Olympic links: 19 August, 2013

Canoe sprint photo by Jon Schofield
Canoe sprint’s World Championships are coming up next week. Take a look at GB paddler Jon Schofield’s Flickr album from their pre-Worlds training camp.

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We’re back.

Huge thanks to all those who guest-blogged in the past couple of weeks while I was away. A full list is provided at the bottom of this page in case there are any you missed that you’d like to go back and read.

I’m out at events over the next couple of weeks so if a few items slip past me, apologies in advance. If you see a story from your sport that you think I should include, please be sure to drop me a tweet with the link.


Usain Bolt added the 200m title to his 100m crown in a time of 19.66 seconds ahead of Jamaican team-mate Warren Weir, with British hope Adam Gemili fifth. Nineteen-year-old Gemili, tipped for big things over both 100m and 200m, was four hundredths of a second off the podium in a time of 20.04. Bolt celebrated with his old trick of grabbing a photographer’s camera – the same photographer, in fact, whose camera he borrowed at London 2012:

All kinds of relay chaos ensued over the weekend, as is now standard at any major championships. Bolt won his eighth career world title in the men’s 4x100m relay, becoming the most successful athlete in Worlds history ahead of Carl Lewis and Allyson Felix. Britain’s men were disqualified having initially finished third, but the GB women won bronze by virtue of the same method after France were DQed.

James Dasaolu, who rivals Gemili in the Bright Young Thing media coverage stakes, was left out of the men’s 4x100m relay team to the consternation of many, but issued a level-headed statement ahead of the race expressing both disappointment and understanding.

The disqualification of the GB men handed bronze to Canada, some small consolation for their own disqualification at London 2012, when they had been set to receive bronze.

Britain’s women won 4x400m relay bronze on Saturday and Tiffany Porter added a medal on the same night in the women’s 100m hurdles.

If you, like me, were somewhere else for the duration of the World Athletics and want a quickfire day-by-day recap, then the BBC has one here. Headlines included Mo Farah completing the double-double with 5k and 10k world titles to add to his Olympic gold medals; Christine Ohuruogu winning the 400m title in a photo finish; Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford failing to reach the world final; Yelena Isinbayeva (of whom more very shortly) winning the world pole vault title in what’s expected to be her last major appearance; the continuation of Bohdan Bondarenko’s high-jump dominance for Ukraine; and Jehue Gordon winning the men’s 400m title for Trinidad and Tobago.

Eurosport asks: is Usain Bolt winning everything beginning to leave a hollow sensation?

Away from the results, the Moscow World Championships have made all kinds of other headlines – not least through a perceived lack of atmosphere and low attendances:

“Yeah, I noticed,” said Jamaica’s Usain Bolt of the rows of empty seats for Sunday’s 100m final. Even the world’s fastest man could not pack them in and Britain’s 400m world champion Christine Ohuruogu spoke for many when she said: “You see the stands, which I must say were pretty empty, and it made me miss London all the more.”

Beijing, which will host the next Worlds inside the 2008 Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium in two years’ time, says it is confident of getting 50,000-plus crowds each day.

But empty seats were soon shoved out of the news by remarks from host-nation heroine Isinbayeva supporting Russian anti-gay laws:

“We are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves normal, standard people. We just live with boys with women, women with boys. Everything must be fine. It comes from history. We never had these problems in Russia, and we don’t want to have any in the future.”

Her comments drew an immediate and intense reaction – from some of athletics’ biggest fans as well as many athletes. A day later, Isinbayeva insisted her broken English hadn’t helped and she had been misunderstood, adding in a statement issued by world governing body the IAAF:

“I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality. What I wanted to say was that people should respect the laws of other countries, particularly when they are guests.”

Swedish high jumper Emma Green-Tregaro painted her nails in the colours of the rainbow while at the Worlds as a quiet show of support for gay rights, a move Isinbayeva labelled “disrespectful” at the same press conference as her other remarks. The IAAF subsequently said Green-Tregaro may have violated its rules (she later repainted her nails red, to symbolise “love”), having initially issued a statement which read: “both opinions [of Isinbayeva and Green-Tregaro] should be respected”.

John Carlos, whose black power salute in 1968 remains one of the most powerful protests ever staged in sport, is quoted in an Associated Press column on how athletes may take a stand against Russia’s anti-gay legislation at Sochi 2014.

Depending on your point of view, Russia’s women’s 4x400m relay team either did or did not exchange kisses on the Worlds podium in exactly that kind of political protest. (There was kissing, the debate is whether it was protest kissing or hurrah-we-won-gold kissing.)

Far from Moscow’s madding seats, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang – once his country’s most prominent sportsman – reiterated his desire to return to competition next year. He’s still in long-term injury rehab in the US.

The Daily Star: Mo Farah’s secret pants of success.

The Daily Telegraph’s Simon Hart discovered why Worlds organisers were spelling former Turks-and-Caicos, now GB sprinter Delano Williams’ first name wrong:

Ethiopia’s athletics federation reckons a couple of its athletes had ulterior motives for pulling out of the women’s marathon: officials have written to those involved, politely asking if – in the words of the Guardian – they were “saving themselves for big-city marathons, where they could be paid up to £60,000 rather than competing for a lump of metal and a bouquet of flowers”. Of course, when finishing a marathon does this to you, you might not blame ’em.


Britain’s men lost their latest EuroBasket warm-up 95-62 against Greece, one of Europe’s top-ranked teams.


Australia’s Jessica Fox has become the first woman to win gold medals in two categories at the same canoe slalom World Cup.

Fox, the Olympic silver medallist in women’s K1 (one-woman kayak), won both K1 and C1 (one-woman canoe) gold at the year’s fourth World Cup in Tacen, Slovenia.

Fox had an element of luck in securing the double – organisers wiped out the first set of K1 results owing to “fluctuating water levels”, meaning the entire final was re-run. Fox hadn’t finished in the medals the first time around. The men’s C2 final was also run a second time.

Here’s an excellent Flickr set from GB sprint canoeist Jon Schofield, showing the team at their pre-Worlds training camp.


From BBC News, how Nairo Quintana has put cycling back on the map in his home country of Colombia:

“He’s my hero, his victories give me strength,” says Marco Aurelio Ausaque, from the municipality of Soraca, who dreams of becoming a professional cyclist. For Marco Aurelio, and others like him, riding on the same hilly roads where the runner-up of the last Tour de France first started to cycle is inspiring.

Tunja and Combita sit at more than 2,800m above sea level, and the steep roads that wind up and down the eastern range of the Colombian Andes have made Boyaca a hotbed of world-class cyclists.

“He has rekindled Colombia’s passion for cycling. He gives all of us cyclists strength,” 63-year-old Marco Antonio Lopez told the BBC while waiting for Quintana at Bogota airport. “Imagine, with my age I rode my bike all the way from Armenia [some 280km away] to be here.”

“We all ride bikes and we truly admire him,” said Carolina Cruz, a mother-of-two from Cali who was also at the airport with her family, hoping to catch a glimpse of Quintana. “The fact is that cycling is our true national sport, more so than football.”

The UCI presidential battle between Brian Cookson and Pat McQuaid rages on. This piece neatly summarises recent developments and where we now stand.


New Zealand eventer Tom Gadsby died after a fall at Somerford Park international horse trials in Cheshire yesterday. The 26-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene and the event was subsequently abandoned.

The sad news comes as British rider Laura Collett prepares to return to eventing next weekend, after receiving the all-clear from doctors. It’s more than a month since she sustained lung damage in a fall at Tweseldown.


British Fencing says it can no longer afford to host a leg of the women’s sabre World Cup, so it has cancelled the planned Beazley Trophy (named after the governing body’s major sponsor) from next season onwards. The replacement host nation is Senegal, which presumably can afford it.


Simone Biles is the new US women’s national champion. The 16-year-old in her first senior year, whose name won’t register unless you’re a fan of the sport, beat London 2012 gold medallist Kyla Ross to the title in Hartford, Connecticut on Saturday.

The women who won team artistic gymnastics gold for the US at last year’s Olympics, horribly christened the ‘Fierce Five’, have their post-Games fortunes profiled by the Boston Herald. Of the, um, ‘unquiet quintet’, only McKayla Maroney and Ross competed at the weekend’s national championships. Maroney won the vault and floor titles.

Biles, Ross and Maroney will now lead a strong US team to the World Championships in Antwerp at the back end of next month. Gabby Douglas, the Olympic all-around champion at London 2012, recently returned to training and is targeting next year’s nationals for her return.

Sam Mikulak easily won the US men’s title, ahead of Alex Naddour and Jake Dalton. Mikulak scored the considerable all-around tally of 181.400 points, a (substantial) three points ahead of anyone else, despite errors in his pommel horse routine.


Here in the small Belgian town of Boom, whose name offers up a million puns, we are two days into the 2013 European hockey championships. England’s women made a bright start on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over Spain before losing 2-1 to Germany. England’s men beat Poland 5-2, albeit unconvincingly despite the scoreline.

Ireland’s women were thrashed 6-0 by Olympic champions the Netherlands but recovered a day later to beat Belarus 3-2, while the Irish men gave their Dutch counterparts a scare before eventually going down 2-1. Scotland’s women have narrowly lost both of their games to date, against Germany and Spain. There are video highlights of all home nations games on this page if you’re in the UK.

England’s women must now beat Scotland to make sure of a place in the semi-finals, something Scotland’s Emily Maguire is relishing.

Maddie Hinch has taken over from multiple award-winner Beth Storry as England women’s goalkeeper after London 2012 – here she discusses the thrill she gets from goalkeeping and the change to a more aggressive England playing style over the past 12 months.

Oscar Pistorius

The trial of Pistorius resumes in a Pretoria court today, where the Paralympic champion will be indicted for premeditated murder relating to the death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in February. The latest news is: he’s remembered the password for his iPhone, after many months of trying at the behest of detectives. However, can he now remember his login for messaging service WhatsApp?

Rio 2016

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has moved to suspend Rio’s doping control laboratory – for reasons which haven’t been publicised – and the lab now faces the possible revoking of its accreditation. That would leave it unable to perform any doping tests, posing a considerable problem for the IOC and Rio 2016 organisers, given it’s currently in line to test some 7,000 samples during the Games. The nearest other Wada-accredited labs are in Colombia, Cuba and Mexico.


The Louis Vuitton Cup Final – used to determine who will race as the challenger in the forthcoming America’s Cup – began at the weekend with a “spectacular nosedive” for the Emirates Team New Zealand boat, which saw two crew members swept overboard (but safely rescued). The rival Emirates and Luna Rossa boats are tied at one victory apiece – the first to seven wins.

Meanwhile, a row over modifications to the boats of defending champions Oracle Team USA is bubbling under – the America’s Cup’s own measurement committee (an enthralling committee, no doubt) now admits it made a mistake which partly clears Oracle, but an international jury is still investigating illegal modification of their boats.


British freeskier James Woods won a star-studded invitational rail jam (essentially a tricks contest, using features like rails and pipes) in Queenstown, NZ, on Sunday, part of the Winter Games NZ event.

The British Nordic skiing team (i.e. cross-country) has a new website.

A fun view of US skier Julia Mancuso in slalom training. Not your sport if your knees are gammy.


Just as these links were being published, Britain’s Jenny Jones took slopestyle silver at the Winter Games NZ World Cup in Cardrona, behind  Jamie Anderson of the US.

Also at the Winter Games NZ, US winter sports legend Shaun White damaged his ankle in a training run.


Alicia Coutts, Australia’s “shining light” in the pool at London 2012 (one gold, three silver, one bronze), says she’s spent the year since the Games struggling to find the motivation to carry on: “I wondered if I wanted to go on. But then I thought, ‘You can’t retire. You just won five medals.’ I just thought I can’t stop now. I have to keep going.”


Building up to the World Championships later this year, GB’s Jodie Swallow won the Ironman Kalmar in Sweden.

Other news

Usain Bolt’s family home in Trelawny, Jamaica, does not have running water – despite apparently being promised it in the 1970s.

Inside BT Sport’s offices on Premier League launch day with the Daily Mail. Of interest to Olympic sports fans, the Clare Balding Show – the most likely outlet for sophisticated minority sports coverage on the new channels – picked up just 1,200 viewers on its debut outing, but has since moved that up to 14,400 after BT agreed a deal to carry its channels on the Virgin Media cable service.

Mark Sutton, the stuntman who doubled for Daniel Craig in the famed James Bond sequence of the London 2012 opening ceremony, died last week in a skydiving accident in the Swiss Alps. Here, his girlfriend pays tribute to him.

Irish broadcaster RTE has signed up the rights to show the Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 Olympics.

The Iowa baseball diamond which featured in the movie Field of Dreams is getting its own pro team.

Guest blogs

Thanks once more to all. Here are the nine guest blogs from the past two weeks:

2012 ticket-hunters whose help reduced athletes to tears

I’m an elite athlete. Why did nobody offer me drugs?

Uncertain future of women’s boxing in India

What to expect from Britain at rowing World Championships

Largest event you’ve never heard of – the World Games

One year after 2012 closing ceremony – how personal is legacy?

Three steps to get rid of doping in sport

Whatever happened to Britain’s rhythmic gymnasts?

How a bike injury sparked my ride across Britain

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