British rowing trials warm-up
Warming up ahead of British rowing trials. Photo: The Rowing Voice

Olympic links: 20 April, 2015

Headlines

GB’s best Euro gymnastics ever, Peaty’s breaststroke world record, Phelps comeback meet reviewed, no promotion for GB ice hockey team, St Louis marathon disqualifies ‘winner’, Irish boxers earn Rio places, IOC boss in first Kosovo visit, Olympic champion cyclist dropped from US team after criteria confusion, NZ sevens captain is top sheep-shearer.

Athletics

The Boston marathon takes place today.

Organisers of the St Louis marathon earlier this month disqualified the woman who crossed the line first – then realised she’d tricked them before (includes video).

The send-off Paula Radcliffe deserves at this month’s London marathon.

Boxing

Ireland’s Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan have sealed places at Rio 2016 via the World Series of Boxing.

Cycling

GB’s Liam Phillips won the opening round of the BMX World Cup season in Manchester. Australia’s Caroline Buchanan won the women’s event.

US two-time Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong’s comeback is in doubt:

Armstrong has been pulled from the U.S. Pan Am Championships team after confusion over the team selection criteria.

Late on Friday, USA Cycling announced an updated roster for event to be held in Leon, Mexico, May 5-10. Velocio-SRAM’s Tayler Wiles will take the slot originally given to Armstrong earlier this week in the individual time trial. Carmen Small (Twent16-Sho-Air) will also race the Pan Am TT.

World champion Michal Kwiatkowski won the 50th edition of the Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.

Equestrian

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro won the dressage World Cup Final in Las Vegas, falling just short of the world record. Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat took the jumping title, while Irish teenager Bertram Allen was third.

Gymnastics

Britain’s gymnasts recorded their best-ever European championships, in Montpellier, with Louis Smith and Kristian Thomas both winning gold:

Smith won gold on his return to the Great Britain team with victory in the pommel final at the European Gymnastics Championships. The 25-year-old, competing for Britain for the first time since the London 2012 Olympics, scored 15.8 to claim his first apparatus gold in GB colours.

His win came after Kristian Thomas won Britain’s first gold in Montpellier. Becky Downie took silver in the uneven bars, with younger sister Ellie finishing in fourth place.

The 15-year-old, who won bronze in the all-around on Friday, finished just 0.1 points adrift of third in an event won by Russia’s Anastasia Spiridonova. Thomas, 26, had earlier won his first international individual apparatus gold by scoring 15.166 with a clean routine on the floor.

And Smith, who came out of retirement last year and wants to compete at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio, matched his team-mate’s achievement in his favoured event.

“It’s unbelievable. This for me was a trial, a massive competition for me to prove that I’m willing to go all the way,” Smith told BBC Sport. “It doesn’t rest with this. Rio is in my mind; I want to be there.”

A day later, Claudia Fragapane, Becky Downie and Sam Oldham all added silver medals.

Hockey (ice)

At the world championships, Britain’s men were denied promotion from the third tier by Lithuania:

Britain missed out on promotion to Division 1A of the Ice Hockey World Championship with an agonising 3-2 defeat by Lithuania in Eindhoven.

South Korea’s 9-4 win over Croatia left GB needing a point from their final match, but Paulius Gintautas’s goal won it in the final period for Lithuania. The results means Britain take silver and will remain in the third tier of world ice hockey for a third season.

“I am so proud of them right now,” said GB coach Pete Russell. “This is hurting so much but we should hold our heads up high. They were shattered out there but they gave it their all and they played with pride and passion all week.”

Rio 2016

How Brazilian sports have invested in the hope of making Rio the nation’s best-ever Olympic performance.

Rowing

Olympic champion Katherine Grainger won her first race at GB senior trials since 2012, beating favourite Victoria Thornley in their women’s single scull heat. Thornley came back to win the final – more info on the rest of the weekend’s results in that link.

The wartime diaries of Frederick Kelly – an Olympic rower – have been published to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign:

Kelly was used to beating the odds on water. He had rowed his Eton and Oxford boats to victory, and in 1908, at the age of 27, his Great Britain eights took the Olympic gold medal on the Thames. “His natural sense of poise and rhythm,” wrote one observer, “made his boat a live thing under him”.

A century ago this week, he faced an even more daunting nautical feat. As a sub lieutenant in the Royal Naval Division, he was waiting for the order to scramble up the towering cliffs of the Gallipoli peninsula as part of Winston Churchill’s daring attempt to seize the Dardenelles and knock Turkey out of the Great War.

Even though he was the wealthy son of a self-made businessman, known throughout London society as much for his compositions and piano recitals as his Olympic medal, he was determined to fight and had walked to Downing Street as soon as war was declared for advice on enlisting.

Now, as the Prince of Wales and Prince Harry prepare to travel to Gallipoli on Thursday to mark the centenary of one of the most disastrous episodes of the war, Kelly’s wartime diaries are being published for the first time.

Rugby sevens

New Zealand’s women won the Canada Sevens yesterday, defeating England in the semi-finals before dispatching Russia in the finale.

New Zealand’s Sarah Goss – sevens captain and competitive sheep-shearer.

Swimming

Adam Peaty set a new 100m breaststroke world record at the British championships:

Peaty, 20, already held the 50m world record time and won European and Commonwealth titles during 2014. He finished in 57.92 seconds, beating the previous mark of 58.46 set by South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh at the London 2012 Olympics.

“I kind of surprised myself,” Peaty told BBC Radio 5 live. “I was going to wait until Kazan [World Championships] to produce that time and I can’t really believe it. I just dived in hoping for a 58 really and I have to say a big thank you to my family for supporting me.”

Jazz Carlin wants a place in the British 200m relay squad for this year’s Worlds, not the individual event, despite winning the British title last week. Here’s a round-up of the final day’s action with a list of GB swimmers who automatically qualify for the world championships.

“Michael Phelps flipped a switch and became Michael Phelps again.” A review of his comeback meet after six months of suspension, plus Ryan Lochte’s search for the ‘perfect’ meet. Phelps beat Lochte in the 100m fly, his first final post-suspension.

After Phelps and US sensation Katie Ledecky set the same time over 400m, he challenged her to a race:

Ledecky’s eyes widened. She grinned.

“Sure,” she said, not missing a beat.

“We need to have a match race, since we tied this morning, I think a match race would be pretty fun,” Phelps said, referring to the 400m freestyle preliminary heats at the Pro Swim Series at Mesa, Ariz.

Earlier Friday, Ledecky swam a 400m freestyle heat in 4:02.67, well off her world record of 3:58.37, but still 9.2 seconds faster than any other woman.

About a half-hour later, Phelps swam in the men’s 400m freestyle heats and clocked 4:02.67, the exact same time as Ledecky. He placed 17th overall for the men in an event he had not swum since 2009.

According to the Daily Express, swimming legend Mark Spitz claims Phelps’ eighth gold at Beijing 2008 was not a legitimate victory:

Spitz set a record of seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and, speaking ahead of this week’s Laureus World Sports Awards, alleged that he had been sent an email at the time saying Phelps did not beat Milorad Cavic to the 100m butterfly that secured him an eighth gold.

Spitz said: “I was sent an email posted by Omega that said he had lost the race. If they were the official time keeper why wasn’t that available moments after the race? I don’t believe he won the race but he’s still the greatest swimmer in the world, with or without that medal.”

Meet Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi, who won two national titles this month despite the recent removal of her thyroid gland.

Why do US swimmers perform so well?

Other news

IOC president Thomas Bach has visited Kosovo for the first time, while Bach has also spent time patching up relations with Serbia over Kosovo’s admission as an IOC member:

The IOC’s decision to grant full recognition to Kosovo will not affect relations with the Olympic governing body, Serbian Olympic Committee president Vlade Divac said Friday.

The “disagreement (over Kosovo) cannot and should not be an obstacle to full cooperation and all discussions that we have about numerous other topics locally and globally,” Divac said at a news conference in Belgrade with IOC President Thomas Bach.

Despite opposition from Serbia, the IOC granted Kosovo, a former Serbian province which declared independence in 2008, full recognition in December. That clears the way for athletes from Kosovo to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Bach said Kosovo was accepted “in order to give all the athletes of the world access to Olympic sport and to the Olympic Games without any form of discrimination for whatever reason.”

The IOC is launching online courses for athletes and coaches.