Olympic links: 30 September, 2013


Wilson Kipsang

Wilson Kipsang broke the men’s marathon world record in Berlin – see below.

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Archery
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Six British archers are taking part in the recurve World Championships in Turkey, with a further half-dozen in the non-Olympic compound discipline. Qualification takes place today and tomorrow – here’s the schedule.

Athletics
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Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang broke the marathon world record in Berlin, finishing in two hours, three minutes and 23 seconds. For how it happened read the Science of Sport blog, which followed Kipsang home and analysed his split times. Kipsang was awarded the customary giant mug of German beer on finishing.

Eurosport, not holding back, laid into “an idiot spectator” for breaking the tape moments before Kipsang finished, apparently while trying “to promote a sleazy website”.

Bobsleigh
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See below for the new BMW-built US bobsled. My Twitter timeline is full-to-bursting with US journalists who spent their Sunday night trying out the sled in Park City, so we can expect more features in the near future.

Cycling
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After more than six hours of heavy rain, Portugal’s Rui Costa prevailed in the late Sunday sunshine to become the new men’s road race world champion.

None of the eight British riders made it over the line in the men’s race. “We’ve got no excuse, we just weren’t there,” said Chris Froome. Coach Rod Ellingworth told the Guardian: “We should be very disappointed with that as a team. I don’t think the lads’ attitude was where it needed to be. Luke Rowe and Cav were OK, average, the other guys were below average.”

Earlier, GB cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke had dropped out of the line-up with what were later revealed to be “suspect blood values” in his biological passport data, to the shock of team-mates. Meanwhile, Russia’s men were hampered by the theft of their bikes from a mechanic’s truck.

Marianne Vos retained her women’s world title on Saturday, with Lizzie Armitstead the best-placed Briton in 19th. “It was just so hard, I will look back a little disappointed,” she said. If you’re in the UK, there are highlights and interviews from the weekend’s races in Florence here.

Brian Cookson became the new president of cycling’s world governing body the UCI, defeating incumbent Pat McQuaid by 24 votes to 18 to end an acrimonious, bitterly-contested election.

Cookson, who will now step down as president of British Cycling, had urged UCI members to get on with the vote after a Friday morning bogged down by bickering and confusion over whether McQuaid could even legally stand for election.

He subsequently appointed new vice-presidents as he promised “a new direction … and a lot of changes to be made”. Lance Armstrong has been invited to contribute to the new-look UCI’s efforts to address its past failings. Armstrong’s one-word reaction to Cookson’s election (and McQuaid’s departure):

World champion Liam Phillips took third place overall in the 2013 BMX World Cup series, taking eighth place in the year’s final event in California.

At the British national track cycling championships in Manchester, Olympic champions Dani King, Jo Rowsell and Laura Trott won the national team pursuit title in the new-look four-rider, four-kilometre discipline, with the addition of Elinor Barker to the line-up.

Jason Kenny won the men’s sprint and the team sprint alongside Matt Crampton and Kian Emadi; Jess Varnish won the keirin.

Paralympic track cycling world champion Neil Fachie has criticised the UCI’s plans to add more road cycling gold medals at Rio 2016, at the expense of his tandem sprint in the velodrome.

Doping
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Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson have been given dates in January 2014 for hearings in front of a Jamaican disciplinary panel, following this year’s failed drugs tests.

Equestrian
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France won showjumping’s inaugural Nations Cup final in Barcelona with Britain down in eighth, though GB’s Scott Brash picked up a handy £84,000 for a day’s work thanks to a cash bonus for his two clear rounds.

Figure skating
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Stacey Kemp and David King earned two extra places at Sochi 2014 for Britain’s skaters, finishing top among unqualified pairs at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, which acted as a final Olympic qualifier. World champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov were the comfortable overall winners.

The result means GB will have one entry in each of the pairs, ice dance and women’s events at the Winter Olympics – but no men’s entrant after Matthew Parr missed out on qualification at the same competition.

Australia picked up Olympic places in the women’s, men’s and ice dance events, which means its figure skating team for Sochi will equal its largest-ever.

Football
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Liverpool’s ladies beat Bristol to the Women’s Super League title; Glasgow City won the Scottish equivalent.

Gymnastics
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The World Championships of artistic gymnastics begin here in Antwerp, Belgium, this lunchtime with the beginning of men’s qualification. The first finals are on Thursday, which is when live BBC coverage starts.

Britain’s men’s team is particularly strong (though there is no team event at this year’s Worlds, as is occasionally the case), with European champions Max Whitlock and Daniel Keatings both expected to challenge for medals.

Selection for the British squad marks a triumphant return for Keatings, the 2009 world all-around silver medallist, who won a European title in 2010 only to tear knee ligaments, missing a year before falling from the high bar during GB’s disastrous outing at the Tokyo 2011 Worlds. Keatings missed London 2012 with a subsequent ankle injury, but the rollercoaster ride continued with a second European gold earlier this year. In this video he talks through footage of his career highs and lows (geoblocked outside the UK).

In the women’s event, this McKayla Maroney vault (video) – the same staggeringly-difficult routine which earned her Olympic silver (with which she was famously dissatisfied) – remains the talk of the town, though keep an eye out for the floor routine of Victoria Moors. The Canadian’s opening tumble is a double-twisting double layout, not previously performed by a woman at a World Championships.

The Associated Press leans towards Kohei Uchimura – the legendary Olympic champion and winner of the last three world titles – and Russia’s Aliya Mustafina for all-around gold.

Here’s a quick video from the organisers showing the behind-the-scenes effort needed to get the Worlds off the ground.

Hockey (field)
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Japan and the United States have both earned places at next year’s women’s World Cup after coming through their respective continental qualifiers.

Judo
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GB’s Euan Burton became the second-oldest man ever to win a European Cup in Belgrade at the weekend, fighting in the -1ookg category, heavier than the -81kg event in which he competed at London 2012.

Other results, but no news link for them as yet:

Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, will host the 2015 judo World Championships.

Sailing
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Discussion of how Sir Ben Ainslie could form a British team for the America’s Cup continues. The Guardian:

If Ben Ainslie is serious about putting together a team and a boat to win the America’s Cup for Britain, there is one call he needs to make. It is to Adrian Newey, the genius whose cars are about to win their fourth straight Formula One world championship.

Ainslie and Newey have something in common: they both understand wind. Newey has long dreamt of designing a boat for the cup, and only the inducement of vast sums of money offered by a series of employers in Formula One – including a starting salary of $10m a year, not counting bonuses, when he joined Red Bull back in 2006 – has kept him from making the jump on several occasions in the past.

Ainslie himself says he’ll hold a series of meetings to figure out if a British bid is doable.

Short-track
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Britain’s skaters had a disappointing weekend in the season-opening World Cup in Shanghai – Elise Christie, a world bronze medallist in the 1000m, was disqualified in the semi-final of that event and failed to reach the final in either the 500m or 1500m. “It’s good to have a bit of a reality check,” she said.

Canada’s double Olympic champion Charles Hamelin started Olympic year strongly with wins in the men’s 500m and 1000m, while the US won the men’s 5000m relay. The next World Cup is in Seoul later this week.

Skeleton
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GB’s Shelley Rudman discusses her weight gain ahead of the new season. “I’ve been  pushing a maximum-weight sled in previous years and this year I really wanted to improve my power and my starts and take some off my sled instead.”

Sochi 2014
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The Olympic flame has been lit in Greece and the torch relay ahead of Sochi 2014 has begun. Russian ice hockey superstar Alex Ovechkin was first to carry the torch, which will spend a week in Greece before reaching Russia. Here’s the official website for the torch relay.

Swimming
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“On 21 January 2008, Mallory Weggemann walked into hospital – but she would never walk out.” BBC Sport on what happened to the Minnesota teenager who became a Paralympic swimming champion at London 2012.

South African thirteen-time Paralympic gold medallist Natalie du Toit has been awarded the MBE.

Germany’s double Olympic champion Britta Steffen has retired. She won 50m and 100m freestyle gold at Beijing 2008.

Table tennis
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How Paralympic champion Will Bayley overcame cancer – and 12 “bone-breaking operations” on his feet as a child.

Triathlon
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GB’s Jodie Stimpson won the Alicante World Cup in Spain at the weekend, while 19-year-old Grant Sheldon – a world junior bronze medallist – finished third in the senior men’s race.

Volleyball
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Both the men’s and women’s European titles now belong to Russia, whose men beat Italy 3-1 in Sunday’s final.

Other news
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On the island city of Alameda, just east of San Francisco, one of the world’s newest high-performance centres – The Lair, home to the Evil Geniuses, stars of a New York Times article entitled Grooming the Champions of the Keyboard:

Preparing for a qualifying match, a StarCraft prodigy named HuK was sitting in one of the gaming rooms, communing with his monitor and limbering his fingers on a keyboard. Down the hallway, his teammate DeMusliM was running through a replay of his own last match and working on his manual dexterity, swirling a pair of worry balls in his hand.

It was 3 p.m. and the California sunlight was beating at the windows, but the Lair’s front shutters were drawn tight, leaving the gamers to focus in the darkness on their training, which meant playing video games from dawn to dusk each day, or from dusk to dawn each night. Their physical needs had been seen to: the kitchen refrigerator was stocked with bagels, the living room cooler with caffeinated sports drinks. At their flashing terminals, the four young men were immersed enough in work that they hardly noticed the two maids feather-dusting everything around them — and occasionally poking a vacuum cleaner between their legs.

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Written by Ollie Williams

Ollie has covered four Olympic Games for BBC Sport on TV, radio and web, and is the owner of Frontier Sports. More about Ollie >>

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