TSX REPORT: Biles and U.S. star in women’s Gym Worlds qualifying; hammer breaks a leg at Asian Games; Britain and Canada upset on Paralympic voteLatest


TSX REPORT: Biles and U.S. star in women’s Gym Worlds qualifying; hammer breaks a leg at Asian Games; Britain and Canada upset on Paralympic voteLatest
The incomparable Simone Biles (Photo courtesy USA Gymnastics/John Cheng)

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≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡

1. Biles, U.S. women dominate Worlds qualifying
2. Hammer throw accident at Hangzhou causes broken leg
3. IBA and African federations now conflicted on elections
4. British and Canadian Paralympic heads decry IPC’s Russia vote
5. Ellis expects U.S. women still “to be a major player”

● The iconic Simone Biles and her U.S. teammates dominated the women’s qualifying at the FIG Artistic World Championships, with the American team leading all others by more than five points and Biles posting the top score in three of the four apparatus.

● At the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, a freak accident in the men’s hammer throw caused a broken leg for one of the officials scoring the event, but he was taken quickly to the hospital and is stable. Said Kuwait’s Ali Al-Zankawi, the thrower involved, “Thank God the hammer hit the ground before it hit his leg.”

● The International Boxing Association, already de-recognized by the International Olympic Committee, is now facing a revolt from 30 of its African federations over actions taken by its independent integrity unit’s nominations clearing board for candidates for this month’s African Boxing Federation elections.

● More unhappy comments from the International Paralympic Committee’s General Assembly vote to allow Russian and Belarusian “neutrals” to compete in Paris in 2024, with the heads of the British and Canadian national committees voicing disappointment. The head of the Russian Paralympic Committee says as many as 300 could qualify, but none will go if a declaration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine is required.

● Jill Ellis, the two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, says the Americans will be a force to contend with for some time. During her time with the Technical Study Group at the recent Women’s World Cup, it was noted that all of the championship teams had a coach who was a native of that country!

World Championships: Rowing (Beach Sprint Finals conclude in Italy) ●

Panorama: Paris 2024 (IOC says hijabs OK in Olympic Village in Paris) = Anti-doping (2: WADA and WHO sign cooperation agreement; U.S. Anti-Doping Agency co-hosts anti-blood doping symposium) = USOPC (new Agora digital platform assembles support and wellness elements) = Basketball (Durant, James and many others interested in Olympic team) = Equestrian (Germany wins Jumping Nations Cup Final) ●

1.
Biles, U.S. women dominate Worlds qualifying

The women’s team qualifying round concluded on Monday at the FIG World Artistic Championships in Antwerp (BEL), with the U.S. and superstar Simone Biles shining brightly, advancing the maximum of 10 entries to the All-Around and apparatus finals.

Seven of the 10 qualifying groups competed on Monday, but the U.S. marks from Sunday were hardly challenged. The American squad of Biles, Shilese Jones, Leanne Wong, Skye Blakely and Joscelyn Roberson piled up a 171.395 total that was the highest since 2019 – the last time Biles was on the U.S. team – and more than five points ahead of Great Britain (166.130).

The Americans – going for a seventh straight women’s Worlds Team gold – had the highest score on Vault at 43.998 (with Great Britain second: 42.900) and Floor (42.066), with the British second again at 41.199. China rang up the top team scores on Uneven Bars, 43.533 to 43.366, over the U.S., and on Beam, by 42.666 to 41.965, over the U.S.

In the All-Around, Biles had the top scores on Vault, Beam and Floor and was fourth on the Uneven Bars to total 58.865 as the leading qualifier, with teammate Jones a clear second at 56.932, ranking second on the Uneven Bars, fourth on Beam and fifth on floor. Wong, the 2021 Worlds All-Around silver winner, was 11th (54.398) and did not advance since there is a limit of two per country in each individual final.

Britain’s Jessica Gadirova, the Worlds All-Around bronze winner in 2022, was third in the qualifying at 56.766, followed by defending All-Around champ Rebeca Andrade (BRA: 56.599) and Canada’s Ellie Black – the 2017 Worlds All-Around runner-up – in fifth at 55.065.

The U.S. qualified the maximum two entrants for each of the apparatus finals, with Biles (1: 14.949) and Roberson (6: 14.049) advancing; Jones (2: 14.833) and Biles (4: 14.400) moved on from the Uneven Bars; Biles (1: 14.566) and Jones (4: 14.033) qualified on Beam, and Biles (1: 14.633 and Jones (5: 13.800) making it to the medal round on Floor.

Biles successfully executed her spectacular Yurchenko double pike vault, which is now expected to be confirmed as the “Biles II” by the FIG Technical Committee as her second named element in the Code of Points.

The men’s Team competition medal round comes Tuesday, followed by the women on Wednesday.

2.
Hammer throw accident at Hangzhou causes broken leg

The hammer throw is one of the most dangerous events in track & field, and an accident on Saturday caused a broken leg of an official sitting next to the throwing cage.

Kuwait’s Mohamed Ali Al-Zankawi reached a season’s best of 67.57 m (221-8) in the second round, but on one of his following throws, his grip slipped on the release and the hammer went sideways into the cage. But instead of simply being tangled in the netting – as is normal – the 16-pound ball pushed the netting outward, bounced and hit the nearby official sitting in a chair. Per Reuters:

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“Looking horrified, Zankawi sprinted over as blood began spurting from the official’s right leg. The official, Huang Qinhua, 62, grimaced and swayed dizzily as Zankawi rushed to check on him, blood shooting out of the wound.

“Within seconds Zankawi was using his huge hands and strength to improvise a tourniquet on Huang’s thigh and halt the bleeding. Medical personnel soon took Huang away on a stretcher after applying a tourniquet, then sent him to a nearby hospital.”

Zankawi, 39 and the 2006 Asian Games silver winner in the event, continued in the competition and finished eighth. He visited Huang in the hospital and offered an apology, which was readily accepted. Zankawi told Agence France Presse:

“I raised my head and discovered that the hammer had bounced from the ground to the official’s leg, so I quickly ran to him and tried to help him, especially since he was in a state of shock and writhing in pain.

“After I got to him, I discovered a slit in his trousers and saw blood pouring from the leg, and I knew it was broken.

“Then I tied it tightly to stop the bleeding until the ambulance arrived, so I helped them by putting him on an ambulance stretcher to transport him to hospital. Thank God the hammer hit the ground before it hit his leg.”

An Asian Games spokesman told reporters on Sunday, “[Quang] arrived at the hospital at 20:15, where was diagnosed with a right open tibiofibular fracture. Currently his vital signs are stable.”

3.
IBA and African federations now conflicted on elections

New internal friction at the International Boxing Association, already de-recognized by the International Olympic Committee this year, with a group of 30 African national federations questioning the integrity of the Boxing Independent Integrity Unit (BIIU) Nomination Unit, set up by the IBA to clear candidates for elections.

With the 50-member African Boxing Confederation elections coming up on 13 October in Durban (RSA), the BIIU Nomination Unit approved five candidates for President and disqualified a sixth.

However, the 30 federations, led by Angola, complain that Mohamed El Kabbouri (MAR) should not be qualified, since he is not supported by his own national federation. Moses Muhangi (UGA) still owes a fine of CHF 5,000 to the AFBC, yet was declared eligible. The former AFBC President, Bertrand Magloire Mendouga (CAM), was approved despite being forced from office in August over accusations of embezzlement of athlete funds. And there are other issues.

The signatories to the statement included Algeria, Angola, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, D.R. Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Togo. They are requesting the election to be postponed by a month and for the AFBC to be responsible for approving the candidates.

In reply, IBA Secretary-General Chris Roberts (GBR) issued a letter to all 50 African federations on Monday that included:

“Regrettably, the IBA recently received so-called a vote of no confidence in the BIIU Nomination Unit, publicly distributed by the Angola National Federation on behalf of AFBC National Federations, which has no legal force due to lack of competence of the National Federations to decide such matters in respect of the independent integrity body, and therefore, it will be disregarded,”

“The IBA Head Office firmly supports the professionalism and impartiality of the BIIU Nomination Unit. …

“In light of the above, the IBA has filed a complaint with the BIIU Tribunal against those who made a public statement damaging the reputation of the BIIU Nomination Unit, in accordance with Article 19 of the Disciplinary and Ethics Code (Disparagement of IBA’s Reputation and Interests).

“We expect comprehensive investigation by the BIIU on identifying the initiators of the public attack on the Nomination Unit.”

The IBA issued a public statement which quoted Roberts thus:

“We strongly urge an end to baseless attacks on the independent body, which plays a critical role in determining the eligibility of candidates seeking positions within the IBA Board of Directors. We expect a comprehensive investigation by the BIIU on identifying the initiators of the public attack on the Nomination Unit.”

In the meantime, the inaugural meeting of the new World Boxing group will take place on 24-25 November in Germany, and is in the process of adding additional federations who wish to vote.

The Court for Arbitration for Sport released a hearings calendar which showed that the IBA’s appeal against the International Olympic Committee’s de-recognition of the federation will take place on 16 November.

4.
British and Canadian Paralympic heads decry IPC’s Russia vote

The International Paralympic Committee General Assembly voted last Friday to allow to-be-defined “neutral” Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

But that does not mean everyone is happy about it, especially when the vote to exclude Russia altogether failed by only 65-74 (with 13 abstentions).

ParalympicsGB chief David Clarke said afterwards:

“Given the ongoing horror of the war in Ukraine, ParalympicsGB voted for the continued suspension of the Russian National Paralympic Committee.

“We are therefore disappointed that the decision was taken to allow Russian nationals to compete as neutral athletes at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games … as we believe this decision does not align with the values of the Paralympic movement.

“However, given athletes and staff will only be able to attend if they meet the criteria set out by the IPC governing board we would urge them to ensure that individual athletes that have broken the IPC’s code of conduct, by stating their support for the war, are banned from competing at Paris 2024. We wish to continue to express our solidarity with the people of Ukraine and our friends at NPC Ukraine.”

Marc-Andre Fabien, the President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, said in a statement:

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“The Canadian Paralympic Committee stood behind the decision to fully suspend NPC Russia and NPC Belarus, including from participation in the Paralympic Games. We continue to believe this is the right course of action to protect and defend the Paralympic values.

“As such, we are disappointed in the results of today’s vote and that there is not a total ban on membership and participation for NPC Russia and NPC Belarus and their athletes.”

Rob Koehler, the head of the Global Athlete activist group, posted a statement that included:

“By allowing Russia to compete at the Paris Paralympics, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has shown their true colors by kowtowing to Russia’s influence over international sport.

“Today’s decision lacks reason and principle. The fact that the IPC removed a ban, when Russia’s aggression on Ukraine has only increased, is contradictory and aligns them to the wrong side of history in this war.

“Sadly the IPC has ignored athletes’ calls for a ban and has instead lent their support to Putin’s war on Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian government blasted the decision, as did the German Paralympic Committee.

Russian Paralympic Committee President Pavel Rozhkov said as many as 300 Russians could qualify for Paris … maybe:

“About 300 people can get to the Paralympic Games. We hope that the Paralympic federations will allow our athletes to participate in the competition so that they can be selected. The criteria are in general terms, the executive committee will formulate all this more clearly in the near future.

“The issue of declarations was not discussed. A number of Olympic federations that hold competitions among Paralympians demanded that our athletes sign declarations during competitions in Europe. If this happens, our athletes will not go anywhere.”

5.
Ellis expects U.S. women still “to be a major player”

FIFA posted a fascinating interview with former U.S. Women’s National Team coach Jill Ellis, now 57 and continuing to assist FIFA as head of the Technical Study Group for the recent Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Highlights:

“[P]eople talk about the women’s game developing – and it is – but these World Cups have always been so tough to win. You go back to any of the World Cups I was involved in, maybe with the exception of the 2015 final, and the knockout games were always really tight. Most were settled by a one-goal margin. This time we were going in thinking, ‘Ok, can the U.S. pull off the three-peat?’ And I genuinely think we had the talent to do it. The fact we didn’t and the way it all went did kind of hammer home that there’s a good reason why winning back-to-back World Cups doesn’t happen often. It also made me appreciate all the more the work that the players and staff had to do in order to make it happen.”

● On the U.S.’s future: “The talent is still there. I think where we’ve got to really make sure, as a country, we get it right is that 15-18 age group, and look closely at what we’re doing for those players. But I don’t think anyone should write off the U.S., and I still expect this team to be a major player on the world stage.”

● On the next U.S. coach: “Gone are the days where you could just trot it out, show up and expect to do well. It’s also interesting, and the TSG guys told me this, that no team has won a World Cup with a coach who’s not from that particular country.

“I find that fascinating because it raises the point of how important it is, at least in international football, to understand the DNA of the country and how it influences how they play. It’s not like a club where you can go and buy players to suit your style of play, and I wonder if that will come into [U.S. Soccer’s] thinking. Obviously you have Sarina [Wiegman, England’s Dutch coach] as an example of a foreign coach who’s enjoyed great success. But that ability to tap into the strengths of the national and team culture is, I think, still critical to success in international football.”

Ellis’s primary job these days is as President of the San Diego Wave FC of the NWSL.

≡ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS ≡

● Rowing ● The final day of the Beach Sprint Finals in Barletta, Italy was held on Monday, with Janneke van der Muelen (NED) winning the women’s gold in 3:03.57 over France’s Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino (3:13.53). The Italian actually had the lead at the 250 m mark by seven seconds, but faded badly in the second half.

Christine Cavallo of the U.S. took the B Final, 3:13.36 to 3:27.19 for Ireland’s Monika Dukarska.

The men’s race was also a decisive win, for Spain’s Adrian Miramon Quiroga, in 2:53.91, over Giovanni Ficarra (ITA: 3:03.56). Germany’s Karl Schulze was the clear bronze winner, in 3:07.77.

World Rowing has proposed the Beach Sprint as a new discipline for the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games, to replace the Lightweight rowing classes now included.

≡ PANORAMA ≡

● Olympic Games 2024: Paris ● IOC member Astrid Jacobsen (NOR), serving as an Athletes’ Commission member, told the International Athletes’ Forum in Lausanne:

“On behalf of the IOC and the IOC Athletes’ Commission, it is very important for me to inform you that there will be no restrictions on the wearing of the hijab or any other religious symbols in the Olympic Village. As for the competitions, the rules that apply the specific international federation.

“But since the Games will be held in France, French athletes are subject to local laws, so the IOC will work closely with the French authorities and the National Olympic Committee to clarify this situation. It is important that the IOC rules apply to everyone at the Olympic Games.”

French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera said that French athletes would not be allowed to wear a hijab in competition.

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● Anti-Doping ● A potentially helpful agreement was signed Monday between WADA and the World Health Organization, for the sharing of information and for the promotion of health and against substance abuse. Noted WADA President Witold Banka (POL):

“Through our agreement with WHO, experts from both organizations will be able to work collaboratively to exchange information on emerging substances and reinforce scientific positions that will ultimately benefit not only athletes, but society as a whole.”

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s 22nd annual symposium on anti-doping science was held in Paris this time over the weekend focused on blood doping and the use of synthetic erythropoietin (EPO). The event was co-hosted by the Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD), and included 26 accredited doping-control laboratories, 14 national anti-doping organizations and both Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

New strategies in detection were featured. Dr. Matthew Fedoruk, the USADA’s Chief Science Officer, explained:

“Advances in biomarker discovery, instrument technology, and sample collection matrices demonstrate tremendous promise in broadening the tools available to defeat blood doping, therefore adoption of the best new detection strategies into our detection arsenal is essential.”

● U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee ● A new digital platform, Agora, has begun operations, aiming to centralize athlete support services and wellness benefits:

“[A]thletes will have access to USOPC’s extensive resources for which they are eligible, including career and education programs, mental health resources, healthcare and medical services, financial support, marketing and brand development, confidential advising and legal aid, and additional resources to enhance their Games and overall experience. …

“The initial launch of the platform will welcome athletes who are selected to represent Team USA at the Pan American and Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile, this fall. The phased rollout will continue throughout 2023 and into 2024, to include elite-level Team USA athletes.”

The USOPC acknowledged the assistance of The Foundation for Global Sports Development in enabling the new platform.

● Basketball ● Monday’s NBA media days produced lots of questions and plenty of raised hands for stars who want to play Olympic basketball next summer.

In Phoenix, three-time Olympic gold medalist Kevin Durant said “I will play in the Olympics next year” and LeBron James, gold medalist on the 2008 and 2012 teams, said “I do have a lot of interest in playing in Paris.”

Reports indicated that Zion Williamson, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Steph Curry, Kyle Kuzma, Kyrie Irving, Draymond Green, Bam Adebayo, DeMar DeRozan, Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Jaylen Brown, Donovan Mitchell, Khris Middleton, Julius Randle, Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon, Fred VanVleet, Brook Lopez and others are all interested.

The U.S. team finished fourth at the recent FIBA World Cup in Asia and qualified for Paris as one of the top two finishers from the Americas. The Olympic roster is limited to 12 players, with Grant Hill – a 1996 Olympic gold medalist himself – the USA Basketball executive responsible for Olympic selection.

● Equestrian ● At the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona (ESP), Germany returned to the top of the podium for the first time since 2016 with a zero-penalties score in the final on Sunday.

Third in the qualifying, the German squad of Christian Kukuk (on Checker 47), Hans-Dieter Dreher (Elysium) and Richard Vogel (United Touch S) all completed the course without a fault; Jana Wargers (Dorette) had her two faults set aside as only the three best scores are counted.

France collected the silver for the second straight year with eight fault points (two total faults), and defending champ Belgium was third, also with eight fault points, but a slower combined completion time. It’s the sixth straight medal for Belgium in the Nations Cup Final (2-1-3).

Brazil qualified for Paris 2024 in fourth as the best team not already in (8 fault points, slower than Belgium), and the U.S. was fifth with nine fault points. The team of McLain Ward (Callas: 4 fault points), Kari Cook (Kalinka van’t Zorgvliet: 4), Laura Kraut (Dorado 212: 1) and the non-scoring Devin Ryan (Eddie Blue: 8) was close, and still has a chance to get in at the Pan American Games coming up in Chile.

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