With the championship in FIBA's AfroBasket for women, Senegal also clinched a berth in the Olympics next year. Next year will be their second Games appearance, after a twelfth-place finish in 2000. The African Championship this year, though, is their 11th title. By virtue of finishing second and third, Cameroon and Nigeria earned spots in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year for a second shot.
While China Wins the Asian Championship
Completing FIBA's continental championships over the summer and the bulk of Olympic qualifying, China won the men's Asian Championship this week, after defeating the surprising Philippines in a close 78-67 contest for their 16th overall continental title. China then also secured their berth in Rio for their ninth straight appearance. The Philippines, Iran, and Japan qualify for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for their second chance next year.
And Dominates Asian Table Tennis
At the end of the Asian Table Tennis Championships in Pattaya, China continued its power position in the sport, winning six of the seven golds on offer. The only miss was women's doubles, where the lead Chinese pair Ding & Liu lost in the round of 32, and the second pair of Chen & Zhu lost through injury in the semis. The lead story, aside from China's overall dominance, was Fan Zhendong's individual dominance, winning all three golds available to him - men's singles, men's doubles (with Xu Xin), mixed doubles (Chen Meng), and the men's team titles. With this, he matches compatriot and legend Ma Long, who achieved the same feat in 2009.
European Table Tennis Concludes also
The annual championships for European table tennis ended as well in Yekaterinberg, with Germany extending its own continental show of force, by winning the women's team and men's singles. In the latter, Dmitrij Ovtcharov repeated as champ over Portugal's Marcos Freitas. Austrians also won two golds, with victory in the men's team event and Stefan Fegerl sharing the men's doubles gold with Portugal's Joao Monteiro. (Doubles entries can be mixed nationalities) Elizabeta Samara of Romania won the women's singles, after previously taking doubles gold in both 2009 and 2012.
Regional international championships for volleyball across three zones also finished this week. First up, the United States women won the NORCECA Championship, defeating the Dominican Republic in four sets for their third consecutive title. Those two, along with third and fourth place finishers Puerto Rico and Canada thus also qualified for the regional Olympic qualifying event next year. (What? No Cuba? They finished fifth...) Next up, the Brazilian women won their 19th South American title over Peru, with the host Colombians finishing in a strong third over Argentina. Rounding up the women's events this week, Russia continued its European dominance with their own 19th continental title (and second consecutive), with a 3-0 victory over the host Netherlands. Serbia finished in third, with a 3-0 defeat of Turkey. Finally, the Brazilians stepped up again, winning the men's South American title to complete the week's volleyball, finishing ahead of top continental rivals Argentina in three sets. This was the 16th time the two had met in the final, and gave Brazil their 30th (!) title. Congrats to all!
Russia Dominates the Wheelchair and Amputee Games
The IWAS Games, the biennial multi-sport competition seen as the forerunner of the Paralympics, keeps plugging along despite a drop in popularity. 2015's version in Sochi concluded this week after eight days of competition, with the host Russians dominating the medal table. Russia finished with 323 medals to second-place China's 56. The U.S. and many western nations did not field an entry.
The verdict is in...and its a curious one. Tokyo 2020 organizers, given the opportunity to recommend additional sports for the Olympic schedule, announced this week that five sports will be submitted to the IOC for recommendation. As expected, the combined baseball and softball bid was accepted, as Japan is strong in both sports. Also making the list were karate, surfing, sport climbing, and skateboarding. The last three definitely make a statement in youth and future appeal, and, should all recommendations be successful, there would be an additional 18 events with 474 athletes on the Games schedule. Heartbreakingly, squash was not included. (Nor was wushu and bowling) This continues a sad string of Olympic disappointment for the sport, and one that seemed well-poised to finally enter the Games program. While there is some hope that the IOC can make its own alternate decisions on additional sports, perhaps in squash's favor, it is unlikely. Which means for at least another cycle, one of the worlds's most popular and diverse sports will again be on the sidelines. Baffling.