The FIFA Women's World Cup champion USA team was bestowed the honor of a ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes in Manhattan this week. It's an honor that hasn't been given to a specific women's sports team before, although women have been cheered with the ceremony in the past, whether Amelia Earhart, or the collective members of the US Olympic Teams. As in past successes (1999 World Cup, the last three Olympics), let's hope this team has some role power in making some women's sports popularity stick.
Beach Soccer World Cup Starts
Meanwhile, FIFA turned its attention to the Beach Soccer World Cup, which started this week in Portugal. Group stage for the competition will finish over the next two days; in the sixteen-team tournament, so far Italy, Switzerland, Brazil, Russia, and Tahiti (!) are 2-0 and leading the tables toward the next round.
UEFA Has Another Tournament
'tis the season for football, indeed. After holding the men's U-21 tournament (Sweden won), the men's U-17 tournament (France won), and the women's U-17 (Spain), UEFA now has the men's U-19 event happening in Greece, with the group stage at its end as well tomorrow. Greece and France have already qualified for the semi's, while from the other group, Russia, Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany all have opportunity to move on. And, oh...the women's U-19 is starting soon, too...
And...More Football in the Gold Cup
The premier tournament for the men's teams in North and Central America's, and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) kicked off this week also. In the twelve-nation event, the United States and Trinidad & Tobago are the only two-win teams, with the group stage continuing into this week. The tournament winner earns the region's spot to the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Amidst some reports that the Games are not excitedly received, the Pan American Games opened in Toronto this week. Touted as a much needed exposure and experience for regional pan-American athletes in a multi-sport event ahead of the Olympics, the Pan Ams also carry Olympic qualifying opportunities in multiple sports, such as triathlon, field hockey, diving, and more. Let's hope the enthusiasm grows there. As Canada tops the medal table at the close of the first weekend, perhaps the hometown fever will catch.
The Pacific Games Continue...with a Big Controversy
Meanwhile, The Pacific Games continue in Papua New Guinea after their start last weekend. Usually, the Games fly under the radar with big powers Australia and New Zealand not fully participating at full strength across all sports. However, the football tournament, which doubles as the region's Olympic qualifying event, earned widespread attention as heavy favorites New Zealand (Australia plays football in Asia) were ruled ineligible after their semifinal win over Vanuatu, due to fielding an illegal player, South African-born Deklan Wynne. So...the Olympic tournament will feature Fiji, winners over Vanuatu in the revised final. That's great for the regional exposure of spreading some wealth around, but probably bad for the Olympic tournament without the higher quality New Zealand. Rules being argued in these situations, just what legality of the disqualification is under dispute - was Wynne ineligible in FIFA or IOC rules, and how is a continuing argument. But not sure what matter it is at this point. Here's to Fiji!
A Budapest Olympics?
Hungary and Budapest officially announced their candidacy for the 2024 Games this week. While one of the most successful Summer Olympic nations, Hungary has never hosted before - and at this point likely presents a more optimistic support outlook than bid competitors Boston and Hamburg.
European Triathlon Championships Held
Geneva hosted the annual triathlon championships over this weekend, with David Hauss winning his first title after taking bronze in 2010. This is France's 5th overall title since 1985. On the women's side, Switzerland's Nicola Spirig defended her title, for her fifth overall gold. Swig already qualified for the Olympics, where she is the defending titleist there, through her victory at the European Games earlier this summer.
Another two weeks of great tennis over, and two already-great champions remained standing. On the women's side, Serena Williams won the title over newcomer Garbine Muguruza of Spain , and earned the 'Serena Slam' for the second time, holding all four Grand Slam titles at one point. Onto the US Open next, where she is in prime position to win the true Grand Slam, holding all titles through one season. And on the men's side, Novak Djokovic won over a rejuvenated Roger Federer, in a tight four-set match. And in a bid for old-timers, Martina Hingis made a splash, winning the women's doubles and the mixed doubles (both with veteran Indian partners!). Good to see her name back up in lights!
Sailing Laser Worlds Continue
Nick Thompson of Great Britain won the Laser World Championships in sailing this weekend, after leading the field into the final race. Philip Buhl of Germany moved up from fifth to second in that final race, with a victory there. By virtue of their third and fourth place finishes, respectively, in the 2014 Worlds, they are qualified for Rio already. Competition in Kingston continues with the Master events this week, followed by a youth event later in the summer.
Nacra 17 Worlds End
Also in sailing, the Nacra 17 World Championships ended this week in Aarhus, with France's Billy Besson and Marie Riou winning their third straight title. The pair won Olympic qualification with their won last year.
With just two more days left in the World University Games, the host South Koreans have made a strong showing, second in the medal count with 102 overall medals to Russia's 115. To close out the week, the Koreans did make a strong show, though, in the traditionally Russian strong suit of rhythmic gymnastics, with Yeon-Jae Son winning the title, adding to her list of firsts for a Korean in the sport.