Although she didn't duplicate the performance in the final, teenager Natsu Ohta proved a one to watch with her qualifications win in the first modern pentathlon world cup of the year.
Tara Davis is now the outdoor collegiate women's long jump record-holder, after setting the indoor mark two weeks ago.
Luger Madeleine Egle looks to translate Youth Olympics success into Beijing 2022 success, continuing her upward trend over the last years.
Sprinter Rohan Browning is the first Australian man to qualify for an Olympic 100 meters in 17 years.
The Nathan Chen - Yuzuru Hanyu duel is the marquee event at the World Figure Skating Championships this week. Who has the edge?
Meanwhile, get to know Anna Shcherbakova - and her jumps - as she heads to the ladies' finals in the lead.
Indian table tennis player Sathiyan Gnanaseskaran reaches Tokyo 2020, completing a comeback from Rio 2016 qualification heartbreak and a deep personal loss.
"Sexism isn't a women's issue, any more than racism is a Black issue." Tennis champion Venus Williams opens up for Vogue in a personal op-ed.
More tennis: count Simona Halep as another star looking for Olympic success this year.
Champion biathlete from Germany Arnd Peiffer announces his retirement.
Field hockey: Great Britain's top Olympic scorer Ashley Jackson "steps away" from the team.
For Chinese Taipei boxer Chen Nien-Chin, success at the Olympics will be another in a career of challenges to overcome.
Tokyo 2020-bound sport climbing star Adam Ondra chats with El Capitan-free solo star Alex Honnold.
Congratulations to New Zealand's Olympic sports athletes who were recognized by the ISPS Handa Halberg Awards for a decade of excellence, including rowers Hamish Bond & Eric Murray and Nathan Cohen & Jason Sullivan, golfer Lydia Ko, and canoeist Lisa Carrington.
The Irish Field (paywall): Equestrian Cian O'Connor finds success with his partner horse, Kilkenny.
More Ireland: Arthur Lanigan-O'Keefe maintains a composure over what he can control as he approaches the start of his modern pentathlon season.
Olympic 49er sailor Pawel Kolodinski is in the thick of competition again and targeting Tokyo 2020, after a long recovery from a broken leg.
Yukiko Ueno, Yamada Eri, and Yukiyo Meno - all holdovers from the gold medal-winning team 13 years ago at Beijing 2008 - named to Japan's softball team for Tokyo 2020.
Get to know Laurent Dubreuil, recent speed skating world champion, who has finally channeled family experience in the sport into elite success.
Sweden's women's handball team went from 11th at last year's world championships to an impressive qualification this past weekend. It took a new approach with a younger team to do it.
R.I.P. to two-time Olympic snowboarder Julie Pomagalski of France, who passed away at age 40 after an avalanche accident.
And, Barcelona 1992 champion judoka Toshihiko Koga passes away at age 53, after a long battle with illness.
Weightlifter Yulduz Jumabayeva gets a hero's reception in Turkmenistan for a belated gold medal award.
Fredrik Samuelsson leads a community of decathletes and heptathletes in a campaign to preserve combined events' place in athleteics.
Contribute your thoughts on World Athletics growth in their landmark survey.
Passionate about motherhood not impeding opportunities, former Olympic runner Alysia Montano launches "&Mother", to help support professional athletes.
Even more Ireland: Relive Irish legend Eamonn Coghlan's rise to elite running, via key development in the United States, courtesy of Buzz.ie.
Matthew Mitcham reflects back to the BBC on his struggles with drugs and self-acceptance en route to winning diving gold at Beijing 2008.
Meanwhile, can gold medalist Laura Wilkinson really come back at age 43 from nine years of retirement and make an Olympic diving return? She's trying.
Get to know Australian field hockey star Kaitlin Nobbs in this quick video feature from Watch Hockey (registration needed). She follows many familial footsteps in the sport...
London 2012 triple-medalist swimmer Ryosuke Irie is ready to put behind "struggles during the last eight years" at the home pool of Tokyo 2020.
Canadian swimmer Maggie Mac Neil shows the CBC another pending aspect of pandemic effects on athletes at the upcoming Games: possibly no family support in the stands.
Olympians Sue Bird (basketball), Simone Manuel (swimming), Chloe Kim (snowboarding), and Alex Morgan (soccer) join forces to create TOGETHXR, "a new media and commerce company designed to elevate women's voices around sports". Congrats!
Motivated by watching Rio 2016 as an alternate and by the opportunity to inspire others, modern pentathlete Samantha Schultz looks ahead to an Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Catch up on "The State of Olympic Surfing" with Tokyo 2020-bound athletes Frederico Marais and Caroline Marks.
Maame Biney made a splash in short track at Pyeongchang 2018, but hopes for more at Beijing 2022, with "Anna Digger" constantly at her side to help confront her nerves.
History is made at at the FIS Snowboard Alpine World Championships this week, with Sofia Nadyrshina becoming the youngest snowboard alpine world champion ever and Benjamin Karl the winningest, with their respective victories in parallel slalom at Rogla.
USA Basketball star guard A'ja Wilson pens an emotional and revealing essay in The Players' Tribune on her struggles with depression and panic attacks despite on-the-court successes.
Might we see Major League Baseball star Choo Shin-Soo at the Olympics, now that he's playing for a Korean Baseball Organization team?
Archer Deepika Kumari is the latest featured athlete of R2MI Kreeda's Kreeda 360 campaign supporting India's Tokyo 2020-bound athletes. Get to know all their athletes here.
Rising Irish middle-distance runner Nadia Power is right on track with her plans to make it to Tokyo 2020.
Rio 2016 shot putter Auriol Dongmo has a new child, a new nation, and a new personal best in her own road to Tokyo.
Brazilian beach volleyball champion Bruno Schmidt makes a recovery from Covid-19 hospitalization.
Australian Mark Pollock's bare limbs are a hit at the FIS World Nordic Ski Championships. Oi! Oi! Oi!
Mikaela Shiffrin is now the winningest U.S. alpine skier in world championship history, after her alpine combined victory on Monday. Can she add to her six career golds in the last two races of the championships?
FEI TV checks in with Danish veteran equestrian jumping star Tina Lund, as she discusses horses, family, and more.
Swimmer Nicholas Quinn shares with Western People his new determination to qualify for a return to an Olympics, despite the shutdown challenges of the current pandemic.
Speaking of swimmers, it's not just Klete Keller giving retired Olympic swimmers a bad name.
He's the first U.S. men's saber fencer to win a world championship and a senior World Cup title. Now, Eli Dershwitz has his sights on a second Olympics in Tokyo.
Toshikazu Yamanishi is a leading home hope in race walking for Tokyo 2020 after his world championship win. But I'm keen to hear more about my kindred spirit in Agatha Christie fandom.
Indian sprinter Dutee Chand shares with the BBC her unique journey from a "humble background" to become a national champion.
Past school bullying comes back to haunt South Korea's current volleyball teams, possibly affecting Tokyo 2020 team rosters.
French modern pentathletes, and power couple, Elodie Clauvel and Valentin Belaud share with Tokyo 2020 the living and training adjustments they've made together during this past year.
The first Canadian curler to win gold in consecutive Olympics, Kaitlyn Lawes reflects on the feat with World Curling.
Mikko Koivu, a rare ice hockey player with at least one medal from each major international tournament (U18 Worlds, World Juniors, World Championships, and Olympics), announces his retirement.
My New Year's Wishes for Tokyo 2020
Bring on 2021!
Along with millions of Olympic and sports fans, I'm wishing for a successful, smooth, and healthy Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021. After this year's postponement, there are still serious lingering concerns on participant and spectator Covid-19 protocol, which likely won't be answered until the springtime at the earliest. But we do need a "beacon of hope" to help frame a pandemic recovery. And, today, I choose to look at the glass half-full to start off the year.
I certainly am an Olympics fan. I have been since first falling in awe with the spectacle at Los Angeles 1984. From tradition of ceremony, to compelling competition, and from unsung heroes to the camaraderie of various athletes coming together, I am all in.
That said, my fandom doesn't mean that I don't have some recommendations. So, in honor of the new year, here are Games and Rings' top ten wishes for the Olympics in 2021.
Let me know what your own wishes are in the comments.
Run, Caster, Run
Middle-distance runner Caster Semenya has one more appeal up her sleeve, to the European Court of Human Rights. Double Olympic champion in the 800 meters, Semenya is currently blocked from defending her title unless she takes testosterone-inhibiting measures, under somewhat arbitrary and selectively exclusionary new World Athletics rules.
As argued a few months ago, World Athletics is on the wrong side of history's trajectory toward human rights in this case. Semenya was born female and is female. She - like some others - is just a female with elevated - but natural - testosterone, and who happened to win the genetics lottery suited for a career in athletics. Why should she be punished for that? Let her run.
Protest for Change
Team USA recently announced not only that "It is a human right to peacefully call upon racial and social injustices during the...Games" but also that "denying the right of respectful demonstrations...runs counter to the Olympic...values."
Wow. This doesn't just run counter to Team USA's own recent actions - just ask fencer Race Imboden and hammer thrower Gwen Berry for their thoughts - it runs against the International Olympic Committee's own Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which bans any political protest, including kneeling or even wearing an armband. The IOC even issued its Rule 50 guidelines at the start of the year.
But a year filled with Black Lives Matter activism and increased racial awareness sure can change perspective. World Athletics, representing track & field, issued a President's Award to Mexico City 1968 protestors Tommie Smith and John Carlos (and fellow medalist Peter Norman), a surprising indication that maybe the organization will support its own athletes' Olympic protests.
For its part, the IOC did give a tepid "we'll look into it" response to Team USA's recommendations. Of course, determining "appropriate" allowable protest and over what issue would be problematic on a global stage like the Olympics, with the wide variety of national interests and backgrounds. But isn't the Olympic stage built on inspiration and striving for better-ness? Will we see a meaningful gesture that spurs conversation toward greater social good? Will the IOC act supportively? Yes, I'm anxious to see it.
A Russian Comeuppance
In its bid to dominate its home Games of Sochi 2014, Russia undertook a doping system that provided its athletes with performance-enhancement and an elaborate coverup. That this was a state-level scheme is no longer in dispute.
What has been the punishment? Four years later, at Pyeongchang 2018, "Russia" was banned but Russian athletes were allowed to compete under an "Olympic Athletes from Russia" moniker. Huh? Essentially, Russian officials were absent, as was the Russian flag and anthem, but otherwise, the team carried on. Really, "Russia" still participated...their flag was honored and their anthem sung.
In 2016, the IOC declined to ban Russia outright despite recommendations by the World Anti-Doping Agency to do just that and following confirmation of deeper state-level manipulation. World Athletics took matters into its own hands and heavily restricted Russian presence in track & field, but elsewhere across the Games, Russia flourished.
Now, after an appeal of a stronger WADA ban, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has reduced penalties and restored possible Russian participation at the Games. This will likely again come under a "neutral" banner. The upcoming World Men's Handball Championship next month offers a template, with Team Russia becoming Team "Russian Handball Federation", while still wearing team colors. To paraphrase, if it looks like Russia and carries the name "Russian", it is Russia.
Not much of a punishment for carrying out the largest doping affront against the Olympics, state-sponsored no less. Russia's actions in Sochi disrespected the Games, and its role as host, to say the least. And, so far, Russia has, as U.S. Anti-Doping Agency head Travis Tygart said in response to the recent CAS reduction, "once again escape(d) a meaningful consequence proportional to the crimes...".
What can be done? A repeat of 2018's "Olympic Athletes from Russia" team seems on the way, which has shown to not be much of a deterrence. Although they didn't in 2016, perhaps individual federations should take World Athletics' lead in restricting participation within their own sports. In the meantime, I'm wishing for a subdued Russian presence...maybe somehow there's a team-wide demoralization that affects performance. That's unlikely, but something needs to shake Russia into sincere compliance. Fair, and trusted Olympic-spirit competition needs it.
A Full-Strength Basketball Tournament
The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the sporting calendar in 2020, with ripple effects across next year and beyond as all sports negotiate the Olympic behemoth planted now in 2021. At this stage, many rescheduled dates have been set, and one potential high-profile conflict has emerged over the last few weeks.
The National Basketball Association's modified 2019-20 season, which should have ended in June 2020, finished in October. This pushed their 2020-21 season to start later than normal, in December, which then pushed the potential NBA Finals end to July 22. That's one day ahead of the Opening Ceremony for Tokyo 2020. This means a significant number of potential Olympians would not be available, or interested, in Tokyo participation given the tight turnaround between the NBA season and the Games, particularly for those that will be making deep post-season runs.
U.S. stars are not the only ones affected. Spain's team usually features NBA-ers Ricky Rubio, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Nikola Mirotic. Rudy Gobert plays for France, while Patty Mills, Ben Simmons, and Matthew Dellavedova feature for Australia.
Olympic qualification is massively affected, too. Usually, the final Olympic Qualifying Tournaments are held in the NBA off-season. But now in 2021, the qualifiers are set for late June, which would mean in the middle of the NBA post-season play. Would-be stars for the teams trying to qualify in these tournaments include Slovenia's Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic, Greece's Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Serbia's Nikola Jokic...not having them available would carry serious implications for their national teams' Olympic dreams.
Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich is well aware of the timing conundrum, and he's in a tight turnaround, too, as an active NBA coach. Having an NBA-star-studded Olympic tournament has been a highlight of the Games since Barcelona 1992, and I'm hoping that Tokyo's version will also feature the world's best. I'm not sure how this will happen...it's unlikely a significant number of star players will miss the NBA playoffs and not be too tired to play on, but we'll see how it plays out. I also fear that, if NBA-ers pass on the Games en masse, it will set a precedent on not appearing at the Games, allowing the NBA to further push their World Cup at the expense of the Olympics.
About This Blog
Highlights from the world of Olympic sports, focused on the athletes, and as seen through the cheeky lens of this one particular, passionate fan.
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Biweekly links to select Olympic sport headlines and news, with a focus on the athletes
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Biweekly selection of intriguing, provocative social posts from Olympic sport athletes
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Weekly roundup of features on emerging Olympic sports athletes to keep an eye on
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At Rio 2016's Barra Olympic Park
Header: Kallimamaro stadium in Athens, site of the first modern Olympics in 1896