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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. U.S. swamps Japan, 8-2, for first Curling World Mixed Doubles gold!
2. U.S. gets no favors, faces Greece in Basketball World Cup
3. IJF approves Russia and Belarus as “neutrals” (again)
4. New university study shines positive light on Utah Winter bid
5. IBA taunts Euro Games organizers, IOC with “eligibles” list
Cory Thiesse and Korey Dropkin won the U.S.’s first-ever World Mixed Doubles gold with a solid, 8-2 win over Japan in the final in Korea. The draw for the 2023 FIBA men’s World Cup to be held in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia was on Saturday, with the Americans in a tough group with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greece, plus New Zealand and Jordan. The International Judo Federation surprised no one by approving Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals – they had done so previously in 2022 – but this time with outside verification of “athlete neutrality.” A expanded study from the University of Utah showed new factors in demographics, social capital and carbon control in favor of the Salt Lake City bid for the 2030 or 2034 Olympic Winter Games. The numbers showed Utah to be the no. 1 U.S. state for volunteerism! The International Boxing Association, shut out of the qualification process for the Paris 2024 Games, nonetheless issued a list of “eligible” boxers for the European Games in Poland in June, including Belarusian and Russian athletes, none of whom will be allowed to compete at the event in Krakow and Malopolska.
A sad note as Olympic long jump great Ralph Boston of the U.S. passed away on Sunday, at 83. A full remembrance will feature in Tuesday’s post.
● World Championship: Ice hockey (U.S. wins IIHF men’s U-18s) ●
● Panorama: Athletics (3: Four world leaders in Botswana, Crouser and Ealey win at Drake; big marks for Kovacs, Alekna, Burks) = Badminton (Canada sweeps PanAm Championships) = Beach Volleyball (U.S.’s Nuss & Kloth win in Brazil!) = Cycling (Yates wins Tour de Romandie) = Fencing (Korea’s Oh wins Sabre Grand Prix at home) = Gymnastics (Kovtun on fire in Apparatus World Cup) = Modern Pentathlon (Jun wins, Guzi surprises at World Cup) = Sailing (three wins for France at Semaine Olympique Francaise) = Sport Climbing (six Speed world records in Seoul!) = Wrestling (2: Steveson dominates U.S. Open in return; no 2023 World Cups!) ●
U.S. swamps Japan, 8-2, for first Curling World Mixed Doubles gold!
The United States had appeared in exactly zero finals in the first 14 editions of the WCF World Mixed Doubles Championship that debuted in 2008. That ended with a first-ever gold medal in 2023 as Cory Thiesse and Korey Dropkin defeated Chiaki Matsumura and Yasumasa Tanida of Japan, 8-2 in the final in Gangneung, South Korea on Saturday.
The U.S. did have some experience on its side, with Thiesse (then Cory Christensen) and John Shuster winning the Worlds bronze in 2019. Dropkin had been in two prior Mixed Doubles Worlds, in 2015 and 2018.
In Gangneung, Thiesse and Dropkin were great, finishing round-robin play in Group B with a 7-2 record, behind only Matsumura and Tanida (8-1). The Japanese won their round-robin match vs. the U.S. by 7-5.
In the playoffs, the U.S. squeezed by defending champ Scotland, 8-6, in the play-in match to the semifinals. As a group winner, Japan was automatically in the semis and got past Norway, 5-4, to reach not just its first-ever gold-medal game, but its first medal match!
Tiesse and Dropkin faced Canada’s two-time Worlds Women’s gold medalist Jennifer Jones and Brent Liang in the semis, and moved on with a 6-2 win powered by four unanswered points in the fifth, sixth and seventh ends.
In the final, the U.S. got on top quickly, with a point in the first end and two in the second for a 3-0 lead. Japan got one back in the third, but the Americans put up another point in the fourth and two in the fifth for a commanding 6-1 lead on the way to the 8-2 final. It was the fifth time in 11 matches that the U.S. scored eight or more points.
“I can’t even believe it, I’m definitely still speechless right now. It definitely hasn’t sunk in yet, but it’s incredible. I’m just so proud of my partner, we had a great week and it’s just incredible.”
Norway won the bronze, 6-2 over Canada, moving up from fourth in 2022 and claiming their third medal in tournament history (0-1-2).
U.S. gets no favors, faces Greece in Basketball World Cup
A pretty tough draw for the United States in the draw for the FIBA World Cup coming up in August, with arguably the toughest group in the tournament:
● Group A: Angola (41), Dominican Republic (23), Italy (10), Philippines (40)
● Group B: China (27), Puerto Rico (20), Serbia (6), South Sudan (62)
● Group C: Greece (9), Jordan (33), New Zealand (26), United States (2)
● Group D: Egypt (55), Lithuania (8), Mexico (31), Montenegro (18)
● Group E: Australia (3), Finland (24), Germany (11), Japan (36)
● Group F: Cape Verde (64), Georgia (32), Slovenia (7), Venezuela (17)
● Group G: Brazil (13), Cote d’Ivoire (42), Iran (22), Spain (1)
● Group H: Canada (15), France (5), Latvia (29), Lebanon (43)
The U.S. will open with New Zealand in Pasay, the Philippines on 26 August, followed by ninth-ranked Greece – and the Antetokounmpo brothers – on the 28th and Jordan on 30 August, The top two teams in each group will advance to a second pool-play round with the top two in the second-round groups advancing to the quarterfinals.
Group A will play in the Philippines, in Bocaue and Quezon City; Group B only in Quezon City, Group C and Group D in Pasay.
Groups E and F will play in Okinawa City, Japan and Groups G and H will play in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The second-round groups will play in Quezon City and Pasay, Okinawa and Jakarta. All of the elimination playoffs will be at the 15,000-seat Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
This will be the 19th Basketball World Cup, with Spain the defending champ from 2019. The U.S. won the prior World Cups in 2011 and 2015, and has won the tournament five times, ties for the most with Yugoslavia. France won the bronze medals in both 2015 and 2019.
USA Basketball noted that Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors) will serve as head coach of the 2023 USA World Cup Team. He will be assisted by Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat), Tyronn Lue (Los Angeles Clippers) and Mark Few (Gonzaga University). The 12-man USA roster will be selected by USA basketball National Team Director Grant Hill and announced at a later date.
FIBA announced that the 32-team 2027 FIBA World Cup will be played in Doha, Qatar, another in a steady stream of events to be held there, using existing facilities, with dates to be announced.
The federation awarded the 16-team 2026 Women’s World Cup to Germany, to be played in September in Berlin, at the Arena Berlin and the Max-Schmeling-Halle. The Germans previously hosted the event in 1998,
IJF approves Russia and Belarus as “neutrals” (again)
As it had already allowed Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals in June of 2022 – but with both countries staying away – there was no surprise in Saturday’s announcement of the same:
“The IJF Executive Committee has decided to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in IJF events as individual neutral athletes.”
What is different is the follow-on actions based on the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee:
“The Executive Committee has decided to engage an independent, reputable company to perform background checks on all the individuals proposed for participation, including social media content, with specific reference to possible war propaganda. Only those athletes and support personnel who are cleared during this verification process will be eligible and considered for participation in events by the IJF Executive Committee.”
And the IJF’s last line continues the IOC’s push to have athletes treated specially, against all others:
“Sport is the main bridge for dialogue and reconciliation.”
Russia has had success in judo in the recent past, winning four medals each in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 World Championships, but did not compete in 2022. Russia sent 13 entries to the Tokyo Olympic Games and won three medals, all bronzes (two men’s, one women’s).
New university study shines positive light on Utah Winter bid
An expanded study from the University of Utah’s Gardner Policy Institute paper that projected an economic impact of $3.9 billion and 30,000 job-years of employment in May 2022, shows a 2030 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City to be well positioned for success based on non-pecuniary factors.
The new paper, titled “2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Utah: Demographic, Social, and Environmental Factors,” highlights positives for the bid, now looking more toward 2034 than 2030:
● Demographic Trends: “Utah continues to be a fast-growing, youthful, and rapidly diversifying state that attracts new migrants.”
● Social Factors: “Utah maintains its stature as a volunteer state with significant civic pride, nation-leading social capital, and high levels of well-being as measured by physical health, active lifestyles, healthy behaviors, and access to recreational activities.”
● Environmental Factors: “Utah remains well positioned to host an environmentally positive Games. A future Games will not require any Olympic-specific new construction projects, greatly reducing the environmental footprint. The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games commitment to a ‘climate positive’ Games demonstrates the high priority of environmental outcomes.”
The specifics are interesting, as the research showed Utah population growing at a rate of 18.4% from 2010-20, compared to just 7.4% for the U.S. as a while. Statistics on volunteerism were remarkable, reporting that Utah ranked “first in volunteerism” in the U.S. at 116 hours per person per year vs. 90 hours for the U.S. as a whole, with 51.0% of all Utahns involved in some type of volunteer work (vs. 32.6% of the U.S.).
The volunteerism numbers are important as the report notes:
“In 2002, nearly 70,000 people applied for approximately 21,000 available Olympic Games volunteer positions. Utah’s spirit of volunteerism contributed an estimated 4.6 million hours and between $69 and $92 million in savings to the 2002 Games, playing a significant role in the Games’ economic success and financial surplus.”
The report projected 25,000 volunteers to be engaged for 2030 (or 2034), of which 6-7,000 would be new, meaning an impressive 18-19,000 would be repeat staff from 2002! This is a potentially critical positive for Salt Lake City as a permanent site – in a rotation – for future Winter Games.
The “climate positive” pledge for a 2030 or 2034 Games is significantly based on building no new facilities, whether for competition, training or athlete housing, and the existing and forthcoming environmental initiatives of local and statewide agencies.
Aside from the volunteerism numbers, there were no knock-out revelations in the report update, but the study adds to the “soft power” profile of the Salt Lake City bid in areas where the International Olympic Committee has shown increased concern.
IBA taunts Euro Games organizers, IOC with “eligibles” list
In a continuing effort to annoy and/or embarrass the organizers of the 2023 European Games and the International Olympic Committee, the International Boxing Association released a list of “eligible” boxers for the event.
As this is not a federation competition, but a multi-sport Games, this would normally not be of much interest. But, the IOC has designated the European Games in June as its first qualifier for the Paris 2024 Games, a process that does not include the IBA, and which the IOC is managing on its own, as it did for the Tokyo Games.
The 27-page IBA list includes, in a rather hard-to-read format, boxers who will clearly not be part of the 2023 European Games:
● Belarus: 9 boxers (4 men/5 women)
● Russia: 13 boxers (7 men/6 women)
Ukraine is, of course, listed, in all 13 classes (seven men and six women) and is expected to compete, but not necessarily with the boxers listed.
The IBA explained the announcement as
“a move to ensure its ranked athletes have a fair chance to compete at the European Games, has released the official list of eligible boxers based on the internationally recognized IBA ranking system for the European Games 2023 boxing tournament.
“The IBA stresses the importance of a fair selection criteria for the continental event, where IBA rankings reflect the most up-to-date situation in the sport of boxing with the most important events outcome included.”
The Polish organizing committee, in concert with the Polish government, has stated that no Russian or Belarusian athletes will be allowed to compete in the 2023 European Games.
In the meantime, the 2023 IBA men’s World Championships opened on Sunday in Tashkent (UZB), that will run through the 14th of May. As of 6 April, 104 countries were reported to have registered, with multiple countries absent – including the U.S. – as a protest against the IBA’s governance, finances and procedures.
≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ≡
● Ice Hockey ● The 23rd IIHF men’s U-18 Worlds in Switzerland concluded with a rematch of the 2022 final between defending champion Sweden and the U.S., but with the outcome reversed.
In the semifinals, the U.S. stomped Slovakia, 7-1, while Sweden sailed past Canada, 7-2, leaving the tournament’s two best teams in the final. The Swedes came in 6-0 with a 31-6 goals-against total, while the U.S. was also 6-0 and scored 48 goals to just eight for its opponents. William Smith and Cole Eiserman both had nine goals for the U.S. to lead all scorers coming into the final.
Sweden got on top in Sunday’s gold-medal match, with a first-period goal by Elliot Stahlberg and a second-period, power-play goal from Noel Nordh for a 2-0 lead. But the U.S. got going in the third, with Danny Nelson cutting the deficit to 2-1 at 9:44 of the final period, then getting a power-play equalizer from Carey Terrance at 16:44.
The match went into overtime, and after just 2:20, Ryan Leonard scored to give the Americans a 3-2 win and their 11th World U-18 title. It’s the 19th U.S. medal in 23 editions of the tournament, but the first win since 2017 and first win in their last three finals. Sweden earned its 13th medal in this event, now with two wins, six silvers and five bronzes.
In the third-place match, Canada defeated the Czechs, 4-3, also in overtime.
Smith won the scoring title with 20 points (9+11) and was named the Best Forward in the tournament. Sweden’s Axel Sandin Pellikka was selected as Best Defenseman and Noah Erliden as the top goalkeeper.
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Athletics ● Big marks from the Botswana Golden Grand Prix in Gaborone (BOT), including world-leading outdoor marks in four events:
● Men/200 m: 19.87, Letsile Tebogo (BOT)
● Men/400 m: 43.91, Muzala Samukonga (ZAM)
● Men/4×100 m: 38.26, Kenya
● Women/Long Jump: 6.77 m (22-2 1/2), Ese Brume (NGR) (later surpassed)
Tebogo, still just 19 and the two-time World Junior Champion at 100 m, came in with the fastest outdoor 200 m time in the world at 20.00, but crushed that with ease as he came off the turn fighting for the lead and then strode away from Canada’s Aaron Brown (20.00) and Joseph Fahnbulleh (LBR: 20.14) to win in 19.87 (wind -0.3 m/s).
That’s a lifetime best by 0.09 for Tebogo and moved him to equal-9th all-time in African history.
Tebogo was second in the 100 m behind Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala, who ran the fastest time in the world in 2023 in 9.76, but with wind just over the allowable limit (+2.3 m/s). American Kenny Bednarek was third in his first 100 m of the season (10.02) and Kyree King fifth (10.06).
Maybe the shock of the day was Zambia’s Muzala Samukonga, 20, winning the 400 m in a world-leading 43.91, holding on in the straight to lower his all-time best from 44.66 in 2022. He finished ahead of 2012 Olympic champ Kirani James (GRN: 44.76) and Botswana’s Leungo Scotch (44.76). Samukonga now ranks no. 17 all-time and no. 3 in African history.
Americans won the women’s sprints, with TeeTee Terry edging Bassant Hemida (EGY) from 11.05 to 11.09 (+0.4), with American Kiara Parker third (11.16). Kayle White won the 200 m from Sha’Carri Richardson, 22.38-22.54 (-0.5), with Hemida third (22.75).
The long jumps were strong, with Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Brume taking the world outdoor lead at 6.77 m, beating Burundi’s Marthe Koala (6.69 m/21-11 1/2). American Marquis Dendy, 30, the 2016 World Indoor Champion, jumped up to no. 2 on the world outdoor list with his winning jump of 8.34 m (27-4 1/2), well in front of Ingar Bratseth-Kiplesung (8.21 m/26-11 1/4).
American Trevor Bassitt, the 2022 Worlds 400 m hurdles bronze medalist, won his specialty in 48.43, with Sokwakhana Zazaini (RSA) second at 48.58.
Kenyan Mary Moraa set a national record with her 50.44 wun in the women’s 400 m and Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu jumped up to no. 5 on the world outdoor list with her 800 m victory in 1:59.35.
Despite cold and rainy conditions at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, Olympic and World Champion Ryan Crouser of the U.S. won the men’s shot with what was thought to be a world-leading outdoor mark of 22.28 m (73-5 1/4).
That made Crouser a five-time Drake Relays winner and he grabbed the meet record from Christian Cantwell, who reached 22.10 m (72-6 1/4) in 2006. Tripp Piperi was second at 21.49 m (70-6 1/4), for sixth on the outdoor world list. (Both were moved down by Joe Kovacs in Nashville at about the same time; see below).
Fellow American World Champion Chase Ealey moved up to no. 5 on the world outdoor list for 2023 with a win at 19.12 m (62-8 3/4), well ahead of Maggie Ewen (18.76 m/61-6 3/4).
On the track, American Tia Jones won the women’s 100 m hurdles in a swift 12.44, the no. 2 mark in the world for 2023 (wind: -1.1 m/s), over Tonea Marshall (12.61), former World Champion Nia Ali (12.67) and world-record holder Tobi Amusan (NGR: 12.69).
The men’s 400 m hurdles went to C.J. Allen (48.78), with Anna Cockrell winning the women’s race in 55.52.
Nikki Hiltz completed a women’s road mile-track 1,500 m double, winning in 4:09.02.
That wasn’t all. At the Cal-Stanford dual in Berkeley, Cal star Worlds discus silver medalist Mykolas Alekna (LTU) won his event with a lifetime best and world-leading 71.00 m (232-11), moving to no. 18 all-time. He’s also now no. 6 this century, but doesn’t have the family record yet. That still belongs to is father, Virgilijus, still no. 2 ever at 73.88 m (242-5) from 2000!
Two-time World Champion Joe Kovacs took the world lead in the men’s shot at the Music City Challenge in Nashville, winning at 22.69 m (74-5 1/2) on his third throw. He backed that up with 22.03 m (72-3 1/2) in the fifth and round and 22.22 m (72-10 3/4) in the sixth.
In Baton Rouge, Worlds fourth-placer Quanesha Burks won the women’s long jump at 6.95 m (22-9 3/4) – the outdoor world leader for 2023 – but was second to Tara Davis-Woodhall, who won with a wind-aided leap of 7.05 mw (23-1 3/4w) with a stout breeze of 5.9 m/s at her back. Davis-Woodhall had a best legal jump of 6.86 m (22-6 1/4).
At the Fresno State Invite, 2019 Worlds 4×1 relay gold winner Morolake Akinosun, 28, won the women’s 100 m in 10.95 (+1.1) – equaling her lifetime best from 2016! – ahead of hurdles star Keni Harrison (11.09). Same for Texas’ Julian Alfred at the Texas Invitational in Austin, 10.95 with an aiding wind of +1.8 m/s and both are now no. 5 this season.
Also at Texas was Gabby Thomas, the Tokyo Olympic 200 m bronze medalist, won the women’s 400 m in a sensational 49.68, ahead of Lynna Irby-Jackson (50.40). For Thomas, it was her first 400 m since 2019 and moved her to no. 2 in the world for 2023. She’s also now no. 18 all-time U.S. in what was apparently only her second-ever outdoor 400 m!
Olympic champ Valarie Allman, already the world leader, took the women’s discus at 68.20 m (223-9).
Sondre Guttormsen (NOR), the NCAA champ for Princeton, took the outdoor world lead in the men’s vault at 5.90 m (19-2 1/4).
At the University of North Florida East Coast Relays in Jacksonville, Olympic women’s 100 m hurdles champ Jasmine Camacho-Quinn screamed a 12.29 win, but with over-the-allowable wind of 3.2 m/s.
● Badminton ● Canada swept all five finals of the Pan American Championships in Kingston (JAM), including two wins in all-Canada matches!
Defending champion Michelle Li won the women’s Singles final from 2021 champ Beiwin Zhang of the U.S., 21-19, 21-9, and Brian Yang, the 2021 winner, earned a second victory by defeating Uriel Francisco Canjura of El Salvador, 21-10, 21-5.
The men’s Doubles was all-Canada, with Dong Adam and Nyl Yakura outlasting Kevin Lee and Ty Alexander Lindeman, 21-10, 16-21, 22-20. The Mixed Doubles final saw Joshua Hurlburt-Yu and Rachel Honderich win a tight match with Lindeman and Josephine Wu, 22-20, 18-21, 21-17.
The men’s Doubles final had Catherine Choi and Wu sweep aside Americans Francesca Corbett and Allison Lee, 21-14, 21-18.
● Beach Volleyball ● The third Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 tournament was in Uberlandia (BRA), with major upsets in both divisions.
In the women’s final, unheralded Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth (USA) came from behind to stun Australia’s Tokyo silver medalists Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy, 16-21, 24-22, 15-13.
Nuss, 25, and Kloth, 26, made a minor splash in March with a win in the La Paz Challenge tournament, but were underdogs against the Australian stars. This is their fourth win in FIVB tournaments, but by far their biggest win.
In the third-place match, Ana Patricia and Duda Lisboa (BRA) defeated Americans Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng, 21-16, 21-13.
The men’s final saw Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner (CZE), the 2022 European silver medalists defeat Norway’s Olympic and World champs, Anders Mol and Christian Sorum, 21-19, 15-21, 15-11. The Czechs won their first Beach Pro Tour medal of the season and first FIVB event title since 2021 and their third ever; Mol and Sorum have now reached the final in all three Elite 16 tournaments in 2023, but have won only one and lost two.
Poland’s Bartosz Losiak and Michal Bryl won the bronze-medal match from Steven van de Velde and Matthew Immers (NED), 21-19, 21-23, 15-9.
● Cycling ● The 76th Tour de Romandie in western Switzerland saw the first five stages conclude with a different winner each time and the winner taking the race lead.
Czech Josef Cerny won the Prologue, a 6.82 km Individual Time Trial, but lost the leads the next day to Britain’s Ethan Vernon, who won the hilly “Stage 1″ in a mass-sprint finish.
The hilly second stage was a win for British star Ethan Hayter in another sprint finish and he ended the day with a six-second lead over Tobias Foss (NOR) and Remi Cavagna (FRA). Stage 3 was another Individual Time Trial, won by Juan Ayuso (ESP), who then had an 18-second lead on American Matteo Jorgenson.
The mountainous fourth stage was the third British win, this time for Adam Yates, who attacked with 4.3 km left and won by seven seconds over Thibault Pinot (FRA). That flipped the script again and now Yates had a 19-second lead on Jorgenson, going into the final day, a hilly 170.8 km route that ended in Geneva.
The long, slightly downhill descent to the finish was tailor-made for a mass sprint, but Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria got the jump on the field and got to the line for a clear win in 3:58:01. Niklas Arndt (GER) was second, followed by Hayter. Yates came safely home in 25th – with the same time, of course – and won the overall title, 19 seconds up on Jorgenson and 27 seconds ahead of Damiano Caruso (ITA).
This was the best finish ever for 23-year-old Jorgenson in a UCI World Tour race in what is starting out as an excellent year for the American. He was eighth at Paris-Nice and ninth in the Tour of Flanders. He’s aiming for the Tour de France in July, where he was 20th as a rookie in 2022.
● Fencing ● Korea’s 2019 World Champion Sang-uk Oh gave the home crowd a thrill at the FIE Sabre Grand Prix in Seoul with a gold-medal victory over Sandro Bazadze (GEO), 15-14, earning his fifth career Grand Prix title, but first since 2019!
The women’s title went to Greece’s Theodora Gkountoura, winning the final by 15-11 over Sara Balzer (FRA). The 2019 worlds bronze winner, Gkountoura won her first Grand Prix gold, in her second final in three years. It’s Balzer’s first career Grand Prix medal.
● Gymnastics ● The final FIG Apparatus World Cup for Artistic Gymnastics was held in Cairo (EGY), and Ukraine’s Ilia Kovtun was everywhere.
Still just 19, Kovtun was the 2021 Worlds All-Around bronze medalist, and had already won the first two Parallel Bars World Cups. In Cairo, he added the Floor Exercise, scoring 14.433 to best Aurel Benovic (CRO: 14.166).
Chih-kai Lee (TPE) won the Pommel Horse at 15.033 over Gagik Khachikyan (ARM: 14.733), with Kovtun in a tie for third (14.566).
Kovtun then took the Parallel Bars at 14.833 and Horizontal Bar (14.100) on Sunday to give him three wins and four medals over two days. Mohamed Afify (EGY) scored 14.066 on the Parallel Bars for second, and Nicolo Mozzato was third (14.033). Maxime Gentges (13.766) was runner-up on the Horizontal Bar, with Casimir Schmidt (NED: 13.533) third.
Nikita Simonov (AZE: 14.966) won on Rings, followed by Salvatore Maresca (ITA: 14.700) and Artur Avetisyan (ARM: 14.666). World Champion Artur Davtyan (ARM) won on Vault, scoring 15.166, well clear of Nazar Chepurnyi (UKR: 14.799).
American Joscelyn Roberson, 17, continued her ascent with a win in the Vault, 13.983 to 13.600 over Asia D’Amato (ITA), with Panama’s Hillary Heron third (13.599). D’Amato returned to get the gold in the Uneven Bars, 14.633 to 14.200 over Giorgia Villa (ITA), for her second win on Bars this season.
On Sunday, Villa scored a win on Beam (13.600) with Roberson second (13.233) and then the American finished with some spectacular tumbling to score 13.700 and win on Floor. D’Amato was second at 13.500.
● Modern Pentathlon ● Korea’s Woong-tae Jun was in control of the UIPM World Cup in Budapest almost from the start and won his ninth World Cup gold on Saturday.
Jun won the fencing round, was fourth in swimming and a modest 11th in riding, good enough for a five-second lead into the Laser Run. He had the eighth-fastest time and cross with the victory in 10:14.20 and 1,534 points. Just behind was Mohanad Shaban (EGY), a little faster on the course at 10:13.60 and 1,530 points. The fastest man on the course was Czech Vlach Martin in 9:44.80, which earned him the bronze medal with 1,525 points.
The women’s final was chaos, as world no. 1 Michelle Gulyas of Hungary started the Laser Run in the lead, but was quickly challenged by Egypt’s Salma Abdelmaksoud. But behind them, fellow Hungarian Blanka Guzi was racing toward the front, having started 26 seconds behind the leader.
Guzi’s final sprint brought her the first World Cup gold of her career, with the third-fastest time in the field of 11:06.50. Gulyas’s time of 11:34.90 was only 10th-best and she had to hold on to fend off Abdelmaksoud (11:36.10) with the final scores being 1,424-1,422-1,419.
Gulyas was fourth in fencing, second in swimming and won the riding, compared to Guzi’s ninth, fifth and 12th, but the Laser Run changed everything.
● Sailing ● With a year to go until the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the 2023 Semaine Olympique Francaise off Hyeres was an important stepping stone and attracted an excellent field in the Olympic classes.
The home team did well, leading all nations with three wins, including both in the Formula Kite classes. Axel Mazella won the men’s medal race over Singapore’s Maximilian Maeder, with Britain’s Connor Bainbridge third. Lauriane Nolot won the women’s, taking the medal race from American Daniela Moroz – the 2018 World Champion – and fellow French Jessie Kampman.
France’s Fabien Pianazza took the men’s IQ Foil gold, winning the medal race over Onur Cavit Biriz (TUR) and Mateus Isaac (BRA). The women’s IQ Foil final saw Czech Barbora Svikova defeat Rina Niijima for the gold, with Laerke Buhl-Hansen (DEN) third.
There were tight finishes in the ILCA classes. Eliot Hanson (GBR) and countryman Michael Beckett raced to the finish in the Laser class, with Hanson ending with 36 net points to 37 for Beckett, on the strength of a win in the medal race, where Beckett was fourth.
Canada’s Sarah Douglas just edged Tokyo Olympic champ Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) in the women’s Laser Radial division, 74-75, with three top-three finishes to one.
Britain got a second win in the Nacra 17 mixed-crew races, with Tokyo Olympic silver medalists John Gimson and Anna Burnet finishing with just 32 points, to 70 for Mateo Majdalani and Eugenia Bosco (ARG).
Dutch stars Odile van Aanholt (two-time World Champion) and three-time World Champion Annette Duetz dominated the women’s 49erFX sailing, winning with just 50 net points (and eight top-three finishes) to 102 for Jana Germani and Giorgia Bertuzzi (ITA).
The men’s 49er class was a close win for Spain’s Diego Botin and Florian Trittel, ending with 78 net points after taking four races, against Jim Colley and Shaun Connor of Australia (87) and Poland’s Mikolai Staniul and Jakub Sztorch (90).
In the Mixed 470 class, Tokyo 2020 bronze winner Jordi Xammar and new partner Nora Brugman (ESP) won their first two races and got three more top-three finishes to end with 53 points to 61 for Lara Vadlau and Lukas Mahr (AUT).
● Sport Climbing ● Astonishing performances in the Speed section of the IFSC World Cup in Seoul (KOR), with six new world marks: four from Poland’s Aleksandra Miroslaw and two more from Indonesian star Veddriq Leonardo.
Leonardo crushed the mark in the qualifying, getting to the top of the 15 m wall in a startling 4.98 seconds, taking down the 5.01 by countryman Kiromal Katibin last July. He then won his quarterfinal in 5.19, screamed a world-record 4.90 (!) in the quarters, a 4.93 in the semis and won the final in 5.01 over China’s Jinbao Long (5.12).
Miroslaw had set the three prior records of 6.84, 6.64 and 6.53 in 2022, but got right to work in the qualifying, setting marks of 6.46 and 6.37! She won her round-of-16 climb in 6.56, then 6.38 in the quarterfinals, a third world mark of 6.35 in her semi and an outrageous world record of 6.25 in the final! Fellow Pole Natalia Kalucka was second in 6.67, but wasn’t close.
In the Bouldering events, heavy rains caused the semi-final results to become the final results, with France’s Mejdi Schalck winning (2t3z ~ 2/7) ahead of Japan’s two-time World Champion Tomoa Narasaki (2t3z ~ 6/10) and Korea’s 2018 Worlds silver winner Jong-won Chon (2t2z~ 2/2).
Japan’s 2016 Worlds silver medalist Miho Nonaka won the women’s title (2t3z ~ 20/22) over Oriane Bertone (FRA: 2t2z ~ 4/3) and American Brooke Raboutou (2t2z ~ 10/7).
● Wrestling ● Tokyo Olympic Freestyle 125 kg superstar Gable Steveson made a triumphant return to Olympic wrestling with a victory in the U.S. Open in Las Vegas.
Steveson, who had been training with the WWE, was completely dominant, winning the final by a 10-0 technical fall over two-time Worlds medal winner Nick Gwiazdowski.
Rio Olympic 86 kg bronze medalist and two-time 92 kg World Champion J’den Cox has moved up to 97 kg and defeated Isaac Trumble, 12-3, in his final.
The U.S. Open winners will compete for the right to go to the 2023 UWW World Championships against the seven U.S. medal winners from the 2022 Worlds. In the other three men’s classes where the U.S. did not medal, the U.S. Open winners will face the winner of a challenge tournament coming in May.
In the other men’s Freestyle finals, Zane Richards won at 57 kg; Vitali Arujau at 61 kg; Nick Lee at 65 kg; Tyler Berger at 70; Jason Nolf at 74; Chance Marsteller at 79 kg; Aaron Brooks at 86; and Michael Macchiavello at 92 kg.
In the men’s Greco-Roman division, seven wrestler who had won at least one prior national title triumphed again, including Dalton Richards (61 kg), Hayden Tuma (63 kg), Kamal Bey (fifth title at 77 kg), Spencer Woods (82 kg), Alan Vera (87 kg), Josef Rau (97 kg) and defending champion Cohlton Schultz at 130 kg.
First-time national winners were Brady Koontz at 55 kg; Robert Perez at 67 kg and Justus Scott at 72 kg.
The women’s Freestyle finals on Sunday saw a stunning upset as six-time World Champion Adeline Gray returned from a year away from the mat, but lost to rising star Kennedy Blades in the 76 kg final by 12-2. Blades, 20, a 2019 U20 World Champion and 2022 U.S. Olympic Trials runner-up, earned her first U.S. Open title and will wrestle in the Final X series for a berth at the UWW World Championships.
Two-time Worlds medal winner Alyssa Lampe also suffered a loss in her final at 50 kg, with Audrey Jimenez winning on criteria after a 10-10 tie. Jimenez, the 2022 World U-20 silver medalist, was down 8-0 in the second period before starting her comeback. Wow!
Forrest Molinari, the 2021 Worlds 65 kg bronze medalist, did win her final against Alexandria Glaude with a pinfall in 4:21.
Katie Gomez, a 2022 World U-20 bronze winner, won at 53 kg over Samara Chavez, 12-2, and 2022 World U-23 bronze winner Alisha Howk defeated top-seeded Lauren Mason, 8-3, at 55 kg. Last year’s World U-20 bronze winner at 62 kg, Adaugo Nwachukwu, won her final, 10-8, over no. 1 seed Jennifer Page.
Xochitl Mota-Pettis took a 10-0 win in the final over Alexandria Hedrick at 57 kg; Michaela Beck won at 59 kg, and top-seeded Macey Kilty won the 65 kg class over no. 2 Emma Bruntil, 5-1. Joye Levendusky won the 72 kg final over Rose Cassioppi, by a 10-0 technical fall in the second period.
United World Wrestling announced on Friday that both the Freestyle and Greco-Roman World Cups for 2023 have been canceled.
The Greco event was slated for 24-25 November in Tehran (IRI) and the men’s and women’s Freestyle discipline in Coralville, Iowa in the U.S. on 10 December. According to the UWW:
“The decision to cancel the World Cups was made after careful consideration and analysis of the challenges and complexities involved in organizing such high-profile events during a pre-Olympic year. With many countries focusing on preparing their wrestlers for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, the potential lack of participation in the World Cups in 2023 was a major concern for UWW. Additionally, the World Championships in Belgrade, scheduled for September 2023, would have added further pressure on countries.
“The lack of local support to host the events during November and December was also a contributing factor in the decision by the Bureau to cancel the World Cups. Finding local organizing committees to host the team competition has proven to be a significant challenge.”
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