All in all, a successful World Championships ended in Beijing this weekend. Although, not quite a success for Team USA as they probably had hoped, finishing with only 18 total medals, behind 2013's 25 and 2011's 26. What's more, USA only won six gold, compared to Jamaica's and Kenya's seven each. Granted, Jamaica's strength of 12 total was driven by Usain Bolt's three and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce's two, but Kenya's total haul included new events for them - the javelin with Julius Yego, and the 400m hurdles with Nicholas Bett. The shifting sands of sports power continue to move around...
Bolt did provide the highlight of the week, with his two individual golds and the relay win, to bring him to 11 (!) total Worlds gold in his career. Fraser-Pryce won the women's 100 for the third time, and GBR's Mo Farah won the 5,000 / 10,000 double for the second time (and third time including the '12 Olympics). Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa won the 400, and then promptly needed hospitalization for exhaustion (he's okay), launching a new star to watch in a competitive field ahead of Rio. Canada won eight medals, including two golds in men's field events. Poland also won eight medals, and also proved a field power - with seven medals. Ashton Eaton of the USA won the decathlon with a world record mark. Compatriot Allyson Felix won the 400 to prove the intrigue of a 200 / 400 attempt at the Olympics. And finally, Jessica Ennis-Hill of Great Britain won the heptathlon after missing 18 months of competition. All in all, a well-prepared field provided 15 world-leading marks, including one world record. For those of us watching closely, it all just wets the appetite for Rio and has us curious for how much of a preview these Worlds are...
Athletics wasn't the only major world championship this past week, as the World Judo Championships also concluded, in Kazan. Not unexpectedly, Japan came out on top of the medal table, with seventeen total, including eight gold and the team titles for both men and women. Poland was a surprise finalist in the women's team event, while Mongolia made strong showing overall with four medals, tying Germany for fourth behind South Korea and France. Overall, 24 nations earned at least one medal across the sixteen events.
Nigeria won their first AfroBasket title, as well as their second straight Olympic qualification. Great to see more competitiveness on the continent, as usual Olympic participants Angola had to settle for second place. They, along with Tunisia and Senegal, will move onto FIBA's Olympic Qualification Tournament for another chance at Rio.
Japan Wins Asia's U-19
The Asian Football Confederation held its U-19 tournament for women in Nanjing, with Japan defeating North Korea in penalties in the final. South Korea beat China 4-0 to win the third place match. This was the eighth AFC U-19 women's tournament since 2002, and the fourth title for Japan.
In other Olympic qualification news, the biennial European championships for field hockey finished in London this weekend, with potential Rio 2016 berths on the line. On the women's side, England defeated the Netherlands 3-1 for their first title, and officially earned the European slot at the Olympics. As they had already qualified through the World League semi-finals, the next best team in that competition - India - now moves up into Rio. Similarly on the men's side, as the Netherlands won the European title, next-best Spain moves onto Rio from the World League.
Australia Dominates Oceania Boxing
The Oceania Boxing Championships ended in Canberra as well, with the host Australians making the most of their usual strength, making nine of ten finals. The tournament also served as Worlds qualifying, as the two finalist in each division also earned spots at the Worlds in Doha later this year.