Dani King
Dani King, centre, at a session in the velodrome with Welsh schoolchildren.

Olympic links: 21 April, 2015

Headlines

Usain Bolt runs his slowest 100m final on record, federations quit SportAccord after controversial speech, French book details ‘cocaine and sexual decadence’ in swimming, dramatic Boston marathon finish, Verbruggen hits out at Cookson, Scherbo on Uchimura, has America’s Cup lost its momentum?

Athletics

A dramatic finish to the Boston marathon (video) as Kenya’s Caroline Rotich beat Mare Dibaba by just four seconds (this link may work if the other video is geoblocked). In the men’s race, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa won and 2014 champion Meb Keflezighi was eighth.

Usain Bolt ran the slowest Usain Bolt 100m final in history in Rio on Monday:

Bolt won in 10.12 seconds in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, over U.S. Olympian Ryan Bailey, Netherlands Olympian Churandy Martina and a Brazilian.

“I think it was poor execution overall,” Bolt said, according to Reuters. “I am sure my coach isn’t going to be too happy. The good thing is that I won.”

It’s his slowest recorded 100m time in a finals race. He’s been slower in preliminary heats at major championships, where he could get away with shutting it down early and still advance to the next round.

“My start’s been letting me down, hasn’t been consistent,” Bolt said in a post-race interview. “I just need more runs, and I’ll be OK.

Athletics Australia’s new head coach, Craig Hilliard, has stressed the need to “build some trust and confidence back”.

Britain will take a team of 22 to the World Relay Championships in the Bahamas early next month.

Curling

A trip to England’s only dedicated curling rink.

Cycling

Olympic gold medallists Ed Clancy and Samuel Sanchez will join Sir Bradley Wiggins in the first Tour de Yorkshire line-up.

Doping

Hein Verbruggen, the former UCI boss, says the recent Independent Commission for Reform in Cycling (CIRC) report – which alleged that, under Verbruggen’s leadership, the UCI had colluded with Lance Armstrong – was “scandalously biased”:

In his letter Verbruggen says: “Mr Cookson is in for a surprise if he thinks that I will accept this scandalously biased CIRC report, and the same goes for taking away my honorary title.

“Indeed, the last word about the CIRC report has not yet been written. I would like to make you aware that I am having the report analysed by Swiss lawyers.”

The lengthy letter added: “It has become clear that what I am dealing with here is simply a personal revenge campaign against me by Mr Cookson.”

Equestrian

A quick CNN video report on the collision of showjumping and showbiz in Las Vegas at the weekend.

Football

Here’s the draw for the women’s Euro 2017 qualifying groups.

Gymnastics

Dominant Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura has, in the past, named Vitaly Scherbo as his pick for greatest-ever in the sport. Now, Scherbo talks to NBC about Uchimura:

“What I’ve seen on videos for him, first of all with the difficulty of gymnastics right now, and the difficult skills and being a specialist on one or two events a normal practice in the world, but to be the all-around leader for the past three, four years, winning all the competitions, especially the big ones, and winning by the large number, it already shows and says enough,” said Scherbo, who is now 43 years old with two daughters (Kristina, 22, and Victoria, 5).

“So there is not only my opinion, I would say the opinion of the whole world that the all-arounder who wins everything the last four years, including World Championships and Olympics, you have to be considered one of the greatest gymnasts.”

In 2013, Uchimura said of Scherbo to the BBC, “To win six gold medals at a single Games is something that just isn’t normally possible, regardless of how the rules may have changed in the meantime. To complete each individual event so perfectly could not have been possible without a huge amount of training and really strong mental, psychological control.”

Scherbo said Monday that he’s read Uchimura’s comments.

“Thank you very much, what else I can say?” Scherbo said. “It’s really nice of him not to show the cockiness like usual stars are doing. That was pretty nice of him. I appreciate his thought. Of course, every time they have their own heroes. Gymnasts have their own heroes. This last decade, that’s him.”

Rugby sevens

Success at the weekend’s Canada Sevens means New Zealand’s women have now sealed Olympic qualification:

Coach Sean Horan said making their Olympic berth was not something the team talked about, and nor did they mention their number of consecutive wins.

“Those things don’t ring our bells, what does is getting better every day, challenging each other, learning and embracing it while also enjoying it,” he said.

Sailing

Has the America’s Cup lost its momentum?

The last Cup ended with one of the most remarkable comebacks in any sport as Oracle Team USA, only one race from defeat, rose from the depths of an 8-1 deficit against Emirates Team New Zealand to defend the Cup with eight straight victories.

It was thrilling as well as spectacular because it was contested in 72-foot foiling catamarans with wing sails that often looked more like flying machines than yachts. Yet for all the risks, the outcome seemed to create a solid platform for a venerable sailing event that had been badly rattled by legal disputes, declining interest from challengers and, worst of all, the death of the British sailor Andrew Simpson in a training accident a few months earlier.

Instead, the Cup, which dates to 1851, has returned to too-familiar waters with more squabbles, money worries, challenger withdrawals and controversial changes. There are also concerns about the Cup’s relevance and appeal in a global sports marketplace full of sharp elbows and much easier sells.

Skiing

This is useful – British Ski and Snowboard’s end-of-season round-up.

Swimming

Katie Ledecky’s Worlds schedule could include a 1500m freestyle final followed by a 200m freestyle semifinal just 20 minutes later.

French four-time Olympic medallist Amaury Leveaux is publishing a new book that describes a world of “cocaine and sexual decadence”:

Leveaux writes that not only was cocaine used as a party drug, it was also used for its “euphoric” properties as a “doping product.”

He also makes claims about a young, 22-year-old, French swimmer snorting cocaine off the breasts of a press officer at a party during the 2012 London Olympics.

Ross Murdoch believes he can challenge for a medal at the world championships after setting a new Scottish record in the 100m breaststroke.

Other news

“SportAccord? More like SportDiscord.” An unexpected conflict between sports politics superpowers as SportAccord’s Marius Vizer lays into the IOC:

The head of the association representing international sports federations launched a scathing attack on the IOC on Monday, accusing the Olympic body of running a system that is “expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent.”

With IOC President Thomas Bach looking on, SportAccord chief Marius Vizer said the International Olympic Committee could be “headed for destruction” if it does not grant the federations more power. Vizer accused Bach of blocking federations’ plans for multi-sports events, interfering in the autonomy of sports organizations and excluding key leaders from voting on Olympic host cities.

He also criticized the IOC’s plans for an Olympic TV channel as a waste of money and complained that cities bidding for 2022 Winter Games were prohibited from making presentations at the SportAccord conference in Sochi.

Vizer said he had tried to develop a good relationship with Bach based on collaboration and respect. “Unfortunately, it never became reality,” he said.

The strongly-worded speech marked an unprecedented public show of discord within the Olympic movement and fully exposed the rift between Bach and Vizer, whose umbrella body represents Olympic and non-Olympic federations.

A number of international federations – including the IAAF – wasted no time in resigning from SportAccord in protest.