Cameron McEvoy now ‘the hunted’ in Australian swimming

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James Magnussen has been the fastest 100m freestyle swimmer each of the last four years, but an aspiring physicist now appears to be the man with the best chance of ending a 12-year drought at the Rio Olympics.

Cameron McEvoy defeated Magnussen in the 100m free final at the Australian Championships on Tuesday. It’s the second straight year McEvoy beat Magnussen at Nationals.

Magnussen won the 100m free at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships, but now McEvoy may be the one tasked with winning Australia’s first individual Olympic swimming gold medal by a man since Athens 2004.

“I’ve been what everyone would call an underdog in the past, so it’s a new feeling to be the hunted,” McEvoy told reporters after the final in Sydney (highlights here).

McEvoy, a 20-year-old physics buff, topped Magnussen 48.06 to 48.18 in the final Tuesday. It was not as great of a margin as at the 2014 Australian Championships, where McEvoy prevailed 47.65 to 47.92.

And McEvoy also touched first at the biggest international meet of 2014, the Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia. There, McEvoy swam 47.82, with Olympic champion Nathan Adrian way back in 48.30 and Magnussen in third at 48.36.

McEvoy did not make the Australian team for the London Olympic 100m free, won by Adrian by .01 over Magnussen.

Magnussen, 23, changed coaches last year and is arguably the most scrutinized Australian swimmer since Ian Thorpe.

“That’s pretty disappointing. I shouldn’t be swimming 48s,” Magnussen said of his swim Tuesday, according to the Courier-Mail. “[Losing and the time] both equally pissed me off. Losing is probably worse.”

In 2012, Magnussen clocked 47.10 in the 100m free, the best time since the fast suit era. His top time in 2013 slowed to 47.53 and in 2014 was 47.59.

Meanwhile, McEvoy improved the last three years from 49.19 (2011) to 48.58 (2012) to 47.88 (2013) and 47.65 (2014). Only Magnussen was quicker last year.

Both McEvoy and Magnussen must take notice of Kyle Chalmers, who finished fourth Tuesday in, reportedly, the fastest time ever by a 16-year-old.

Chalmers, who had size 15 feet by age 13, clocked 48.69, likely putting him in the Australian 4x100m free relay lineup at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August.

Australia failed to make the podium in the relay at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships but topped the U.S. for gold at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.

In 2014, the U.S. had two men swim sub-48.7 for the entire year (Adrian and Michael Phelps). Australia put four men sub-48.7 in Tuesday’s final alone.

“I reckon the rest of the world will probably sit up and take notice of that,” Magnussen said.

Grant Hackett qualifies for World Championships after 6-year retirement

Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

Elena Fanchini
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Elena Fanchini, an Italian Alpine skier whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini, the 2005 World downhill silver medalist at age 19, passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in the combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her World Cup win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won her world downhill silver medal in Italy in 2005, exactly one month after her World Cup debut, an astonishing breakout.

Ten months later, she won a World Cup downhill in Canada with “Ciao Mamma” scribbled on face tape to guard against 1-degree temperatures. She was 20. Nobody younger than 21 has won a World Cup downhill since. Her second and final World Cup win, also a downhill, came more than nine years later.

In between her two World Cup wins, Fanchini raced at three Olympics with a best finish of 12th in the downhill in 2014. She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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