New coach lays out ambitious goal for Australian Swim Team

Jacco Verhaeren

Australia’s new swimming coach wants an Aussie in every final at the 2016 Olympics.

”The aim for Rio, but especially for 2020, is to have finalists in every final, so that means we have to work on more depth in the team, but at the same time the people we do have and the youngsters that we have coming, we have to maximize their performances,” said Jacco Verhaeren, the Dutchman who once guided Netherlands greats Pieter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn, in comments posted by The Age.

Verhaeren was hired in October to replace Leigh Nugent, who stepped down last March after a poor Olympic showing. Verhaeren’s goal is to reverse Australia’s recent Olympic fortunes.

The Aussies showed a notable decline in swimming medals at the 2012 Olympics with 10 total and one gold. They had won 18 medals in 2000, 15 in 2004 and 20 in 2008.

Swimming is one of the nation’s most popular sports, but few athletes have risen to fill podium voids left by aging or retired superstars Ian ThorpeGrant HackettLibby Trickett and Stephanie Rice.

How ambitious is Verhaeren’s goal of Aussies making every Olympic swimming event final?

Well, Australians made 27 of 32 pool finals in 2008 and 24 of 32 in 2012.

‘‘I think we know the gaps that are there to cover,’’ Verhaeren said, according to the report.

Australia’s star swimmers are sprint freestylers James Magnussen and Cate Campbell, and Aussies are still relay forces, but the nation has been lacking gold medal hopes in backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and individual medleys the last few years.

They’ll get a chance to show improvement at the Commonwealth Games in July and August and, in a more competitive meet, the Pan Pacific Championships against the U.S. and others three weeks after that, in Australia.

Sochi could host World Swimming Championships

Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein

Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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