Louise Jukes' Olympic handball kit
Louise Jukes' Olympic handball kit, being modelled here by various children during a school visit, has been returned after someone stole it (and the car it was in) earlier this month. Pic via Louise on Twitter.

World Cup Antidote: 26 June, 2014

Louise Jukes' Olympic handball kit
Louise Jukes’ Olympic handball kit, being modelled here by various children during a school visit, has been returned after someone stole it (and the car it was in) earlier this month. Pic via Louise on Twitter.
Archery

Athletics

It looks like sprinter James Dasaolu will miss this weekend’s British Championships, which double as European trials.

British hurdler Lawrence Clarke says he had an “existential crisis” and almost quit athletics:

“It was extremely frustrating. You think when you come back after a broken wrist that you will be able to train at the same level. But a week back into training I tore my hamstring on the basis that my body had no endurance left. I was in a cast for 12 weeks and hadn’t done any weight training because I couldn’t use my hands.”

A feature on Algeria’s Olympic 1,500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi.

Basketball

Britain’s women will compete at the 2015 EuroBasket finals, their third appearance in a row at that level, despite losing to Lithuania in Worcester last night. Bulgaria’s victory over Israel in another qualifier ensured Britain had the place wrapped up even before their game, which they lost 70-63, had started:

Despite the defeat, GB have cemented their reputation as regular EuroBasket finals qualifiers and with the men also seeded to qualify later this summer, the recent total cut in funding for the two programmes is set to become an issue again.

GB Basketball performance chairman Roger Moreland says he intends to bring up GB’s continued success at European level with the sports minister to see if funding can be found.

“I’ll be writing a letter to the Sports Minister very soon,” he told BBC Sport. “Helen Grant’s got the solutions if she wants to find them. Because in the end, although we might not fit the criteria for UK Sport, there’s an awful lot of resources going into sport and she [Grant] oversees them.”

Qualification for GB came despite Temi Fagbenle, the team’s top scorer, missing Wednesday’s game owing to internship commitments in South Africa.

Biathlon

How a small ski shop in Wisconsin has grown to become the Out There Biathlon & Nordic Team, taking in athletes from eight nations around the globe. Or, how sponsorship can work in unusual ways. Interesting read.

Cycling

Much more detail on the proposed changes to the omnium, first mentioned yesterday, in this blog post. As was also pointed by Michael Cole via email (thanks!), the changes to the omnium’s scoring system are more important than the changes to the event’s running order. From the aforementioned link:

In Omniums up to this point the winner of each event was awarded 1 point, 2nd place got 2 points, 3rd place 3 points & so on. All six events had the same allocation so if you won all the events you got an unbeatable perfect score of 6 points. The winner had the lowest total score when the individual points for the events were added together. Things are quite different from 20th June 2014.

The modified rules are as follows. We still have six events, run in the following revised order. Scratch Race, Individual Pursuit, Elimination (Devil), Time Trial (500m or kilo), Flying Lap, then finally the Points Race. For the first five events, the points allocation is as follows: 1st 40 pts, 2nd 38 pts, 3rd 36 pts, 4th 34 pts, 5th 32 pts, 6th 30 pts etc. From 21st down each rider gets 1 point. So the rider with the highest points total now wins, a major change in the Omnium’s culture.

This is the major event change, the 6th & final event (Points Race) has it’s event points allocation for each rider added to the score from the previous five events. So to give you an idea of how many points could be amassed in the final event, the 2012 Olympic Omnium’s points race had the top three with 79, 59 & 55 points each, the last placed rider had negative 40 points, from losing laps. This means that the riders with a Points Race total above zero will have those points added to their total from the previous five omnium events, any with points below zero will have those deducted from their total. The Points Race has become the key event in the Omnium.

You may want to re-read that a couple of times. What does it really mean if you’re sitting at home, watching the race?

The UCI have been slowly removing endurance events from the track programme, the Omnium should have been left as an event for those riders, but sprinters have been able to gather points from the Flying Lap, Time Trial & the Scratch Race (by good positioning & waiting for the sprint). This will redress the balance & re-establish it as an endurance riders event, repeated sprints & taking laps are not the domain of a sprint athlete.

With the result now depending on a very good Points Race, it’s addressed the issue of the reducing opportunity for road/track crossover. The team pursuit has even become an event which favours a sprint orientated rider, such is the pace & duration of the efforts required, it’s also a very specialised event with much time being required to focus on it away from road racing.

Some were worried that the new rules would not favour a rider such as Laura Trott, but Hilary Evans (@OlympicStatman on twitter) calculated the totals from the last Olympics under these rules, Trott still would still have won by 1 point, with 208 points! This format could produce a thrilling finale to the Omnium, with riders fighting for every point in the last event, it’ll certainly be exciting from a spectators point of view.

David Millar accidentally revealed he’s in the Garmin-Sharp line-up for the Tour de France, ahead of the team’s official announcement. It’ll be the 37-year-old’s last Tour.

Assuming he isn’t picked for the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins is being lined up to compete on the track at Glasgow 2014.

Here’s a simple guide to this year’s Tour de France. And while we’re at it, a similarly useful guide to this week’s time trials (today) and road races (weekend) at the British Championships in Monmouthshire. There are still Tour de France places that could be decided by performances in Wales.

Defending British champion Mark Cavendish, however, has pulled out of Sunday’s race with bronchitis.

Sir Chris Hoy is to become a dad.

Diving

Tom Daley’s Splash! TV show will not return, having completed its second season:

According to an insider at ITV, Olympic bronze medallist and Splash! coach Daley’s diving commitments contributed to the decision to sink the show. “A third series was always hanging in the balance because availability was always going to be a problem and of course Tom’s diving career is going to come first,” said the source.

Doping

Biathlon is to discontinue blood testing at the Olympic Games – to the shock of some in the sport:

At the most recent Executive Board meeting in Going, Austria, the International Biathlon Union voted to discontinue blood testing as part of antidoping efforts at all future Olympic Games.

“Based on the experience of the last two Olympic Winter Games editions for which the IOC has sole testing authority, the IBU EB decided: In the future the IBU will conduct no own blood screens at OWG, but assist the IOC [International Olympic Committee] with expert advice for their test plan,” read the minutes of the Executive Board meeting, which were given to FasterSkier by three separate sources.

No further explanation has been given to the federations regarding the reasoning behind the decision, and IBU President Anders Besseberg has not responded to FasterSkier’s requests for comment. However, internal Executive Board documents show that IBU Secretary General Nicole Resch advocated for the change in her presentation to the board.

The IOC is responsible for much of the antidoping testing at the Olympic Games. In Sochi this winter, the IOC administered over 2,400 tests across all sports. At first blush, this would indicate that the additional independent testing done by individual sports federations may be redundant.

At issue, however, are blood tests which are used for Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programs, a scheme which tracks levels of different markers in athletes’ blood over many years. This allows medical administrators to detect spikes in oxygen-carrying capacity or other physiological parameters which may be due to prohibited substances for which there is no analytical test.

It just blew my mind,” IBU Vice President for Medical Issues Dr. Jim Carrabre [who is running for the IBU’s presidency later this year] told FasterSkier. “Like, where did it come from? We had a Medical Committee meeting a few weeks before in Prague, and Anders Besseberg and [Secretary General] Nicole Resch were at that meeting and had a chance to discuss that topic if it was an issue for them.”

Diego Ulissi, who won two stages at this year’s Giro d’Italia, has tested positive for an ‘abnormal’ level of salbutamol, a drug used for breathing disorders such as asthma.

How do you test for xenon gas?

Equestrian

Football

The sport’s governing body in the US will speak to goalkeeper Hope Solo today about her weekend arrest on domestic violence charges in a Seattle suburb. Solo pled not guilty on Monday.

Glasgow 2014

English squash world champion Nick Matthew has undergone minor knee surgery but hopes to be back at 100% for the Commonwealth Games.

Gymnastics

Russian star Aliya Mustafina will reportedly be fully fit for October’s World Championships in China. Mustafina competed at the European Championships but skipped the floor event as she was still recovering from an ankle injury.

Handball

London 2012 Olympian Louise Jukes has been reunited with her stolen Olympic kit.

“Some amazing person handed in my Olympic kit to police,” she said on Twitter. “It had been dumped. Nice people still exist in Ipswich.”

Luge

Seven-time Winter Olympian Albert Demchenko of Russia has reportedly retired to take up a junior coaching role.

Rugby sevens

Sevens comes out of the shadows in a football-obsessed Brazil:

Rugby sevens’ inclusion in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, with a guarantee of automatic qualification for the home nation, has encouraged new clubs to spring up in diverse and remote regions across the country with players seeking to represent their country.

Part of this rugby revolution are four Rio brothers — Max, Marcos, Maicon and Maxwilliam Paixao — who live in the Cantagalo favela, one of the city’s largest slums, perched on the hillside above Ipanema Beach. All four siblings play to a high standard, but Marcos has already represented Brazil Internationally and shows huge promise. They reside in a toppling multistory space which is held together with brick, plastic and corrugated iron in the heart of Cantagalo.

“Because the family kept on growing we converted it,” Marcos told CNN. “On the ground floor is my mother, my dad. The second my sister and her children … above that my sister with her daughter. Above is me, my brother, cousin and his baby. He’s on one side, I’m on the other with that little window.”

On the top floor, stuck to the left panel of the little window is a sticker saying “I LOVE RUGBY” — the only visible evidence that one of Brazil’s brightest rugby talents lives here.

Australia is trying to fast-track the citizenship of a promising Tongan player ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Australia’s new sevens coach, meanwhile, has been conducting training sessions via Skype for the past few weeks as he finishes his old job with the Canadian team.

Shooting

The British women’s skeet team have won European bronze in Hungary.

Swimming

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor carried Tuesday’s excellent form into Wednesday’s opening finals at the British Gas International – a warm-up for the Commonwealth Games – winning two gold medals.

Triathlon

Other news

Have you seen enough of Michael Phelps? He and 21 other athletes appear nude in “the body issue” of ESPN’s magazine. Link includes video with fellow athlete-stripper Venus Williams among others.

Spain’s Olympic committee has launched a new programme to provide extra support for 80 young athletes aiming for Rio 2016.