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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Russia rejects “refugee” status idea for Paris 2024
2. Brazil dons first black jerseys to protest racism in Spain
3. Tragic death of Gino Mader in fall at Tour de Suisse
4. USSF names Berhalter coach again; wins Nations League over Canada
5. Indian wrestling head charged with sexual harassment
An unconfirmed report that the International Olympic Committee is considering allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as “refugees” in Paris in 2024 was soundly rejected by Russian officials as “unacceptable.” Another source said nothing has been decided yet. At a friendly against Guinea in Barcelona to protest racism, especially against striker Vinicius Junior, Brazil won all-black uniforms for the first time ever in protest, in the first half. FIFA released a social-media protection report from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, explaining that 286,895 abusive comments targeting team, players and coaches were hidden, and that 19,636 instances of abuse or threats that were reported to the platforms. Swiss cyclist Gino Mader, 26, was tragically killed after falling into a ravine during the final descent of the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse; stage six was cancelled, but the race finished on Sunday. The U.S. Soccer Federation announced it will re-hire former coach Gregg Berhalter as its men’s National Team leader, ending an odyssey after his contract ran out at the end of 2022 amid an investigation for an incident that took place when he was 18 years old (he’s 49 now). In the CONCACAF Nations League final in Las Vegas, the U.S. got two first-half goals and make them stand up for a 2-0 win and a repeat championship. The head of the Wrestling Federation of India, who is also an important Member of Parliament, was charged last week with multiple counts of sexual harassment of female wrestlers, but was not arrested. The case is now assigned to the Delhi courts.
● World Championship: Water Polo (Hungary wins World men’s U-20 title, with U.S. third) ●
● Panorama: Archery (U.S. takes World Cup Mixed Team title in Medellin) = Athletics (4: Ceh now no. 4 at 235-9; Laros 3:32.89 at age 18!; Kaul and Schafer win in Ratingen; USATF names Worlds road teams) = Badminton (top seeds Axelsen and Chen win at Indonesia Open) = Canoe-Kayak (U.S.’s Lokken scores first World Cup Slalom medal) = Cycling (2: Forster & Pieterse ride away with XCO wins; Canada and Mexico strongest in PanAm Track Champs) = Rowing (Britain wins four, but U.S. gets six medals at World Cup) = Sport Climbing (Garnbret sweeps Boulder-Lead World Cup) = Swimming (Two world leaders at Australian Worlds Trials) = Weightlifting (Theisen-Lappen and Robles finish 1-2 in women’s +87 kg to close IWF Grand Prix) ●
Russia rejects “refugee” status idea for Paris 2024
A report circulated last Thursday that the International Olympic Committee would allow Russian and Belarusian participation in the Paris 2024 Olympic as essentially “refugee” teams was blasted by Russian officials as impossible.
Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin told the Russian news agency TASS:
“First of all, these initiatives require a legal assessment in terms of how they correspond to the Olympic Charter and human rights. Of course, if it is about the concept that you are talking about, that would mean that the international community is pursuing a policy aimed at destroying our national sports system and this is something that we cannot agree to.”
Alexander Zhukov, who is also First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, said:
“This is simply unacceptable. They cannot destroy Russian sports, it is simply impossible. Such demands and attempts can only be motivated by political pressure.”
TASS reported Saturday from a source who said that nothing has been decided yet:
“’The situation is unprecedented, so it is absolutely pointless to predict the development of events now,’ the source said. ‘No criteria for the admission of Russian athletes to the Olympic Games in Paris have been developed, all assumptions in this regard are idle discussions about possible options. There are no official parameters for admission in a neutral status yet.’”
Observed: The suggestion that placement on the Olympic Refugee Team or a similar status for Russian and Belausian athletes for Paris isn’t new, and it is one option that the IOC has that could achieve multiple aims:
● (1) provide a pathway – however narrow – for Russian and Belarusian participation in Paris as far away as possible for national recognition of any kind, and
● (2) offer an option so odious to the Russian and Belarusian governments that no athletes from either country will appear in Paris.
Problem solved, all around. No decision yet, but we may be in the trial balloon phase.
Russia continues to work on its own series of competitions, including a “BRICS” Games – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – and a World Friendship Games next year. Marat Filippov, Secretary of the Council under the President of the Russian Federation for the Development of Physical Culture and Sports to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday:
“President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin decided to hold the first summer World Friendship Games in Moscow in September 2024. Preparations have already begun, the competition program is being worked out. This is not a one-time event, it is planned to hold the Friendship Games every four years. The first winter Friendship Games are scheduled Sochi not earlier than 2026.”
A BRICS Games is also contemplated for 2024, but neither has any of the associated details available yet. Matytsin added:
“The President has made a decision to strengthen sovereignty, including in sports. On behalf of the President, we are preparing a project with the Republic of Tatarstan: the BRICS Games. We do not need approval or coordination with international federations, this is a state decision. We will position at the BRICS sports ministers meeting.”
Importantly, Matytsin went on to underscore the tie between sports in Russia and the country’s foreign policy:
“It is very important for us to be internally consolidated, independently determine the agenda for the development of Russian sports, strengthen the foundation for its development; in this way we can demonstrate strength in foreign policy. We do not need to prove anything to anyone, we are a successful country with a victorious history, and there is no need to rush to react on some problems in the international arena. There is no need to break the classic ties – interaction with international federations, with the IOC – but no one has the right to dictate to us what competitions to hold and how to behave.
“As soon as we announced the [BRICS] Games, voices were heard that we want to destroy something. We do not plan to destroy anything, we plan to create and strengthen interaction.”
The Federation Internationale de Luge (FIL) confirmed the continuing suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes at its 71st Congress on Saturday (17th) by a vote of 22-1 (five abstentions).
The accompanying statement noted:
“The presence of Russian athletes, coaches, trainers and other officials of the Russian Luge Federation at competitions sanctioned by the FIL is associated with a high risk that the safety, peacefulness and integrity of these competitions and their participants (including those of the Russian Federation itself) will be seriously endangered. This risk is based on the causal personal involvement of the named persons in these FIL competitions and cannot be replaced by a less drastic measure, so that the suspension of participation is appropriate if and as long as the belligerent activities in Ukraine as the reason for this measure continue.”
Brazil dons first black jerseys to protest racism in Spain
A simple friendly between football superpower Brazil and Guinea in Barcelona became much more on Saturday as the Brazilian team wore all-black uniforms for the first time ever as a protest against racism.
Brazilian striker Vinicius Junior, who plays for Real Madrid in LaLiga, has been repeatedly targeted with racist chants, taunts and online abuse, but is not the only one. He has agreed to be part of a FIFA task force, with other players, to recommend changes in rules, sanctions and protocols to try and reduce racist incidents across the sport.
The game ended as a 4-1 victory for Brazil, which switched back to its iconic yellow jerseys and blue shorts for the second half. The head of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), Ednaldo Rodrigues, said in a statement:
“The fight against racism, a crime that needs to stop around the world, is also why we are here.
“That’s also why our national team played the first half of the match in black. And today, once again, another criminal was publicly exposed.”
The Associated Press reported, “Another alleged racist incident occurred on Saturday before the friendly. The abuse reportedly happened to a friend and adviser of Vinicius, Felipe Silveira, at the stadium.”
Midfielder Joelinton put Brazil on top in the game with a score in the 26th minute, followed by striker Rodrygo in the 30th for a 2-0 lead; it was 2-1 at half. Defender Eder Militao put Brazil up 3-1 a minute into the second half and Vinicius Junior scored on a penalty shot in the 88th.
Brazil will play Senegal in another friendly on Tuesday in Lisbon (POR) and will continue its anti-racism campaign.
FIFA released a detailed report on its Social Media Protection Service instituted for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, showing 286,895 abusive comments targeting team, players and coaches were hidden, but also 19,636 instances of abuse or threats that were reported.
The project focused on five major platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube – and covered 1,921 active accounts on these services. Abusive comments were classified into 17 sectors, with the largest incidents in:
● 26.24% General abuse
● 17.09% Sexual
● 13.14% Sexism
● 12.16% Homophobia
● 10.70% Racism
The study noted that “Targeted individual racism was high volume with more than 300 players being targeted and a few individual high-profile players receiving a large proportion of targeted abuse across the competition.”
Threats increased into the playoff rounds: “there was more pronounced targeting of individuals, due to performance, incidents or penalty misses.”
The system identified 433,696 posts across all five platforms for review, of which 19,636 (from 12,618 accounts) were acted on by reports to the relevant platform. By platform:
● 13,105 reports to Twitter (66.7%)
● 5,370 reports to Instagram (27.3%)
● 979 reports to Facebook (5.0%)
● 113 reports to YouTube (0.06%)
● 69 reports to TikTok (0.04%)
Of the 12,618 accounts identified as abusers, 1,485 were recommended for removal based on community content guidelines; 9,944 were identified for possible sanctions by national federations or individual clubs, such as bans on ticket sales and 1,189 were referred for possible law enforcement action. Of those 1,189, some 306 actual account users have been identified so far. The distribution of the 12,618 abuser accounts:
● 38% Europe
● 36% South America
● 10% Asia
● 8% Africa and North America
The top teams receiving abusive comments were France (more than 5,000), Brazil and England (more than 3,000) and Mexico (almost 2,000).
The 286,895 messages that were hidden were on Facebook (167,108), Instagram (118,413), YouTube (1,374); Twitter and TikTok were not part of this program.
How big a problem was this overall? The report takes the World Cup Final between Argentina and France as a sample, with 1.6 million comments captured for review and 2,946 comments hidden and 1,255 verified abusive or threatening comments: that’s 0.0026% but even at that low rate, enough to hurt.
Tragic death of Gino Mader in fall at Tour de Suisse
Swiss road cyclist Gino Mader, 26, died on Friday (16th) after crashing during Thursday’s fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse while making a turn on the steep descent from the Albula Pass in the Alps in the final kilometers of the 211 km route to La Punt.
He fell almost 100 feet into a ravine, eventually stopped by a stream. He was found submerged in water, revived and airlifted to a hospital in Chur, but passed away from his injuries on the following day.
Riding for the Bahrain Victorius team, Mader won a stage of the 2021 Giro d’Italia and finished fifth overall at the Vuelta a Espana that year. He was the runner-up at the 2022 Tour de Romandie and had won a stage at the Tour de Suisse in 2021.
His Bahrain Victorious team, along with Intermarche-Circus-Wamty and Tudoe Pro Cycling all withdrew from the Tour de Suisse. The sixth stage was canceled, but the riders participated in a memorial ride of 20 km. The Tour de Suisse organizers statement included:
“The entire Tour de Suisse management is in deep mourning. After the death of Swiss professional cyclist Gino Mäder, our thoughts are with Gino’s family! We will remember Gino as a bon vivant and always with a smile on his face.”
The race resumed with the seventh stage on Saturday, a hilly, 183.5 km route that ended with Belgian star Remco Evenepoel on a breakaway with 17 km left and soloing to a 50-second victory. Times for the purposes of the overall standings were taken with 25 km to go, with Denmark’s Mattias Sjkelmose remaining in front overall by eight seconds over Felix Gall (AUT) and 18 seconds over Spain’s Juan Ayuso (who won Thursday’s tragedy-marred stage), heading into the flat, 25.7 km Individual Time Trial on Sunday.
Ayuso won the Time Trial in 32:25, just eight seconds up on Evenepoel and nine up on Sjkelmose, leaving the Dane was the overall winner at 21:17:19. Ayuso finished just nine seconds behind and Evenepoel was +0:45.
The organizers also stated that the women’s Tour de Suisse, a four-stage event that began on Saturday, would be held. Hungary’s Blanka Vas won the first stage in a mass sprint finish over 56 km, and home favorite Marlen Reusser took Sunday’s second stage, also an Individual Time Trial in 36:42, with Demi Vollering (NED: +0:08) second. Reusser now leads the race overall, by nine seconds over Vollering.
USSF names Berhalter coach again;
wins Nations League over Canada
Gregg Berhalter was hired in 2018 to get the U.S. men’s National Team back to the FIFA World Cup, and he succeeded. Instead of being honored and re-hired, he became the object of a strange investigation into an incident with his eventual wife when he was a teenager, but on Friday, U.S. Soccer announced that he is being re-hired to lead the American men to the FIFA World Cup in 2026.
He won’t start right away, however. According to the statement:
“B.J. Callaghan is currently serving as head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, and will continue to lead the team during the Concacaf Gold Cup which takes place from June 24-July 16 in venues across North America.”
Berhalter was 37-11-12 in 60 matches during four years as head coach and has made the U.S. team an attractive destination for multiple players with multiple national-team options. He has a difficult task, however, in that the U.S., as a host country, does not have to qualify for the 2026 World Cup and will have fewer opportunities for truly competitive games in the run-up to that tournament.
In Sunday’s CONCACAF Nations League final in Las Vegas, the U.S. men’s National Team controlled most of the championship match against Canada and came away with its second straight title, 2-0.
The U.S. had a dream start, with pressure on Canada from the kick, and it turned into a goal in the 12th minute, as a Gio Reyna corner found the head of defender Chris Richards for a textbook goal from the middle of the box and a 1-0 lead.
Brooklyn-born striker Folarin Balogun, who chose to play for the U.S. over England and Nigeria in May, was active in front of the Canadian goal in his second match, just missing a header in the 28th minute off a Walker Zimmerman header. He got his first goal in the 34th off a right-side feed from Reyna that had perfect pace that kept Balogun onside. The 21-year-old then sprinted away from defender Scott Kennedy – who had hold of his arm – and finished with a right-footed strike from the right side of the box for a 2-0 advantage.
U.S. keeper Matt Turner was tested a couple of times, especially in the 36th off a blast from midfielder Stephen Eustaquio, but preserved the 2-0 halftime shutout. Canada had 58% of possession, but the U.S. had a 7-4 edge on shots, with a creative offense that controlled the game.
Reyna left the game at halftime and was seen limping, with a walking boot on his right leg on the bench. Minus his playmaking, the U.S. attack suffered in the second half. There were chances, but Canada had more and missed scoring in multiple ways: shots over the net, passes through the goal mouth with no one on the end, and persistent American defending. The U.S. adopted a defense-first stance in the last 15 minutes, increasing Canada’s chances, but without any impact and the match ended, 2-0.
Canada ended with 64% possession, but the U.S. had a 15-12 edge on shots; both sides were issued two yellow cards.
Mexico won the third-place game, 1-0, over Panama, making a fourth-minute goal from defender Jesus Gallardo stand up. The game had 17 shots (9-8 for Mexico), but 32 fouls and 11 yellow cards (6-5 for Mexico).
Indian wrestling head charged with sexual harassment
The tumult over alleged sexual harassment by Wrestling Federation of India President (and Member of Parliament) Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, 66, entered a new phase on Thursday when the Delhi Police filed a chargesheet against him that included:
“In the [First Information Report] registered by the wrestlers, after completion of the investigation, we are filing a chargesheet for the offences under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment) and 354D (stalking) of the IPC against accused Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh and for offences under sections 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and when no express provision is made for its punishment)/ 354/354A/506 (punishment of criminal intimidation) of the IPC against accused Vinod Tomar before the concerned court.”
Tomar is the former Assistant Secretary of the wrestling federation, a post he has held since 2002.
The police asked that a First Information Report concerning Singh and a female minor be dismissed for lack of “corroborative evidence.” The complaint going forward was filed by seven adult female wrestlers, and is now in the hands of the court system, which will supervise the next steps.
Singh has not been arrested, but the filing of charges fulfills a promise made to the protesting wrestlers and their supporters, who have campaigned for months for sanctions against their federation leader.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Water Polo ● Hungary defeated defending champion Serbia, 12-7, in the final of the World Aquatics World U-20 Championships in Bucharest (ROU) on Sunday, winning its first title in this tournament since 2007.
The Hungarians were clearly the best: they won all three group games (beating Serbia, 17-15 in their opener), then cruised to the final with a 9-5 quarterfinal win over Italy and 13-9 over the U.S. in their semi. Serbia, second in Group B, defeated Greece, 14-8, in their semi, but after being down only 5-4 at half, fell behind by 8-4 at the end of three quarters and was down 11-4 after being held scoreless for 17 minutes by the Hungarians. By then it was 11-4 and the 12-7 final was inevitable.
The U.S. was something of a surprise in third, having gone only 1-2 in Group B, losing to Hungary and Serbia. But the Americans squeezed by Montenegro, 10-9, in the quarters, then lose to Hungary in the semis and landed in the bronze-medal match against Greece, winners in 2017 and 2019. A quick start gave the U.S. a 4-1 lead at the quarter and 6-2 at half. Greece closed to 7-4 at the end of three, but Ryder Dodd and Peter Castillo scored for a 9-4 edge in the fourth and the U.S. won its first Worlds U-20 medal ever!
The World Aquatics Water Polo committee will have to work to do when studying this tournament, as the top four teams all came from Group B, including Greece, which went 0-3 in group play and still ended up in the bronze-medal game!
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Archery ● At the World Archery World Cup third stage in Medellin (COL), Italy’s Tokyo 2020 silver medalist Mauro Nespoli won the men’s Recurve division with a 6-4 final over two-time Olympic winner Je-deok Kim, 19, who took golds in the men’s Team and Mixed Team events.
For Nespoli, it was his second career World Cup win, and first since 2018, and his sixth career World Cup medal.
Kim’s teammate, Woo-seok Lee, took the bronze over Brady Ellison of the U.S., 7-1, after Ellison lost to Nespoli in the semis, 6-5, on an extra-end shoot-off.
The women’s Recurve final went to Korea’s Shi-yeon Lim, 20, in a shoot-off with Mexico’s Angela Ruiz, 6-5, with a 9-8 final arrow in the extra end. It’s Lim’s second World Cup win this season. American Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez took the bronze, 6-4, over Germany’s 2022 European silver winner Michelle Kroppen, for her first career World Cup medal.
The U.S. scored a gold in the Mixed Team final, with Ellison and Mucino-Fernandez defeating Korea’s Lim and Woo-Jin Kim, 18-17 in a four-arrow shoot-out for a 5-4 win. Chinese Taipei took the bronze over India, 5-1.
Korea won the men’s Team final with a 6-0 shutout of Chinese Taipei, and the women’s Team title with a 6-0 win over China. The U.S. women’s team of Mucino-Fernandez, Casey Kaufhold and Catalina Gnoriega finished fourth, losing to Chinese Taipei, 5-3, in the bronze-medal match.
● Athletics ● Sensational discus throwing at the Heino Lipp Memorial in Johvi (EST) on Friday, as World Champion Kristjian Ceh (SLO) and Olympic champ Daniel Stahl (SWE) both eclipsed 70 m!
Ceh exploded in the fourth round to reach 71.70 m (235-3), the world leader for 2023, a national record and moving him to no. 7 all-time. Stahl fouled his fourth throw, but got close in round five at 71.45 m (234-5), his no. 3 throw ever.
But Ceh was on a mission, spinning to 71.19 m (233-6) in the fifth round and winding up with a brilliant finale of 71.86 m (235-9), another world leader, national record and moving him into a tie with Stahl (in 2019) and Soviet Yuriy Dumchev (in 1983) as the no. 4 thrower of all-time.
The 71.86 m marks are tied for the equal-eighth furthest throws in history.
In contrast to some events, Ceh and Stahl are regular opponents, with Ceh taking three of four meetings so far this season from the Swede.
True, it’s not close to Norwegian star Jakob Ingebrigten’s 3:27.95 in Oslo, but 18-year-old Niels Laros equaled the Dutch national record with a runner-up, 3:32.89 finish at the annual Nikaia meet in Nice (FRA). Laros was a 3:39 runner coming into 2023 and has chopped seven seconds off his best … so far.
He was just behind winner Andrew Coscoran of Ireland, who set a national record of 3:32.68 with the victory.
The annual Stadtwerke Ratingen had home winners in Germany’s Niklas Kaul and Carolin Schafer, both of whom moved into the top 10 on the year list.
World Champion in 2019, Kaul won the decathlon at 8,484, now no. 7 on the year, and his fourth-highest total ever. He secured the victory only in the final event, taking the 1,500 m in 4:14.19, a meet record. Tokyo Olympian Jorge Urena of Spain got a lifetime best of 8,381 in second as did three-time Dutch champ Rik Taam in third (8,326).
In the heptathlon, Schafer, the 2017 Worlds silver medalist, moved to no. 6 on the world list for 2023 with a 6,369 total for her third win at Ratingen, but first since 2018. Fellow German Sophie Weissenberg was second at 6,247.
USA Track & Field announced its selections for the 2023 World Championships road events, led by former American record holder Keira D’Amato (2:19:12 ‘22) in the women’s marathon.
D’Amato was eighth at the 2022 Worlds in Eugene and will return, along with Susanna Sullivan (2:24:27 ‘23) and Lindsay Flanagan (2:14:43 ‘22). The selection criteria prioritized finishes in major marathons; Sullivan was 10th in London this year and Flanagan was sixth in Tokyo in the spring.
The men’s entries start with Elkanah Kibet (2:09:07 ‘22), who will compete in his third Worlds, along with newcomer Zach Panning (2:09:28 at Chicago 2022) and Nico Montanez (2:09:55 at Chicago 2022).
In the women’s 35 km walk, national champion Miranda Melville (2:57:22 in 2023) leads the team, with 18-time national champion Maria Mitchta-Coffey (2:58:39 as 2023 nationals runner-up) and 2023 35 km nationals bronze winner Stephanie Casey (3:00:05 in 2023).
● Badminton ● China won twice at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta, including an impressive 21-14, 21-11 sweep in the Mixed Doubles final as top-seeded Si Wei Zheng and Ya Qiong Huang (CHN) defeated second-seeds Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino (JPN).
Yu Fei Chen won a hard-fought battle with Rio 2016 gold medalist Carolina Marin (ESP) in the women’s Singles final by 21-18, 21-19.
Top-seed Viktor Axelsen (DEN) won the men’s singles, 21-14, 21-13, over Anthony Ginting (INA), while seventh-seeded Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty (IND) upset no. 2 Aaron Chia and Wooi Yik Soh (MAS) in the men’s Doubles title match by 21-17, 21-18.
The women’s Doubles title went to Ha Na Baek and So Hee Lee (KOR), 22-20, 21-10 against Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota (JPN).
● Canoe-Kayak ● A pleasant surprise for the U.S. at the ICF Slalom World Cup III in Ljubljana (SLO), with Tokyo Olympian Zach Lokken taking his first-ever World Cup medal at age 29.
Lokken finished second in the men’s Canoe final behind home favorite Luca Bozic (SLO), who won his fifth career World Cup title at 90.29 (0 penalties) followed by Lokken at 91.43 (0), and then Tokyo Olympic champ Benjamin Savsek (CZE: 93.14/2).
Lokken, 29, had scored World Cup points back in a Pan American Championships race and was the 2019 Pan American Games gold winner, but this was his first medal in an actual World Cup event.
In the Kayak final, it was Tokyo Olympic winner Jiri Prskavec leading a 1-2 finish for the Czech Republic, winning the men’s Kayak final in 85.02 seconds (0 penalties), ahead of teammate (and 2022 World Champion) Vit Prindis (89.46/2) and Austria’s Felix Oschmautz (90.05/0). It’s Prskavec’s eighth career World Cup gold.
Joseph Clarke (GBR), the Rio 2016 K-1 winner, took the Kayak Cross event, beating France’s 2022 Worlds silver medalist Anatole Delassus to the line.
German Elena Lilik, the 2021 World Champion, took the women’s Canoe final at 101.97 (0 penalties), in front of Ukraine’s Viktoriia Us (UKR: 105.27/2), who won her sixth career World Cup medal. Slovenia’s Eva Hochevar (108.00/0) ended up third after Australian star Jessica Fox missed a gate and suffered a 50-second penalty, finishing 10th at 156.89.
Fox rebounded, however, to win the K-1 final in 96.22 (0) for her 44th career World Cup win, ahead of Us (8.91/0) and Lilik (98.92/0).
Czech Veronika Vojtova, the 2019 World Champion, won the women’s Kayak Cross title, ahead of 2019 K-1 Worlds gold medalist Eva Tercelj (SLO) and Fox.
● Cycling ● At the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Leogang (AUT), two-time European Champion Lars Forster (SUI), 29, and emerging star Puck Pieterse (NED), 21, grabbed wins by decisive margins.
Forster blitzed the sixth and final lap with the fastest time in the field (11:34) to ride away from German Luca Schwarzbauer for a 1:17:41 to 1:17:55 victory, with 2015 Worlds bronze medalist Ondrej Cink (CZE) third in 1:18:04.
Pieterse, warmed up with a second-place finish in the Cross Country Short race on Saturday, behind 10-time Worlds gold medalist Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (FRA), 20:37 to 20:42. Then Pieterse stormed clear of in the Cross Country Olympic race in 1:16:38, 38 seconds up on Austria’s Mona Mitterwallner (1:17:16) and +0:56 on Laura Stigger (AUT). Former World Champion Kate Courtney was the top American, in ninth (1:19:13). It’s Pieterse’s second career World Cup win.
Jordan Sarrou (FRA), the 2020 World Champion, won the Cross Country Short race in a tight finish with Schwarzbauer and Martins Blums (LAT), 21:08-21:10-21:11, with the top eight all finishing within 13 seconds.
In the non-Olympic Downhill events, Austria’s Andreas Kolb won the men’s race in 2:59.335 over five-time World Champion Loic Bruni (FRA: 3:00.15) and Jackson Goldstone (CAN: 3:00.246). Luca Shaw of the U.S. was fifth (3:01.048).
Austria won the women’s race too, with Valentina Hull (3:23.222) finishing ahead of 2020 World Champion Camille Balanche (SUI: 3:27.525) and the legendary Rachel Atherton (GBR: 3:30.556), last week’s winner in Lenzerheide.
Canada and Mexico dominated the action at the Pan Am Track Cycling Championships in San Juan (ARG), with Canada’s 19-year-old Dylan Bibic the star of the show.
Bibic, the 2022 World Champion in the Scratch race, won the men’s Elimination Race, Scratch Race, Omnium and rode on the winning Madison (with Guillemette Mathias) and Team Pursuit squads for five golds. Teammate James Hedgecock was on the Team Sprint winners and also took the men’s 1,000 m Time Trial, and Chris Ernst won the Individual Pursuit for eight golds in 11 events.
Trinidad & Tobago’s sprint star Nicolas Paul, the 2019 Pan American Games Sprint gold medalist, won both the Sprint and the Keirin.
The U.S. men’s squad won four bronzes, by Anders Johnson in the Individual Pursuit, Colby Lange in the Points Race, Grant Koontz in the Scratch Race and Johnson, Koontz, Gavin Hoover and David Domonoske was third in the Team Pursuit.
Canada took the women’s Sprint by Lauriane Genest (the Tokyo Olympic Keirin bronze winner), the Individual Pursuit by Ariane Bonhomme and Bonhomme leading the Team Pursuit winner.
Mexico, however, won six women’s events, including the Team Sprint, and individual wins by Yareli Acevedo in the Points Race and Elimination Race, Victoria Velasco in the Omnium, and Maria Gaxiola in the Scratch Race and with Yareli Salazar in the Madison.
Colombian sprint star Martha Bayona won the women’s Keirin and 500 m Time Trial.
U.S. women won four medals, with a 500 m Time Trial silver from Mandy Marquardt, and bronzes from Colleen Quick in the Scratch Race and by the Team Sprint and Team Pursuit squads.
● Rowing ● Britain, Germany, China and Australia all posted multiple wins at the World Rowing World Cup II in Varese (ITA), but the U.S. surprised with one win, three silvers and two bronzes in the open-weight Olympic classes.
Germany swept the Single Sculls races with two-time World Champion Oliver Zeidler out-dueling 2019 Worlds runner-up Sverri Nielsen (DEN), 6:36.18 to 6:39.13 in the men’s division, and Alexandra Foester, the 2021 and 2022 World U-23 champ, winning the women’s race in 7:20.31 over Worlds bronze winner Tara Rigney (AUS: 7:22.40) and American Kara Kohler (7:22.75).
Britain cleaned up in the larger men’s races, starting with the Pairs with Worlds bronze medalists Oliver Wynne-Griffith and Tom George (GBR: 6:13.15), ahead of Roman Roeoesli and Andrin Gulich (SUI: 6:16.17); the American boat with Justin Best and Pierre Quinton was fourth (6:22.60). Britain won the Fours in 5:42.44 to 5:43.19 for Australia and 5:48.91 for the U.S. quartet of Michael Grady, Nicholas Mead, Christopher Carlson and Liam Corrigan, and took the Eights in 5:23.81, over Australia (5:26.63).
China won the women’s Double Sculls over the U.S., as Shiyu Lu and Shuangmei Shen (6:41.43) barely held on to beat Kristina Wagner and Sophia Vitas at the line (6:41.50). The Chinese Fours squad had an easier time, winning over Britain, 6:08.87 to 6:09.38.
The U.S. scored a victory in the women’s Fours, with Molly Bruggeman, Kelsey Reelick, Madeleine Wanamaker and Claire Collins dominating in 6:17.55, with Britain in second at 6:19.76. Said Bruggeman:
“We weren’t expecting this performance! We will continue to do the best we can. Kudos to Josy [Verdonkschot], our performance director, for what he brought to the program, to us, it is amazing.”
Australia took the women’s Pairs, with Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre finishing in 6:51.74, well ahead of the U.S. entry of Alison Rusher and Meghan Musnicki (6:57.14). Oz also won the women’s Eights in 6:04.07, beating Britain (6:05.90) and Canada (6:05.99).
● Sport Climbing ● /Updated/As if there was any doubt, Olympic champ Janja Garnbret (SLO) reminded everyone at the IFSC World Cup in Innsbruck (AUT) that she is still a brilliant climber.
Garnbret, 24, won the final Boulder competition of the season, claiming four tops and four zones in four tries each (4T4Z 4/4) for a dominant win. Natalia Grossman of the U.S. was second at 2T2Z 2/11 and Japan’s Miho Nonaka – the 2022 World Games winner – was third (2T4Z 2/13) and American Brooke Raboutou fourth (2T3Z 5/11).
It’s Garnbret’s 16th career Bouldering World Cup victory. Grossman won the seasonal title with 3,527 1/2 points to 3,005 for Nonaka; Garnbret finished eighth, having competed in only two of six events.
The Lead season opened in Innsbruck, and Garnbret pounced, winning the women’s title at 39+ holds, well ahead of 2019 Worlds bronze medalist Ai Mori (JPN: 33+), Austria’s Jessica Pilz (25+) with Raboutou fourth (also 25+). It’s Garnbret’s 24th World Cup win in Lead.
The men’s winner was a surprise: 16-year-old Soratu Anraku of Japan, who cleared three tops and three zones, the same as teammate Meichi Narasaki, but more efficiently: 3T3Z 11/9 to 3T3Z 15/11. France’s Sam Azevou was third (2T2Z 4/3). Anraku also won the seasonal title with his win, scoring 3,350 points to edge Korea’s Do-hyun Lee (3,130).
/Updated/In Lead, Swiss Sascha Lehmann, the 2020 European Lead Champion and 2022 World Games Lead winner, won the competition with 44+ holds to edge Alexander Megos (GER: 44+), but with an inferior semifinal score.
It’s the first World Cup win for Lehmann since 2019. Austria’s three-time World Champion Jakob Schubert won the bronze as the best of four at 42+, based on his semifinal score.
● Swimming ● The Australian World Championship Trials finished with a flourish in Melbourne, with world-leading performances in the men’s 50 m Free and women’s 100 m Free and many more in the top 10 for the year.
The women’s sprints were, as expected, superb. Mollie O’Callaghan, the 2022 World Champion, won a star-studded women’s 100 m Free in 52.48, best in the world for 2023, with Tokyo Olympic 50-100 Free winner Emma McKeon second in 52.52 and Shayna Jack third in 52.64, now nos. 1-3-4 this season.
Jack followed on Sunday with a win in the 50 m Free in 24.22, no. 2 in the world for 2023, with McKeon second (24.26, now no. 3) and Meg Harris third in 24.30 (she’s no. 4 from her earlier 24.29!).
Distance icon Ariarne Titmus won the women’s 800 m Free in 8:15.88 to move to no. 2 in the world this year, behind Katie Ledecky of the U.S. Lani Pallister was second in 8:20.56, now no. 7 on the year. Pallister was an easy winner in the women’s 1,500 m in 15:56.31, at no. 5 for 2023.
Kaylee McKeown won the women’s 200 m Back in 2:03.70, her second-fastest time of the year – she’s the world-record holder at 2:03.14 in March – but also the no. 4 performance of all time!
Elizabeth Dekkers, 19, won the women’s 200 m Fly in 2:05.26, a lifetime best and still no. 3 on the world list for 2023. Nineteen-year-old Jenna Forrester won the 400 m Medley by almost five seconds in 4:34.89, now no. 4 for the year.
Cameron McEvoy, the 2015 World Champion in the 100 m Free, won the men’s 50 m Free in 21,41, after moving to the top of the 2023 world list with a swift 21.41 time in the heats. That’s a lifetime best at age 29 and moves him to no. 18 all-time.
Kyle Chalmers, the Rio 2016 men’s 100 m Free gold medalist, won that race in a sturdy 47.44, moving him to no. 2 on the 2023 world list. Just behind was Flynn Southam, 18, was second in 47.77, her first time under 48 seconds and now no. 6 in 2023.
Sam Short won his third Freestyle distance race of the Trials with a 1,500 m victory in 14:46.67, now no. 7 on the year list.
Bradley Woodard won the men’s 200 m Back in 1:56.04, now no. 4 in the world in 2023. Brendon Smith took the 400 m Medley in 4:10.64, now no. 7 on the year list.
The Aussies named a 38-strong team for the Worlds in Fukuoka for July.
● Weightlifting ● The IWF Grand Prix in Havana (CUB) concluded with a U.S. 1-2 finish in the women +87 kg class, as Mary Theisen-Lappen and 2017 World Champion Sarah Robles dueled, with Theisen-Lappen lifting a combined 277 kg to Robles’ 276.
Theisen-Lappen, now 32, was a shot-discus-hammer thrower at Indiana State, earning All-American honors in the shot in 2014, before eventually turning to weightlifting. She stood second after the Snatch, 126-119 kg to Robles, but lifted 158 kg in the Clean & Jerk to win the title as Robles managed 150 kg, making only the first of her three lifts.
Norway scored an expected win in the women’s 81 kg division with 2022 World Champion Solfrid Koanda at 266 kg, just one kg better than Ecuador’s 2022 Worlds bronze medalist Tamara Salazar (265 kg). Ying-Yuan Lo (TPE) took the women’s 87 kg class, lifting a combined 235 kg, just ahead of Dayana Mina (ECU: 233 kg).
Belarus took its third victory of the tournament in the men’s 102 kg class, with Yauheni Tsikhantsou lifting a combined 390 kg to edge Pan American champ Wesley Kitts of the U.S. (388 kg).
Korea’s Yun-seong Jin won the 109 kg class of just four lifters at 361 kg, ahead of Juan Columbie of Cuba (355 kg). Tokyo Olympic runner-up Ali Davoudi of Iran took the +109 kg class at 441 kg, way ahead of everyone else, with David Liti (NZL) second at 400 kg.
The U.S. women led the team scoring with 617 points to 506 for Ecuador and 471 for Mexico. Cuba won the men’s team title at 576, with the U.S. second at 492 and Belarus (“neutral”) at 468.
For our updated, 651-event International Sports Calendar (no. 2) for 2023 and beyond, by date and by sport, click here!