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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. U.S. comes back to tie Dutch, 1-1, in Women’s World Cup
2. More World Cup: Japan and Spain move on, Canada wins
3. O’Callaghan breaks 14-year-old 200 m Free World Record!
4. IOC formally invites National Olympic Committees to Paris
5. LA28 names Ralph Lauren as an “Official Outfitter”
The Netherlands had a 1-0 halftime lead on the U.S. women in their FIFA Women’s World Cup Group E match, but the Americans dominated the final 30 minutes and got even on a Lindsey Horan header that produced a 1-1 tie. In Group C, Japan and Spain both won convincingly, eliminating Costa Rica and Zambia with shutouts. The BBC apologized for one of its reporters asking the Moroccan captain at a news conference if any of the team’s members were gay, a crime in Morocco. Australia’s Mollie O’Callaghan beat teammate Ariarne Titmus to win the women’s 200 m Freestyle at the World Aquatics Championships and break Italian Federica Pellegrini’s 2009 world record in the process. Bobby Finke (men’s 800 m Free) and Regan Smith (women’s 50 m Back) set American Records and France’s Leon Marchand won his second event of the meet, in the men’s 200 m Butterfly. The International Olympic Committee formally invited 203 National Olympic Committees to the Paris 2024 Games, including in-person invitations to countries with recent or future hosting responsibilities, including the United States. Russia, Belarus and Guatemala were not invited. The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and LA28 announced an agreement with fashion giant Ralph Lauren – a long-time USOPC supporter – to be an “Official Outfitter” for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.
● A special year-to-go reflection from Pierre de Coubertin medal winner George Hirthler: France, America and The Olympic Ideal: A perspective on the present, past and future of the Olympic Movement ●
● World Championships: Fencing (Volpi takes second Worlds gold, with U.S.’s Kiefer third) ●
● Panorama: U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (review commission comment opportunity closes 31 July) = Boxing (IBA announces new events, but no word on funding) = Cycling (surprise winner at Tour de France Femmes as race tightens) ●
U.S. comes back to tie Dutch, 1-1, in Women’s World Cup
In an entertaining Group E match in Wellington (NZL) that pitted the 2019 finalists, the top-ranked U.S. women managed a second-half goal that allowed them to tie the Netherlands, 1-1 and maintain the top spot in the group.
Playing in sunny, cool, but windy conditions, the U.S. was looking for offense right away, pressing the Dutch in their own half. U.S. midfielder Savannah DeMelo got a quality shot in the ninth that went wide, but the Dutch broke out in the 17th, with a blocked pass in the U.S. zone coming to midfielder Victoria Pelova about 18 yards out, who passed to midfielder Jill Roord for a right-to-left shot that went through the legs of midfielder Lindsey Horan and past U.S. keeper Alyssa Naeher into the far left corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Netherlands controlled play – rarely done against the U.S. – with 61% of possession through the first 30 minutes, with defender Dominique Janssen just missing another score in the 29th on a top-of-box shot that went just over the crossbar.
The U.S. got a long-distance try from forward Trinity Rodman from 25 yards out in the 18th that was pushed away by Dutch keeper Daphne van Domselaar, and some interesting options off of corners, but wasn’t really close to scoring, despite having nine shots to two for the Orange in the half, and 39% of possession.
Working on a 13-match World Cup win streak, the U.S. trailed at half for the first time since a 2011 group-stage match against Sweden, and came out aggressively, but the Dutch defense was disciplined and physical.
But after an especially hard tackle on U.S. captain Horan, a corner from substitute midfielder Rose Lavelle found Horan moving toward the goal and she headed it into the net for the 1-1 tie in the 62nd.
Striker Alex Morgan then scored in the 67th off a lead pass from Rodman, but was clearly offsides, as the U.S. began to get control of the game. But the Dutch regained their composure and a beautiful build-up saw midfielder Esmee Brugts get a great shot at Naeher, but blocked by U.S. midfielder Julie Ertz in the 80th.
The U.S. regained control and threatened almost continuously for the rest of the game, especially on a shot by Rodman in the 82nd that went wide, and a Sophia Smith drive in the 84th that was deflected out of bounds. The Dutch ended with 56% of possession, but the U.S. owned the last 30 minutes of the game and had the shots advantage, 18-5.
Both teams are now 1-0-1, with four points, but the U.S. is +3 on goals to +1 for the Netherlands. The Dutch will finish group play against Vietnam, while the U.S. gets Portugal on Tuesday (1st).
More World Cup: Japan and Spain move on, Canada wins
Elsewhere at the FIFA Women’s World Cup were strong wins by Japan and Spain in Group C that moved both on to the playoff round, along with a encouraging win for Olympic champs Canada:
● Group C: Japan 2, Costa Rica 0 ● The Japanese attack in Dunedin (NZL) was in full force from the start and the pressure finally paid dividends in the 25th when forward Hikaru Naomoto’s shot from the left side flew under the hand of a dicing Costa Rican keeper Daniela Solara for a 1-0 lead.
Japan kept pressing, looking for openings, and just two minutes later, forward Aoba Fujino turned around her defender and dribbled toward the endline at the right of the goal, seeming to be looking for a cross. Instead, she smashed a shot between Solara and the post (!) for a brillant goal and a 2-0 lead.
That was the score at half, with Japan thoroughly dominating and game and losing interest with each passing minute. The Japanese mounted a couple of interesting attacks in the second half, but Solara was equal and as Costa Rica showed very little on offense, the game ended quietly at 2-0.
Japan enjoyed 57% of possession in the game and a 24-6 edge on shots, despite 13 fouls from the Costa Rican side. At 2-0 and a 7-0 goals-against ledger, Japan appears to be a contenders and will face Spain in its final group game.
● Group C: Spain 5, Zambia 0 ● Following immediately after the Japan-Costa Rica game, a Spanish win at Eden Park (NZL) would mathematically eliminate both Zambia and Costa Rica and move both Japan and Spain into the elimination round.
No problem, as midfielder Teresa Abelleira nailed a right-footed strike from beyond the box that sailed right under the crossbar and into the Zambian goal in the ninth minute to go up, 1-0. In the 13th, it was star midfielder Alexia Putellas who drove into the left side of the box and sent a perfect cross to the far side of the Zambian goal, where striker Jenni Hermoso was waiting to head it in for a 2-0 lead in the 13th.
In truth, the issue was now decided, but Spain got two goals in quick succession in the 69th and 70th minutes from substitute midfielder Alba Redondo and Hermoso. A lead pass from sub forward Eva Navarro put Redondo in position to beat her defender and go around Zambian keeper Eunice Sakala for the third goal, and after sub midfielder Irene Guerrero’s shot hit the post, Hermoso cleaned up with her second score.
Redondo added a fifth in the 85th and Spain clinched its play-off spot with a second straight dominant win. It had 75% of possession and a 22-10 edge on shots, and 13-2 that were actually on goal.
● Group B: Canada 2, Ireland 1 ● The Tokyo Olympic champions from Canada looked to be in trouble in Perth when midfielder Katie McCabe sent a corner kick swerving into the box and flying over the out-stretched arm of Canadian keeper Kailen Sheridan and banking in off the far goalpost for a 1-0 lead.
It was the first-ever Women’s World Cup goal for Ireland, in its first Women’s World Cup.
It looked like the half would end that way, but at 45+5, midfielder Julia Grosso’s cross from the right side into the box flummoxed Irish defender Megan Connolly, whose attempt to clear instead rolled in for an own goal and a 1-1 tie.
Forward Jordyn Huitema’s blast in the 50th looked promising, but was saved by Irish keeper Courtney Brosnan. Three minutes later, sub midfielder Sophie Schmidt gained possession, then sent a pass into the box that was acquired by forward Adriana Leon, who out-wrestled McCabe and sent a left-footed dribbler into the left side of the net for a 2-1 lead.
McCabe almost tied it up in the 79th, beating three defenders for a shot, which was blocked and Canada escaped. Canada controlled possession, 62-38, but had only a 17-14 lead on shots and only 7-6 on shots-on-goal.
Ireland, now 0-2, was eliminated, having played well in both losses; Canada leads the group with four points and will face Australia on the 31st for a spot in the knock-out round.
It wouldn’t be a World Cup without some controversy, and the BBC had to apologize on Tuesday for a question from one of its World Service reporters who asked Moroccan captain Ghizlane Chebbak last Saturday: “In Morocco, it’s illegal to have a gay relationship. Do you have any gay players in your squad and what’s life like for them in Morocco?”
The FIFA moderator brushed aside the question as not relevant to the World Cup or football and one more question was taken before the session was ended.
A BBC spokesperson told CNN: “We recognise that the question was inappropriate. We had no intention to cause any harm or distress.”
Homosexuality is against the law in Morocco and Chebbak’s answer could potentially create legal issues for her. Shireen Ahmed, covering for CBC Sports, tweeted:
“I was at this press conference. The reporter was completely out of line. Harm reduction matters and posing the question to the captain or coach was unnecessary. The question was waved off by a FIFA media officer moderating but it shouldn’t have been asked.
“Asking a player about her teammates and whether they are gay and how it affects them when you know it is not permissible is bizarre and out of line. The captain can not out players nor comment on policy bc it could be dangerous for them, too.”
O’Callaghan breaks 14-year-old 200 m Free World Record!
The seemingly-unbreakable women’s 200 m Freestyle world record had stood since 2009, when Italy’s Federica Pellegrini won the World Championships gold – in the “supersuit” era – in 1:52.98. It was the fifth of five straight world records for Pellegrini in that event, lowering the standard from Laura Manaudou (FRA)’s 1:55.52 in 2007 down to her winning time before home fans in Rome.
It had held up under numerous assaults, but in the textile-suit era, it did not fall until Wednesday in Fukuoka, Japan, at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships, in a duel between Olympic champ Ariarne Titmus – already the winner of the 400 m Free in a world record – and 19-year-old teammate Mollie O’Callaghan, the 2022 Worlds runner-up, and Canada’s World Junior Record holder Summer McIntosh (16).
Titmus got out hard and had a solid 0.59 lead on McIntosh after 100 m, but then O’Callaghan came on and was up to second at the final turn, but still 0.74 behind Titmus. But O’Callaghan closed with a sensational 28.11 final 50 m and Titmus faded slightly (to 29.01), meaning O’Callaghan passed her in the final half-lap and got to the wall in 1:52.85 for the world title and a new world record.
Titmus was second in 1:53.01, the no. 3 swim ever, and McIntosh got the bronze with a national record and another World Junior Record of 1:53.65, moving to no. 4 on the all-time list. American Bella Sims was sixth in 1:56.00, making her no. 8 in American history.
That came right after a scintillating men’s 800 m final, with Olympic champ Bobby Finke of the U.S., 400 m Free winner Sam Short of Australia and Tunisia’s Tokyo 400 m Free gold medalist Ahmed Hafnaoui, who was second to Short in the 400 m Free in Fukuoka.
Germany’s Lukas Martens had the early lead, but Short had taken over by halfway, with Hafnaoui in the lead at 500 m. Those three were close together through 700 m, when Finke was expected to start his well-known drive for the finish. By the final turn, Short was in the lead by 18/100ths over Hafnaoui , with Finke fourth, almost two seconds back. But the American had the jets on for the final 50 and passed Martens, but Hafnaoui was the fastest in the field on the last lap and won in 7:37.00, the third-fastest swim in history and fastest ever in a textile suit.
Short’s 7:37.76 was the no. 4 performance ever in second and Finke set an American Record at 7:38.67 in third, breaking his own mark from his winning 2022 Worlds time of 7:39.36.
France’s Leon Marchand, already the winner of the men’s 400 m Medley in world-record time, was favored in the 200 m Butterfly. He got off to a slow start, but was clearly in front by 100 m and pulled away to win by a huge 1.16-second margin in 1:52.43, fastest in the world this year, moving to no. 3 in history. Poland’s Krzysztof Chmielewski, the 2022 World Junior winner, closed from fourth to second on the final lap in 1:53.62, with Tokyo Olympic silver winner Tomoru Honda right behind (1:53.66).
Although he didn’t win a medal, 16-year-old Thomas Heilman of the U.S. surprised with a tie for fourth in 1:53.82, making him the no. 3 American ever! Carson Foster of the U.S., the 400 m Medley silver winner, was sixth in 1:54.74, fading on the final lap after being third for most of the race.
The U.S. did get into the medals in the 50 m Breaststroke, with Nic Fink again pushing hard from the start in lane seven and getting another silver in 26.59, behind winner Haiyang Qin (CHN: 26.29), who also won the 100 m Breast.
Australia looked like the favorite in the Mixed 4×100 m Medley, but Qin gave China the lead after the Breaststroke leg and Yufei Zhang (Fly) and Yujie Cheng (Free) held off Matthew Temple and Shayna Jack and won in 3:38.57, the no. 4 time in history. The Americans started beautifully, with Ryan Murphy recording a sensational time of 52.02 in the lead-off Back leg, but Nic Fink dropped to second, and Torri Huske and Kate Douglass finished up in 3:40.19 for the bronze, the no. 4 performance in U.S. history.
Regan Smith of the U.S. had the fastest time – and set an American Record – in the semis of the women’s 50 m Back, timing 27.10, breaking teammate Katharine Berkoff’s 27.12 mark from 2022. Berkoff will be in the final too, qualifying in a tie for fourth in 27.49. Smith also qualified in the 200 m Fly as well!
There were world-leading performances in five events on Wednesday:
● Men/800 m Free: 7:37.00, Ahmed Hafnaoui (TUN)
● Men/200 m Butterfly: 1:52.43, Leon Marchand (FRA)
● Women/200 m Free: 1:52.85, Mollie O’Callaghan (AUS) ~ World Record
● Women/50 m Back: 27.10, Regan Smith (USA)
● Mixed/4×100 m Medley: 3:38.57, China
The U.S. now has 17 medals (3-7-7), ahead of Australia (9: 6-3-0) and China (8: 4-0-4).
Swimming continues to Sunday; Thursday’s finals have Smith swimming the 200 m Fly at 8:02 p.m. local time and the 50 m Back at 8:36! The men’s 100 m Free final, the men’s 200 m Medley final and the women’s 4×200 m Free (Katie Ledecky!) are also on tap.
In the men’s water polo tournament, Greece and Serbia and Hungary and defending champion Spain will play in the semifinals on Thursday for a place in the gold-medal final. The U.S. won its play-in game on Sunday over Canada, 13-10, but lost to Hungary in the quarterfinals, 13-12, on Tuesday.
The American men came back from a 7-5 deficit at half and tied the game at 7-7, but the Hungarians scored three straight for a 10-7 edge after three. The lead was 12-8 before another U.S. rally closed to 13-10 and 13-12 with 1:29 left, but that was it. Alex Bowen led the U.S. with four scores.
Greece edged Montenegro, 10-9, in its quarterfinal and Serbia won a 4-3 penalty shoot-out against previously-undefeated Italy to advance. Spain won a 7-6 quarterfinal against France and also advanced to the semis. The U.S. is now in the fifth-to-eighth bracket.
In the women’s tournament, the Netherlands got past Italy, 9-8, in its semifinal and will play Spain, a 12-10 winner over Australia. The Spanish were the last team to win a World title before the U.S. four-peat from 2015-22. The Dutch last won the women’s world title in 1991.
The American women are also in the 5-8 bracket and beat Canada, 16-4, in their semifinal match, and will play Hungary on Friday to finish up.
IOC formally invites National Olympic Committees to Paris
Climaxing a series of year-to-go activities, the International Olympic Committee issued formal invitations to 203 National Olympic Committees to attend the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in Paris in 2024.
Invitations were distributed, as a symbolic gesture, in person to representatives of seven National Olympic Committees which have recently, or will host Olympic, Olympic Winter or Youth Olympic Games:
● Japan: host of Tokyo 2020, to Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita.
● China: host of Beijing 2022, to Chinese Olympic Committee Vice President Jiasheng Zhang.
● France: host of Paris 2024, to National Olympic Commitee (CNOSF) President David Lappartient, also the head of the Union Cycliste Internationale.
● Italy: host of Milan-Cortina 2026, to National Olympic Committee (CONI) Council member Giulia Quintavalle.
● Senegal: host of Dakar 2026 Youth Olympic Games, to Senegalese Olympic Committee President Mamadou D. Ndiaye.
● United States: host of Los Angeles 2028, to U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee Board member Elana Meyers Taylor.
● Australia: host of Brisbane 2032, to Olympic rowing gold medalist Alex Hill.
Invitations were also presented to Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos, in honor of Greece’s Olympic history, and to the IOC Refugee Team, represented by Masomah Ali Zada (AFG), member of the Tokyo 2020 IOC Refugee Olympic Team in cycling.
Invitations were not sent to three National Olympic Committees: Russia, Belarus and Guatemala. The IOC said last week it would not invite the Russians or Belarusian as teams, and the Guatemalan NOC is currently on suspension for government interference.
As for Russia, IOC chief Thomas Bach told reporters:
“We will now closely monitor what is happening in the international competitions and in the qualifications because we want to make sure as possible that everybody concerned by these recommendations and by the Olympic Charter is respecting the letters and the spirit of these conditions. Once we have a clearer picture there, we will take a decision.
“We will not set a deadline … because we feel that if we set a deadline, we may face a situation where everybody behaves until the deadline and then afterwards things may get out of control.”
Everything points to a decision some time in 2024.
For most of the history of the modern Olympic Games, the host city, country or organizing committee would issue the invitations to the Games, but following the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and with difficult politics ahead for Seoul in 1988, the IOC decided at its 2 December 1984 Session in Lausanne that it would issue the invitations from then on.
The Paris 2024 organizers celebrated with the release of additional tickets in athletics, beach volleyball, boxing, rowing, canoe slalom, golf, rugby sevens, water polo and others, adding to the inventory offered for events held outside of the Paris area that went on sale on 5 July. Some 6.8 million tickets have been sold so far, out of about eight million that will be offered as stand-alone purchase (vs. as part of hospitality and travel packages).
LA28 names Ralph Lauren as an “Official Outfitter”
Another U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee partner has extended its commitment to include the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games with the announcement that Ralph Lauren will be “an Official Outfitter.”
That’s not to say that it will be THE outfitter of LA28, but apparently one of several; the USOPC and LA28 also announced Oakley as their eyewear designee, no doubt also to have some role with the provision of products to eventual LA28 staff members.
According to the statement:
“Ralph Lauren will create an ongoing special capsule collection featuring the custom LA28 emblem, with new items being released leading up to the LA28 Games. The first product in the collection will be the LA28 Jean Jacket, available today exclusively on the RL App and at Ralph Lauren’s flagship store in Beverly Hills, California.”
A special, combined logo was also revealed, as was done with LA28 founding partner Delta Airlines:
“The emblem features a black and red winged A, a reimagined look from the 1990s iconic Ralph Lauren P-wing symbol. The A is set against LA28’s bold L, 2 and 8 backdrop, which was first launched in 2020, intentionally designed with flexibility and diversity in mind to represent the spirit of LA with its infinite stories of creativity and self-expression.”
Ralph Lauren has been involved with the USOPC as its team apparel supplier since the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Fencing ● Italy overpowered the field in the women’s Foil at the 2023 FIE World Championships in Milan (ITA), taking gold, silver and bronze medals, but with American Lee Kiefer also getting a bronze.
Kiefer is the reigning Olympic champ from Tokyo 2020, and sailed into the semifinals with 15-8, 15-11, 15-5 and 15-7 wins, including a round-of-16 defeat of fellow American Jacqueline Dubrovich. There, she faced 2018 World Champion Alice Volpi, who won a tight match by 15-13 and advanced to the final.
For Kiefer, 29, it’s her seventh career Worlds medals and third individual medal, with bronzes in 2011, 2022 and now 2023.
Volpi faced countrywoman Arianna Errigo, the London 2012 silver medalist and 2013-14 World Champion, now 35, but Volpi was stronger, winning by 15-10 for her second Worlds gold and third Worlds individual medal.
The home Italian fans got a shock, however, in the men’s Epee, as Davide Di Veroli, a two-time Worlds Team silver medalist, rolled into the final against Hungary’s Mate Tamas Koch, 23, a six-time FIE World Cup medal winner, who had never medaled at a major senior international competition, but who was the 2018 European U-20 bronze winner.
But Koch was more than equal to the task, defeating Di Veroli, 14-10 in the final for his first Worlds medal. France’s Tokyo Olympic champ Romain Cannone and Kazakhstan’s 2017 Asian Champion Ruslan Kurbanov won the bronzes.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● Not much time left to get your comments in to the Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics, which will accept submissions about the USOPC via its Web site through 31 July (next Monday).
The 14-member Commission, working on a fast timeline, is required to hold at least one public hearing, now expected to be on Wednesday, 6 September, in Washington, D.C.
● Boxing ● One of the failed enterprises that got the old Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (AIBA) into financial trouble and eventually led to the election of Russian Umar Kremlev was its World Series of Boxing (WSB).
So, of course, now Kremlev’s International Boxing Association – the new name for AIBA – is bringing it back, but undoubtedly with a much different financing situation. In a Wednesday announcement, IBA launched “a team competition, the Global Boxing Cup, and a club tournament, the IBA Champions League. …
“[T]he Global Boxing Cup, the successor of the World Cup established in 1979, with the new edition scheduled for 2024. National Federations will be split into respective leagues with those leading the charge with both qualifiers and potential play off stages. Significant prize money will be at stake as well as the prestigious trophy. The similarity to the previous iteration of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) will be seen during this reinvigoration of IBAs [sic] team event model.”
The Champions League is designed as a club competition, not between national teams.
The IBA is now outside the Olympic Movement, and is pursuing its own agenda under its own rules and interests, specifically without sanctions on Russian and Belarusian fighters, and without any indication as to its funding, which most recently came from the Russian energy giant Gazprom.
● Cycling ● Stage four of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes produced a surprise winner, with 25-year-old Dutch rider Yara Kastelijn attacking with 19 km to go on the hilly last half of the 177.1 km route to Rodez on Wednesday.
She crushed the field by 1:11, with three more Dutch riders finishing 2-3-4: Demi Vollering, Anouska Koster and favorite (and defending champ) Annemiek van Vleuten. Race leader Lotte Kopecky (BEL) was 1:27 back of the winner, so the overall standings show Vollering moving into second (+0:43) and four – including van Vleuten – tied for third, 51 seconds back.
The next two stages are fairly flat, meaning Saturday’s climbing stage, uphill to the 2,116 m Col du Tourmalet, will likely be decisive.
For our updated, 787-event International Sports Calendar (no. 3) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!