One of the more suspicious world records in women's track - the 1500 meter mark of Qu Yunxia's 3:50.46 from 1993 has been beaten finally. Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba set a new mark of 3:50.07 at the Herculis IAAF Diamond League Meeting this week, and further cemented her star stature. And with good reason even before this race; she's the sister of Olympic medalists Tirunesh and Ejegayehu, and likely the future of Ethiopian success at Rio 2016. Almost as remarkable as her specific achievement here, was the overall fast pace led by rabbit and 800 meter specialist Chanelle Price, with the top six finishers under four minutes. Of special note was Shannon Rowbury in third with 3:56.29, to break the North American record, also long held - and some would say also suspiciously - by Mary Slaney for 32 years. In that feat, she beat the person heralded as the next U.S. star, and who many expected to take Slaney's record, Jenny Simpson, who finished fourth - and just .01 off Slaney's record. On a night that the men's 1500 record almost fell as well, fans sure were treated to a string reminder of the excitement of track!
Lance Armstrong Returns to the Tour
Not exactly a welcome return, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong reappeared at the Tour de France...well, sort of...Appearing at a nearby leukemia charity race timed with the start of, but not affiliated with, the Tour. Armstrong ruffled the feathers of many who would rather he disappeared. But on the other hand, if he can still draw some attention. maybe it can be used for good. Meanwhile, some things stay the same - French media on the warpath against suspected cheats. This time the focus is on Team Sky and Tour leader Chris Froome. Despite having urine thrown at him in an apparent protest, he's still in standing to win the general classification. Six more stages to go....
Russia Increases Fencing Dominance
At last year's World Fencing Championships in Kazan, Russia tied Italy for the top overall spot, with eight overall medals each. With this year's Championships set in Russia as well, the stage was set for continued home-grown success, and the hosts Russians dominated, winning nine overall to Italy's five in second place. Next stage for the budding rivalry...next year's Europeans and then Rio 2016.
Spain Returning to Football Wins
The UEFA U-19 Championship ended with Spain on top, winning their seventh overall title with a 2-0 win over Russia. Here's hoping some of that talent filters up into the senior side for the next few years to keep them competitive. And with Spain's women's U-19 team leading the charge to the final stages in their tournament, perhaps a resurgence of la furia roja is around the corner all around.
Gold Cup Quarterfinals
Meanwhile, the premier senior soccer event in CONCACAF, the Gold Cup, completed its quarterfinals. Moving on to the semis are the U.S. to face Jamaica, and Panama vs Mexico later this week. Should the U.S. win the title, they will earn qualification to the 2017 Confederation Cup. (Otherwise, a playoff will be held)
The first week of the Pan American Games is over, and the USA has taken over the medal count as expected, with a mid-Games total of 160 to Canada's 142. The real individual star so far may be Brazil's Thiago Pereira, who became the all-time medalist in Pan Am history with 23 medals across five editions since 2003. In 2015, he goes home with five medals, including three golds. Next up for the Olympic medalist will be the worlds later this month, and then a likely hugely expectant lead-up to the Rio Games. And next up for the Pan Am's? Track and field, taekwondo, cycling, and racquetball take the spotlight from swimming, gymnastics, and weightlifting to close out the week along with the majority of team sports seeing their competition runs end.
Tokyo 2020 Stadium Starts from Scratch
After a much-maligned original design, Tokyo 2020 organizers have scrapped the main Olympic stadium plan and are starting anew with a search for a replacement. The original, designed by Zaha Hadid, and most recently expected to cost over $2 billion, was never a choice for the people - who loudly decried it as a future 'white elephant'. Now, with six years to go, a new stadium plan is being called for. Doesn't sound like much time...
Pacific Games End
The Pacific Games ended this weekend, with the host Papua New Guineans taking the overall medal title, with 217. In second, New Caledonia ended with 165. Makes sense...PNG had almost twice as many competitors across all events, with a whopping 625. I'll look forward to seeing the first Olympics medal from PNG at some point....hopefully?
As Do the Summer University Games
And, as typical, the host country put on a string showing, with the South Koreans coming in second overall with 108 medals to Russia's 122. Fittingly, in one of the last medal events of the Games, Korea's women's handball team lost the gold to Russia, 36-38. In the real final event, the U.S. defeated Germany in the men's basketball final, 84-77.
Davis Cup Quarterfinals
With Wimbledon over, the traditional down week of tennis allows for Davis Cup action to continue, and it did - with quarterfinals running to set up the semis in September. In the highlight matchup, Great Britain outlasted France 3-1, with Andy Murray earning all three wins: singles over Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and with brother Jamie in doubles. Next up will be Australia in the semis in Britain, and the other semi will feature Argentina vs Belgium. My money is on Murray to take the title in the end...
In a crowd-pleasing final match, the host Portuguese won the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, with a 5-3 win over upstart Tahiti. (Tahiti!) This was the 18th version of the Beach World Cup, and Portugal's first title, despite three previous second-places and five third-places.
And France Wins First Volleyball Title
The FIVB Volleyball World League finally ended this weekend, after competition that had started in mid-May, with 13th-ranked France winning a surprise title over sixth-ranked Serbia in two sets. The previous best for the team was second in 2006, and in this run, they lost only once in the tournament. For third place, the U.S. defeated world champions Poland.
Track Youths Take Center Stage
The IAAF's World Youth Championships took place this week in Cali, with standout performances from youth-aged competitors across all events. Perhaps the stars of the event were in the sprints - both girls and boys provided double gold-medalists. The U.S.' Candace Hill won the 100 and 200, both in Championship record times, and continued her rise to track stardom. Meanwhile, Japan's Abdul Hakim Sani Brown won the men's double, and along with last year's World Junior Championships bronze medalist Yoshihide Kiryu, certainly provides Japan with a bright sprint future.