Usain Bolt and Barack Obama
Usain Bolt and Barack Obama strike a pose during a press call at the weekend. Video here.

Olympic links: 13 April, 2015

Headlines

Badminton superstar’s doping hearing begins, Wiggins bows out after Paris-Roubaix (while riders narrowly avoid train incident), another Irishman set to switch to GB hockey, Oxford win both Boat Races, Jorgensen leads rare triathlon podium sweep, snowboarding recommends ‘big air’ events to IOC, more backing for Brisbane 2028 bid, Grant Hackett’s dad on effect death threat had on son’s life.

2024 Summer Olympics

In Boston, a special panel will hold at least four more hearings to examine the pros and cons of the city’s 2024 Olympic bid.

2028 Summer Olympics

The Australian Olympic Committee has backed a possible 2028 bid by the Brisbane area.

Athletics

Mark Korir of Kenya won Sunday’s Paris marathon for the biggest victory of his career. Ethiopia’s Meseret Mengistu won the women’s race.

Canoeing

Australian slalom superstar Jessica Fox compares canoeing to motorsports from an athlete’s point of view, and describes how Anna Meares inspired her to reach the Olympics. “It was really exciting to be on the same team as her at the Olympics. I knew what it meant. I knew the value of it.”

Cycling

Germany’s John Degenkolb won the Paris-Roubaix, with Bradley Wiggins 18th in his final race for Team Sky:

Despite failing to match the ninth-place finish he managed last year in the race last year, Wiggins was content with his final day in Team Sky colours.

“I am pretty happy. I didn’t have one puncture, one crash, I was just pleased to come through it” he said.

“I was trying not to think about it, but there were so many people coming up to me in the race saying ‘have a nice life’ and stuff.

“It was really nice that all these guys that you have been bashing heads with through the years coming up to congratulate you on your career.

“I just kissed [Team Sky team principal] Dave on the forehead, told him we’ve gone through a lot together.”

There was a close call with a train mid-race. As Wiggins ended his road racing career, the Associated Press called him “a Tour de France champion unlike any other”.

Meanwhile, Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford hailed Luke Rowe as a potential future Paris-Roubaix winner.

Dani King won the first stage of the Tour of the Reservoir in Northumberland – her first race after five months out injured.

Doping

Malaysian badminton superstar Lee Chong Wei’s doping hearing has begun:

Last month, two-time Olympic silver medallist Lee told the Malaysian-based Star newspaper he hoped the hearing would clear his name and allow him to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games.

“Please pray for me and wish me well (for the hearing session). All I want is to clear my name and return to Badminton,” Lee recently tweeted on Twitter.

Lee, 32, tested positive for the banned anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone at last year’s World Championships in Copenhagen, where he lost to China’s Chen Long in the final.

If found guilty, he could face a career-ending two-year ban.

One of Malaysia’s most popular sports stars, Lee said he received dexamethasone during stem cell treatment for a thigh injury in July last year.

He has maintained that he would retire if he were banned for two years.

In Malaysia, there has been criticism of badminton’s world governing body over restrictions placed on media:

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has banned the media from covering the hearing of Datuk Lee Chong Wei’s doping case currently taking place at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Amsterdam.

According to a Berita Harian reporter at the location, BWF’s operations director Stuart Borrie instructed all media personnel who were crowding outside the Saturn Room at the hotel to leave the area as they would not be allowed to snap pictures or take videos of the hearing session.

“You (the media) cannot wait here, I have informed the hotel security and the entrance to this room will be locked.

“If you are not staying at this hotel, you are not permitted to be here,” Borrie was quoted saying in the Malay daily’s report.

Fencing

A report on British prospects at the 2015 junior Worlds. Harrison Nichols reached the epee quarter-finals.

Figure skating

Japanese Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu says the past season “felt like three years” because of the series of struggles he suffered.

Gymnastics

The European Championships begin in Montpellier on Wednesday. Here’s a preview with GB’s Daniel Purvis.

Hockey (field)

David Ames is set to become the latest Irishman to switch to representing GB when he makes his debut against Germany on Tuesday, according to the Telegraph.

New Zealand’s men beat Australia to win the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

Hockey (ice)

Rowing

Oxford’s crews won both the men’s and women’s Boat Races, reportedly generating impressive TV viewing figures in the process:

The BBC was delighted with provisional figures that suggest the first women’s boat race to be broadcast live on TV was watched by nearly five million people.

Saturday’s race, won by Oxford by 6 1/2 lengths from Cambridge, was watched by 4.8 million people, with 6.2 million tuning in to watch the men’s race, also won by Oxford by 6 1/2 lengths, an hour later.

“We’re really pleased with the figures for the boat races on a massive day of sport,” said Philip Bernie, the BBC’s head of TV Sport. “Over six million for the men’s race, just under five million for the women’s race, and an average audience of over four million watching throughout all point to sustained interest in the event; and in particular highlight the success of rowing both races on the Thames on the same day. We are very proud to have brought audiences this historic moment.”

Fifty or so spectators had to be rescued when they were trapped by the tide.

Snowboarding

Snowboarding’s world governing body has recommended big air events to the IOC for inclusion at Pyeongchang 2018.

Swimming

Chinese 21-year-old Ning Zetao, a freestyle specialist, continued his emergence at the weekend’s national trials.

The father of Grant Hackett has revealed his son – who just successfully made a comeback to the Australian national team – previously became addicted to sleeping medication Stilnox because he feared for his life following a death threat:

Neville Hackett spoke for the first time of the extraordinary drama his son had overcome to make the Australian team for the world tiles.

“His life was threatened by a well-known associate of criminals — that’s a fact” said Hackett snr.

“This happened about two years ago when he was forced to immediately leave Melbourne to live in Sydney. The truth about this has never come out.

“That’s what really caused the Stilnox abuse and the addiction.

“I know he used Stilnox while he was swimming but he wasn’t hooked on it. It was when his life was threatened and he couldn’t sleep at night from all the worry.”

In the pool, meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald looks at the “mental challenge” ahead of Hackett.

Taekwondo

Triathlon

Jonny Brownlee won the men’s World Series race on the Gold Coast, beating Spanish duo Mario Mola and Javier Gomez.

Gwen Jorgensen won the women’s race, leading home a US one-two-three – only the second time one nation has swept a World Series podium.

Wrestling

A “gathering of generations” for the US at a freestyle wrestling World Cup. Aaron Pico, 18, continues to impress. “I’ve seen very few kids his age that can do the things he does as well as he does.”

Other news

“In a few years who knows, it could become an Olympic sport.” A familiar refrain. This time, it’s pole dancing.

Has China declared war on golf?