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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Court of Arbitration for Sport registers three Valieva appeals
2. Canada’s Shoemaker only wants anti-war Russians
3. Beijing skiing champ Stupak can’t understand anti-Russian comments
4. Duplantis clears sixth world vault record: 20-4 3/4!
5. Three world leads in Birmingham Indoor Tour Final
At long last, the doping controversy surrounding Russian figure skating star Kamila Valieva and the Team Event at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games is in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, where it will be decided in the coming months, now more than a year after the competition ended. The World Anti-Doping Agency, International Skating Union and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency all filed appeals against the decision of the RUSADA Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee, which let Valieva off with a one-day suspension. Canadian Olympic Committee chief executive David Shoemaker told the CBC that while Russians are still competing in tennis and in the NHL, finding a way for them to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games may not be achievable; University of Lausanne emeritus professor Jean-Loup Chappelet thinks they will not be there as the conditions placed on their participation will be refused by the government. In Russia, Olympic cross-country relay gold medalist Yulia Stupak said, “I honestly do not understand why they behave this way” about athletes who talk about keeping Russian athletes out of competitions. In France, Swedish pole vault superstar Mondo Duplantis claimed yet another world record, this time clearing 6.22 m (20-4 3/4) on Saturday. There were three world-leading marks at the World Athletics World Indoor Tour finale on Saturday, including a 0.09-second miss for Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay in her try for a world indoor record in the women’s 3,000 m.
● World Championships: Freestyle & Snowboard = Nordic ●
● Panorama: Russia (invited to ALBA Games) = Alpine Skiing (Schwarz and Ginnis win at Palisades Tahoe) = Athletics (2: Thomson and Tuliamuk win USATF Half titles; Kerley celebrates 200 m win in Oz) = Basketball (U.S. into FIBA World Cup) = Cycling (3: Evenepoel wins UAE Tour; Van Baarle and Kopecky win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad; Lavreysen and Wollaston star at track Nations Cup no. 1) = Fencing (Massialas gold, Kiefer bronze in FIE World Cups) = Football (Panama qualifies for Women’s World Cup) = Gymnastics (Japan wins three at Cottbus World Cup) = Ice Hockey (Canada wins Rivalry Series, 4-3) = Luge (Germany and Austria dominate final World Cup) = Rugby (New Zealand wins men’s Sevens in Carson) = Shooting (India tops World Cup medal table) = Wrestling (U.S. Freestylers win UWW Ranking Series team title in Egypt) ●
Court of Arbitration for Sport registers three Valieva appeals
The formal process for the resolution of the Kamila Valieva doping case and the final results of the figure skating Team Event at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games has started, as the Court of Arbitration for Sport registered three appeals against the decision of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee:
“The CAS arbitration proceedings have commenced. In accordance with the Code of Sports-related Arbitration (the CAS Code), the arbitration rules governing CAS procedures, the Appellants will first file their Appeal Briefs within 20 days following the expiry of the time limit for the appeal and then the Respondents will in turn file their written Answers.
“Among the procedural issues to be determined is the possible consolidation of the three appeals and its consequences, in particular with respect to the appointment of the 3-member Panel of arbitrators that will decide the matter. Once appointed, the Panel will issue procedural directions for the next phase of the proceedings including the holding of a hearing.
“Following the hearing, the Panel will deliberate and issue an Arbitral Award containing its decision and the grounds for it. At this time, it is not possible to indicate a time frame for the issuance of the decision.”
Two of the appeals were expected, but it not certain whether the Russian Anti-Doping Agency would appeal the finding of its independent Disciplinary Anti-Doping Committee, but it did. The appeals are from:
(1) The World Anti-Doping Agency, which is asking for a four-year ban and a disqualification of all results from 25 December 2021. If successful, this would disqualify the Russian team from the figure skating Team Event at Beijing 2022.
(2) The International Skating Union, which asks for “sanctioning the Athlete with a period of ineligibility, to be determined at the discretion of CAS, starting from 25 December 2021, and disqualification of all results achieved by the Athlete during this period, as well as deciding the consequences, to be determined at the discretion of CAS, of the ADRV committed by the Athlete on the result of the Team Event in Figure Skating at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games Beijing, and determining the final result of that event.”
(3) RUSADA is asking the for “finding the Athlete to have committed [a doping violation] under the RUSADA Anti-Doping Rules (RUSADA ADR), and sanctioned with ‘the appropriate consequences (which may include or be limited to a reprimand) in respect of such ADRV pursuant to the RUSADA ADR’.”
RUSADA’s appeal has a political aspect to it, as the agency is trying to have WADA declare it compliant once again with the World Anti-Doping Code, so part of the reason for its filing is to show good faith with the Code, as well as to maintain its own political standing at home. RUSADA Director General Viktoria Loginova told the Russian news agency TASS (DeepL.com translation):
“Having examined the reasons for the decision, RUSADA considers that the athlete’s side failed to prove, at the level established by the rules, the complete absence of her guilt. As at the stage of submitting the case to the CAS, RUSADA is convinced that the athlete is guilty of violating the rules, but it is minimal, and a reasonable sanction could have been a warning.”
The Court of Arbitration of Sport told TASS: “The IOC is not a party to this proceedings. The IOC did not inform or request to participate in this case.”
Canada’s Shoemaker only wants anti-war Russians
“If there’s some way of having exemptions for those athletes who can prove to us that they’re opposed to the war, we’d be willing to consider what the international community has in mind.”
That’s from Canadian Olympic Committee chief executive David Shoemaker, in comments last week to the CBC. He noted:
“As a society we seem to have accepted that there’s such a thing as innocent athletes from Russia. Tennis players competing at the Australian Open. Nearly 200 NHL players participate and earn paycheques in Canadian arenas all throughout the winter time.
“So we’re going down this path of whether there’s a possible way of defining a neutral athlete in a similar vein.”
But he was not optimistic that an acceptable solution will be found:
“I don’t know if it’s achievable. I think we’ve asked for a lot of things to be addressed that would be really threading a needle.
“I would weed out any athlete tied to the Russian military. They, by definition, should not be considered. We also can’t overlook the importance of making sure that we haven’t somehow elevated the importance of inclusion of those athletes over the needs of Ukrainian athletes.”
There are observers who think that, in the end, Russian athletes will not be in Paris in 2024.
Well-known University of Lausanne emeritus professor of public management Jean-Loup Chappelet (SUI) was asked by FrancsJeux.com about the current situation:
“[T]he IOC is trying to buy time. It is waiting to see what will happen with this war. If it does not stop in time before the Paris 2024 Games, it will have to face moral and legal questions.”
So, will the Russians get to Paris?
“I don’t think so. It is already a given that they will not be in the team sports, because they cannot participate in the qualification process. In the individual disciplines, I do not see them going to the Paris 2024 Games, even if they managed to qualify. The IOC will make the conditions of participation very difficult. In the end, Russia will not accept them. Its authorities already affirmed that they refused the conditions mentioned by the IOC.”
And there is a new three-and-a-half-minute video, from Ukrainian Sports Minister and National Olympic Committee head Vadym Guttsait, which includes graphics stating:
● “While someone dreams of a white flag at the Olympics, our country dreams of a peaceful sky above its head.”
● “The white flag of Russia not belongs at the Olympics”
It ends with a graphic: “#boycottrussiansport”.
Beijing skiing champ Stupak can’t understand
Beijing 2022 Olympic cross-country skiing relay gold medalist Yulia Stupak, 28, told TASS she can’t understand why other athletes want to keep them out of competitions:
“[I]t’s unpleasant that they don’t want to see us there. I think that athletes have to keep a respectful relationship with each other. If I were in their shoes, I would never speak out badly. …
“[H]ave any Russians ever said anything bad about them? But they are totally disrespectful to us now, we see their statements about boycotts. I think it’s not nice. We’ll be back anyway, so it’s better if we keep a cool atmosphere.
“I get a lot of messages [from other athletes]. I even get the impression that on camera they talk about the boycott, but in fact no one is against us coming. They just can’t say it on camera because it’s a political issue. Okay, I understand these political, unsportsmanlike games, but let it be on their conscience. We’re cool here.”
As for the ongoing FIS Nordic World Championships in Slovenia, Stupak said, “I’m not interested, I don’t even want to watch,” and added:
“There should be a cool atmosphere inside, because I have not done anything bad to any of the Swedish girls, I honestly do not understand why they behave this way. Can the World Championships be considered complete without ours? No, of course not, and in most sports where Russian athletes are the main competition.”
Duplantis clears sixth world vault record: 20-4 3/4!
There is little doubt that Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis is the world’s greatest pole vaulter, or that he will be the greatest vaulter in history when he retires a dozen years from now. But it is still a thrill to watch him jump.
He set his sixth world record on Saturday in the All-Star Perche meet in Clermont-Ferrand (FRA), organized by France’s 2012 Olympic champ and former world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie.
In his third appearance in this meet – he won in 2018 and 2020 – Duplantis started at 5.71 m (18-8 3/4) and cleared on his first try, then cleared 5.91 m (19-4 3/4) on his second. He won the event with a first-try clearance at 6.01 m (19-8 1/2), with Kurtis Marschall (AUS) finishing second at 5.91 m.
On to the record: 6.22 m, one cm higher than his World Championships clearance in Eugene last summer. The first two were misses – making eight straight misses at this height, all this season – then cleared brilliantly with perhaps another six inches of hip height – and was hugged by Lavillenie in the pit while the crowd went berserk!
On his 60th career 6.00 m-plus jump, Duplantis got his fifth indoor mark and sixth overall world record:
● 6.17 mi (20-2 3/4i) in Torun (POL: 8 Feb. 2020
● 6.18 mi (20-3 1/4i) in Glasgow (GBR): 15 Feb. 2020
● 6.19 mi (20-3 3/4i) in Belgrade (SRB): 7 Mar. 2022
● 6.20 mi (20-4i) in Belgrade (SRB): 20 Mar. 2022
● 6.21 m (20-4 1/2) in Eugene (USA): 4 Jul. 2022
● 6.22 mi (20-4 3/4i) in Clermont-Ferrand (FRA): 25 Feb. 2023
Duplantis now owns eight of the top 10 vaults of all time and the top six; next best is Lavillenie’s then-world record of 6.16 m (20-2 1/2) indoors in 2014. And Duplantis is still just 23.
Three world leads in Birmingham Indoor Tour Final
The World Athletics World Indoor Tour closed with a bang on Saturday in Birmingham (GBR), with three world-leading marks and the final rankings for the World Indoor Tour events. First, the world leaders:
● Men/60 m hurdles: 7.35, Grant Holloway (USA)
● Women/800 m: 1:57.18, Kelly Hodgkinson (GBR)
● Women/3,000 m: 8:16.69, Gudaf Tsegay (ETH)
Ethiopia’s Tsegay was the headliner, taking a shot at the world indoor mark of 8:16.60 by countrywoman Ginzebe Dibaba from 2014. She won by almost 15 seconds, but appeared to be fading from record contention until a strong finish and a final lap of 31.51 brought her to the no. 2 performance in history, just 0.09 off the record. She said afterwards:
“It was so close. My body is more tired from the traveling, but I am sure that I will get the world record next time.”
This was Tsegay’s second near-record this money, as her 4:16.16 mile win in Torun (POL) was also no. 2 ever, behind Dibaba’s world mark of 4:13.31 from 2016. Tsegay’s 5:31.06 split at 2,000 m was the no. 3 performance ever, behind Dibaba in 2014 and Gabriela Szabo (ROU) in 1998.
Hodgkinson shaved 0.53 off her prior world leader, but stayed at no. 6 on the all-time indoor performers list, now with the equal-10th performance in history. No one has run as fast as she has indoors since 2002! She won by 2.65 seconds over Catriona Bisset (AUS: 1:59.83) with American Allie Wilson sixth in 2:01.13.
Holloway continued his undefeated streak in the 60 m hurdles, winning by 0.12 over fellow American Daniel Roberts (7.47), with Americans Michael Dickson and Freddie Crittenden fifth and sixth in 7.60 and 7.61. Holloway’s time is the equal-eighth performance ever and his fourth in that time. He’s now won 28 straight races at this distance.
Britain’s Neil Gourley moved to no.2 on the 2023 world indoor list in winning the men’s 1,500 m in 3:32.48 – a national record – ahead of national records for Adel Mechaal (ESP: 3:33.28) and Andrew Coscoran (IRL: 3:33.49). Gourley is no. 9 all-time indoors in the event.
Jereem Richards (TTO) won the men’s 400 m over Vernon Norwood of the U.S., 45.84-45.92; New Zealand’s Hamish Kerr and Mexico Erick Portillo went 1-2 in the high jump at 2.28 m (7-5 3/4) and 2016 World Indoor Champion Marquis Dendy of the U.S. won the long jump at 8.28 m (27-2; no. 4 this season), with Will Williams third (USA: 8.03 m/26-4 1/4).
British star Dina Asher-Smith ran 7.03 in heats and 7.05 in the final to win the women’s 60 m, and Britain got another win from Laura Muir in the women’s 1,000 m in 2:34.52, no. 2 in the world for 2023. Canada’s Alysha Newman won the vault at 4.73 m (15-6 1/4).
The World Athletics Indoor Tour final event rankings were decided:
● Men/400 m: Jereem Richards (TTO)
● Men/1,500 m: Neil Gourley (GBR)
● Men/60 m hurdles: Grant Holloway (USA)
● Men/High Jump: Hamish Kerr (NZL)
● Men/Long Jump: Thobias Montler (SWE)
● Women/60 m: Aleia Hobbs (USA)
● Women/800 m: Keely Hodgkinson (GBR)
● Women/3,000 m: Lemlem Hailu (ETH)
● Women/Pole Vault: Alysha Newman (CAN)
● Women/Triple Jump: Liadagmis Povea (CUB)
● Women/Shot Put: Sarah Mitton (CAN)
The Tour winners will receive $10,000 and automatically qualify for the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 2024 by wild card.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡
● Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard ● The greatest Moguls skier in history extended his list of records at the FIS Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard World Championships in Bakuriani (GEO).
Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury, now 30, came into this Worlds with three Worlds golds to his credit in 2013, 2019 and 2021 and made it four – and three in a row – with an 89.82-88.90-88.52 win over Australia’s Matt Graham and Swede Walter Wallberg.
Wallberg had won at the Beijing ‘22 Winter Games and Graham was the runner-up at the 2019 Worlds, but Kingsbury was better again, for his sixth career Worlds gold.
He made it seven on Sunday with a third win in Dual Moguls, defeating Wallberg in the final and winning both golds in a third straight World Championships! Australia’s Graham won the bronze.
The women’s Moguls situation was similar, with two-time World Champion Perrine Laffont (FRA) looking to add a second gold after her 2019 victory, but a bronze in 2021. She was dominant, scoring 87.40 in the finals to win easily over American Jaelin Kauf (83.56, the first American medal in the event since 2015) and Austria’s Avital Carroll (80.19). Laffont’s second Worlds win makes her only the fourth to achieve the feat.
The women’s Dual Moguls saw the exact same result: Laffont for gold, silver for Kauf and bronze for Carroll. Laffont won both Moguls events for the first time in a single Worlds for her fifth career Worlds victory. Kauf now has four Worlds medals, three silvers and a bronze, but is still only 26.
In Aerials, Swiss Noe Roth moved up from bronze in 2019 to take the men’s gold with 118.59 points to 114.48 for unheralded American Quinn Dehlinger (20, 114.48) – who came in with exactly one career World Cup medal to his credit – and China’s Longxiao Yang (110.18) in third. Dehlinger’s medal was his second as he won a gold as part of the U.S. Team Aerials squad.
China had won a medal in women’s Aerials in eight straight Worlds until missing out in 2021, but PyeongChang 2018 bronze winner Fanyu Kong restored order with a win in Bakuriani, scoring 85.30 in the finals, over 2017 runner-up Danielle Scott (AUS: 83.84) and Ukraine’s Anastasiya Novosad (82.84).
The Ski Cross competitions were – like in the World Cup – more of the Sandra Naeslund show. The Swedish star has won all nine women’s Ski Cross events on the World Cup circuit this season and did not falter in Georgia, defending her 2021 World title and grabbing her third Worlds gold, including her 2017 win. Austria’s Katrin Ofner was second and Swiss star Fanny Smith third, winning her sixth career Worlds medal.
Naeslund struck again in the Team Ski Cross final, teaming with David Mobaerg to win over Canada’s Marielle Thompson and Reece Howden, with Italy’s Federico Thomasoni and Jole Galli third.
The men’s Ski Cross final was an upset, as Italian Simone Deromedis won the gold, followed by Florian Wilsmann (GER) and Erik Mobaerg (SWE). It was the first win for Deromedis in a World Cup or a World Championships race!
● Nordic Skiing ● The 43rd FIS Nordic Skiing Championships are on in Planica (SLO), with competitions in cross-country skiing, ski jumping and the Nordic Combined.
As expected, Norwegian men and Swedish women are on the medal stand in cross country through the first four events. Superstar Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo won the men’s Classical Sprint for his seventh career Worlds gold in 2:56.07, ahead of countryman Paal Golberg (2:58.29) and Jules Chappaz (FRA: 2:58.31).
In the 30 km men’s Skiathlon, it was a Norwegian sweep, with Simen Hegsted Krueger winning his fourth career Worlds medal, but first gold in 1:09:40.3 over Klaebo (1:09:52.5) and Sjur Rothe (1:09:54.4). Scott Patterson was the top American, in 19th, in 1:13:00.2.
Sunday’s men’s Team Freestyle Sprint was another Norwegian win, for Golberg and Klaebo in 17:28.14, ahead of Federico Pellegrino and Francesco De Fabiani (ITA: 17:30.62). The U.S. duo of John Schoonmaker and Ben Ogden were 10th (18:12.87).
The women’s Classical Sprint saw Swede Jonna Sundling defend her 2021 Worlds gold in 3:21.67, ahead of teammates Emma Ribom (3:22.54) and Maja Dahlqvist (3:26.12). Americans Rosie Brennan and Julia Kern made it to the semis.
The women’s 15 km Skiathlon was a Swedish 1-2 for Ebba Andersson (38:11.8) and Frida Karlsson (38:33.8), with Norway’s Astrid Slind third (38:59.8). Brennan was the top American, in 19th, at 40:34.7.
The women’s Team Freestyle Sprint was a win for Sweden, with Ribom and Sundling (19:40.73), with Norway’s Anne Kalva and Tiril Weng close behind (19:43.15), and then the U.S. pair of Kern and Jessie Diggins (19:46.06). It’s Diggins’s fifth World medal, and third in the Team Sprint, after a gold in 2013, bronze in 2017 and now a bronze in 2023, as the most decorated U.S. cross-country skier in history.
In the Nordic Combined, familiar faces from Norway took the golds in the Normal Hill (100 m) events. Two-time defending champ Jarl Magnus Riiber won the men’s 100 m/10 km combo in 24:36.3, ahead of Julian Schmid (GER: 24:55.7) and Franz-Josef Rehrl (AUT: 24:57.3). Ben Loomis was the top American, in 27th (27:15.4).
Norway’s Gyda Westvold Hansen has won every World Cup event this season – all nine – and defended her 2021 Worlds gold with a 14.27.1 win in the 100 m/5 km event, ahead of Nathalie Armbruster (GER: 14:38.6) and Japan’s Haruka Kasai (14:42.8). Annika Malacinski was the best U.S. finisher, in 22nd in 18:30.1.
Little doubt about the Mixed Team event, with Norway fielding both Riiber and Hansen, plus Jens Oftebro and Ida Marie Hagen, winning in 37:38.2 (100 m hill/4×5 km) to 38:26.0 for Germany and 38:38.2 for Austria. The U.S. was seventh (41:59.1) with Loomis, Alexa Brabec and Annika and Niklas Malacinski.
In Ski Jumping, the women’s Normal Hill (100 m) came first, with a win for German star Katharina Althaus, who won her first Worlds individual gold, scoring 294.1 to edge seasonal World Cup leader Eva Pinkelnig (AUT: 246.9) and Norway’s Anna Odine Stroem (246.0). Annika Belshaw was 31st as the top American finisher (95.2) and missed the finals by one place.
Althaus won a second gold in the women’s team event, with Anna Rupprecht, Luisa Goerlich and Selina Freitag, scoring 843.8 to outdistance Austria (831.1) and Norway (828.6). The U.S. was 10th and did not make the finals.
The men’s Normal Hill (100 m) title went to Poland’s Piotr Zyla, defending his 2021 victory with 261.8 points to 259.2 for Andreas Wellinger (GER) and teammate Karl Geiger (257.7). Andrew Urlaub was the best U.S. finisher, in 26th (227.1).
Sunday’s Team Normal Hill (100 m) final saw Germany win at 1,017.2 points, with Wellinger, Geiger, Althaus and Freitag. Norway and Slovenia were close, at 1,004.5 and 1,000.4. The U.S. was 10th (412.2) and did not make the final.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Russia ● Russian athletes aren’t welcome in most places, but Venezuela – led by controversial Socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro – is an exception.
TASS reported last week that Russia has been invited to April’s 35-sport ALBA Games (ALBA stands for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), to be held in Venezuela for the first time since 2011. The alliance includes Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.
● Alpine Skiing ● The FIS World Cup men’s tour resumed with technical races in Palisades Tahoe, California (formerly Squaw Valley), hosting men’s World Cup races for the first time since 1969.
Saturday’s Giant Slalom saw the first win of the season for Austria’s Marco Schwarz, who moved from fifth to first on the second run, passing seasonal World Cup leader Marco Odermatt (SUI), 2:23.63 to 2:33.66! Norway’s Rasmus Windingstad (2:23.99) was third; the top U.S. finisher was George Steffey (21st: 2:26.40).
Sunday’s Slalom had France’s Clement Noel in the lead after the first run (52.19), but it was former U.S. team member A.J. Ginnis – now skiing for Greece – who got his first-ever World Cup win (1:47.46), moving from fourth to first on the second run. It’s only the second World Cup medal of his career, both coming this season, in addition to his surprise World Championships Slalom silver. Norwegians Alexander Steen Olsen (+0.01) and Timon Haugan (+0.06) went 2-3, with Noel tied for fourth (1:47.71).
The women’s World Cup was in Crans-Montana (SUI) for speed races, with the Downhill moved from Saturday to Sunday due to fog and soft snow. No problem for Italian star Sofia Goggia, who won her fifth Downhill of the season in 1:26.81, followed by teammate Federica Brignone (1:26.96) and France’s Laura Gauche (1:27.22), who won her first career World Cup medal at age 27.
● Athletics ● Aliphine Tuliamuk, the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials winner, took her second USATF Half Marathon national title on Sunday in Ft. Worth, Texas, running away from the field in 1:09:36. She broke away from Lauren Paquette after 15 km and sailed home to a 15-second win; Nell Rojas was third in 1:11:08.
Tuliamuk tweeted after the awards ceremony: “I came for the cowboy hat.”
The men’s race was tight right to the end, with the same three podium placers as 2022 in the mix. Jacob Thomson, last year’s bronze medalist, kicked best, winning his first USATF national title in 1:02:38, ahead of defending champ Leonard Korir (1:02:39) and last year’s runner-up, Futsum Zienasellassie third, also in 1:02:39.
At the Maurie Plant meet – outdoors – in Melbourne (AUS) on Thursday, World men’s 100 m champ Fred Kerley of the U.S. loafed the turn and then stormed into the lead in the men’s 200 m, raising his arm in victory some 40 m before the finish! He won in 20.32, with U.S. 400 m star Vernon Norwood tweeting “Fred should be disqualified for celebrating” and writer David Melly posting about the celebration, “Somewhere in Michigan, a high school track official’s head is exploding watching this video.”
A high school runner doing something similar was disqualified in Maryland this weekend.
More seriously, Kenya’s Commonwealth Games men’s 100 m champion Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya won in Nairobi in an altitude-aided – but still speedy – 9.81, followed by Samuel Imeta in 9.94, only the second Kenyan ever to run under 10 seconds.
● Basketball ● The U.S. men’s national team, mostly made up of G League players and free agents, came back from a 14-point deficit in the first half and stormed past Uruguay, 88-77 in Montevideo (URU) on Thursday to clinch a spot in the 2023 FIBA men’s World Cup.
The Americans had five in double figures, led by guards Langston Galloway with 21 and Xavier Moon, with 17.
The U.S. played its final qualifying game on Sunday in Santa Cruz do Sul (BRA), and trailed the hosts, 39-35 at half and 62-54 at the end of three quarters. The Americans got within five near the end, but lost, 83-76. Galloway led with 19 points, but the U.S. was only 5-17 on free throws. Brazil forward Bruno Caboclo had 26 to lead all scorers.
The U.S. finished 9-3 in Group F, ahead of Puerto Rico, Mexico and Brazil, all 8-4. Canada (11-1) clinched a World Cup spot as the winner of Group E. The FIBA World Cup will be played in August and September in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.
● Cycling ● The UCI men’s World Tour has sprung back to life with the seven-stage UAE Tour that concluded Sunday, with Belgian star Remco Evenepoel in charge from the third stage on.
He was second on the uphill-finishing third stage and took a seven-second lead, expanded to just nine seconds through the end of stage six, over Australia’s Luke Plapp. The 153 km finale on Sunday was flat except for an uphill finish, which was won by Britain’s Adam Yates in 3:29:42. But Evenepoel stayed close and finished second (+0:10) to clinch the overall win in 23:25:26. Plapp finished second (+0:59) and Yates zoomed up to third overall (+1:00). American Sepp Kuss finished fifth overall, 2:06 behind the winner.
The Spring Classics season has started in Europe with Saturday’s 78th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad from Ghent to Ninove, and a decisive win for Dutch rider Dylan Van Baarle, who broke away with 16 km remaining in the 207.3 km race. He finished in 4:54:49, 20 seconds up on the rest of the field, led by Arnaud de Lie (BEL); it was the first win for a Dutch rider in this race since 2011, but the 12th straight in which a Belgian rider won a medal!
The women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was a 132.2 km course, with home favorite Lotte Kopecky crossing the line first for Belgium, in 3:33:55. She broke away with 12 km to go and won by 11 seconds over Dutch star Lorena Wiebes and Italy’s Marta Bastianelli.
The first of three UCI Nations Cup track events was in Jakarta (INA), with double Olympic gold medalist Harrie Lavreysen (NED) at the front once again.
Lavreysen won the Sprint and Team Sprint in Tokyo and he was the winner in Jakarta in both the Sprint and the Keirin (where he won an Olympic bronze). He teamed up with Jeffrey Hoogland and Roy van den Berg for second in the Team Sprint, won by Australia, led by double Commonwealth Games gold medalist Matthew Richardson.
Pursuit star Tobias Hansen (DEN) also claimed two golds, first in the Team Pursuit and then in the Omnium. The two-time World Champions in the Madison, Germans Theo Reinhardt and Roger Kluge, took their specialty, and Japan’s Elya Hashimoto won the Elimination Race.
New Zealand’s Ally Wollaston won three women’s golds, taking the Omnium and the Elimination and as part of the Team Pursuit winners. France’s reigning World Champion, Mathilde Gros, won the Sprint and was second to Mina Sato (JPN) in the Keirin.
Denmark’s Tokyo 2020 runners-up, Amalie Dideriksen and Julie Leth, won the Madison.
● Fencing ● The FIE World Cup in Cairo (EGY) had both a men’s and women’s Foil competition, with three medals for the U.S.
The 2016 Rio silver medalist, American Alexander Massialas scored the final three points of the match to edge Italy’s 2022 Worlds runner-up Tommaso Marini, 15-14 in the final, winning his fifth career World Cup gold and second this season.
Olympic champ Lee Keifer won the bronze in the women’s division, losing to Italy’s 2014 Worlds silver medalist Martina Batini in the semis, 15-13. In the all-Italian final, 21-year-old Martina Favoretto won her first international gold with a 15-7 decision.
In the Team finals, Japan defeated Italy for the men’s gold, 45-35, and the U.S. women quartet of Kiefer, Lauren Scruggs, Jacqueline Dubrovich and Maia Weintraub fell to Italy, 45-26 and earned silver.
In Heidenheim (GER), the FIE World Cup was for men’s Epee, with Japan’s Koki Kano defeating Alexis Bayard (SUI) in the final, 15-9. It’s Kano’s second career World Cup gold, but the first career World Cup medal for Bayard. France defeated Italy, 45-38, in the Team final.
● Football ● The final qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is Panama, which scored a 1-0 win over Paraguay in Hamilton (NZL) on Thursday.
The game was scoreless through halftime, but striker Lineth Cedeno broke through for Panama in the 75th minute on a header from a free kick by Marta Cox to get the lead. They held on with some strong goalkeeping from Yenith Bailey to preserve the win and move to Group F in the Women’s World Cup, where they will face Brazil, Jamaica and France.
● Gymnastics ● The 46th Turnier des Meisters – Tournament of the Masters – and also a FIG Apparatus World Cup – in Cottbus (GER) fielded a strong line-up of stars, with Japan winning three golds.
Men’s Olympic Floor Exercise gold medalist Artem Dolgopyat (ISR) won his specialty, scoring 14.466 to best Japan’s Tokyo Team silver medalist Kazuma Kaya and Milan Hosseini (GER), both at 13.866. Abdulla Azimov (UZB) was the upset winner of the Pommel Horse (14.866), with Greece’s three-time World Champion Eleftherios Petrounias winning on Rings (14.966).
On Sunday, Armenia’s 2022 World Champion Artur Davtyan took the Vault, scoring 15.133; Ukraine’s Ilia Kovtun – the 2022 European Championships runner-up – was first in Parallel Bars at 15.366 and Shhei Kawakami (JPN) won on Horizontal Bar at 14.266.
The women’s Vault win went to Manila Esposito (ITA: 13.233), with ageless (actually 47) Oksana Chusovitina (UZB) third (13.016), while 2022 European runner-up Alice D’Amato (ITA) took the Uneven Bars with a score of 14.500.
Japan’s Mana Okamura won the Beam at 14.133 over teammate Urara Ashikawa (14.066) and another teammate, Azuki Kokufugata took the Floor Exercise title at 13.633.
● Ice Hockey ● The 2022-23 Rivalry Series between the U.S. and Canadian women ended with a thud for the U.S., dropping the two February games by a combined 10-1 score.
Last Monday (20th), Canada won by 5-1, in Trois-Revieres, Quebec, going up 2-0 after one period and out-scoring the U.S., 3-1 in the third. On Wednesday in Laval, Quebec, it was worse, with Olympic hero Ann-Renee Desbiens pitching a shutout for Canada, and turning away 25 U.S. shots. The Canadians took a 1-0 lead after a period, but scored four in the second and the issue was decided. Blayre Turnbull scored twice for Canada.
So, after winning the first three games of the series by 4-3, 2-1 and 4-2, Canada took the final four games by 3-2, 3-2, 5-1 and 5-0. Next up: the IIHF Women’s World Championships in April in Canada.
● Luge ● The FIL World Cup season concluded in Winterberg (GER), with Germany and Austria fielding the winning sleds this time.
Max Langenhan (GER) didn’t win a medal until the sixth World Cup of the season, but then took off and won the last six races, including in Winterberg in 1:43.364 over Jonas Muller (AUT: 1:43.543) and teammate Nico Gleirscher (1:43.603). That tough early season cost Langenhan the seasonal title, won by Italy’s Dominik Fischnaller (812 points) over perennial star Felix Loch (GER: 767) and Langenhan (685). American Tucker West was 10th (459).
In the men’s Doubles, three-time Olympic champs Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt closed with their fourth straight win, all against five-time World Champions Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, this time by 1:26.690 to 1:26.747. Austrians Juri Gatt and Riccardo Schopf won their fourth medal of the season in third (1:26.822).
In the seasonal standings, Wendl and Arlt won the title from Eggert and Benecken, 1,014-955. The U.S. pair of Zachary Di Gregorio and Sean Hollander finished ninth (476).
Austria’s Madeleine Egle hadn’t won a World Cup since winning the first three races of the season, but she managed a final victory in the season finale, 1:52.843 to 1:53.067 over teammate Lisa Schulte, with Anna Berreiter (GER: 1:53.088) getting her fifth medal in third. The women’s title went to Julia Taubitz (GER) at 947 points, her fourth straight, with teammates Dajana Eitberger (852) and Berreiter (789) following. American Emily Sweeney was fifth (602).
Fellow Austrians Selina Egle and Lara Kipp won their fourth race of the season in the women’s Doubles, 1:28.169 to 1:28.508 over current World Champions Jessica Degenhardt and Cheyenne Rosenthal; Italians Andrea Votter and Marion Oberhofer took their 11th medal of the season in third (1:28.554), and won the seasonal title with 1,010 points, over Egle and Kipp (915). The top American pair of Chevonne Forgan and Sophia Kirkby finished fifth (635).
● Rugby ● The HSBC men’s Sevens Series was in the soggy Los Angeles area, at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, for the fifth stop on the 10-leg 2023 tour, with Samoa, Ireland, Fiji and Great Britain all sailing through their pools with 3-0 marks.
However, only Fiji advanced to the semifinals, and was promptly eliminated by Argentina, 20-17, while seasonal leader New Zealand defeated Australia, 33-17. Going into the final, both teams had won once this season, and New Zealand dashed off to a 12-0 lead and 17-0 at half. Argentina closed to 17-12 with two minutes left, but the All Blacks Sevens scored once more for the 22-12 final.
Fiji won the third-place match, 21-19, over Australia. New Zealand continues at the top of the standings halfway through the season, with 107 points, ahead of Argentina and South Africa (86 each), Fiji (84) and Samoa (81).
● Shooting ● The ISSF World Cup for Rifle and Pistol in Cairo (EGY) concluded last Thursday, with Hungary’s Veronika Major winning her second gold, this time in the 25 m Pistol final.
Major, who previously won the 10 m Air Pistol event and has won multiple European Championships medals, out-scored 2018 Worlds bronze winner Doreen Vennekamp (GER), 28-27, despite missing two of her final five shots.
The men’s 25 m Rapid-Fire Pistol final saw Massimo Spinella (ITA) upset 2022 European Champion Clement Bessaguet (FRA), 32-20.
In the 50 m Rifle/3 Positions women’s final, Tokyo Olympic Champion Nina Christen (SUI) was a convincing winner over Norway’s Tokyo fourth-placer, Jeanette Duestad, 17-13. The men’s final saw India’s 2021 World Junior Champion Aishwary Tomar defeat Alexander Schmirl (AUT), by 16-6.
India topped the medal table with seven total (4-0-3), ahead of Germany with four (0-2-2) and Hungary with three (2-1-0).
● Wrestling ● At the Ibrahim Moustafa UWW Ranking Series event in Alexandria (EGY), the U.S. came away with four total wins and the men’s team title.
The U.S. men’s Freestylers had six finalists, but only the all-American final at 92 kg produced a U.S. victory. Kollin Moore defeated Nate Jackson on criteria after a 0-0 final, and the other four U.S. finalists all lost and settled for silvers: Joey McKenna (65 kg), Cody Chittum (70 kg), Vincenzo Joseph (74 kg), and Zahid Valencia (86 kg). The U.S. piled up 155 points to lead all scorers, with Ukraine second (117).
The U.S. women earned golds from Jacarra Winchester at 55kg, Forrest Molinari (68 kg) and Kennedy Blades (76 kg), and a silver from Emma Bruntil at 65 kg, and finished third in the team standings (120), behind Ukraine and China.
Georgia got three wins and took the team honors in Greco-Roman with 166 points, to 161 for Kazakhstan (161); there were no U.S. entries.
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