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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
1. Ukraine to boycott Paris qualifiers with Russians entered
2. Russia slams all restrictions, challenges IOC leadership
3. Argentina submits bid for FIFA U-20 World Cup
4. Covid hurts participation in LA28-funded L.A. City youth programs
5. Crouser’s 76-8 1/2 world record may not be ratified
In the aftermath of the International Olympic Committee’s recommendations that Russian and Belarusian athletes could return to international competition as neutrals, the Ukrainian government said that its athletes would not compete in events which include Russian or Belarusian athletes. The IOC was upset by this, but the French Sports Minister said that while the IOC has the authority to decide who participates in the Paris 2024 Games, the French government will be heard on the issue … loudly. In Russia, reaction to the IOC’s recommendations continued with condemnations of the recommendations and the IOC, as any restrictions are deemed inappropriate or worse. With FIFA removing its men’s U-20 World Cup from Indonesia in view of its desire not to have Israel compete in the country, Argentina has stepped up with a detailed bid for the event, still scheduled to open on 20 May. A report submitted to the Los Angeles City Council’s committee on the 2028 Olympic Games showed that participation in the PlayLA sports programs for the 2021-22 fiscal year, partially subsidized by the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic organizers, fell short of their 2018-19 levels by more than 23,500 enrollees, in part due to Covid-19 restrictions in Los Angeles County and vaccination requirements for staff. Happily, the amount spent was also down by 45% against the budgeted amount. Ratification by World Athletics of the sensational 23.38 m (76-8 1/2) shot put by Ryan Crouser in February may not happen. The federation has appended a notice of “irregular measurement” to the mark, possibly due to a technical issue with the way the shot put ring was installed at the fieldhouse in Pocatello, Idaho, where the performance took place.
● Panorama: Paris 2024 (140-170 boats for opening ceremony) = Athletics (3: World outdoor leads in 13 events at Texas Relays; Van Niekerk 44.17 at South African champs; Bor and Hill win USATF 10M) = Badminton (China wins two at Madrid Masters) = Basketball (six Olympians and a team among 2023 inductees) = Cycling (Roglic and Kopecky tops at Tour of Flanders) = Gymnastics (Nikolova dominates Sofia Rhythmic World Cup) = Judo (France wins four at Antalya Grand Slam) = Rugby (New Zealand sweeps Sevens Series in Hong Kong) = Shooting (U.S. earns silver in Mixed Trap) = Ski Jumping (Granerud wins seasonal World Cup) = Swimming (McIntosh sets 400 m Medley record) = Weightlifting (U.S. tops PanAm Champs with 15 medals) ●
Ukraine to boycott Paris qualifiers with Russians entered
“Today at the government meeting a protocol decision was made based on the proposal of my colleague [Ukrainian Sports Minister and National Olympic Committee President Vadym] Gutzeit, that we participate only in the qualifying competitions where there are no Russians.”
That was Oleh Nemchinov, Ukraine’s Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers, in a television interview last Thursday, adding:
“Yesterday, I attended another funeral of a good acquaintance of mine, who gave more than 20 years to athletics and died in the Kharkiv area. He left behind three children. He volunteered for his second war. And he wasn’t a canteen cook, let’s put it that way. That is, he was serving in combat units.
“So, I want to tell our fellow athletes who are worried that because of the IOC’s decisions and the admission of Russians or Belarusians to the competitions, respectively, that Ukrainians will not be able to participate, that their careers will be ruined or something to that effect. But actually, you and your children’s lives will be saved.”
The International Olympic Committee, which announced on Tuesday that it recommends allowing individual Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete internationally as neutrals, but with considerable additional work to be done on the details, issued a very unhappy reply on Friday:
“If implemented, such a decision would only hurt the Ukrainian athlete community, and in no way impact the war that the world wants to stop, and that the IOC has so vehemently condemned. The IOC has always maintained that it is not up to governments to decide which athletes can participate in which international competitions.”
It also noted that Ukrainian tennis players are competing against “neutral” Russians and Belarusians on the ATP and WTA tours, although this has created a tense situation in at least the women’s tour.
The French Sports Minister, Amelie Oudea-Castera, said, “It’s the IOC that has the final say, it’s the IOC that determines the conditions under which athletes participate.
“On the other hand, it’s clear that the head of state of the host nation [French President Emmanuel Macron] will have a voice that will be heard in the IOC’s deliberations.”
There were further reactions to the IOC’s announcement last Tuesday, with the French Fencing Federation canceling an FIE men’s Epee World Cup set to be held from 19-21 May in St. Maur. The FIE had already voted to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to return after the middle of April, subject to the IOC’s guidelines. This is the second FIE World Cup to be canceled over the Russian and Belarusian issue; the women’s Foil World Cup scheduled for 5-7 May in Tauberbischofsheim (GER) was also “returned” to the FIE.
Other international federations began posting announcements or giving statements on their intentions. The UCI (cycling) and ITTF (table tennis) said they would discuss what to do later and the FIG (gymnastics) and FIVB (volleyball) also said more study is needed. The ITF (tennis) reiterated their stand, allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals in tour events, but not in ITF national-entry events, for which those federations are suspended (which apparently includes the Olympic Games in Paris). .
Federations which will apparently not be impacted are those in team sports, which the IOC suggested retain the ban: basketball, football, handball, hockey and rugby sevens.
Dependable IOC allies in the five continental associations of National Olympic Committees posted a statement of support for the IOC’s position on Friday. The Association of National Olympic Committees did the same.
The International Paralympic Committee, which suspended the Russian and Belarusian national committees last November, does not plan to review their status until their 2023 General Assembly in the third quarter of 2023.
The All-England Club announced Friday that it would allow Russian and Belarusian entries at Wimbledon in 2023:
“Our current intention is to accept entries from Russian and Belarusian players subject to them competing as ‘neutral’ athletes and complying with appropriate conditions. These will prohibit expressions of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in various forms and prohibit entry by players receiving funding from the Russian and/or Belarusian states (including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states) in relation to their participation in The Championships.”
Said Ian Hewitt, the All-England Club Chair:
“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted.”
Wimbledon did not have Russian or Belarusian players in 2022 due to a government ban on their entry; the 2023 position was coordinated with the British government.
Russia slams all restrictions, challenges IOC leadership
The reaction in Russia to the IOC’s recommendations was to continue its all-out rejection of any and all restrictions.
Despite being able to return, apparently, after 15 April to individual competitions according to the vote of the FIE online Congress last month, Russian Fencing Federation chief Ilgar Mammadov was livid:
“With such conditions, there is no chance. You have to sell your soul to the devil to go to Paris or remain a normal person. …
“In this matter, the IOC has shown that international federations are simply nobody and nothing. What is an international federation? There is a charter, there is a supreme governing body: this is the congress. Congress decides on admission. The IOC again gives some recommendations of its own. Why is it possible to perform in tennis, but fencers are not allowed when [the FIE] Congress has voted? The IOC simply restricts our rights as athletes, as people.”
He noted especially the restriction on athletes affiliated with the military:
“We have all the leading athletes from CSKA or Dynamo [sports clubs]; we have such a system, like the Italians, Hungarians, Germans, Chinese, Poles, Ukrainians, that is, we are all in this system to participate in the Military World Games. So it’s very simple, [the IOC] knew it perfectly well and knew where to hit. They made such a false attack, as if they want to return us.”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday:
“We are convinced that the recommendations on the admission of Russian athletes to competitions in a neutral status without a flag and an anthem are dictated primarily by the desire to once again implement the strange, wild logic imposed by the West, to exclude us from world sports, attempts to exert pressure, as they say, ‘implement a policy of containment’ against our country.
“They are unacceptable when they disguise themselves as an imaginary protection of human rights, and at the same time the principles of Olympism are distorted beyond recognition.”
A Telegram post by the head of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, Viktor Bondarev included:
“The IOC has imposed a categorical taboo on the participation in competitions of Russian and Belarusian athletes who took part in rallies and concerts in support of the [invasion of Ukraine] and demonstrated the ‘Z’ symbol, as well as those who are on contract service in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and law enforcement agencies, knowing full well that many of our athletes serve under contract in the Army, National Guard and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“This means the automatic non-admission of entire clubs like CSKA and Dynamo to participate in international competitions. They want to force our athletes to make a choice between their homeland and a career in big-time sports, but from all this it is possible to benefit: in the development and formation of new, international sports competitions independent of the West.”
Dmitry Vasiliev, a two-time relay gold medalist in biathlon in 1984 and 1988, was outraged and told the Russian news agency TASS:
“We see calls, in particular, from Norwegian biathletes, not to allow our athletes, even those who have nothing to do with the [Ukraine invasion]. For this, thanks should be said to [IOC President] Thomas Bach, who destroyed everything. Athletes should compete, not speak out on political issues. It was he who involved them in this process, which destroyed the fundamental Olympic thesis that sport should be outside of politics.
“Tennis and overseas [NHL] hockey are exclusively commercial sports, the main thing there is money. They exist outside the framework of the Olympic Movement, which no longer exists: Mr. Thomas Bach destroyed it.”
Argentina submits bid for FIFA U-20 World Cup
Just a day after Indonesia was removed as host for the FIFA men’s U-20 World Cup that will begin on 20 May, Argentina submitted a detailed bid.
FIFA chief Gianni Infantino said during a news conference during a visit to Paraguay:
“There have been other countries that have expressed an interest, but in terms of a formal proposal and all the government assurances that come with that, Argentina is in pole position.
“The decision will be made, I think, over the next two or three days – and as soon as possible because the [U-20] World Cup kicks off on 20 May, which is right around the corner. We all know about football in Argentina, it’s a country that I’m sure would be able to host a tournament of this magnitude.
“AFA’s proposal will be sent over to the FIFA Bureau [of the Council], which will ultimately make the decision as to who will host the U-20 World Cup. I would like to give my thanks, of course, to [AFA] President [Claudio] Tapia and to all of Argentina, as well as the government, for organising their proposal in such a quick fashion. It really makes our life a little bit easier.”
Indonesia was removed as host due to the Governor of Bali’s declaration that Israel – which qualified for the event for the first time – would not be welcome to play there, where it had been assigned. This is an obvious breach not only of FIFA’s rules, but of the covenants undertaken by Indonesia when it was awarded the tournament; Indonesia has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
Covid hurts participation in LA28-funded L.A. City youth programs
Los Angeles County maintained some of the strictest masking rules in the nation well into March of 2022, a significant factor in the lowered level of participation in the City of Los Angeles Recreation & Parks Department’s Youth Sports Program funded by the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee.
LA28 pledged funding of $160 million into 2028 for allow participation costs to be reduced to $10 per person and get more young people playing sports. But the PlayLA annual report for the 2021-22 fiscal year show that the overall program has not reached the pre-pandemic levels from 2018-19 (ages 1-17):
● 65,708 enrolled in Rec Center programs: 126% of plan
● 24,424 enrolled in Signature programs: 40% of plan
● 90,132 enrolled total: 79% of plan (113,634)
The Signature programs include individual-sport programs in aquatics, golf, judo, tennis, track & field and adaptive sports.
Happily, spending on these program also was short of projections, leaving more money for the future:
● $5.281 million planned for Rec Center programs: 73% spent
● $3.104 million planned for Signature programs: 26% spent
● $1.250 million for SafeSport and marketing: 52% spent
● $9.635 million planned total: 55% spent ($5.317 million)
The Recreation & Parks Department report noted significant problems with hiring as one reason for the enrollment shortfall in Signature programs:
“There was difficulty securing specialized instructors in all Signature programs to cover classes at the recreation centers. Eight hiring fairs were conducted by PlayLA staff to address the issue. The vaccination requirement hindered potential instructors from applying for positions.”
Funding for these program was not solely provided by LA28 and included donations from Nike, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, the LA84 Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, L.A. Council District 14 (Kevin de Leon), Dick’s Sporting Goods, Angel City FC and Lids.
Crouser’s 76-8 1/2 world record may not be ratified
American Olympic and World Champion Ryan Crouser extended his own world record in the men’s shot put on 18 February at the Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho, sending the 16-pound ball out fo 23.38 or 76-8 1/2.
That was one centimeter better than his 2021 mark of 23.37 (76-8 1/4) at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. That mark was ratified by World Athletics, but doubt has crept in on the Pocatello mark.
Track & Field News surmised that Crouser’s 23.38 might not get approved because he used an indoor shot – with a rubber exterior coating – instead of the solid-metal shots used for outdoor competitions.
Now, French coach P.J. Vazel noticed a new issue and tweeted:
“No @WorldAthletics for @RCrouserThrows as his 23.38 in Pocatello won’t be ratified, from the videos it appears that the ring [height] was probably above the sector exceeding the rule allowance”
On the World Athletics Web site, Crouser’s 2023 results list the 23.38 m win in Pocatello, but also has the notation “IRM” for “irregular measurement.”
There has been no World Athletics announcement about Crouser’s mark, but Vazel’s observation that there are issues with it do not bode well for its ratification. Crouser met with reporters on Friday in advance of his appearance at the Drake Relays at the end of April, where he will compete indoors in a mixed-team event, as well as outdoors during the main meet.
And Crouser has no doubts that he can throw further. How much further? He wouldn’t say exactly, but he sounded confident when talking about a potential “outlier” at 24 meters (78-9)!
≡ PANORAMA ≡
● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● A detail of the unique Opening Ceremony on the Seine River was noted during a meeting of the Ile-de-France regional council. It was explained that 140-170 boats will be needed to transport the athletes on the Seine during the ceremony.
● Athletics ● Sensational marks at the Texas Relays, with world outdoor leaders in 13 events (including a tie):
● Men/200 m: 20.05, Terrence Jones (BAH/Texas Tech)
● Men/800 m: 1:45.31, Oussama El Bouchayby (MAR/Angelo State)
● Men/4×100 m: 38.08, United States
● Men/4×400 m: 2:58.82, USA/Georgia
● Men/High Jump: 2.33 m (7-7 3/4), JuVaughn Harrison (=)
● Men/Pole Vault: 5.86 m (19-2 1/4), Branson Ellis (USA/S.F. Austin) and Zach Bradford (USA/Texas Tech)
● Men/Javelin: 84.27 m (276-5), Keyshawn Strachan (BAH/Auburn)
● Men/Decathlon: 8,478, Leo Neugebauer (Germany/Texas)
● Women/200 m: 22.46, Gabby Thomas (USA)
● Women/100 m hurdles: 12.36, Masai Russell (USA/Kentucky)
● Women/4×100 m: 41.75, United States
● Women/4×400 m: 3:24.82, United States
● Women/Discus: 67.90 m (222-9), Valarie Allman (USA)
The speedy USA Red men’s 4×100 m team featured Christian Coleman, Kenny Bednarek, Kyree King and Marvin Bracy. The deepest men’s collegiate 4×400 m ever saw the Georgia quartet of Matthew Boling, Caleb Cavanaugh, Will Sumner and Elija Godwin run the second-fastest 4×400 in collegiate history (2:58.82), followed by the no. 6 time by Alabama (2:59.15 by Chris Robinson, Demetrius Jackson, Tarsis Orogot/UGA and Khaleb McRae) and no. 8 by UCLA in 2:59.25 (Antonie Nortje/RSA, Myles Misener-Daley/CAN, Willington Wright [44.31] and Ismail Turner [44.49]). Wow!
In the men’s 800 m, El Bouchayby beat Bryce Hoppel of the U.S., 1:45.31-1:45.59, the top two outdoor marks in the world this year.
The women’s marks were highlighted by a collegiate record of 12.36 by American Masai Russell of Kentucky, slicing 0.03 off of Brianna McNeal’s 12.39 run for Clemson in 2013. Russell is no. 8 in U.S. history. Alia Armstrong, the 2022 Worlds fourth-placer, was second to Russell in 12.57.
Thomas, the 200 m Tokyo bronze medalist, won both of the women’s sprints in 11.09 (+1.5 m/s) and her outdoor world leader of 22.46 (+1.2).
The USA Gold 4×100 m winners (41.75) included Melissa Jefferson, Abby Steiner, Jenna Prandini and Aleia Hobbs, just ahead of the USA Stars team (42.10) of Javianne Oliver, TeeTee Terry, Teahna Daniels and Sha’Carri Richardson.
The winning 4×400 m in 3:24.82 was “Hurdle Mechanics”: Dalilah Muhammad, Alexis Holmes, Brittany Brown and Anna Cockrell, ahead of the USA Red team (3:25.65): Kyra Jefferson, Abby Steiner, Jenna Prandini and Raevyn Rogers.
The best team, however, had to be the Texas women, led by Julian Alfred (LCA), which ran wild:
● 4×100 m: 42.00 (collegiate record; old, 42.05, LSU, 2018), Alfred, Ezinne Abba, Lanae Thomas, Kevona Davis (JAM).
● 4×200 m: 1:28.05 (collegiate record; old, 1:28.78, Oregon 2017), Rhasidat Adeleke (IRL), Alfred, Davis, Thomas.
● Sprint Medley: 3:36.10 (collegiate record; old, 3:38.93, Texas A&M, 2022), Alfred, Davis, Kennedy Simon, Adeleke.
And Texas, with Adeleke, Simon, Alfred and Rachel Helbling, ran a world-leading 3:23.27 in the 4×400 m, but with a mixed team, so the U.S. “Hurdle Mechanics” team will get credit.
At the South African national championships in Potchefstroom, men’s 400 m world-record holder Wayde van Niekerk won in a world-leading 44.17, his fastest since 2017. Akani Simbine won the men’s 100 m in 10.14, but ran a world-leading 9.92 in his semifinal (wind: +0.6).
And Zeney Van Der Walt, 22, won the women’s 400 m hurdles in a world-leading 54.82.
Hillary Bor and Sara Hall won the U.S. 10 Mile Championships, held in cold conditions, in conjunction with the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile in Washington, D.C.
Defending champion Bor was in or near the lead the entire way and separated himself from Abbabiya Simbassa by the 6-mile mark and cruised home in an American Record of 46:11, two seconds faster than Greg Meyer’s venerable 46:13 mark from 1983!
Simbassa was second in 47:09, trailed by Jacob Thomson third in 47:30.
The women’s race saw seven in the lead pack at six miles, with Hall, Nell Rojas, Emma Hurley and Molly Grabill together with two miles left. Rojas attacked with a mile left, but dropped no one and the race came down to a final sprint of about 200 yards. Hall’s dash beat Rojas to the line, 52:37 to 52:38, for her fourth national 10-mile title. Hurley was third in 52:41 and Grabill had to settle for fourth at 52:42.
● Badminton ● Two wins for China highlighted the Madrid Spain Masters that concluded on Sunday. Both came in Doubles, as Ji Ting He and Hao Dong Zhou (CHN) defeated Fang Chih Lee and Fang-Jen Lee (TPE), 21-5, 21-12, and in the all-China women’s Doubles, it was Sheng Shu Liu and Ning Tan over Fang Hui Chan and Yue Du, 21-8, 16-21, 21-18.
Japan’s top-seeded Kenta Nishimoto won the all-Japan men’s Singles final over Kanta Tsuneyama, 15-21, 21-18, 21-19, while Gregoria Tunjung (INA) pulled a mild upset over India’s V. Sindhu Pusarla, 21-8, 21-8.
In the Mixed Doubles, Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Boje (DEN) were winners against Praveen Jordan and Melati Oktavianti (INA), 22-20, 21-18.
● Basketball ● The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced its 2023 inductees, including six Olympians and an Olympic team among the 12 members-to-be.
The Olympians include Americans Gregg Popovich (assistant coach, 2004 U.S. Olympic team; coach, 2020 U.S. Olympic team), Dwayne Wade (2004 Olympic bronze, 2008 Olympic gold) and Becky Hammon (controversially played for Russia in 2008, winning a bronze).
Also named were Spain’s Pau Gasol (2008-12 Olympic silvers, 2016 Olympic bronze), Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki (2008 Olympic tournament) and France’s Tony Parker (2012-16 Olympic tournaments).
The U.S. women’s Olympic team from 1976 was also named. The silver medalists were coached by Billie Moore and included Pat Summit, Nancy Lieberman and Ann Meyers in the first Olympic basketball tournament for women.
Induction ceremonies will be in August.
● Cycling ● The second of the five annual “Monument” races, Ronde van Vlaanderen – first held in 1913 – was another testimonial to Slovenian star Tadej Pogacar.
The winner of the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021, he won his third Monument – previously Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Il Lombardia – with a breakaway over the Oude Kwaremont on the hilly, 273.4 km route from Brugge to Oudenaarde. A big crash slowed down the peloton after 100 km, but a six-minute lead for the leaders was whittled down to a minute with 40 km left.
Pogacar’s attack with 17 km left was never matched and he finished in 6:12:07, followed by Mathieu van der Poel (NED: +0:16) and then a group of six led by Mads Pedersen (DEN: +1:12). Americans Neilson Powless (fifth) and Matteo Jorgenson (ninth: +1:19) both finished in the top 10.
The third Monument comes on 9 April with the running of Paris-Roubaix.
The women’s Tour of Flanders – the 20th – was a win for the home team as Lotte Kopecky defended her 2022 title over the 156.6 km route that began and ended in Oudenaarde. Lopecky attacked with 18 km left and dropped everyone, winning by 36 seconds over a six-member chase pack.
Dutch star Demi Vollering finished second, ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini and Silvia Persico from Italy. Megan Jastrab was the top American, in 46th (+5:00).
● Gymnastics ● A dominant performance for home favorite Stiliana Nikolova at the Rhythmic World Cup in Sofia (BUL)!
Nikolova, 17, won the All-Around, scoring 131.300, ahead of Italy’s 2022 World Champion, Sofia Raffaeli (128.750) and Uzbek Takhmina Ikromova (124.550). The top American finishers were Jaelyn Chin (112.000) and Alexandria Kautzman (109.150), in 24th and 25th.
Nikolova, the 2022 Worlds All-Around bronze medal winner, then won the individual finals in Hoop (33.800) over Adi Katz (ISR: 33.600) and Rafaelli (32.600); in Ball (35.000), ahead of Rafaelli (33.150) and Ikromova (31.750); and in Clubs (34.000), beating teammate Evy Brezalieva (32.700) and Rafaelli (32.150).
Ikromova won on Ribbon (30.900) on a tie-breaker with Elzhana Taniyeva (KAZ: 30.900), with Barbara Domingos (BRA) third at 30.650.
● Judo ● An outstanding showing by France, with five wins at the Antalya Grand Slam in Turkey.
French fighters won four classes on Saturday, with Luka Mkheidze in the men’s 60 kg class, Maxime Gobert in the men’s 66 kg, Blandine Pont in the women’s 48 kg division and Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Amandine Buchard in the women’s 52 kg class.
On Sunday, Rio 2016 silver medalist Audrey Tcheumeo won a t 78 kg, beating Tokyo Olympic champ Shori Hamada of Japan, for her ninth career win in a Grand Slam tournament.
Brazil won two women’s classes, with Tokyo Olympic champ Rafaela Silva taking the 57 kg class and Ketleyn Quadros at 63 kg. The Netherlands also collected two golds, first from 2019 World Champion Noel Van’t End in the men’s 90 class and then Jelle Snippe in the all-Dutch +100 kg final against 2021 Worlds bronze medalist Roy Meyer.
Manuel Lombardo (ITA), the 66 kg 2021 Worlds runner-up, won at 73 kg, and Belgium’s 2021 World Champion Matthais Casse won at 81 kg. Japan’s Saki Niizoe, the 2022 Worlds bronze medalist, defeated 2022 World Champion Barbara Matic (CRO) in the women’s 70 kg final.
The home team got a win in the women’s +78 kg class, with two-time Worlds bronze medalist Kayra Sayit defeating Milica Zabic (SRB).
● Rugby ● New Zealand swept the HSBC Rugby Sevens Series tournaments in Hong Kong and has the lead in both the men’s and women’s seasonal standings.
The New Zealand women – the Black Ferns – were 3-0 in their group, as were Australia and France. In the playoffs, the Ferns swamped Canada, 45-14, stomped Fiji, 31-5 and then outfought Australia, 26-17 to win their fifth straight tournament of the season.
After six of seven stages, New Zealand leads the standings with 118 points to 102 for Australia, 90 for the U.S. and 78 for France. All four of those teams are now qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic tournament.
In the eighth men’s tournament out of 11, New Zealand – the All Blacks – won for the third time in the last four. New Zealand, Fiji and France were all 3-0 in pool play, with the U.S. at 2-1 and winners of their group. In the quarters, the Kiwis, Fiji and France advanced, while the U.S. was beaten by Great Britain. The All Blacks beat France, 12-7, in one semis while Fiji overcame Great Britain, 19-14. It was a tight final, but New Zealand beat Fiji, 24-17, while France edged the British, 19-17.
With three legs remaining, New Zealand has a 142-121 lead on Argentina, with Fiji at 113 and France at 112. The U.S. is ninth at 91.
● Shooting ● The Trap events in the ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Larnaca (CYP) saw Croatian Anton Glasnovic, 42, the 2013 Worlds silver medalist, win his third career individual World Cup title with a shoot-off win against Andreas Makri (CYP) after a 32-32 tie.
Britain’s Lucy Hall, 19, got her first World Cup win with a 29-27 victory over China’s Cuicui Wu.
In the Mixed Team final, Portugal’s Joao Azevedo and Maria Coelho de Barros scored a 7-3 gold-medal victory over the American duo of Walton Eller and Alicia Gough, the only U.S. medal of the tournament.
● Ski Jumping ● The FIS men’s World Cup for 2022-23 concluded with the annual ski-flying events – off a 240 m hill! – in Planica (SLO), with Norway’s Halvor Egner Granerud winning the seasonal title.
On Saturday, Austria’s three-time World Champion, Stefan Kraft, got his 26th career World Cup victory with 240.5 points in the one-round event, ahead of home favorite Anze Lanisek (234.7) and Poland’s Piotr Zyla (233.3). Granerud was fourth (228.4); American Decker Dean was 39th (162.3).
Sunday was a celebration for the home team, as Timi Zajc – who won the 2023 World Large Hill title in Planica earlier this year – used a huge second jump to move from fifth to first and score his third career World Cup win over Lanisek, 455.1 to 455.0, with Kraft third at 445.1.
Granerud finished with 2,128 points, ahead of Kraft (1,790) and Lanisek (1,679). It’s the second seasonal title for Granerud, who also won in 2021.
● Swimming ● Teen sensation Summer McIntosh continued her record-breaking Canadian Trials performances in Toronto, setting a world record in the 400 m Medley of 4:25.87 on Saturday, breaking Hungarian Katinka Hosszu’s 2016 mark of 4:26.36.
McIntosh, 16, had earlier set the world 400 m Free record at 3:56.08 – breaking Australian Ariarne Titmus’ mark of 3:56.40, and set world junior marks – and 2023 world leads – in the 200 m Medley (2:06.89) and 200 m Butterfly (2:04.70, no. 8 all-time).
She now owns three of the fastest six times in history in the 400 m Medley.
McIntosh finished up on Sunday with another Canadian national record, World Junior Record and world-leading time in the 200 m Freestyle, in 1:53.91, moving her to no. 5 all-time.
Tokyo Olympic champ Maggie MacNeil was overshadowed, but grabbed the world lead in the women’s 100 m Fly at 56.54, and came back to win the 50 m Free in 24.79, and the 100 m Free in 54.58.
If not for McIntosh, Josh Liendo would have been the story of the meet, with world-leading marks in the 100 m Fly (50.36, no. 5 all-time), then 21.80 in the 50 m Free and 47.86 in the 100m Free! He also set a Canadian Record in the 50 m Fly in 23.27.
● Weightlifting ● The U.S. performed impressively at the Pan American Championships in Bariloche (ARG), leading the medal table with 15 total and eight golds.
The U.S. got wins from Hampton Morris in the men’s 61 kg class (281 kg), Nathan Damron at 96 kg (340 kg), Ryan Sester at 102 kg (372 kg), Wesley Kitts at 109 kg (365 kg) and a gold-silver combo at +109 kg from Alejandro Medina (385 kg) and Caine Wilkes (384 kg).
Three American women won their classes: Jourdan Delacruz at 49 kg (lifting a total of 198 kg, with Hayley Reichardt second at 197 kg); Meredith Alwine at 76 kg (238 kg) and Mary Thiesen-Lappen at +87 kg (272 kg, with former World Champion Sarah Robles second at 271 kg).
Other U.S. silver medalists included Ryan Grimsland in the men’s 73 kg class (323 kg); Danielle Gunnin in the women’s 59 kg division (220 kg), and Katie Nye at 71 kg (248 kg, with Olivia Reeves third at 247 kg).
Venezuela won four classes, with Julio Mayora in the men’s 73 kg event (332 kg), Darvin Castro at 81 kg (324 kg), Kaydomar Vallenilla at 89 kg (379 kg), and Rosielis Quintana in the women’s 45 kg class (160 kg).
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