The Sports Examiner

TSX REPORT: New Balance indoor outdraws U.S. Marathon Trials on TV; Olympic T&F Trials tickets coming; San Diego ramps up World Road Champs

How about those ratings for the New Balance Indoor on NBC? (Photo: Nielsen audience report on

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1. T&F out-draws Marathon Trials on NBC, 1.197 million to 760,000!
2. French financial prosecutors looking at Estanguet pay
3. Five more world leads at the Copernius Cup in Poland
4. Ticket packages and prices posted for Olympic Track Trials
5. San Diego looking to expand World Road Champs in ‘25

● Television viewing data from Neilsen showed that Sunday’s New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston significantly outdrew Saturday’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, and had an excellent 1.2 million average audience to see Noah Lyles and others. The U.S. Figure Skating Nationals also drew significant TV interest, but the difficult time zone hurt the Australian Open.

● The French national financial prosecutor’s office is reported to be investigating Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet’s compensation in yet another inquiry into the organizing committee’s affairs. The Paris 2024 organizers expressed surprise at the reports.

● More hot indoor running and jumping, this time at the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland, with a sensational women’s 1,500 m won by Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu in 3:55.28, moving her to no. 3 all-time indoors.

● TrackTown USA revealed that all-session ticket packages for June’s U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in Eugene will go on sale on 20 February. There will be packages at five different levels, priced from $995 to $395, plus fees.

● A major expansion of the World Athletics Road Running Championships is coming for the second edition in San Diego in 2025. The three core races – mile, 5 km and Half Marathon – will be augmented with a children’s program, Gold Label Race Walking events, concerts and a lot more. Total participation of 50,000 is hoped for over three days with a total economic impact of perhaps $100 million.

World Championships: Aquatics (2: China sails to another diving gold; Simoneau and China win artistic golds) ●

Panorama: International Olympic Committee (With two years to go to Milan Cortina 2026, IOC has 227 scholarship recipients in winter sports) = European Games (Istanbul in line for 2027) = Alpine Skiing (French federation panned for not showing women’s World Junior races) = Weightlifting (North Koreans claim three world records at Asian Champs) ●

T&F out-draws Marathon Trials on NBC, 1.197 million to 760,000!

The long-awaited U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials was in a good time slot on NBC on Saturday, with a noon start and at least five spots on the starting line in Paris this summer on the line.


On the first Sunday without NFL football since the summer, the first major indoor track meet of 2024 was on in Boston, with stars including triple sprint World Champion Noah Lyles.

Yep, that got some interest.

Nielsen-provided audience numbers for the weekend showed that the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, live on NBC at 4 p.m. Eastern – the late NFL window – did a very respectable audience of 1.197 million, a 38% rise over the 2023 total on essentially the same date.

That was way ahead of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, also shown by NBC, at noon on Saturday, but on a two-hour tape delay, which drew 760,000. The network TV audience totals were hampered by the timing, as the live race was just finishing at noon on the Peacock streaming service.

The New Balance Grand Prix was the seventh-highest-rated sports show on Sunday, well behind the NFL Pro Bowl shows on ABC (3.85 million) and ESPN (1.83 million). The Marathon Trials ranked 18th on Saturday, behind college and NBA basketball, golf, auto racing, ice hockey and soccer.

And a cautionary note for followers of demographics: both the New Balance Grand Prix and Marathon Trials failed badly with younger viewers. In the 18-34 age group, just 69,000 watched the track meet (vs. 604,000 for the Pro Bowl) and 38,000 watched the marathon (vs. 513,000 for Duke-North Carolina men’s basketball).

Just behind Sunday’s track extravaganza was the lead-in, week-old exhibition skate replay from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which did very well at 1.084 million on NBC at 2 p.m., preceded by highlights of the ISU Four Continents Championships at noon, which did 828,000. Those numbers are up considerably from the usual 600-700,000 seen on Sundays against NFL regular-season and playoff games.

The U.S. Nationals in Columbus, despite being against the NFL conference championship games, drew strongly (all times Eastern):

25 Jan. (Thu.): 260,000 for the Pairs Short Program (USA: 2 p.m.)
25 Jan. (Thu.): 216,000 for the Ice Dance Rhythm Dance (USA: 5 p.m.)
26 Jan. (Fri.): 222,000 for the men’s Short Program (USA: 4 p.m.)
26 Jan. (Fri.): 2.207 million for the women’s Free Skate (NBC: 8 p.m.)
27 Jan. (Sat.): 1.071 million for the Ice Dance Free Dance (NBC: 2:30 p.m.)
27 Jan. (Sat.): 455,000 for the Pairs Free Skate (USA: 8 p.m.)
28 Jan. (Sun.): 764,000 for the men’s Free Skate (NBC: 3 p.m.)

The USA Swimming Tyr Pro Swim Series highlights from Knoxville that aired on Sunday (28th) at 2 p.m. on NBC drew 499,000.

The Australian Open tennis finals suffered from the time difference to Melbourne. The women’s final on Saturday (27; Australian time) was listed with a 3:30 a.m. Eastern start time by Nielsen and drew 338,000 on ESPN and then 184,000 on ESPN on an 8 a.m. replay. A third showing on the Tennis Channel at 11 a.m. Eastern had 111,000 viewing.

Sunday’s men’s final was also at 3:30 a.m. Eastern and drew 476,000 and then 256,000 for an 8:30 a.m. Eastern replay on ESPN2.

French financial prosecutors looking at Estanguet pay

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet, 45, the three-time Olympic canoeing gold medalist who has been a popular figure at the head of the organizing committee’s work since its formation in 2017, is reported to be under investigation by the French financial prosecutors, the Parquet national financier (PNF).

An inquiry was apparently started last week, with Agence France Presse reporting that “Estanguet received annual remuneration of 270,000 euros gross until 2020, according to figures communicated by [Paris 2024] in 2018.” (€270,000 is about $290,417 U.S.)

Stories last year explained that Estanguet does not draw a salary as a Paris 2024 employee, but has his pay channeled through his company, a common procedure. In the context of the FNP, however, it was reported that “The arrangement is to avoid a salary cap imposed on charities with the same status as the organising committee.”

The FNP has been examining Paris 2024 contracts, looking for favoritism or overpayments, but have so far had no impact on the continuing work of the organizing committee. The Paris 2024 compliance director said it had not been contacted on the matter by the FNP.

Five more world leads at the Copernius Cup in Poland

The suddenly-hot indoor track & field season continued on Tuesday with the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun (POL), most of all for Poland’s 2019 World women’s 60 m champ, Ewa Swoboda.

She ran a world-leading 7.01 to edge Italy’s Zaynab Dosso, who scored a national record at 7.02, to highlight five world leads at the meet:

Men/3,000 m: 7:25.82, Selemon Barega (ETH)
Men/Triple Jump: 17.61 m (57-9 1/2), Andy Diaz (ITA)
Women/800 m: 1:57.86, Habitam Alemu (ETH)
Women/1,500 m: 3:55.28, Freweyni Hailu (ETH)

Barega, the Tokyo Olympic 10,000 m champ in 2021, held off countryman Getnet Wale in the 3,000 m, and moved to no. 5 all-time. Wale was second in 7:26.73, the no. 9 performance ever, but slower than his 7:24.98 best from 2021.

Former Cuban Diaz got a lifetime indoor best in the triple jump on his second try, then retired, winning by almost two feet.

Also impressive, but short of a world lead was Ethiopia’s two-time Worlds Indoor gold medalist Samuel Tefera, who won a fast 1,500 m in 3:34.61. That’s no. 5 on the world indoor list for 2024, but just barely ahead of countryman Biniam Mehary, 17, second in 3:34.83, setting a World Junior Record indoors. Remember that name this summer.

The women’s world leads in the distances also came from Ethiopia, with Tokyo Olympic finalist Habitam Alemu taking the women’s 800 m all alone at the finish in 1:57.86, an indoor best for her. The 1,500 m was tighter, with Freweyni Hailu flying into the lead with just 100 m left to win in 3:55.28 with Diribe Welteji (3:55.47), Hirut Meshesha (3:56.47) and Tigist Girma (3:58.79) completing an 1-2-3-4 Ethiopian sweep.

How fast was this race? Hailu and Welteji moved to nos. 3-4-5 all-time indoors, with the fourth, fifth and seventh-fastest races ever. Girma is now no. 9 all-time indoor with her fourth-place finish.

Coming on Saturday is another World Indoor Tour Gold meet, the Hauts de France in Lievin and then the Millrose Games in New York on Sunday.

Ticket packages and prices posted for Olympic Track Trials

With the Olympic Marathon Trials concluded, the track & field meet is coming next, at Hayward Field in Eugene, from 21-30 June. The TrackTown USA organizers have posted the seating chart and pricing for all-session tickets that will go on sale beginning on 20 February 2024.

Five seating zones have been identified, with pricing:

Zone 1: $995 for all sessions ~ finish line area
Zone 2: $855 ~ home straight
Zone 3: $725 ~ first curve to 1,500 m start
Zone 4: $495 ~ backstraight
Zone 5: $395 ~ second turn

No added seating is shown, so the facility capacity should be 12,650, with 12 sections being held out of this first sale. These are expected to be used for athletes, officials, sponsors and media. The map notes that “Order processing fees will be added to the cost of each ticket. Customers are limited to purchasing eight ticket packages.”

Comparisons with the Olympic Trials in 2021 are difficult due to Covid restrictions that impacted pricing then, but the combined cost of individual tickets for Zone 1 each day in 2021 – eight days in all – was $1,130 not including fees. That went down to $1,030 for Zone 2 and finally to $440 for Zone 7. There will be fewer zones for 2022 (nine days) thanks in part to the passing of the pandemic.

San Diego looking to expand World Road Champs in ‘25

What was expected to be a brilliant introduction to the World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga (LAT) last October had to be condensed to a single-day event over worries about impacts from the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

There are no such concerns today over the second edition, to be held in and around Balboa Park in San Diego, California in 2025, with plans now underway to expand the concept very substantially:

● A three-day event has been approved for 26-28 September 2025, less than one week after the 21 September conclusion of the World Athletics Championships in Tokyo (JPN).

● The three-event program from Riga will be maintained: men’s and women’s mile, 5 km and Half Marathon, with a projected $321,000 in prize money.

● But mass-participation races are expected to draw 50,000 runners to the starting lines in San Diego, which has a fabled history as the birthplace of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. Goals for the mile are for 7,500-10,000 entrants, another 9-12,500 for the 5 km and 25-35,000 for the Half.

● The road mile will be staged as a series, starting at 10-minute intervals, from age-group up to Masters and finishing with the World Championship races. Same for the 5 km program, but the Half will be run as a single event, with timed waves following the Worlds races, which will start first.

● The Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Series format will be used, with live bands at every mile, cheerleaders at every mile, themed water stations, and a headline-performer concert at the post-race party every day.

Veteran organizer Tracy Sundlun, who co-founded the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series, estimates the event budget at about $8.3 million, coming from registration fees for the mass-participation events and from sponsorships.

But the plan moves well beyond the road running components and is expected to include a free-entry children’s program for up to 10,000 kids – coordinated with area schools – and a showcase for the usually-ignored race walkers. The plan is to offer separate races in all three distances for race walking and to offer prize money and travel assistance that will allow these races to be certified as World Athletics Race Walking Tour Gold Label events.

This could be a pivot point for race walking in the U.S., especially if these events are continued as a legacy program. San Diego and environs has been a center for walking and has hosted at least one USA Track & Field National Championship for the past 11 years. The total economic impact of the 2025 program could approach $100 million.

Observed: This event has the potential to morph into a major annual U.S. running festival beginning in 2026. If the 2025 World Roads is successful and supported by the San Diego running (and walking) community as well as local business, it is not hard to see this kind of event being held annually, possibly with multiple USA Track & Field national championships in running and walking, or the start of a new tradition, just as marathons in Boston, New York and Chicago got going and became annual attractions on their own.

There’s a long way to go before then, but the potential is there and with Sundlun and others who have developed high-profile programs before, the opportunity is too good to pass up.


● Aquatics ● Day five of the World Aquatics Championships in Doha (QAT), and the expected Chinese domination in the Olympic diving events, this time with a 40-plus-point win for their “teen team” in the women’s 10 m Synchro.

The amazing Hongchan Quan – still just 16 – and Yuxi Chen (18) went 1-2 in the women’s 10 m Platform final on Monday and teamed up to win their third straight 10 m Synchro Worlds gold together over the last three years. They scored 362.22 points vs. 320.70 for North Koreans Jin-mi Jo and Mi-rae Kim; Kim won her third career Worlds medal and her first since 2017! Britain’s Andrea Splendolini-Sirieix – the 10 m Platform bronze winner – got a second medal in tandem with Lois Toulson, after finishing second together in 2023.

Americans Jessica Parratto and Delaney Schnell, the Tokyo Olympic silver winner, finished eighth at 271.26.

Canada’s Jacqueline Simoneau took the women’s Solo Free routine gold, after finishing second in the Solo Technical. She scored 264.8207 to 253.2833 for Solo Technical winner Evangelia Platanioti (GRE), with Belarusian “neutral” Vasilina Khandoshka third (245.1042).

China won the Team Technical routine gold at 299.8712, well ahead of Spain (275.8925) and Japan (275.8787). The U.S. ended up fourth at 266.9333.


● Olympic Winter Games 2026: Milan Cortina ● The IOC noted that with two years to go – the opening will be on 6 February 2026 – its Olympic Solidarity program is now supporting 229 Olympic scholarship holders and 57 National Olympic Committees. What does that mean:

“Scholarship-holders receive a monthly grant to contribute to their qualification efforts, which can help alleviate the financial strain of pursuing their sporting dreams.”

The IOC says that many more scholarships are expected to be awarded in advance of the Milan-Cortina Games.

● European Games 2027 ● Following a meeting of the European Olympic Committees Executive Committee in Madrid (ESP), President Spyros Capralos (GRE) noted the candidature of Istanbul (TUR) for the European Games in 2027:

“It is a sign of the standing of the European Games and the success of last year’s event that a city such as Istanbul are prepared to host the fourth edition in 2027.

“In today’s world, it is very difficult to attract candidates to organise multisport events, but Istanbul have demonstrated that they have the infrastructure required to host the Games and would welcome the benefits that it would bring to the city. We look forward to visiting Istanbul for further discussions.”

The 2023 European Games were successfully held in Krakow-Malopolska (POL) last year, but no successor host has been named.

● Alpine Skiing ● When money is tight, is it better to show some of a competition, or none?

That’s the dilemma that the French skiing federation found itself in for the recent World Junior Championships in alpine skiing. But it didn’t turn out well per the FIS statement:

“After the recently concluded Alpine Junior World Ski Championships in France, several athletes and fans commented on the lack of gender balance in the available livestreams offered as only the men’s slalom and giant slalom were broadcast, while the women’s events from the same disciplines were not aired.

“FIS acknowledges that livestreaming only the men’s slalom and giant slalom at the Alpine Junior World Ski Championships is not in line with the FIS values of equal opportunity and gender equality. FIS should have insisted on the same broadcast exposure for the women’s competitions, and we are taking the feedback we have received to heart. We will focus on promoting all FIS competitions and FIS athletes equally in the future to avoid any kind of similar situation in the future.”

The French federation statement explained that the events were held at different sites and there was insufficient funds to cover broadcasting of all of the events.

Observed: There are questions raised by all this: where was FIS in all of this, since it was their championship? Is it better not to show anything? And, the wisdom of holding events in as few venues as possible – in order to save money – continues to be a winning concept for sporting events of all kinds.

● Weightlifting ● North Korea is dominating the Asian Championships in Tashkent (UZB), winning the first eight classes in a row and setting world records along the way. But without the possibility to go to Paris this summer.

Having re-entered competition too late in the qualifying cycle to reach Olympic qualification, the PRK lifters are re-writing the record books instead. In Tashkent so far, three new women’s world marks for total weight lifted:

Women/45 kg: 192 kg total, Hyon-sim Won (PRK)
Women/49 kg: 220 kg total, Song-gum Ri (PRK)
Women/55 kg: 227 kg total, Hyon-gyong Kang (PRK)

The competition continues through the 10th.

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