The biggest FIBA continental championship of the summer ended, with Spain winning the gold at the EuroBasket in Lille this weekend, for their third title out of the last four tries. Before beating Lithuania in the final, both teams secured the automatic Olympic berths for Europe with their semi-final wins. In finishing third through seventh, France, Serbia, Greece, Italy, and the Czech Republic all move onto the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year for a last chance, where they'll compete amongst 13 other teams for only three slots.
A Rising Power in Women's Volleyball?
The Dominican Republic scored an impressive and surprising gold in the FIVB Women's U-20 World Championship this weekend, after defeating perennial power Brazil in the final. In finishing atop the 16-team field, the Dominicans earned their first world title in a sport the senior team has been competitive in for the last handful of years. Congrats!
And Russia Continues Its Men's Volleyball Pipeline
While the Dominican women were somewhat stunning the world, the Russian continued its youth dominance, by winning the FIVB Men's U-21 Worlds for the third straight time. After winning in 2011 and 2013, the Russians sat atop the field in 2015 in Mexico after defeating Argentina in the final match. China defeated Brazil for third place honors.
The two-year race to host the 2024 Summer Games is officially on, as five candidates submitted their official bids to the IOC this week. Budapest, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Paris, and Rome will make their cases heard before the decision in 2017. My gut? Paris...
Norway wins the First Mixed Curling Championship
Not to be confused with Mixed Doubles Curling, the Mixed Curling World Championship was held for the first time this week, with Norway taking home the inaugural gold over Sweden in the final in Berne. 36 teams took part, with China defeating Russia for third. The mixed curling teams consisted of two men and two women, as opposed to the strict all-female or all-male teams normally seen in competition. Can mixed be at the Olympics soon? Mixed doubles apparently will be already...
Czechs Lead the Canoe Slalom Worlds
The Czech Republic led the medal table at the World Canoe Slalom Championships in London this week, with six overall. That included golds in all four kayak events, individual and team for men and women. Germany and Great Britain followed close with five medals each, with France next at four.
All-Africa Games End in Brazzaville
The 11th African Games concluded this week after two weeks of multi-sport and Olympic-style competition. In the final event of the Games, Angola defeated Cameroon for the women's team handball title. Egypt sat far atop the overall medal table, with 217 total to Nigeria's 144 in second place. Algeria and South Africa also broke the 100-medal total mark, with 125 and 122 each, respectively.
Italy Tops Shotgun Worlds
Italians like home field advantage? Well, at least they topped the medal table at the 2015 ISSF Shotgun Worlds in Lonato this week. Actually, both the Italians and the U.S. finished with 12 medals each, including 4 gold, but Italy came through with a 6-3 advantage in silvers. Russia finished in third place, with 11. Based on a continental qualification system in medal placements, 10 Olympic national slots were assigned to various shooters, including Kuwait for men's trap and double trap, and Cyprus in women's skeet.
FINA Unhappy, too, with Rio?
While most publicity has been to Guanabara Bay and the sailing venue's problems with cleanliness, that doesn't mean all the other federations don't have their own concerns. This week, swimming's body, FINA, strongly criticized Rio 2016 for not only the water safety of the open water events, but also the configuration of the indoor pool, in both seating capacity and open-air roofing safety. Such large events are always bound to attract extra scrutiny and more so, as the events draw near. Brazil has a ways to go to make everything smooth still...
At this year's edition of the Northern European Gymnastics Championships, host Ireland came out on top of the medal standings with 11 total. Their efforts were led by Olympian Kieran Behan, who finished with four medals overall. That included silver in the men's all-around, behind Norway's Stian Skjerahaug. Ireland also won the men's team, while Wales finished atop the women's, with Welsh Latalia Bevin taking the women's all-around.
An ex-Olympian's Unexpected Life Turn
I knew her as the talented runner that frustratingly and spectacularly faltered - often - in big races, but now the world at large also knows her as an ex-escort as well. With the publication of her autobiography this week, U.S.' Suzy Favor Hamilton addresses her past, from Olympic track star to Las Vegas call girl in 'Fast Girl'. From whichever angle, it continues a frustrating tale of talent misspent and unfulfilled...