First they upset Canada 79-78 in the semi-finals, and then they beat Argentina 76-71 in the final of the FIBA Americas Championship to earn their first title of the tournament. As finalists, both teams earned a place in the Olympic tournament, with Venezuela set to make their second-ever appearance at the Games. To say their victory was a surprise is an understatement, as the Argentines were favored to win, with Canada a strong favorite for the second spot. By finishing third through fifth, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico will enter the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for a last chance at Rio.
Fabio Aru wins the Vuelta a Espana
First held in 1935, the Vuelta is the third and last Grand Tour cycling race of the year, and Italian Fabio Aru - who finished second in the Giro d'Italia - took the championship, over Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain. Of the favorites from the Tour de France, Colombian Nairo Quintana finished fourth.
Not unexpectedly, team Russia (almost) swept the titles at the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart this week. First, Yana Kudryavtseva won four of five individual golds, including the all-around (her third-straight), as well as the team gold. In setting herself up as favorite for Rio, her only missing gold was in the hoop final, which she intentionally skipped. Then, Russia's group came back from missing the podium last year to gold in 2015. Italy won the lone gold not going to Russia, with the title in the group's 5 ribbons final. Overall, Russia won 14 medals - the most possible, with eight gold and six silver (nine gold, five silver is the absolute best mix possible, FYI.)
And China Dominates Asian Weightlifting
China came away the big winner from the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Phuket, with 10 total-lift (big) medals, and 32 overall medals, while winning both the men's and women's team titles. Kazakhstan, North Korea, and Thailand finished with six (big) medals overall each, for second place overall on the table, with the Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, and Chinese Taipei also winning at least one (big) gold each.
Serbia Continues Water Polo Success
Talk about a great tradition...after winning both the senior World League and the World Championship this year, Serbia now adds the junior world trophy to its hardware collection, after beating Italy 13-12 in the final of the FINA Junior Water Polo World Championship. Hungary defeated Greece for the bronze.
Russian Boxing Future Wins Worlds
The AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships ended in St Petersburg, and the host Russians led the way with five out of thirteen golds. Uzbekistan finished with two golds, and Cuba, the USA, Romania, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan splitting the rest with one each.
On the conclusion of the World Wrestling Championships in Las Vegas, Russia was tops with fourteen total medals, as well as the men's freestyle and greco-roman team titles. Japan won the women's freestyle team ranking. Ukraine (nine medals) and Azerbaijan (eight) came next, followed by the U.S. and Iran with seven each. That seven-medal total by the U.S., led by Jordan Burroughs' third world title in 74kg freestyle, represents the best showing since 2007, with their four golds the most since 1995's five.
Australia Tops Commonwealth Youth Games
A relatively new competition first held in 2000, the fifth Commonwealth Youth Games ended in Appia, Samoa this week, with Australia topping the medal table with 62 to second-place England's 44 across nine sports. South Africa finished third with 35, while hosts Samoa ended with 12.
The IAAF's Diamond League came to a conclusion this weekend with the Memorial Van Damme meet in Brussels, with champions crowned in 32 events after point accumulation across 14 different meets through the summer. Notably, USA's Justlin Gatlin won the 100m crown, as did Britain's Greg Rutherford in the long jump, USA's Christian Taylor and Colombia's Catherine Ibarguen in the triple jump, USA's Francena McCorory in the 400m, and Serbian Sandra Perkovic in the discus.
Women Surprise, Men Don't at the U.S. Open
So the news is surprisingly not about Serena Williams, and her successful and much-anticpipated attempt at the true Grand Slam this year. Roberta Vinci's huge and career-making three-set upset of Williams not only gave her her first grand slam final, but set up the first all-Italian final, against Flavia Pennetta, who in turn had upset Simona Help[ of Romania. The veteran Pennetta would go on to the championship trophy over Vinci in her own first Grand Slam final, and then promptly announce her retirement from the sport. Meanwhile, while both top seeds on the women's side fell in the semi-finals, the men's two top seeds marched right along to the final. Serb Novak Djokovic defeated Swiss Roger Federer for his tenth Grand Slam and second U.S. Open title. While on paper the result may not stir much drama, he overcame a pro-Federer crowd, not to mention a Federer that was seemingly on a strong roll to his fifth event title. It's a startling rivalry, with the career record evenly split now, at 21-21 between the two, and the feeling that Djokovic may be in his prime while Federer aims to hold on. And in another meanwhile note...another Swiss, Martina Hingis keeps her low-profile resurgence going, with two doubles titles - and both with Indian partners; Sania Mirza in women's doubles and Leander Paes in mixed. Go Martina!