TSX REPORT: U.S. wins four in 35 minutes at World Relays; Bach tells World Athletics how to spend IOC’s money; Ledecky could swim at LA28!

Paris-bound: the U.S. men's 4x100 m relay, winners of the World Athletics Relays (Photo: Francesca Grana for World Athletics)

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1. U.S. wins four, qualifies five at World Athletics Relays
2. Ukraine tells athletes “refrain from direct contacts” with Russians
3. Bach tells World Athletics where to spend, Coe has other ideas
4. IOC suspends former power broker Sheikh Ahmad for 15 years
5. Ledecky excited, almost promises continuing to 2028

★ A special thanks to the International Sports Journalists Association (AIPS), which honored The Sports Examiner with a worldwide fifth place in its 2023 AIPS Sports Media Awards for “Writing – Best Column” for “With the best of intentions, the IOC has lost its way.” ★

The U.S. dominated the World Athletics Relays in Nassau, overcoming a Saturday disqualification in the men’s 4×400 m to qualify for Paris on Sunday and the other four finals in just 35 minutes, taking the Mixed 4×400, the women’s 4×100, the men’s 4×100 and the women’s 4×400, all by big margins. Gabby Thomas won on both the women’s 4×1 and 4×4.

● The Ukrainian National Olympic Committee and Ministry of Youth and Sport issued “recommendations” to its Paris Olympians to essentially stay away from Russian and Belarusian neutrals, as any interactions could be used for propaganda purposes.

● International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach told reporters last week that the role of the International Federations was to develop their sport, but hand out prize money at the Olympic Games as World Athletics is doing. World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said before the World Relays in Nassau that development is important, but so is rewarding athletes.

● The IOC Ethics Commission suspended Kuwaiti former powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad for 15 years after his Swiss conviction for fraud was confirmed by the appeals court, and he refused to turn over the full decision to the Ethics Commission. The suspension almost certainly ends Sheikh Ahmad’s controversial time as an IOC member.

● Katie Ledecky said in an interview that she intends to continue swimming after Paris, and is thinking about carrying on to Los Angeles in 2028, when she will be 31. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday, along with 18 others, including a posthumous award to the legendary Stockholm 1912 star Jim Thorpe.

World Championships: Badminton (China sweeps Thomas & Uber Cups) = Ice Hockey (Canada comes from behind to win men’s U-18s from U.S.) ●

Panorama: Aquatics (World Aquatics forms doping review committee) = Artistic Swimming (Alexandri sisters star in Paris World Cup) = Athletics (6: McLaughlin-Levrone wins two, Norman 44.21 at Oxy Invite; Anderson gets women’s hammer lead in Tucson; Davis-Woodhall takes women’s LJ lead in Fayetteville; World Athletics to trial mixed 4×100 m; Coburn breaks ankle, out for Trials; Bekele and Assefa lead Ethiopian marathoners for Paris) = Beach Volleyball (Patricia and Lisboa take down Nuss and Kloth in Brasilia) = Cycling (3: Pogacar surges to big Giro lead after stage 2; Vollering dominates Vuelta Femenina; Bruni and Hoell win Mountain Bike Downhill opener) = Fencing (2: Weintraub scores first Foil World Cup gold; Kano upsets Koch in Cali Grand Prix final) = Judo (Riner stars in Dushanbe Grand Slam) = Rugby (New Zealand sweeps Singapore Sevens) = Shooting (Willett and Bassil win Baku World Cup Trap titles) = Sport Climbing (Watson and Hunt sweep Speed titles for U.S., Grossman wins again in Salt Lake City World Cup) = Swimming (Grimes and Gravely win U.S. 10 km open-water titles) ●

U.S. wins four, qualifies five at World Relays

Unlike the first five editions, the sixth World Athletics Relays – back in Nassau (BAH) – wasn’t about fun, but the business of qualifying teams for the Paris Olympic Games in the 4×100 m, 4×400 m and Mixed 4×400 m.

On that score, the U.S. job got done, advancing both 4x100s, the women’s 4×400 and Mixed 4×400 on the first day, but had to go to the second qualifying round on Sunday for the men’s 4×400 m.

That’s because third-leg Champion Allison moved Japan’s Fuga Sato from the inside line while lining up for the second exchange with Christopher Bailey (who ran 44.66). Technical Rule 24.20 states that the runners “shall, under the direction of a designated official, place themselves in their waiting position in the same order (inside to out) as the order of their respective team members as they enter the last bend.” The U.S. won the heat in 3:00.42, but was disqualified as Japan (3:00.98) was elevated.

Well, Allison was moved to the second leg – taking the stick in his lane this time – and Bailey went third, with Jacory Patterson again first up and national champion Bryce Deadmon on anchor. Patterson ran well again (45.54 vs. 45.55 on Saturday), passing essentially tied with Qatar, and then Allison stormed away down the back straight to give the Americans a 7 m lead at the exchange (44.79). Bailey saw the pack close in after 170 m of his leg, then turned on the jets and ran away down the straight with a great 44.26 leg and Deadmon had a 20 m lead as the others handed off and he cruised home the easy winner in 45.36 and 2:59.95. Done.

On to the finals:

Mixed 4×400 m: The question was how would the U.S. deal with Dutch superstar Femke Bol on the anchor? Matthew Boling started off brilliantly in 45.11 and had a solid lead, handing to Lynna Irby-Jackson, who maintained a big lead over everyone and at 50.10, gave ex-UCLA star Willington Wright a 2 m lead over Ireland, but with the Dutch well back. The pack closed on Wright until he ran away on the straight (45.18) and have anchor Kendall Ellis a 7 m edge. Bol and Sharlene Mawdsley for Ireland nearly closed the gap with 100 m left, but Ellis strode away to a 50.34 final leg and a 3:10.73 win. Bol’s 49.63 brought the Dutch in second (3:11.45), with Ireland in a national record 3:11.53. Second leg Rhasidat Adeleke – last year’s NCAA champ for Texas – ran a 48.45 split for the Irish.

Women’s 4×100 m: Tamari Davis of the U.S. was gaining from the gun and the pass to Gabby Thomas was clunky, but she was flying! Clearly in the lead, Thomas passed cleanly to Celera Barnes, who extended the lead and made an efficient pass to Melissa Jefferson who ran away from the field to win easily in 41.85. That’s the world leader in 2024 and a meet record.

France was second – from lane one – in 42.75 and Britain third in 42.80.

Men’s 4×100 m: The quartet of Courtney Lindsay, Kenny Bednarek, Kyree King and Noah Lyles led the qualifying in a world-leading 37.49 and the same four came out on Sunday. Same result: Lindsey ran up on Italy to his outside and a good pass to Bednarek sent him flying into a clear lead. The pass to King was efficient and he routed the field around the turn and sent Lyles home with a big lead on the way to a world-leading 37.40 win. “Who’s going to stop us?” shouted Lyles as he collected the U.S. flags for the celebration. No one … if the passes are there. This time, no problem.

Canada was second with Andre De Grasse on anchor in 37.89 and France was third (38.44) as Italy was disqualified.

Women’s 4×400 m: The Americans were second in qualifying at 3:24.76 with Quanera Hayes, Bailey Lear, Na’Asha Robinson and Alexis Holmes, but Thomas doubled back from the 4×1 to take the second leg from Lear, who was moved to third leg, replacing Robinson.

Hayes slowly moved up (51.16) and made the pass first to Thomas, who took over. She had a 4 m lead with 200 to go and ran away from everyone with a 49.58 leg and gave Lear (51.33) a 20 m lead on the third leg. It was 25 m into the turn and Holmes took the stick up 35 m and cruised home in 49.63 in a world-leading 3:21.70.

No baton problems, and the U.S. won four titles in a row in 35 minutes. Yowsah!

Men’s 4×400 m: No U.S. team after Saturday’s disqualification, but Botswana and South Africa both ran sub-3:00. All eyes were on star Letsile Tebogo for Botswana on second leg and he powered into the lead down the straight and had a 5 m lead at the handoff, finishing a sensational 43.72 leg.

Leungo Scotch extended the lead (45.27) and gave world 400 m leader Bayapo Ndori a 7 m lead on the anchor. Ndori was up 10 m into the straight and he ran away with a 44.13 leg and a world-leading 2:59.11 win. South Africa won the fight for second at 3:00.75 from Belgium (3:01.16).

Worth noting was the second qualifying round in the mixed 4×400 m, as the home Bahamas quartet of Olympic 400 m men’s champ Steven Gardiner (45.08), 16-year-old Shania Adderley (53.12), Alonzo Russell (45.07) and Olympic 400 m women’s champ Shaunae Miller-Uibo (49.54) won in style at 3:12.81, and are headed to Paris to the delight of the crowd.

The top eight teams in each event earned prize money (per team) of $40,000-20,000-10,000-8,000-6,000-4,000-3,000-2,000. Teams that didn’t make it still can qualify via the world list, to fill two spots in each race for Paris.

Ukraine tells athletes “refrain from direct contacts” with Russians

There is little doubt now that some Russian and Belarusian athletes will be present as “neutrals” (“AIN” athletes) at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, despite the protests of the Ukrainian National Olympic Committee and the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports.

So, the two entities posted a two-page letter last week offering RECOMMENDATIONS regarding contact with individual neutral athletes from the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.”

In short: stay away. In specific:

“Refrain from direct contacts with representatives of the aggressor countries, which may cause provocative actions on their part both in the Olympic Village and outside it.”

● “[I]nform the higher-ranking person and the leadership of the official delegation about any attempts at provocative actions by the representatives of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.”

● “[N]ot to participate in any communication in social networks and discussions with [“neutral” Russians and Belarusians], not to share and not respond to the content of AIN [athletes], not to publish joint photos and video materials both in relation to the competition and outside the competition period.” …

● “[D]uring and outside award ceremonies and flower ceremonies, as far as possible, keep a distance and distance yourself from any contact with AIN [personnel], as well as refrain from joint photos or videos, if such a need is not related to compliance with obligations language requirements in the competition rules.”

● “[R]efrain from participating in press conferences, live broadcasts (which have no inseparable connection with the proper conduct of the competition), interviews and other advertising events before and after the competition together with the AIN of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.”

The letter is explicit that it is not limited to only Russians and Belarusians who are in Paris, but also to “contacts with representatives of aggressor countries, as well as other persons who support the policies of these countries and may be used for propaganda purposes.”

The obvious situation most likely to turn up would be an awards ceremony in which both a Ukrainian and Russian or Belarusian win a medal, or some sort of an introduction to a match – possibly in judo or taekwondo – where competitors from the two sides could be standing together.

This is not going to be pleasant, but it will be heavily watched on all sides.

Bach tells World Athletics where to spend, Coe has other ideas

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (GER) told reporters in a news conference last week that he felt World Athletics should not be using its Olympic television dividend to pay athletes, but to use it for development.

“This is not a discussion about prize money because prize money exists for decades.

“My teammates and I in 1976 [fencing team gold medalists in Foil], we received prize money for our gold medal through the foundation supported by the [German] National Olympic Committee. In the meantime this is more or less common practice among NOCs.”

He explained:

“This question in principle is a question of how to support the athletes best. …

“The NOCs and [International Federations] are major recipients of this money, of this share of the commercial success of the Games.

“The role of the IFs … is they have to make every effort to try to close the gap between the athletes coming from privileged countries and those coming from less privileged countries.

“This is where this discussion is coming from.”

Noting that federations have never before offered prize money for Olympic performance, Bach added that prize money should not be “the role of an international sports federation,” but instead should be up to “sponsors, governments or private institutions.”

Speaking directly to the controversy prior to the World Athletics Relays in The Bahamas, World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe (GBR) pointed to the whole picture, not to the past:

“I’ve always unashamedly said I will always do whatever I can to make our sport financially viable for athletes. This misnomer that every Olympic champion is going off into the Elysian Fields of commerciality is just naive and wrong. It isn’t.

“And so, it’s a balance, and we put a lot of money into development and integrity – much more actually than we earmark for our prize money, and that’s the way it should be. But listen: if athletics emerges as the number one sport, as it consistently does at an Olympic Games, I have to reflect that there’s a reason for that.

“And it’s the quality of our athletes that are bringing those broadcast numbers in, that give us access to our share of the broadcast revenue – and there are arguments [from other federations] about the equity of that – and I just can’t keep standing up and saying we’re growing the sport and bringing in new sponsors on board, the athletes have to see some connection between growing the sport and their own well-being and welfare. And that’s really [it]; there’s nothing more to it than it.

“It’s really not that complicated. I want the athletes to have a career ahead of them that gives them just a little bit more financial security, and, believe me, we will do more in this space; that’s not the end of it.”

World Athletics, World Aquatics and the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique are the three first-tier federations in terms of Olympic television revenue and each will receive a still-to-be fixed sum from $35-40 million from the IOC from its Paris television revenues.

Observed: This is a clear friction point between Coe and just about every other International Federation, the IOC and many National Olympic Committees. There is no chance whatsoever that World Athletics will back down from its Paris payments.

However, as Coe’s third and final term as World Athletics President will end in 2027 – a year short of the 2028 Games in Los Angeles – it will be fascinating to see how the issue plays into the election of the next World Athletics chief and whether the winner will maintain Coe’s pledge to pay not just the winner, but all medalists at Los Angeles 2028, potentially at $4 million or more, vs. $2.4 million in 2024.

IOC suspends former power broker Sheikh Ahmad for 15 years

One of the most controversial figures in international sport, Kuwait’s Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah was suspended by the International Olympic Committee’s Ethics Commission for 15 years in a 12 April decision that was made public late last week.

At various times, Sheikh Ahmad was the President of the Olympic Council of Asia (1991-2021), the President of the Association of National Olympic Committees (2012-2018), a member of the International Olympic Committee (since 1992) and was also a member of the FIFA Council from 2015-17, until he resigned related to a bribery investigation.

He was known as a confidant of IOC President Bach and, given his ability to support candidates in various area with Kuwait’s vast oil wealth – he has been, at various times, the Kuwaiti Minister of Oil and Minister of Defense – was known as a key influencer, match-maker and operative in international sport.

Sheikh Ahmad and others were criminally charged in Switzerland in 2018 related to fraud concerning evidence faked to implicate others in a coup in Kuwait. He was found guilty in September 2021, confirmed in December 2023 with a 24-month suspended sentence. He has appealed the finding to the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

The IOC Ethics Commission asked for a full copy of the decision of the appeals court, but did not receive it. Sheikh Ahmad had already been suspended for three years for defying a specific directive of the IOC Ethics Commission not to campaign for his brother (Sheikh Talal) at the Olympic Council of Asia elections in 2023, where Talal won, but the election was nullified.

Now, the Ethics Commission noted that Sheikh Ahmad has not resigned, challenged his IOC suspension in 2023 and could be expelled. But:

“However, since Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah agreed to suspend himself from the beginning of the criminal procedure in 2018 until 2023, the IOC Ethics Commission proposes to continue the sanction of full suspension for a further second suspension period.

“The Commission considers that, respecting the principle of proportionality, full suspension of all the rights, prerogatives and functions of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah for fifteen (15) years is proportionate and appropriate to protect the IOC’s reputation and credibility. As this is the continuation of the previous decision taken by the IOC Executive Board, this sanction period will start from 27 July 2023.

“The IOC Ethics Commission notes that during this period of suspension, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah will not fulfil the necessary ethical criteria to be proposed for re-election at the end of his current term.”

The last sentence is important. Now 60, Sheikh Ahmad could serve to age 80 under normal circumstances, since he was elected prior to 11 December 1999, meaning he could potentially return to the IOC in 2039, at age 75. But the IOC Ethics Commission decision closes the door on his return, indicating his career (and his use of Kuwaiti wealth to advance interests) in the Olympic Movement is effectively over.

Ledecky excited, almost promises continuing to 2028

“I take things year by year, but right now, I definitely could see myself competing in 2028, with it being a home Olympics. It’s something that’s very unique. It’s something that not every Olympic athlete gets. And so I definitely know I’m not retiring after this summer and 2028 is very appealing.

“So I think, at this point, I want to be there, I want to compete in at least one event, maybe more. But again, plans can change. It’s a long ways away, my focus is solely on this summer in Paris at this moment.”

That’s as close as American distance superstar Katie Ledecky will come to flat-out confirming she will try to swim at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, in an interview with Juana Summers on the NPR “All Things Considered” program.

Interviewed in advance of Friday’s ceremony in which she was one of 19 to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Joe Biden, Ledecky told Summers that her preparations for the U.S. trials are on track:

“I’m ready. We have our Olympic Trials in about a month now. So that’s what I’m gearing up for, I have one more meet before then. So everything is tracking well, my training is going well. And I’m really excited for hopefully the opportunity to represent the U.S. at a fourth Olympics. I can’t believe that I get this opportunity and it’s gonna be a great summer and I’m excited.”

Ledecky, 27, already owns seven Olympic golds, 10 Olympic medals and 21 World Championship golds and will be the favorite in Paris in the women’s 800 m and 1,500 m Freestyles, and a medal contender in the 400 m Free and the 4×200 m Free relay (she won Tokyo 2020 silvers in both of those events).

She could become the most decorated women’s Olympic swimmer ever in Paris; Americans Jenny Thompson, Dara Torres and Natalie Coughlin all won 12. With four medals in Paris – as in Tokyo – she would be four behind Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina (18 from 1956-64) for the most medals by a women in Olympic history, going in 2028.

She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony, in which Stockholm 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon gold medalist Jim Thorpe was posthumously honored, and recipients included Malaysian film star Michelle Yeoh (also an IOC member), assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers, television host Phil Donahue and a host of current and former political figures.

Asked about her post-swimming future, Ledecky said she’s really not thinking about that yet:

“When I think of swimming, and I think of this career that I’ve had, I think of all the joy that I’ve had in the sport, and everything that I’ve been able to learn through the sport, all the people that I’ve gotten to meet through the sport, all the places that I’ve gotten to go through competitive swimming. And I think because of all that joy that I’ve experienced in the sport, it’s something that I’m never going to stop doing.

“Of course, some day my competitive career will come to an end and I’m not going to be looking at the clock or having a coach get my times every set. But I think I’ll always find myself going back to the pool and swimming some laps or splashing around. And it’s a place that I find so much joy.

“As we get into the summer months, I hope that a lot of other people can find that joy and learn how to swim. It’s such an important life skill. And, in my view, the greatest sport on earth, and something that you can do for the rest of your life. I hope that I’ll be swimming into my 90s – I have a 98-year-old grandma, so I’m lucky to have some good genes there, and I hope that I’ll be able to stay healthy and happy, and happy in the pool and happy in the water. It’s definitely my happy place.”


● Badminton ● The Thomas & Uber Cup – the men’s and women’s team world championships – concluded in Chengdu (CHN) on Sunday, with China winning its 11th Thomas Cup title and its 16th Uber Cup championship.

In the Thomas Cup, China swept through group play with a 3-0 record, then defeated India, Malaysia and Indonesia in the playoffs, all by 3-1 margins.

In the Uber Cup, China was even more dominant, sweeping all three of its group-stage matches (15 matches to 0) and then continuing with 3-0 wins in the playoffs against Denmark, Japan and Indonesia.

● Ice Hockey ● The defending champion U.S. and four-time winner Canada were on a collision course at the IIHF men’s World U-18 Championship from the first day and clashed in the final on Sunday in Espoo (FIN), with a massive U.S. penalty opening the door for Canada to win the final, 6-4.

Christian Humphreys opened the scoring for the U.S. With just 52 seconds left in the first period, then four goals were scored in the second, with Ryder Ritchie tying it for Canada at 5:31. The U.S. scored consecutive goals from Cole Eiserman (8:31) and Cole Hutson (13:04), but Gavin McKenna got Canada to 3-2 at 15:40 of the period.

The game changed at 9:25 of the third, when U.S. forward Trevor Connelly was called for an illegal check to the neck or head – a five-minute penalty – and got a 20-minute game misconduct penalty on top of it. Canada took advantage with three quick goals for a 5-3 lead, by McKenna (10:25), Cole Beaudoin (13:40) and Tij Iginla (14:19).

The U.S. cut the lead to 5-4 on a Brodie Ziemer goal at 15:36, but McKenna sealed Canada’s win with an empty-netter with 1:18 to go for the 6-4 final. It’s Canada’s fifth win in this tournament and its first since 2021.

In the semis, the U.S. skated past Slovakia, 7-2, taking a 2-1 lead in the first on goals by Teddy Stiga and Eisenman, then breaking it open with three second-period goals by Max Plante, Hutson and Will Skahan; Plante got a second goal in the third. The Canadians edged Sweden, 5-4, taking a 4-0 lead in the first, then holding on with a 5-2 lead after two periods but with Sweden closing to 5-4 with 5:41 to play. Carter George made 31 saves for Canada.

Sweden was a clear winner in the third-place match, winning by 4-0, with all four scores in the final period.


● Aquatics ● From a letter sent by World Aquatics to its national federations on Friday:

“[P]lease be advised that by decision of the World Aquatics Bureau, an anti-doping audit review committee has been appointed to review the process and procedure of World Aquatics (and the prior FINA) in examining doping-related procedures.

“The goal is to enhance our understanding of the anti-doping review and decision-making process within our federation as it concerned this particular case and take away any learnings from this experience to make World Aquatics more equipped for the future. Your confidence, and the confidence of all athletes, in our system is vital to our future together.”

The committee is headed by Aquatics Integrity Unit Supervisory Council members Miguel Cardenal (ESP) and Ken Lalo (USA), and includes Paralympic swimmer Annabelle Williams (AUS), French 2012 Olympic 50 m Free winner Florent Manaudou, and Brazilian coach Fernando Possenti.

Although FINA (now World Aquatics) was not directly involved in the Chinese doping issues raised by January 2021 positives for trimetazidine, the federation wants to future-proof its processes, in coordination with its contracted doping-control partner, the International Testing Agency. The audit committee report is due by the end of June.

● Artistic Swimming ● The second leg of the Artistic World Cup series was a dress rehearsal for the summer Olympics, in Paris (FRA), with Austria’s 26-year-old Alexandri sisters all coming up golden.

The 2023 Worlds Solo Technical and Solo Free silver medalist, Vasiliki Alexandri won both in Paris, scoring 253.7933 to take the Technical and 257.3939 to win the Free segment decisively.

Sisters Anna-Maria and Eirini-Marina Alexandri teamed to win the Duet Free at 265.964, and Britain’s Kate Shortman and Isabelle Thorpe won the Duet Technical event (260.0517). 

Gustavo Sanchez (COL) won the men’s Solo Technical at 209.811, and the Solo Free at 204.0210. American Kenneth Gaudet was the Technical runner-up at 197.4216 and third in the Free (161.6187).

In the Mixed Duet Technical, Nargiza Bolatova and Eduard Kim (KAZ: 216.3250) were the winners, with Spain’s Jordi Caceras and Judith Calvo taking the Free title, scoring 189.2749.

● Athletics ● Things were heating up far away from Nassau, notably at the Oxy Invitational at Occidental College in Southern California. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone continued her work-up to the Olympic Trials, with two decisive wins, in the 100 m hurdles in 12.71 (wind: -0.4 m/s) and a windy 200 m victory in 22.38 (+2.9).

For context, that’s her second-fastest 100 m hurdles ever, behind her 2021 best of 12.65.

Then there was the men’s 400 m, with a sensational 44.21 by 2022 World Champion Michael Norman of the U.S., his fastest in two years, his ninth-fastest ever and now no. 2 on the 2024 world list.  

The men’s 1,500 m was a Northern Arizona 1-2, with junior Nico Young winning in 3:34.56, ahead of junior Colin Sahlman (3:34.64), with Rio 2016 Olympic champ Matthew Centrowitz third (3:35.39) and Abdi Nur fourth (3:35.63). Young moves to no. 15 on the year list for 2024 and Centrowitz to no. 18. It’s Centro’s fastest time since 2021!

Young doubled back in the 5,000 m in 13:36.58!

Brooke Andersen, the 2022 women’s World Champion in the hammer, got a world-leading win at 79.92 m (262-2) at the USATF Throws Festival in Tucson, Arizona. She took the world lead with her second throw of 78.16 m (256-5), then posted her big throw in the final round. It’s the no. 4 throw in American history!

Fellow American Daniel Haugh, ranked sixth worldwide this season already, nearly matched his seasonal best, winning at 79.01 m (259-2), with Tokyo Olympian Rudy Winkler of the U.S. moving up to 12th at 76.89 m (252-3) in third.

Payton Otterdahl continued his hot run in the men’s shot winning at 22.41 m (73-6 1/4), ahead of Jamaica’s Rajindra Campbell (21.69 m/71-2).

Tara Davis-Woodhall, the 2024 World Indoor Champion, took the world outdoor lead at the Arkansas Twilight meet in Fayetteville, Arkansas, winning at 7.16 m (23-6), her second-longest jump ever behind only her indoor Worlds gold-medal performance of 7.18 m (23-6 3/4).

World Athletics chief executive Jon Ridgeon (GBR) said the federation will explore the viability of a mixed 4×100 m relay. Speaking on the federation’s “Inside Track” podcast (4 May):

“The whole mixed relay thing is actually a really interesting concept, and, in many ways, we think that mixed athletics could be the future.

“For example, we are this year looking into testing a concept of a mixed 4×100 m relay. We’re not saying it’s going to work; we’re not saying that it will be an event, but it is one of the things that we are going to be testing. We are starting with an open mind and we’re starting with all various variations.”

While the mixed 4×400 m relay has proved workable, questions in a 4×100 m will involve the differences in speed between men and women, which could prove difficult to coordinate efficiently.

Emma Coburn, the dominant force in the U.S. in the women’s Steeplechase and the 2017 Worlds gold medalist, suffered a broken ankle during the Wanda Diamond League race in Suzhou (CHN) on 27 April and is out for several months, if not the season. She wrote on Instagram on Thursday:

“I don’t really know what to say… i broke my ankle on the water jump in Shanghai. At first I thought I just sprained it, even though the pain was pretty intense. When I got home, images showed torn ligaments, damaged cartilage, and a fracture in my medial malleolus. I had surgery yesterday and got a screw in my ankle for the fracture and got the cartilage cleaned up. If all goes well, I can start jogging again in 6 weeks.

“That means I’m out for the Olympic Trials. The dream of Paris is over. There has been a *lot* of heartbreak in the last couple years for me, but damn, I love this sport and nothing heals a broken heart like working hard and getting back. See ya out there later this year.”

Coburn was the Olympic Steeple bronze at Rio 2016 and was the Worlds silver winner in 2019. Now 33, she has suffered from injury problems since the pandemic, although she made the U.S. team for Tokyo in 2021 and the Worlds teams in 2022 and 2023.

Ethiopia named a superstar marathon team for Paris, led by 41-year-old Kenenisa Bekele, the third-fastest man in history at 2:01:41 from 2019, who already owns Olympic golds in the 5,000 m (2008) and 10,000 m (2004-08). He was second at the London Marathon this year at 2:04:15.

He will be joined by Sisay Lemma, the fourth-fastest marathoner ever at 2:01:48 from the 2023 Valencia Marathon and the 2024 Boston Marathon winner, and Tamirat Tola, the 2022 World Champion and 2023 New York City Marathon winner (2:03:39 from 2021).

Women’s world-record holder Tigist Assefa, who ran an astounding 2:11:53 in 2023 in Berlin, headlines the women’s squad, along with Amane Beriso, the no. 5 marathoner ever (2:14:58 in 2022) and the 2023 Boston runner-up, and Gotytom Gebresilase, the 2022 World Champion and runner-up in 2023 (2:18:11 from 2022).

● Beach Volleyball ● At the Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 in Brasilia (BRA), the 2022 World Champions and home favorites, Ana Patricia and Duda Lisboa (BRA) swept aside the 2023 Beach Pro Tour Finals winners, Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth (USA), 21-17, 21-14, for their first win of the season.

It’s the 12th career World Tour (past and present) win for Patricia and Lisboa, ranked no. 1 in the world. Nuss and Kloth continue at no. 2.

In the third-place match, Swiss Esmee Bobner and Zoe Verge-Depre won over Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon (NED), 21-19, 17-21, 15-12.

The men’s final saw Evandro Oliveira Jr. and Arthur Lanci (BRA) completing the Brazilian sweep by coming from behind to take a 17-21, 23-21, 15-9 win against Steven van de Velde and Matthew Immers (NED). It’s the second tournament win of the season for Evandro and Arthur.

Brazil’s 2022 Worlds bronze medalists George Wanderley and Andre Loyola Stein won the third-place match, 21-17, 17-21, 15-12 against Nils Ehler and Clemens Wickler (GER).

● Cycling ● The 107th Giro d’Italia got underway, with a first-stage win for Jhonatan Narvaez of Ecuador winning a sprint to the line in Turin from German veteran Maximilian Schachmann and race favorite Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia. All three covered the hilly, 140 km route in 3:14:23, with Navarez getting his second career Giro stage win, also in 2020.

Sunday’s second stage was marked by a nasty uphill finish to the Santuario di Oropa at the end of 161 km, with Pogacar making sure that everyone knows he is the favorite, with a dominating, 27-second win off a final attack with 4.3 km to go. He finished in 3:54:20, ahead of Daniel Martinez (COL), Geraint Thomas (GBR), Lorenzo Fortunato (ITA) and Florian Lipowitz (GER). After two of 21 stages, Pogacar has a 45-second edge already over Thomas and Martinez.

After taking control of the 10th Vuelta Espana Femenina in Spain with her stage 5 win on Thursday, Dutch star Demi Vollering – the 2023 Tour de France Femmes winner – concluded with the overall title on Sunday, winning by 1:49 over countrywoman Riejanne Markus.

Vollering had a 31-second lead after stage 5, then was second in the 132.1 km, uphill-finishing stage 6 in a sprint finish with France’s Evita Muzic and then fourth in the seventh stage in another group finish behind Dutch veteran Marianne Vos (3:27:56 for 138.6 km), Kristen Faulkner of the U.S. and Italy’s Elisa Longo Borghini, for a 52-second lead heading into Sunday.

And Vollering finished in style, winning stage 8 with a 6 km solo and timing 2:43:06 for the 89.5 km route that included two difficult climbs, 29 seconds up on Muzic. Markus finished second overall (+1:49), followed by Longo Borghini (+2:00). Faulkner was the top U.S. finisher, in 12th (+7:14).

Vollering moved up from third in 2022 to second last year and now, the gold in the Vuelta Femenina.

At the season opener for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Downhill in Ft. William (GBR), five-time World Champion Loic Bruni (FRA) took the lead from the start and won the men’s race in 4:04.264, ahead of three-time Worlds medal winner Troy Brosnan (AUS: 4:06.104) and Finn Iles (CAN: 4:06.253). Americans Dakotah Norton (4:07.353) and Luca Shaw (4:07.943) finished 4-5.

Two-time defending Worlds women’s gold medalist Valentina Hoell (AUT) won the women’s race in 4:41.424, just ahead of 2022 Worlds runner-up Nina Hoffmann (GER: 4:41.985) and Britain’s two-time Worlds silver winner Tahnee Seagrave (4:43.255).

● Fencing ● An upset in the men’s final at the FIE Epee Grand Prix in Cali (COL), with Japan’s Koki Kano, who had never won a Grand Prix medal before, defeating 2019 World Champion and Tokyo Olympic silver winner Gergely Sikosi (HUN) by 15-8. Kano had beaten Hungarian – and reigning World Champion – Mate Tamas Koch in his semi by the same 15-8 score.

In the women’s final, 16th-ranked Auriane Mallo-Breton (FRA) managed a 15-14 win over no. 12 Giulia Rizzi of Italy. Mallo-Breton earned her first career Grand Prix gold, after winning a bronze in 2018 and a silver in 2022. It’s Rizzi’s second Grand Prix silver of the year.

At the FIE Foil World Cup in Hong Kong, American Maia Weintraub – named to the U.S. team for Paris – won over Elena Tangherlini (ITA), 15-11, for her first career World Cup medal. Jackie Dubrovich of the U.S. – also headed to Paris – took one of the bronze medals.

Italy’s Guillaume Biachi defeated Takahiro Shikine (JPN) in the men’s final, 15-10, for his first career World Cup gold.

● Judo ● The IJF Dushanbe Grand Slam in Tajikistan was headlined by 11-time heavyweight World Champion Teddy Riner of France, expected to be one of the star attractions of the 2024 Olympic Games, who won the +100 kg class over home favorite (and Asian Champs bronze winner) Temur Rakhimov. For Riner, now 35, it’s his 11th career Grand Slam title.

Swiss World Champion Nils Stump won at 73 kg, and 2021 women’s 57 kg World Champion Jessica Klimkait (CAN) won her class. Austria’s Tokyo Olympic 70 kg silver medalist Michaela Polleres won as did Tokyo Olympic bronze winner Anna-Maria Wagner (GER), at 78 kg.

● Rugby ● The penultimate Rugby Sevens tournament of the season was in Singapore, with the race for the seasonal titles now sure to continue to the final stop in Madrid.

The men’s tournament was the second-straight win for New Zealand, which dispatched Ireland in the final in a tight, 17-14 battle. Argentina, South Africa and the U.S. topped the pools, but Ireland dumped the Argentines, 21-5, in the quarters, as New Zealand skipped by the U.S., 19-14 and Australia eliminated South Africa, 29-24. Ireland beat Great Britain, 15-12, in the semis, and New Zealand won by 28-12 over Australia. Britain defeated Australia, 26-7, for third.

Argentina has a slim 106-104 lead in the seasonal standings, with New Zealand at 93 and Australia at 83. The U.S. is 10th (52).

The Black Ferns took the women’s title, their fourth in a row to assume the seasonal women’s lead at 126 points to 124 for Australia and 104 for France, with the U.S. fourth (85).

New Zealand, France and Australia were all 3-0 in pool play, and sailed into the semis along with Fiji. The Kiwis out-scored Fiji, 33-22, and Australia topped France, 19-12 to make it to the final. Once there, New Zealand took a 31-21 decision against Australia, and France defeated Fiji, 29-7, for third.

● Shooting ● The ISSF World Cup in Baku (AZE) has begun, with China’s World 50 m Pistol World Champion Yu Xie taking the 10 m Air Pistol won over Germany’s 2023 10 m World Cup Final winner Robin Walter, 243-1 to 238.7 in the final. France’s Camille Jedrzejewski – the 2022 World Cup Final winner – took the women’s 10 m, 243.0 to 241.0 against Yeji Kim (KOR).

The men’s Trap win went to Tokyo Olympian James Willett (AUS), defeating Filip Marinov (SVK), 46-42, while three-time Olympian Ray Bassil (LBN) won the women’s title, 44-40, against Tokyo Olympic sixth-placer Penny Smith (AUS).

● Sport Climbing ● The U.S. swept the Speed events at the IFSC World Cup in Boulder and Speed in Salt Lake City, Utah, with world-record holder Sam Watson winning the men’s event and Emma Hunt the women’s final.

Watson scared his own world mark of 4.79 from earlier in 2024 with a 4.89 final victory over countryman Noah Bratschi (6.71), after winning his semifinal in 4.81 and his quarterfinal in 4.88!

Hunt got her first career World Cup gold at 6.55 in the final, as Poland’s Aleksandra Kalucka fell.

In Boulder, Japan went 1-2 in the men’s final, with Sorato Anraku getting his fifth career World Cup win with 3T4Z ~ 11/11 against countryman Meichi Narasaki (1T4Z ~ 1/13). In the women’s final,

American Natalia Grossman, the 2021 World Champion, loves to perform in Salt Lake City and won her sixth straight Boulder competition there with a 3T4Z ~ 3/10 performance. She was just a little more efficient than France’s Oriane Bertone (3T4Z ~ 6/6) and Naile Meignan (3T4Z ~ 6/13). Fellow American Brooke Raboutou finished fifth (2T3Z ~ 2/7).

● Swimming ● Katie Grimes did it again at the USA Swimming National Open Water Championships in Sarasota, Florida, winning the women’s 10 km title for the third consecutive time, in a tight finish with Claire Weinstein.

Grimes, still just 18, finally took control on the penultimate lap and won in 1:58:18 to 1:58:22 for Weinstein, with Mariah Denigan third at 1:58:38. Grimes already qualified for Paris with her Worlds bronze medal in the 10 km in 2023.

Axel Reymond of France won the men’s 10 km race in a photo finish with Ivan Puskovitch in second and Dylan Gravely in third, 1:53:20-1:53:21-1:53:21. It’s Puskovitch’s best-ever nationals finals and Gravely finished third for the second year in a row.

Gravely returned on Sunday to win the men’s 5 km race in 54:40, over Chip Wheelie Shoyat (54:54) and Trey Dickey (54:57). Japan’s Ichika Kajimoto took the women’s 5 km in 59:05.

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