Olympic links: 22 March, 2013

Hong Kong sevens
Carnival time in Hong Kong as one of the world’s biggest rugby sevens events begins – see below.
2020 Summer Olympics

Rejoice, citizens of Madrid: the IOC has reviewed your bid to host the 2020 Olympics and deemed it… “better than your last bid”. Craig Reedie, head of the IOC’s evaluation commission, damned Madrid with the following faint praise:

“I think what happens in every bidding context is that the cities just get better and better and better. People have seen the experience of Games in different parts of the world and I don’t think there is any doubt that this candidature has learned from that. They have taken the 2016 concept as a base and it is a better concept now than it was then. Who knows, maybe it’ll be third time lucky?”

2024 Summer Olympics

Seattle has taken the bait set by the US Olympic Committee when it invited 35 US cities to consider a bid to host the 2024 Olympics. “Our answer is yes, and we’re interested in finding out what the next steps are,” said a local official, though talks are only informal at the moment. Don’t start the hunt for Seattle 2024 pin badges just yet, but I have unearthed this early frontrunner for a bid logo:

Seattle 2024

Athletics

Josh Mance, who helped the US to 4x400m relay gold at London 2012, is one of two athletes suspended by Florida State University following “their alleged involvement in an incident involving gunfire”.

Basketball

Luol Deng gets asked a range of questions by 13-year-olds, disappointing them all with the revelation that, if stuck in a supermarket, the food he would eat first is: “Fruit.”

Bobsleigh

Excellent little video from the IOC showcasing the history of Olympic bobsleigh in three minutes – footage from Games gone by until we get up to Vancouver 2010 and yes, there are some Jamaicans along the way. Good not only for studying how the sport has changed, but also how the technology used to broadcast and beautify it (cameras, lighting and so on) has evolved.

(Just a shame the IOC feels the need to disable embedding.)

Boxing

The first of British Lionhearts’ two World Series quarter-final match-ups against Mexico Guerreros takes place in London tonight. The second leg is in Mexico this time next week.

Curling

Scotland are closing in on a medal, at the very least, in the women’s World Championships in Latvia. They have 10 wins from 11 round-robin games and face Sweden, the only other team to boast an identical record, next. A win will put them straight into the final.

Cycling

The 2013 Tour of Britain route will conclude with a 10-lap stage in London while also visiting Scotland, the Lake District, Wales and a safari park. Here’s a PDF of the route.

The British government says Yorkshire’s plans for the start of the 2014 Tour de France are “not strong enough”. The first three stages of the 2014 event will be in Britain – two in Yorkshire, then one through Cambridgeshire and Essex which ends up in London’s Olympic Park. Yorkshire organisers later released a statement inviting the government to naff off, but only after leaving behind the promised £10m, thanks muchly.

Martyn Irvine, the Irishman who completed a phenomenal double at this year’s Track Cycling Worlds – winning gold and silver in two endurance races within an hour of each other – has suffered a suspected fractured hip after a crash in Taiwan.

Tour of Catalonia/lunya/Enya latest: Wiggins losing ground as Ireland’s Dan Martin wins fourth stage.

Take that, Cavendish: Pete Kennaugh, who won Olympic gold last year in the men’s team pursuit track cycling, has been named the Isle of Man’s sportsman of the year.

Doping

The World Anti-Doping Agency has issued an unusual bulletin warning athletes against taking the catchily named GW501516 – “serious toxicities” have apparently been found.

Meanwhile, two more Kenyan marathon runners have tested positive for banned substances, bringing the total to five in the past month.

Equestrian

The entry list is out for this year’s Badminton horse trials, headed by world and Olympic champion Michael Jung (Germany) making his first appearance at the event.

If you’re new to this, the format of eventing is such that you can enter several horses and ride them all, essentially giving yourself several chances to win. Jung has entered two horses, for example, while New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson has three and GB’s William Fox-Pitt has four hundred and twelve – alright, he has five, but it always feels like he makes up half the entire list.

Fox-Pitt will complete the Rolex Grand Slam if any of his umpteen horses happen to win. The cancellation of last year’s Badminton, owing to waterlogging, essentially meant the Grand Slam (winning the Burghley, Kentucky and Badminton titles consecutively) “rolled over” to 2013.

Lucinda Fredericks, Australia’s 2008 eventing silver medallist, has been released from a Hampshire hospital having fractured her collarbone in four places and broken six ribs in a fall earlier this month.

Gymnastics

In an article containing an almost comical overload of references to the yoghurt manufacturer sponsoring him, I enjoyed this Louis Smith tidbit: “I went back into the gym to do a bit of filming and got back on the pommel horse. That didn’t end too well. Or start too well.”

Jordyn Wieber

Jordyn Wieber is back in training, and there are photos (above). You may recall won team gold with the US at London 2012, but was devastated when she failed to qualify for the individual all-around final, and hence may have a Rio-sized point to prove. (Very, very early days.)

Handball

“It’s the second-biggest team sport in Europe… now it’s here to take over Yorkshire.” ITV News celebrates handball’s Olympic legacy at a Leeds university.

Modern pentathlon

Two GB men have qualified for the final of this week’s World Cup leg in Rio: Nick Woodbridge and Joe Evans. Evans is the 19-year-old who won bronze in the season opener, so keep an eye out.

Rowing

The first World Cup of the season is taking place in Sydney, for the first time in more than a decade as documented here earlier. This BBC preview sets things up. Highlights are on BBC Two, Sunday, 4pm. Follow @WorldRowing.

Rugby sevens

The Hong Kong Sevens, one of the biggest tournaments in rugby sevens, began today. The women’s schedule is here, the men’s is here. No teams from the home nations in the women’s event, but England and Scotland face each other in men’s Pool C. The men’s knockout games are on Sunday. Follow @IRBSevens.

Seb Coe will be there – he says he wishes London could have hosted Olympic sevens, going on to employ the word “bandwidth” in a refreshing manner when asked what, particularly, it is he likes about the sport:

“The physicality of 15s [i.e. a normal rugby match] means that there are some physical types that are simply never going to play that game – I think it gives a better bandwidth to young people who are looking at 15s and seeing big guys and thinking, ‘Well, I’m never going to play that game.’ I’m no rugby expert but it’s very clear to me in the way that rugby has changed in the last few years that there is an argument about how physical the game can get, the size of people playing the game. That balance between physicality, expertise, flexibility and all that sort of thing, I think sevens meets that well.” 

Brazil, who will of course host sevens’ Olympic debut, are fielding a men’s team in Hong Kong for the first time.

England men’s coach Ben Ryan has written a column previewing his side’s chances:

“Winning the Hong Kong title, in the past four years in particular, has never been too far away. We’ve won 17 out of 18 pool games, reached the Cup competition every time and in the past four years, the team that has knocked us out has won the title.”

A former American football star at Ohio State University has decided to try for the US sevens team at Rio 2016. With a four-year jail term for armed robbery behind him, Maurice Clarett is a TV feature producer’s dream if he does make it to the Games. His team director, Paul Holmes:

“He’s ridiculous. That’s all I can say. His footwork is phenomenal. He’s nowhere near conditioned for rugby, but that will come… The stuff he’s doing in the gym right now, he’s just ridiculous.”

Skiing

News of a big row and threatened boycott involving cross-country skiers and organisers over the design of the World Cup finals course in Sweden.

Snowboard

GB’s Zoe Gillings finished 10th in her final World Cup of the season, won by Canada’s Dominique Maltais. Gillings, by the way, has been named Isle of Man sportswoman of the year opposite the above-mentioned Pete Kennaugh.

Sochi 2014

Russia is refrigerating 450,000 cubic metres of snow all summer, just in case there’s a shortage of the stuff come Sochi 2014. Google tells me this is the same as the amount of sawn wood produced by Bolivia annually, or the daily demand for water in Dar Es Salaam, or the amount of radioactive waste in one central Kyrgyzstan dump. (Lucky them.)

Speed skating

Russia’s first world title since 1996 arrived on home ice in Sochi yesterday, courtesy of Denis Yuskov. Britain doesn’t even have a long-track speed skating programme so if your interest is purely in matters GB, you can safely skip this section for the next few days.

Meet Brittany Bowe, one of the top US prospects for a speed skating medal at next year’s Games, who ditched a promising basketball career after TV coverage of Vancouver 2010 inspired her to try the sport.

Swimming

Swimming Australia is in the process of poaching its new chief exec from the nation’s field hockey governing body. Mark Anderson, who one hopes has asked for a small fortune to take over the sedative-laced swimming reins, was in charge of Australian hockey for four years. The Aussies won men’s hockey bronze at London 2012.

X Games

Yesterday in France, Katie Summerhayes came fourth in the ski slopestyle event for GB. James Woods, in the men’s equivalent, didn’t reach the final. Meanwhile, bad news for the GB freeski team’s head coach:

Non-Olympic

If you want to work for new UK sports TV outfit BT Sport, here’s the place to look.

A restaurant in Vancouver paid around £3,000 to have the 2010 Olympic cauldron re-lit on its opening night (via the perma-FFed @NZaccardi, purveyor of all things Olympic).

The world’s first 3D-printed snowboard.

Ollie’s NHL corner

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey’s near-legendary goaltender, has become the first goalie to score three times in NHL history:

When I say “score”, I use the term in the most liberal North American sense – a continent where the concept of the own goal doesn’t really exist. There is no mechanism for recording goals scored against your own team, so Brodeur is given this goal even though he pretty clearly didn’t have a whole lot to do with it, other than being the last New Jersey player to touch the puck.

Two points of note: first, the last time this happened in the NHL, 15 months ago, was in a game between the same two teams. Second, since 1979 – the year Billy Smith became the first goalie to score in the NHL – no goaltender has gone on to lose a game in which they scored. New Jersey beat Carolina 4-1 in last night’s game.