TSX REPORT: USOPC chief sees Paris “re-introducing” the Games to the U.S.; Paris opening could still move, world discus record for Alekna

USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland and sports and athlete chief Rocky Harris at Monday’s opening of the USOPC Media Summit.

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1. Hirshland: time to “re-introduce the country” to the Games
2. Macron: Paris opening could move if security worries warrant
3. Alekna shatters discus world record with greatest-ever series
4. Lemma runs away, Obiri repeats at Boston Marathon
5. Russia and Olympic doping: the worst ever

● The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Media Summit kicked off in New York on Monday, with chief executive Sarah Hirshland confident in the preparations, but also excited about “re-introducing” the Olympic and Paralympic Games to the country, free from the shadow of the pandemic in Tokyo and Beijing. And Sports and Athlete Services head Rocky Harris talked about a competitive advantage the U.S. can provide for its athletes.

● French President Emmanuel Macron said the Paris 2024 opening could be re-arranged or even moved if security concerns merited such a severe change. But it could happen.

● Astonishing world record by 21-ywear-old Mykolas Alekna in Ramona, Oklahoma on Sunday, using ultra-favorable wind conditions to author the greatest series in history, including a sensational 74.35 m (243-11) in round five. In a single series, he made the nos. 1-5-8 throws in history!

● Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma ran away with the men’s Boston Marathon title, winning in 2:06:17, th 10th-fastest Boston race ever. Kenya’s Hellen Obiri defended her 2023 win, but had to break away from fellow Kenyan Sharon Lokedi in the final 800 m, to win, 2:22:37, to 2:22:45.

● A check of the all-time doing disqualifications in Olympic history by stats star Dr. Bill Mallon shows Russia way out in front, with more than 22% of all cases. Wow.

Panorama: Winter Games 2030 (Speed skating could be in The Netherlands or Italy) = World Games (Karlsruhe set to be named for 2029) = Russia (Vyalbe doesn’t see Russian skiers back until 2028) = Athletics (2: Sahlman’s PR 3:33.96 now no. 3 in 2024; more Kenyan and ex-Kenya doping) = Curling (Gushue and Tirinzoni win at Players’ Champs) = Cycling (2: Archibald and Lavreysen finish with three wins each at Nations Cup; Blevins and Rissveds win in Mountain Bike World Cup opener) = Gymnastics (three wins for Bulgaria in home Rhythmic World Cup) = Rowing (British and Dutch dominate World Cup opener in Varese) = Sport Climbing (U.S.’s Watson sets two world records at Speed World Cup in China) ●

Hirshland: time to “re-introduce the country” to the Games

The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee is its 21st pre-Games Media Summit – started in 1984 – in New York this week, kicked off with a leadership panel of USOPC staff members led by chief executive Sarah Hirshland, who talked about the unique opportunity that this post-pandemic event offers:

“You can feel the energy and the excitement building, certainly inside the walls inside of our organization, but also around the country. …

“I think I’m most excited we get to – in some ways – re-introduce the country to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It’s been a minute, so it’s time. And we’re excited to bring the whole country along with us on this journey. …

“It brings us together like almost nothing else can.”

Rocky Harris, the Chief of Sports and Athlete Services, noted that this is the time when the team is actually being selected:

“This is really the season when everything happens. We’ve only had 89 Olympians qualify by name and 44 Paralympians, so it’s only about 15% of the overall team has been named. …

“We always want to win the medal count, but it’s really about making sure every Team USA athlete has their personal best and that’s our focus. Yes, we do focus on medals, but if every athlete reaches their personal best, then we’ve all done our job.”

And the USOPC is trying to ensure that directly:

“One competitive advantage for us is we create a high-performance center in each city of the Olympics and Paralympics. In Paris, we have a high-performance center at a world-class facility called Athletica, where we essentially transport our Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to Paris. It has everything from nutrition, training facilities, they built a brand-new kitchen, a brand-new dorm, a brand-new track for us. So it’s really for us – and I saw this in Tokyo – a huge competitive advantage. Sixty percent of our medalists worked out at the high-performance center.

“It’s about 15-20 minutes from the Village, and we have transport going back and forth throughout the day, so for us it’s a major point of differentiation for us and a competitive advantage.”

The USOPC’s head of security, Nicole Deal, said their area is a challenge:

As a security officer, what keeps me up at night? The distractions. I don’t want security to be a distraction for Team USA athletes and the delegation. I want them to come to Paris, knowing that we got them, we got their back and that we put all the processes, procedures and resources in place to keep them safe when they’re in Paris.”

Deal explained that the coordination with the Paris 2024 organizers, the French government and the U.S. State Department and other agencies has been excellent, deeply coordinated with the U.S. Embassy, with agents working directly with the U.S. teams at the Games.

Hirshland was confident: “The things we can control, I feel great about.”

Macron: Paris opening could move if security worries warrant

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a Monday television interview that if the security situation requires it, the Olympic opening planned for the Seine River could be modified or even moved to the Stade de France.

“This opening ceremony… is a world first. We can do it and we are going to do it. There are plan Bs and plan Cs. We are preparing them in parallel, we will analyse this in real time.”

He said the ceremony could be limited to the Trocadero area, where the protocol elements of the ceremony will be held, or the planned 6 km route on the Seine could be shortened, or it could be possible to “repatriate the ceremony to the Stade de France,” the 80,000-seat athletics and football stadium that will host the Olympic closing.

Asked by a viewer about security concerns for the opening, Macron said “If there’s one place where your son will be safe, it’s here.

“There are always risks in life. And we see it every day, unfortunately. But we’ve given ourselves the means to do it.”

He added that the security plans include “drone systems, coding, cyber protection” and that the perimeters would be in place days or weeks before.

The Paris opening has been scaled down already due to logistics and security worries, from a projected 600,000 spectators to a more reasonable 326,000, with 104,000 ticketed fans on the lower quays, and 222,000 on the upper quays who will come for free, but will have to get tickets from the government.

Macron also talked about the Olympic Truce concept, adopted by the United Nations, and which dates from ancient times:

We want to work towards an Olympic truce and I think it is an occasion for me to engage with a lot of our partners. The Chinese president [Xi Jinping] is coming to Paris in a few weeks, and I’m going to ask him to help me.

“This is a diplomatic moment of peace.”

Alekna shatters discus world record with greatest-ever series

Mykolas Alekna, 21, was always precocious, but this is ridiculous. The son of Lithuania’s two-time Olympic gold medalist Virgilijus Alekna, Mykolas went to Cal and earned two NCAA All-American finishes in 2022 and 2023 and won his first World Championships medal in 2022 (silver) and bronze in 2023.

Now he’s the world-record holder, after authoring the greatest series in history at the Oklahoma Throws Series World Invitational in Ramona, Oklahoma on Sunday:

Round 1: 72.21 m (236-11) ~ no 6 throw all-time
Round 2: 70.32 m (230-8)
Round 3: 72.89 m (239-1) ~ no. 4 throw all-time
Round 4: 70.51 m (231-4)
Round 5: 74.35 m (243-11) ~ World Record
Round 6: 70.50 m (231-3)

The average was 71.80 m (235-6!), a distance that only seven others have ever reached! Alekna smashed one of the oldest records in the book, the 74.08 m (243-0) throw by East Germany’s Jurgen Schult, way back in 1986, and the 1988 Olympic gold medalist.

Even more astonishing: the Alekna family now stands 1-3, with Virgilijius throwing 73.88 m (242-5) back in 2000. Mykolas’s series produced the nos. 1-5-8 throws in history.

How did this happen? And why in Ramona? For decades, the discus – especially – has been thrown extra far in unusual locations which have specific wind characteristics which carry the platter extra far. Wind-tunnel rings in places like La Jolla, California and Wailuku, Hawaii are well known; in fact, the meet in Waikulu is known as the “Wailuku Big Wind”!

And competing with Alekna in Ramona, five of the next seven placers got lifetime bests. Jamaica’s Roje Stona, who came in with a lifetime best of 68.64 m (225-2) in 2023 got out to 69.05 m (226-6) for second in Ramona.

The women’s throwing on Saturday also produced sensational marks, with Cuba’s Yaime Perez – the 2019 World Champion – moving to no. 10 all-time at 73.09 m (239-9) and American Veronica Fraley (67.17 m/220-4) moving to no. 7 on the all-time U.S. list.

Lemma runs away, Obiri repeats at Boston Marathon

Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma came into Monday’s Boston Marathon as the no. 4 performer of all time (2:01:48) and the 2021 London Marathon champion. He now owns two World Marathon Majors golds, taking charge almost from the start in Boston and winning in 2:06:17, the no. 10 performance in Boston history.

He was in the lead at 5 km, led a group of nine at 10 km, then ran away and had a 1:21 lead at 15 km, and was never headed. He passed the half in 1:00.19, with a 1:49 lead on Kenyan Albert Korir.

The lead was 2:14 by 35 km, and down to 1:22 by 40 km, but he cruised home in 2:06:17. The 2023 Tokyo Marathon runner-up, Mohamed Esa (ETH). mounted a charge in the final mile to move from fourth to second, in 2:06:58, ahead of two-time defending champ Evans Chebet (KEN: 2:07:22). C.J. Albertson was the top American man, finishing 2:09:53 in seventh.

The women’s race was the complete opposite, as defending champion Hellen Obiri (KEN) was in a fight to the finish. There were 19 in the lead pack at the half, with Americans Emma Bates and Sara Hall running 1-2 at 1:12:33.

Sixteen runners was still together at 30 km, with Bates still leading, then Obiri took over by 35 km, but still with 12 in tow. Finally, the pack thinned and Obiri led a group of three at the 24-mile mark (38 km), including fellow Kenyans Sharon Lokedi – the 2022 New York City winner – and two-time World Champion and two-time Boston winner Edna Kiplagat (44!) – who had been at the back of the lead pack and would not go away.

At 40 km, it was down to Obiri and Lokedi, with Kiplagat 18 seconds behind and secure in third. They were still together with a mile to go, and Obiri finally pulled ahead in the last 800 m to win in 2:22:37, to 2:22:45 for Lokedi. Kiplagat finished in 2:23:21, ahead of Buze Diriba (ETH: 2:24:04). It’s Kiplagat’s 12th top-three finish in a World Marathon Majors race.

Bates was the top American in 12th in 2:27:14, with Hall 15th in 2:27:58 and 2018 Boston winner Des Linden next in 2:28:27.

This was Obiri’s fourth career marathon and she’s won three in a row: Boston and New York in 2023 and now Boston again. She’s the first Boston women’s repeat winner since Catherine Ndereba (KEN) in 2004 and 2005, and the eighth to be a repeat women’s winner.

Now 34, Obiri owns two world 5,000 titles, a World Cross Country gold and now three World Marathon Majors in a row. How many event for Paris?

Russia and Olympic doping: the worst ever

Olympic super-statistician Dr. Bill Mallon (USA) got busy on X (ex-Twitter) in light of the most recent doping sanctions that came out of the London 2012 Games:

● “With CAS releasing decisions on PED penalties for Yekaterina Poistogova and Nikolay Chavkin (both 2012 London in athletics), time for an update on overall Olympic doping penalties/sanctions:

● “Here are the 5 NOCs with the most doping penalties/sanctions (inclusive since 1968):

“Russia 115
“Ukraine 39
“Belarus 35
“USA 22
“Turkey 20″

● “Note that Russia now has more penalties/sanctions than the next highest nations – combined. There have 510 such cases at the Olympic Games, which means that Russia now has 22.5% of all such cases.”

● “Here the 5 sports affected the most by doping penalties/sanctions at the Olympic Games:

“Athletics (T&F) 207
“Weightlifting 119
“Cross-Country Skiing 38″
“Wrestling 22
“Biathlon 14″

● “This means that over 60% of the doping cases at the Olympics have been in track & field athletics and weightlifting.

“Although athletics looks like the worst sport, remember that athletics has about 8 times more competitors (because of more events) than weightlifting.

“So relatively speaking, weightlifting is by far the worst sport in terms of doping penalties at the Olympics.”

The numbers speak for themselves. No wonder why athletes continue to ask questions about Russian athletes competing in Paris or elsewhere.


● Olympic Winter Games 2030 ● The International Olympic Committee’s Future Host Commission is readying for its 26-30 April inspection of the French Alps candidature for the 2030 Olympic Winter Games, needing to know what the solutions are to some remaining venue issues.

On Monday, International Olympic Committee Executive Director for the Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi (SUI), told reporters in an online news conference that speed skating could be held in the Netherlands or Italy.

A temporary solution, such as what Milan Cortina 2026 is doing at a massive Milan convention center, would be fine, as “we now know that it is doable with all the guarantees needed for ice quality.”

● World Games ●The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) has nominated the city of Karlsruhe as a candidate for hosting The World Games 2029. The DOSB announced this in a letter to the IWGA on Friday. Earlier this year, two cities from Germany, Karlsruhe and Hanover, had expressed their interest in hosting the 13th edition of the multi-sport event in 2029. Karlsruhe is the first city to apply for a second edition of the Games: the city organised the third edition of The World Games in 1989.”

Monday’s announcement from the International World Games Federation should sew up the World Games sites through the end of this decade, with the event moving to Chengdu (CHN) in 2025. On timing:

“The decision on the host for The World Games 2029 will be taken by the Executive Committee of the IWGA and ratified by the Annual General Meeting at the beginning of May.”

● Russia ● Following the very limited presence of Russia at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, the head of the Cross Country Ski Federation of Russia, three-time Olympic relay gold medalist Elena Vyalbe said Monday it will be years before Russia fully returns to international competition:

“We are always ready to come back but you are all aware of the current circumstances. I don’t believe that it [the return] will be possible next year or even in the next two or three years.

“Our return will be very complicated. I know that all our athletes are just as frustrated by this as I am, but there is no need to grovel in front of anyone. When a country or a World Cup bid is at stake no one should have any doubt about what to choose.

“We have to be very strong. Of course, we missed the World Cup [season]. I don’t think that we will be able to come back before the year 2028. It will be possible only if the world changes.”

That means she expects similar treatment for the Milan Cortina 2025 Winter Games as for Paris.

● Athletics ● Not to be lost in the blizzard of great marks last weekend was the Brian Clay Invitational in Azusa, California, was the stunning men’s 1.500 m win for Northern Arizona sophomore Colin Sahlman – age 20 – in 3:33.96, a four-second lifetime best and now no. 3 in the world for 2024.

Sahlman’s old best was 3:38.30 from 2023, but he outran 2023 NCAA champ Nathan Green (USA/Washington: 3:34.29) and veteran star Craig Engels (3:35,46). Sahlman and Green are now third and sixth on the 2024 world list.

More doping suspensions from the Athletics Integrity Unit, including Kenyan half-marathoner Agnes Mutua for 5 years from 29 January 2024 for Presence/Use of Prohibited Substances (Testosterone and Trimetazidine).”

Former Kenyan and now Bahraini marathoner Marius Kimutai (2:05:06) was banned “for 3 years from 28 March 2024 for Presence/Use of a Prohibited Substance (EPO).”

● Curling ● Veteran stars dominated The Players’ Championship of the Grand Slam of Curling in Toronto, with Canada’s Brad Gushue and Swiss Silvana Tirinzoni leading their teams to wins.

Gushue won his 15th Grand Slam title, winning the final over Joel Retornaz (ITA) by 7-6 on a clutch final shot in the eighth end. Tirinzoni, skip of the four-time World Champions – who settled for second this year – also had a tight match, but scored twice in the second, fourth and seventh ends to hold on for a 6-5 win as well over Isabella Wrana (SWE).

● Cycling ● Olympic track cycling star Kate Archibald (GBR) – a two-time gold winner – concluded a three-gold performance at the UCI Track Nations Cup III in Milton (CAN) on Sunday, winning the Omnium to go with her earlier wins in the Team Pursuit and the Madison. American Jennifer Valente, who won the Elimination Race, was third in the Omnium.

Men’s Sprint star Harrie Lavreysen (NED) also got his third gold, winning the men’s Sprint, to add to his Team Sprint and Keirin wins. New Zealand’s Ellesse Andrews, second in the Sprint, won the Keirin, in which she is the reigning World Champion.

American Chris Blevins, the 2021 Worlds Short Track gold winner took the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup opener in Mairipora (BRA), winning the Cross Country Olympic race by a whisker in 1:30:00 over French Worlds relay gold medalist Victor Koretzky (1:30:02) and Swiss Filippo Columbo (1:30:03). Australia’s Sam Gaze, the two-time Short Course World Champion, won the Short Course race.

Rio 2016 Olympic champ Jenny Rissveds (SWE) took the women’s Cross Country race in a rout, finishing in 1:17:18 to 1:17:45 for American Sevilia Blunck and 1:18:03 for teammate Haley Batten. Britain’s Evie Richards took the women’s Short Course race.

● Gymnastics ● Lots of smiles for home fans in Sofia (BUL) for the FIG Rhythmic World Cup that concluded Sunday, with Boryana Kaleyn and Stiliana Nikolova on the victory stand a lot.

Kaleyn, a Team gold medalist from the 2023 Worlds, took the All-Around at 137.300, with Nikolova, a six-time Worlds medalist at age 21, second at 135.100. Israel’s Darya Atamanov finished third (132.600).

Nikolova won two apparatus finals, on Ball (36.950) and Ribbon (33.650), with Atamanov taking bronze and silver, respectively. Atamonov won on Hoop (35.550), ahead of Nikolova (34.950) and Italy’s 2022 World Champion Sofia Raffaeli (34.150). Raffaeli won on Clubs, scoring 34.250, beating Kaleyn (33.900).

● Rowing ● Britain and the Netherlands dominated the first World Rowing World Cup, held in Varese (ITA), although the home team also scored three wins.

The Dutch took the men’s Double Sculls with World Champions Melvin Twellar and Stefan Broenink (6:07.09) beating Luca Rambaldi and Matteo Sartoni (ITA: 6:08.45), and the Quadruple Sculls (5:38.32) over Britain (5:40.05), but the Brits won in Pairs with Worlds runners-up Oliver Wynne-Griffith and Tom George (6:18.62) taking down Worlds winners Roman Roeoesli and Andrin Gulich (NED: 6:19.24), and took the Eights in 5:27.67 to 5:29.83 for the Dutch.

The Italian duo of Worlds bronze medalists Stefano Oppo and Gabriel Soares took the Lightweight Double Sculls at 6:10.46.

World Champion Oliver Zeidler won the Single Sculls over Worlds silver medalist Simon Van Dorp (NED), 6:44.15 to 6:47.03.

The women’s World Champion in Single Sculls, Karolien Florijn (NED) was a decisive winner in 7:19.31 to 7:25.94 for Alexandra Foester (GER). Dutch Double Scullers Lisa Scheenaard and Martine Veldhuis won in 6:49.75, with Thea Helseth and Jenny Marie Rorvik (NOR) in 6:50.60. And the Dutch Pair of World Champions Ymkje Clevering and Veronique Meester won in 6:56.53 against Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh (IRL: 6:57.57).

Two British teams took gold and silver in the Quadruple Sculls, 6:18.88 to 6:22.74, and Italy won the women’s Eights in 6:02.34 to 6:03.10 for Britain. Ukraine took the Quadruple Sculls in 6:11.32, with the Dutch second (6:13.16).

Britain also won the women’s Lightweight Double Sculls with World Champions Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in 6:45.86.

● Sport Climbing ● Big news from the IFSC World Cup in Lead and Speed in Wujiang (CHN) over the weekend, with world records in Speed from American Sam Watson.

He scaled the 15 m wall on the first qualifying run in 4.85, busting the 2023 mark of Indonesia’s Veddiq Leonardo, then raced to a 4.79 record in his second run!

Watson didn’t win, however, finishing second in the final to China’s defending champ, Peng Wu, 4.91 to 5.11.

Two-time World Champion Aleksandra Miroslaw (POL) win her 12th IFSC World Cup in the women’s division in an all-Polish final with Natalia Kalucka, equaling her own world record at 6.24, with Kalucka at 6.75.

No doubt about the women’s Lead winner, as star Janja Garnbret (SLO), as she was the only one to get to the top, with home favorite Zhilu Luo finishing second (44+).

Toby Roberts (GBR) won his second career World Cup at 36+, getting the victory on the countback against Taisei Homma (JPN).

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