Well, if you go by the number of officially recognized sport federations, then...it is table tennis. This week, the International Table Tennis Federation accepted the national federations of Sao Tome & Principe and South Sudan, bringing the total number of its members to 222. That number is just four shy of the total current max national federations available within the Olympic family, and overtakes volleyball's FIVB (220) for the number one spot. And football, which lays claim to the highest number of actual sport participants? FIFA only has 209...
Ice Hockey World Championships
Despite the National Hockey League playoffs still on, the World Ice Hockey Championships started this week. Annual pre-tournament favorites Canada, Sweden, Russia, and the United States all opened strong with a win on the first day of competition, although Sweden needed overtime to overcome the annual darkhorse Czech Republic.
England Still Queens of European Squash
At the conclusion of the European Team Squash Championships in Denmark, England won the women's title for the fifth year in a row, and their 37th gold in the event. And that was despite a surprise loss in the finals by world third-ranked Alison Waters, and the complete absence of Laura Massaro, world #4. That means they've won every team title on the women's side since 1978, except for once, having lost in the semifinals in 2010 (the Netherlands won that year; p.s. that must have been an exciting tournament moment). On the men's side, France won their first-ever title on the strength of their own star, Gregory Gaultier, third-ranked in the world. In the win, they became the first team to defeat England in a men's final since 1992; they also had previously lost to England in the finals the last seven years.
Perhaps just as dominant as England in squash is Russia in rhythmic gymnastics. Russia won the junior group title, and all four senior individual apparatus titles in addition to the unofficial overall team title. Led by team star Yana Kudryatseva who won three of the four apparatus, Russia solidified its position as the world's top rhythmic nation. Melitina Staniouta of Belarus provided some excitement for the local crowd as well as those looking for a break in Russian dominance with three individual medals.
China Dominates Table Tennis
In other sports domination news, the host Chinese won almost as many medals as their athletes could in the World Table Tennis Championships, ending this weekend. World # 1 Ma Long finally won the men's singles title, after three straight bronze medals to cap off the competition in which China also won all the remaining men's singles medals, all the women's singles medals (led by Ding Ning), and the top two spots in both men's and women's doubles. Further, in an event where teams could be mixed nationality - mixed doubles was won by Xu Xin and his South Korean partner Yang Ha-Eun.
Ireland Has A New Swimming Star
US swimmer Shane Ryan is embarking on a move to Ireland to enhance his chances of making the Olympics in 2016. For the Irish, it could be a great opportunity to get a star in their pool and move one from Michelle Smith's shadow.
New Zealand's Golfing - And Philanthropic Star
Golfer Lydia Ko, just 18 years old and already the top-ranked golfer on the women's tour, is keeping to her promise to donate this week's winnings from the North Texas Shootout to Nepal earthquake relief efforts.. After surprisingly struggling to make the cut into weekend play, Ko ended in 41st place to earn more than $6,000 USD for the cause. And, in a nod toward good things happening to good people, that was high enough to maintain her overall number one status this season going into the next week.
In winning the overall team title, the United States again showed itself to be the dominant relay and athletics nation. This, despite a couple of usual and frustrating failures in sprint events that the U.S. should on paper have won, in both the 4x200 races. But, for U.S. fans, it was certainly nice to see wins across the board in all four middle distances - both the 4x800 and Distance Medleys for men and women. Even though they came in little-run events, the U.S. set two world records in those two Distance Medleys, and earned some respect for a national team taking the opportunity and exposure seriously, and providing a great international experience for some up-and-coming runners like Casimir Loxsom, and veterans like Duane Solomon and Alysia Montano.
And In Important Olympic Athlete News...
Apparently, Lindsey Vonn's three-year relationship with Tiger Woods is over. Se la vie!