian athletes (at the Asian Games) and it is IOC’s decision, not OCA.’

“The IOC told this paper: ‘The concept of the participation of athletes with Russian and Belarusian passports at the Asian Games 2023 was explored as discussed at the Olympic Summit in December 2022, but was not feasible due to technical reasons.’”

That’s a U-turn. The IOC had been clear – up to now – on its insistence that a way for “neutral” Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in Olympic qualifying events, of which the Asian Games is a major contributor.

But, the IOC is also unhappy with the Olympic Council of Asia, holding its July election of Kuwaiti Sheikh Talal Fahad Al-Sabah as President null and void – pending an investigation – due to interference from already-suspended IOC Member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah – Talal’s older brother – and then suspending Sheikh Ahmad for three years.

The IOC further asked India’s Randhir Singh, who was the OCA’s acting head prior to the election, and the one who spoke up for hosting Russians and Belarusians at last December’s Olympic Summit, to continue as the OCA chief.

Observed: This is a major turnaround for the IOC, and unexpected. There was resistance to the idea of Russian and Belarusian athletes competing at the Asian Games – up to 500 of them – that would take places away from Asian athletes. It had been agreed that Asian Games medals would not be awarded to Russians or Belarusians, but what of advancements through rounds or brackets of combat sports, for example?

This is the first sign this year from the IOC that it is not all-in to have Russian and Belarusians competing as neutrals everywhere possible, especially as most International Federations have either complied, or are in the process of setting up regulations to allow Russians and Belarusians to compete.

The outlook for the future – and for Paris 2024 – is as clear as mud.

LA28 added sports expected to be revealed Friday

The International Olympic Committee posted a notice of an online Executive Board meeting for Friday, 8 September:

“The IOC EB is scheduled to receive updates on the activities of the Olympic Movement, the IOC commissions and IOC administration and to prepare for the 141st IOC Session in October in Mumbai, India.”

The agenda includes a report from the Olympic Programme Commission and Reuters reported that the added sports for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles will be announced.

The LA28 Games already includes 28 sports that were announced in December 2021, which does not include boxing, modern pentathlon and weightlifting, which were on suspension at the time. With the dismissal of the International Boxing Association as the International Federation for that sport in June, boxing was noted to be assured a place on the 2028 program, but must be approved by the IOC Session meeting in Mumbai (IND) in October. The decision on pentathlon and weightlifting are expected to made at the same meeting.

The request for added sports is up to the LA28 organizers, who have been reported to be considering nine possibilities: baseball/softball, break dancing, cricket, flag football, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, squash, and motorsports. One or two sports are expected to be added.

The LA28 selection(s) were forwarded to the IOC’s Programme Commission and then to the Executive Board for approval, which must finally be given by the IOC Session.

U.S. beats Montenegro, loses to Lithuania in FIBA World Cup

On to the elimination rounds of the 19th FIBA World Cup, after a wild second round of group games in which many of the favorites – including the U.S. – lost.

The Americans (4-0) faced undefeated Lithuania (4-0) in the final game of the second group stage (Group J), with both teams having already clinched places in the elimination round. But the Lithuanians were brilliant from the start, making their first nine three-point shots and rolling to a 31-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, and 54-37 at halftime.

The U.S. got back into the game in the third quarter, out-scoring Lithuania by 28-17 – including an opening 15-2 run – but still trailing, 71-65. The fourth was a scoring festival, with the U.S. as close as 108-104 with 16 seconds left, but fell, 110-104.

Lithuania shot 52.8% from the floor and a staggering 56.0% (14/25) from the three-point line, and out-rebounded the U.S., 43-27, with its bigger line-up. Lithuania had seven players in double figures, led by guard Vaidas Kariniauskas (15). Forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas led with 14 points, New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas added 12, and small forward Tadas Sedekerskis, forward Ignas Brazdeikis and guard Tomas Dimsa all had 11.

The U.S. shot 53.4% for the game, powered by 35 points from Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, who was 14-26 from the field and made five three-pointers. He got help from guard Jalen Brunson (Knicks) and forward Mikal Bridges (Nets) with 14 each, but it was not enough.

Said Brunson, “They executed their game plan. I think we just started too slow. We played way better in the second half. We waited too long to come to play.”

On Friday, the U.S. trailed, 38-37 at the half to Montenegro, the Group D runner-up (2-1), but clamped down in the second half, winning the third quarter by 24-17 and the fourth by 24-18 to finish with an 85-73 win. The Americans finished on a 21-9 run to end the game after Montenegro got within 64-62 with 7:15 to play.

Montenegro shot only 40.0% from the field, but out-rebounded the U.S. by 49-31; Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic led Montenegro with 18. The U.S. had excellent balance, with five in double figures: Edwards with 17, guard Austin Reaves (Lakers) with 12, forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies) with 11 and guard Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers) and forward Mikal Bridges (Nets) with 10 each.

The U.S. was not the only favorite to go down:

● In Group I, Italy beat undefeated Serbia on Friday, 78-76, and won on Sunday to take the group at 4-1. Serbia (4-1) also advanced, eliminating the previously undefeated Dominican Republic.

● In Group K, Australia was eliminated as Slovenia – with 20 points from Mavericks star Luka Doncic – won by 91-80 on Friday, with Germany (5-0) winning the group by clubbing Slovenia by 100-71 on Sunday. Doncic had 23, but Dennis Schroeder (Raptors) scored 24 for the winners.

● In Group L, defending champion Spain was beaten on Friday by Latvia, 74-69, and then lost again on Sunday, 88-85 to Canada. Meanwhile, Brazil beat Canada on Friday, 69-65, but still ended up eliminated with a 104-84 loss to Latvia on Sunday.

So, Lithuania and Germany are the only remaining undefeated teams. As for Paris 2024, the Worlds will qualify the top two teams from each of the Americas (U.S. and Canada) and Europe (to be determined), and the top team from Africa (South Sudan), Asia (Japan) and Oceania (Australia).

Next up are the quarterfinals on Tuesday and Wednesday:

5 Sep.: Italy (4-1) vs. United States (4-1)
6 Sep.: Germany (5-0) vs. Latvia (4-1)

5 Sep.: Lithuania (5-0) vs. Serbia (4-1)
6 Sep.: Canada (4-1) vs. Slovenia (4-1)

All of the remaining games will be played in Pasay (PHI), in the Manila metro area, with the semis on Friday (8th) and the medal matches on Sunday (10th).

Coleman equals world lead with 9.83 win
in Xiamen Diamond League

The World Athletics Championships are over, but the track & field season is not, with two world leads and two ties at the Diamond League in Xiamen (CHN) on Saturday:

Men/100 m: 9.83 (=), Christian Coleman (USA)
Men/800 m: 1:43.20, Emmanuel Wanyonyi (KEN)
Women/3,000 m: 8:24.05, Beatrice Chebet (KEN)
Women/High Jump: 2.02 m (6-7 1/2)(=), Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR)

In the men’s 100 m, Coleman, who finished fifth at the Budapest Worlds, got his usual rocket start, but he didn’t fade this time, covering the first 50 m in 5.52 and coming home in 4.31 (wind: +0.4 m/s). That was enough to take care of surprise runner-up Kishane Thompson (JAM) – in lane 10! – who lowered his lifetime best from 9.91, and the only one close to Coleman at 50 m (5.55/4.30).

Last year’s World Champion, Fred Kerley (USA), was fifth at 30 m and moved hard in the middle of the race to get into third by 70 m and stayed there, in 9.96, with fellow Americans Brandon Carnes (10.01 lifetime best) and Marvin Bracy-Williams (10.02) following. Olympic champ Lamont Marcell Jacobs (ITA: 10.05) was seventh.

The men’s 800 m immediately followed, with Kenya’s Worlds runner-up Wanyonyi, 19, taking over after pacesetter Erik Sowinski (USA) moved off after 500 m. He was being shadowed by fellow Kenyan (and world leader) Wyclife Kinyamal and Canada’s World Champion, Marco Arop, and Arop came up to challenge with 200 m to go. But while Arop got close, he could never get to the lead and Wanyonyi won the sprint to the line in a world-leading 1:43.20, with Arop getting a lifetime best of 1:43.22 in second. Kinyamal faded to fourth (1:44.04) and American Isaiah Harris was 11th (1:45.10).

Mexico’s Laura Galvan, 10th at the Worlds in the 5,000 m, led Kenyan Chebet, the Worlds 5,000 m bronze winner, in the women’s 3,000 m at the bell, but Chebet surged down the backstraight and ran away to a 8:24.05 victory with the fastest time in the world in 2023. Galvan held on for second in a national record 8:28.05, no. 5 on the year list.

Ukraine’s Mahuchikh, the World Champion, was the only one to clear 1.95 m (6-4 3/4), and won, then cleared 1.98 m (6-6) on her first try and went to 2.02 m (6-7 1/2) and also cleared on her first, to equal the world-lead for the year, by Australia’s Nicola Olyslagers. Slovenia’s Lia Apostolovski was second at 1.92 m (6-3 1/2).

World Champion Soufiane El Bakkali (MAR) won the men’s Steeple from Samuel Firewu (ETH), 8:10.31 to 8:11.29, taking the lead at the 2,000 m mark and holding on. Americans Isaac Updike and Andy Bayer finished 16-17 in 8:27.37 and 8:33.38.

Dominican Marileidy Paulino, the gold medalist in the women’s 400 m, won in 49.36, way ahead of Candice McLeod (JAM: 50.19) and American Lynna Irby-Jackson (50.45). Talitha Diggs from the U.S. was sixth (51.27) and Makenzie Dunmore was ninth (53.85).

World champ Ivana Vuleta (SRB) won the women’s long jump with her fifth-round effort of 6.88 m (22-7), overtaking Marthe Yasmine Koala (BUR: 6.79 m (22-3 1/2). American Quanesha Burks was eighth at 6.45m (21-2).

Other Worlds winners from Budapest did not fare as well.

Grant Holloway of the U.S., the Worlds 110 m hurdles winner, was out with U.S. teammate Daniel Roberts, but Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment – the Tokyo Olympic winner – came hard in the second half and pushed past both after the ninth hurdle and won in a season’s best of 12.96 (0.0), now equal-second on the year list. Roberts got second in 13.03 and Holloway stumbled on the run-in and was third in 13.12. Americans Freddie Crittenden and Cordell Tinch were sixth and seventh in 13.26 and 13.38.

In the triple jump, Italy’s Andy Diaz got out to 17.25 m (56-7 1/4) in the second round and that was good enough to win over Worlds winner Hugues Fabrice Zango (BUR: 17.22 m/56-6), and Diaz finished with a flourish, reaching 17.43 m (57-2 1/4) in the final round. Donald Scott of the U.S. was third (16.65 m/54-7 1/2) and two-time Olympic winner Christian Taylor was ninth at 15.87 m (52-0 3/4).

Miracle women’s discus winner Lagi Tausaga of the U.S. got her best throw of 64.41 m (211-4) in the first round and was the leader, but was quickly passed by Croatian star Sandra Perkovic at 67.32m (220-10). Home favorite Bin Feng of China – the 2022 Worlds winner – passed Tausaga for second and then won the event in the sixth round with a final throw of 67.41 m (221-2).

In the men’s 400 m, Grenada’s London 2012 Olympic winner, Kirani James, won in 44.38 – a seasonal best – at the line over Worlds bronze medalist Quincy Hall of the U.S. (also 44.38), with Vernon Norwood of the U.S. fourth in 44.99.

The women’s 1,500 m was fast, with four under 4:00, with Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu taking over at the bell and running a 60.6 last lap. But she had to fight off Kenya’s Nelly Chepchirchir, who had the lead with 200 m to go. But Freweyni pushed ahead on the straight and won in 3:56.56, a seasonal best and no. 8 on the world list. Chepchirchir got a lifetime best of 3:56.72 in second. American Danielle Jones got a lifetime best of 4:01.66 in eighth, Helen Schlachtenhaufen was 10th in 4:03.69, Josette Andrews was 12th in 4:05.52 and Emily MacKay finished 14th in 4:06.45.

Jamaica swept the women’s 400 m hurdles with Worlds bronze medalist Rushell Clayton (53.56), Andrenette Knight (53.87) and Janieve Russell (54.01). Anna Cockrell of the U.S. was sixth in 54.56.

Next up: the Van Damme Memorial in Brussels (BEL), on 7-8 September.

At the ISTAF meet in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, Tokyo Olympic champ and 2023 Worlds silver winner Valarie Allman of the U.S. won for the third straight year, with a world-leading 70.47 m throw (231-2), the no. 3 throw in American history; she owns the top nine!

In the women’s 5,000 m, Ethiopian star Letsenbet Gidey – the 2022 World Champion and 2023 runner-up – won in a startling 14:08.79, the no. 4 time in history! She owns three of the four, with only Kenyan Faith Kipyegon’s world record of 14:05.20 from June faster than her.

Americans won two other events, with Jenna Prandini taking the women’s 100 m in 11.24 (+0.1) and Tiffany Flynn winning the women’s long jump at 6.48 m (21-3 1/4).

Rubiales apologizes, rips “political and media lynching”

The continuing chaos surround Royal Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales expanded on Friday as he issued an 18-paragraph statement that included:

“On August 20, I made some obvious mistakes, which I regret sincerely, from the heart. It is true that for such errors I have asked for forgiveness because it was fair; and now I do it again with humility. I do it convinced and with the purpose of improving.

“I have learned that no matter how great the joy is and deep the emotion, including a World Cup win, sports leaders should be required to exhibit exemplary behavior, and mine was not.

“Therefore, I reiterate, once again, my apologies for this to the footballers, the federation and other football entities in a clear, emphatic and unmitigated manner.”

“Throughout this period I have suffered an unprecedented political and media lynching from which I have remained completely on the fringes. Not only nationally but globally. Despite this, I have also felt the growing support of people on the street and on social media. …

“It’s time to thank you infinitely for your immense support, for believing me, for not getting carried away by this campaign fabricated against me. Popular support reinforces for me the idea that this issue has been magnified and taken out of context for other reasons.

“I continue to trust in the independence of the bodies where this issue must be resolved, despite the fact that the political pressure and that of certain media with interests is brutal.

“I’ll continue to defend myself to prove the truth. I want to send a message to all the good people in our country and beyond our borders, including those women who’ve really been abused, and who have my full support and understanding: this isn’t about gender, it’s about the truth.

“In the name of Feminism, it must not be about trying to sink a man – or a woman – without a fair trial. Equality is about identical rights for everyone. Justice must be applied to people without the gender having an impact on the result.”

In the meantime, Spain’s Administrative Tribunal for Sport (TAD) did not deem the issue of Rubiales’ controversial kiss of midfielder Jenni Hermoso during the medal presentation at the end of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on 20 August as “very serious,” but only “serious,” meaning that under Spanish law, he could not be immediately fired. Said Spain’s Minister of Culture and Sports, Miguel Iceta:

“TAD only considers the [incident] serious. We believe that they are very serious.

“The Superior Sports Council (CSD) itself could have directly suspended Mr. Rubiales if they were very serious. But as TAD have not qualified it as such, it is up to the court itself. We will file a request for them to take that position.”

Multiple investigations are underway, and FIFA suspended Rubiales for 90 days back on 26 August.

The FIFPro football players union, posted a tweet that included:

“We, the players, are stronger, more united, and more determined than ever,” it said. “The systems are failing us. Governance is failing us. Accountability is failing. Discrimination runs deep and occurs at every level.

“Football must respond and rise to this critical moment, not only in Spain, but around the world.”

By all appearances, however, this is not ending soon.


● Australia ● The Australian Sports Foundation released the results of a survey in February and March of this year, showing:

“[A]lmost half of elite athletes (46%) over the age of 18 are earning incomes from all sources of less than $23,000 per annum, placing them below the poverty line. [A$1 = $0.65 U.S.]

“The ASF commissioned this research to understand the experiences and issues athletes had experienced over the past 12 months, and to assist it in its efforts to raise additional community and philanthropic funds to provide better support to our emerging and representative athletes. The survey was open to Australian athletes from all sports with more than 2,300 athletes participating from more than 60 sports, including 604 elite athletes (national or international level).

“Against a backdrop of rising costs of living, the Running On Empty report, which focuses on elite athletes, showed the financial situation of two in five (43%) elite athletes aged 18+ had worsened over the past 12 months. More than half (52%) of the elite athletes surveyed were considering leaving their sport.”

The survey results underscore a pitch by Australian Olympic Committee head Matt Carroll to the Australian government from last March, identifying “a $2 billion shortfall in direct investment in Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games sports in the 10 years leading to Brisbane 2032.” (A$2 billion is about $1.29 billion U.S.)

● Archery ● Stars Brady Ellison and Casey Kaufhold added to their U.S. national title resume at the USA Archery Target Nationals in Malvern, Pennsylvania, but did not survive the elimination rounds at the follow-on U.S. Open.

Ellison, the 2019 World Champion, regained the national title he lost in 2022 with a National Target Championships score of 1,364 over 144 arrows, well ahead of Jackson Mirich (1,317) and Trenton Cowles (1,317) and Tokyo Olympian Jack Williams (1,303). However, Ellison was defeated in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open elimination matches, with Williams winning the final, 7-1, over Oscar Ticas of El Salvador. Alex Gilliam won the third-place match, 6-2, against Joonsuh Oh, who had beaten Ellison.

Kaufhold, still just 19, won the women’s Recurve (Olympic) division at 1,282 points (144 arrows) – his sixth national championship – defending her 2022 title over Catalina GNoriega (1,270), 15-year-old Akshara Vijay (1,255) and Molly Nugent (1,253). In the U.S. Open, Kaufhold made it to the final, but lost to Vijay, 6-5, in a one-arrow shoot-off. GNoriega took the bronze, 6-4, against Isabella Frederick. Vijay moved up from bronze in 2022.

● Athletics ● After his win at the Weltklasse Zurich Diamond League meet, U.S. sprint star Noah Lyles said he was through for the season. Or maybe not.

On Friday (1st), he tweeted:

“And with that I say goodbye to the 2023 season!

“√ worlds fastest man in 100 & 200
“√ 2 years Undefeated in the 200m
“√ 3X world Champion”

That would mean he would skip the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on 16-17 September, which is the Diamond League Final for 2023.

On Saturday (2nd), however:

“You know what… I might have another 100m in me for the year”

Stay tuned.

● Boxing ● Finland is now on the way to joining World Boxing, but with considerable chaos at a meeting of its national federation last week. The Finnish Boxing Association’s statement included:

“The Extraordinary General Meeting of the Finnish Boxing Federation on 26.8.2023 unanimously authorised the decision to decide on the withdrawal from the IBA and to start the the membership application process for World Boxing.

“At the same meeting, the Federal Assembly granted the resignation of the Board of Directors. New President Kirsi Korpaeus, Päivi Ahola and Markku Rautio were elected as Vice-Chairs, and the Board was re-elected.

Laura Sirviö, Jouko Salo, Olli Miettinen, Markku Rantahalvari, Juho Haapoja and Pekka Mäki. The Board will start its work immediately.”

So the switch to World Boxing caused the federation’s board to resign, but they were immediately replaced. A report on the Finnish network YLE added:

“According to Marko Laine, Executive Director of the Boxing Association , Finland finds membership in the IBA impossible because it strongly supports Russia. Russian Umar Kremlev is still the president of IBA.”

Legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao, now 44 and the winner of world titles in eight different weight classes, has inquired about the possibilities of being able to qualify and fight at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Abraham Tolentino, head of the Philippine Olympic Committee, said that Pacquiao representatives had asked last week what the procedures could be for the fighter to qualify. Tolentino said that fighting at the Asian Games in China later this month is not possible due to an age limit of 40. However, he could pursue qualification at the IOC-operated qualifying tournaments in 2024.

Pacquiao last fought in a sanctioned bout in 2021, but also in an exhibition in 2022. He reportedly weighs 66 kg (146 lbs.), so would have to choose between the Olympic categories of Lightweight (63.6 kg/140 lbs.) or Welterweight (71 kg/157 lbs.).

● Break Dancing ● The fourth stage of the Breaking For Gold World Series, and the last before the 2023 World Championships, was in Porto (POR), with divisions for men and women.

In the men’s final, Japan’s Shigekix (Shigeyuki Nakarai) won over France’s Lagaet (Gaetan Alin), 49-32. American Victor (Victor Montalvo) – the 2021 World Champion – won the bronze medal against Amir (Amir Zakirov: KAZ), 54-32.

Lithuania’s Nicka (Dominika Banevic) won the women’s final against Logistx (Logan Edra) of the U.S., 54-45. Portugal’s Vanessa (Vanessa Cartaxo) won the bronze, 39-32, over Syssy (Sya Dembele: FRA).

The Worlds are 22-24 September in Leuven (BEL).

● Canoe-Kayak ● Just a week after the ICF Sprint World Championships in Germany, an ICF Sprint World Cup was held in Paris in advance of the 2024 Olympic Games. As usual, New Zealand superstar Lisa Carrington – the 15-time World Champion – was in the center of the action.

She teamed with Alicia Hoskin to win the women’s K-2 500 m in 1:41.29, well ahead of Emma Jorgensen and Frederikke Matthiesen (DEN: 1:42.18), then both joined in the K-4 500 m final, finishing second to China, 1:33.88 to 1:33.89!

Kiwi teammate Aimee Fisher won the women’s K-1 500 m final in 1:50.76 , well ahead of Jule Hake (GER: 1:51.92).

China won the women’s C-1 200 m with Worlds bronze medalist Wenjun Lin (CHN: 45.61) edging nine-time World Champion Katie Vincent (CAN: 45.84), with American Andreea Ghizila seventh (47.90). China’s 2023 World Champions Shixiao Xu and Mengya Sun (1:56.13) took the C-2 500 m win, vs. Canada’s Sloan Mackenzie and Vincent (1:57.01).

A double medal winner on the men’s side was Czech star Martin Fuksa, the reigning World Champion in the C-1,000 m, winning that event in 3:51.33, over Adrien Bart (FRA: 3:51.89). Fuksa then teamed with brother Petr to finish second in the C-2 500 m, won by China’s Worlds runners-up Hao Liu and Bowen Ji, 1:39.96 to 1:40.79.

Hungary’s Balint Kopasz, the Worlds winner in the K-1 500 m, took the K-1 1,000 m race in 3:27.46, over teammate Adam Varga (HUN: 3:29.50). Germany’s Max Rendschmidt and Jacob Schopf (1:29.78) took the K-2 500 m win against Adrian del Rio and Rodrigo Germade (ESP: 1:29.86), and Hungary won the K-4 500 m final in 1:21.16, over Spain (1:21.41).

Australian star Jessica Fox almost pulled off a double at the ICF Slalom World Cup 4 in La Seu d’Urgell (ESP), but penalties cost her a sweep.

Fox, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, won the women’s Canoe final in 107.09 seconds, despite four penalties, ahead of Germany’s 2022 World Champion Andrea Herzog (107.17/0) and two-time European Champion Kimberley Woods (GBR: 109.02/2). But in the women’s Kayak final, she suffered two penalties and that cost her the win vs. Slovakia’s Eliska Mintalova, who won her first World Cup gold, 99.36 (0) to 99.42 (2). Italy’s Stefanie Horn (100.23) was third.

Italian Rafaello Ivaldi won the men’s Canoe final in 96.52, beating Slovenia’s 2019 Worlds bronze winner Luka Bozic (97.53/2), with Marko Mirgorodsky third (SVK: 97.63/0). This was Ivaldi’s second World Cup medal – first in six years – and first win! Rio 2016 runner-up Peter Kauzer won the Kayak final in 89.36 (0), just ahead of 2016 Olympic champ Joseph Clarke (GBR: 90.44/2) and 2022 World Champion Vit Prindis (CZE: 90.90/2).

In the Kayak Cross events, Jan Rohrer (SUI) won the men’s final, ahead of Clarke and German Elena Lilik – the 2021 Worlds silver winner – took the women’s event, beating Woods and fellow German Ricarda Funk.

● Cycling ● It’s getting completely crazy at the 78th Vuelta a Espana, with American Sepp Kuss leading the race after three tumultuous weekend stages.

After Kuss won the sixth stage last Thursday, he moved up to second overall, then stayed in place on Friday in a sprinter’s stage as France’s Geoffrey Soupe won the mass finish in 4:56:29 over 200.8 km from Utiel to Oliva.

On Saturday, a hilly stage of 165 km from Denia with an uphill climb close to the finish at the Xorret de Cati in southeastern Spain was a showdown of the top race contenders. Kuss attacked with 5 km left, but was reeled back in and the stage was won by two-time champion Primoz Roglic (SLO) in 4:13:52, but with defending champ Remco Evenepoel (BEL) right behind and Kuss just two seconds back in seventh. That gave Kuss the race lead over Spain’s Marc Soler by 43 seconds and 1:00 up on prior leader Lenny Martinez of France.

On Sunday, the 184.5 km route from Cartagena to Caravaca de la Cruz featured an early climb and then an uphill finish. German Lennard Kamna broke away with 5.5 km to go and won in 4:28:59, 13 seconds up on Matteo Sobrero (ITA) in second. A bout of heavy rain had made some of the route muddy and the placement times for the overall standing were taken with 2.05 km to go, and Kuss right with the rest of the contenders, although he finished 15th overall. Thus, he retains the red jersey and his 43-second lead over Soler, with Martinez now 1:02 back, Evenepoel now 2:22 back, with Roglic and Tour de France champ Jonas Vingegaard both +2:33.

How crazy is this? The last American to have the lead in one of the Grand Tours – the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France or La Vuelta – was in 2013, when Chris Horner was in front after stages 3 and 10 of the Vuelta and then from 19-21 when he won the race, at age 41!

The 87th Bretagne Classic-Ouest France was held in and around Plouay (FRA) on Sunday, with the 258 km race on a slightly hilly course coming down to a sprint of four in the final 1,000 m, with home favorites Valentin Madouas and Mathieu Burgaudeau going 1-2 in 6:15:22. Felix Grosschartner (AUT) and Stefan Kung (SUI) were 3-4.

For Madouas, 27, the French national road champ this year, it was his first career World Tour win.

On the UCI Women’s World Tour, the 22nd Classic Lorient Agglomeration for the Trophee Ceratizit was held on a 159.8 km course, also in and around Plouay, and once again coming down to a sprint, with Mischa Bredewold (NED) getting to the line first in 4:14:54. She was just ahead of Marta Lach (POL) and Sofia Bertizzolo (ITA). For Bredewold, 23, it was her first career World Tour win.

At the fifth UCI Mountain Bike World Cup for Downhill, in Loudenvielle-Peyragudes (FRA), France’s five-time World Champion Loic Bruni won the men’s race over American Dakotah Norton, 3:31:785 to 3:32.562. It’s Bruni first win of the season.

Austria’s Valentina Hoell, 21, took the women’s race in 4:00.593, ahead of Germany’s Nina Hoffmann (4:03.433). It’s Hoell’s third win of the season!

● Football ● UEFA has begun a recruitment drive for referees, with a goal of adding 40,000 new referees per season. UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti (ITA) said:

“With the number of matches increasing we currently need around 277,000 officials in European football, but we are lacking almost 40,000 referees in order to have enough for the running of the game at grassroots level. This is why UEFA has decided to invest in a programme which supports the national associations in recruiting and retaining young referees. It is essential for the lifeblood of European football.”

Special attention will be paid to referee abuse issues, noted as “one reason why referees are deciding to stop pursuing the career.”

UEFA’s Chief of Football, former Croatian midfielder Zvonimir Boban, said that FIFA’s program of adding stoppage-time minutes for all delays in a game would not be used in UEFA competitions:

“It’s absolutely absurd. Regarding player welfare, it’s some kind of small tragedy or big tragedy because we are adding almost 12, 13, 14 minutes.

“When you play 60, 65 minutes – I can speak from my experience, especially as a midfielder – when you get tired, it’s the last 30 minutes of the game. And then somebody comes and adds another 15 minutes.

“How often we have spoken critically about the calendar and too many games. We are not listening to players and coaches … It’s crazy. It’s too much, so we will not do this. Our guidelines are different.”

● Gymnastics ● Uzbekistan’s amazing Oksana Chusovitina claimed another victory at the FIG Artistic World Challenge Cup in Mersin (TUR).

Now 48 and a three-time World Champion in her career, she won the Vault with an average of 13.067 for her two runs, ahead of Turkey’s Bengisu Yildiz (12.950). It’s her fourth medal on the World Cup/World Challenge Cup circuit this year.

Ukraine’s Anna Lashchevska won on both Uneven Bars (13.533) and Beam (13.767), both times over Rose Woo of Canada (13.433 and 13.167). Turkey went 1-2 on Floor, with Sevgi Kayisoglu (13.000) and Yildiz (12.833).

The men’s events saw Ahmet Onder, Turkey’s 2019 Worlds silver winner on the Parallel Bars, win on Floor (13.800) over Britain’s Cameron Lynn (13.600), and on the Horizontal Bar (14.100), over 2017 World Champion Tin Srbic (CRO: also 14.100). On his favored event, however, Onder finished third on the Parallel Bars, scoring 14.750 behind Ukraine’s 2016 Olympic champ Oleg Verniaiev (15.000) and 20-year-old Nazar Chepurnyi (14.750).

Chepurnyi won on Vault (14.900) over Uzbek Abdulaziz Mirvaliev (14.475); Nikita Simonov (AZE) took the Rings title at 14.900, and Ahmad Abu Al Soud(JOR) won on Pommel Horse, scoring 15.500, way ahead of Verniaiev (14.800).

World Challenge Cups will be held for the next two weeks, in Szombathely (HUN) and Paris, to complete the season.

● Taekwondo ● Only two stars managed to retain their titles at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Paris, in the second of four stages in the 2023 circuit.

Uzbekistan’s Ulugbek Rashitov, the 68 kg Olympic champ from Tokyo, won his class once again, this time defeating Brazil’s Edival Pontes in the final, two rounds to none (2-0). The only women’s repeater from the first Grand Prix in in Rome in June was Britain’s two-time Olympic winner Jade Jones at 57 kg, this time defeating Zongshi Luo (CHN), also 2-0.

In the men’s 58 kg class, Iran’s Mahdi Hajimousaei moved up from silver in Rome to gold, winning by walkover vs. countryman Abolfazi Zandi in the final. Teammate Mehran Barkhordari also moved from silver to gold, at 80 kg, beating Apostolos Telikostoglou (GRE), 2-1,with American Carl Nickolas getting one of the bronzes. Rio 2016 Olympic 80 kg champ Cheikh Sallah Cisse (CIV), the 2023 World Champion at +87 kg, won that class over Rome winner Caden Cunningham (GBR), 2-0.

Spain’s Tokyo silver medalist Adriana Cerezo made the women’s 49 kg final for the second Grand Prix in a row, but lost again, this time to 2023 World Champion Merve Dincel (TUR), 2-0. China’s Jie Song won the 67 kg class in Rome, but lost to countrywoman Mengyu Zhang – the 2019 World Champion – this time, 1-0.

At +67 kg, World Champion Althea Laurin (FRA) won again, 2-1, this time dispatching Britain’s 2023 Worlds silver winner Rebecca McGowan in a re-run of the 2023 Worlds final, with a 12-0 final period rout.

● Volleyball ● The Dominican Republic won its third straight NORCECA women’s championship in Quebec City (CAN), with a come-from-behind, five-set win over the U.S., 3-2 (12-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 15-13).

The U.S. had swept the Dominicans, 3-0, in group play and entered the final at 4-0, but the Dominicans fought back in their seventh straight final in this tournament.

In the third-place match, Canada defeated Cuba, 3-1 (25-21, 25-17, 17-25, 25-16).

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