Ten sports where Brazil can win medals at Rio 2016

Arthur Zanetti
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The Brazil Olympic Committee set a goal of 27 to 30 medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics, a significant jump from its total of 17 at London 2012, its highest-ever tally.

Rio 2016 organizers outlined 10 sports where Brazil could reach the podium next year. Here’s a look at the list:

Gymnastics (Artistic)

The big four of China, Romania, Russia and the U.S. have long dominated artistic gymnastics, with the Japanese men recently joining the medal mix as well.

Brazil captured its first Olympic gymnastics medal at London 2012 in the form of Arthur Zanetti‘s gold on rings. Zanetti followed with gold and silver at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships.

The veteran Diego Hypolito, 28, has won five World Championships medals on floor exercise since 2005. He was the top qualifier into the Beijing 2008 floor final but wound up a tearful sixth.

Then there’s Sergio Sasaki, who in 2012 became the first Brazilian man to reach an Olympic all-around final. He was 10th and then fifth at the 2013 World Championships and seventh at the 2014 World Championships. However, Sasaki’s participation in the 2015 Worlds is in question due to knee surgery.

Handball

European nations have dominated in Olympic competition, but the Brazilian women captured their first World Championship medal in 2013, gold in Serbia. Duda Amorim is the reigning World Player of the Year.

Judo

Infostrada’s virtual medal table has Brazil winning five judo medals in 2016, based on recent international results. That would be Brazil’s best medal haul in any sport, if one separates open-water swimming from pool swimming.

Brazil also performed its best in judo in 2012, taking four medals split evenly between men and women. In 2016, Kayla Harrison, the first U.S. Olympic judo gold medalist, could be headed for a showdown with Brazilian Mayra Aguiar, the 2014 World champion.

Sailing

Brazil owns more sailing gold medals (six) than any other sport. Its most decorated Olympians are also sailors — Robert Scheidt and Torben Grael with five medals each. Scheidt is still active, while Grael is now a coach.

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze are reigning World champions in the 49er FX and the female Sailors of the Year.

Soccer

Brazil may be a World Cup power, but of its seven combined Olympic men’s and women’s soccer medals (all since Los Angeles 1984), none are gold.

The most recognizable Brazil Olympians next year may be Barcelona striker Neymar and five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta.

Neymar played on the London 2012 silver medal-winning team, and in 2016 would have to be one of a maximum three players on the roster over the age of 23.

There is no such age restriction for the women’s teams. This summer’s World Cup should provide a clear picture of where Marta’s side stands among the world’s elite, such as the U.S.

Swimming (Open Water)

Brazil has never earned an Olympic open-water swimming medal, but only 12 have been awarded. The 10km events were introduced at Beijing 2008.

Brazil’s women took four of the nine medals at the 2013 World Championships. Poliana Okimoto and Ana Marcela Cunha earned two each.

Swimming (Pool)

Brazil topped the gold medal standings at the 2014 World Short Course Championships, but that’s deceiving because four of its seven titles came in non-Olympic stroke/relay distances and short course events are held in 25-meter pools. The Olympics are held in 50-meter pools.

Still, Brazil is looking more and more formidable in men’s sprint events. Cesar Cielo took 50m freestyle gold at the 2008 Olympics and 2009, 2011 and 2013 Worlds. He’s among a deep group that could form a 4x100m free relay that could beat world powers Australia, France and the U.S.

Track and Field

Track and field offers the most medals — 141 — of any sport at the Olympics. Brazil better increase its output over London 2012, where it failed to earn a track and field medal for the first time since 1992.

Brazil has medal threats in the women’s pole vault (Fabiana Murer had the three highest clearances in the world in 2014) and men’s long jump (Mauro Vinícius da Silva is the two-time reigning World Indoor champion but hasn’t translated it to outdoor success).

Volleyball (Beach)

Brazil owns more beach volleyball medals than any other nation, making the podium at every Olympics since the sport was introduced at Atlanta 1996.

Larissa and Talita appear the most formidable opposition to Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross, recently prevailing in their first head-to-head in February in Rio de Janeiro.

On the men’s side, Emanuel and Ricardo reunited last summer and could go for a third Olympic medal together in Rio. Emanuel, 42, owns more international victories than any man or woman.

Volleyball (Indoor)

Infostrada has Brazil sweeping the golds at Rio 2016, which would be a major success for the nation. Indoor volleyball tickets have been reported to be the most sought-after of any sport, and the finals tickets are tied for the highest-priced (up to about $400) with basketball, track and field and beach volleyball.

The Brazilian men’s team took gold in 2004 and lost in the gold-medal games in 2008 (to the U.S.) and 2012 (to Russia). It also was stunned by Poland in the 2014 World Championship final.

The women are two-time reigning Olympic champions, but they were upset by the U.S. in a 2014 World Championships semifinal sweep.

Infostrada also has Brazil taking medals in boxing, tennis and wrestling at the Rio Olympics.

Rio 2016 Olympics day-by-day events to watch

Germany goes 1-2 at bobsled worlds; Kaillie Humphries breaks medals record

Kim Kalicki
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Kim Kalicki and Lisa Buckwitz gave Germany a one-two in the world bobsled championships two-woman event, while American Kaillie Humphries earned bronze to break the career medals record.

Kalicki, who was fourth at last year’s Olympics and leads this season’s World Cup standings, edged Buckwitz by five hundredths of a second combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Humphries, with push athlete Kaysha Love, was 51 hundredths behind.

Olympic champion Laura Nolte was in third place after two runs but crashed in the third run.

Humphries, 37 and a three-time Olympic champion between two-woman and monobob, earned her eighth world championships medal in the two-woman event. That broke her tie for the record of seven with retired German Sandra Kiriasis. Humphries is also the most decorated woman in world championships monobob, taking gold and silver in the two times it has been contested.

Humphries rolled her ankle after the first day of last week’s monobob, plus took months off training in the offseason while also doing two rounds of IVF.

“I chose to continue the IVF journey through the season which included a Lupron Depot shot the day before this race began,” she posted after her monobob silver last weekend. “My weight and body fluctuating all year with hormones, it was a battle to find my normal while competing again. I’m happy with this result, I came into it wanting a podium and we achieved it as a team.”

Love, who was seventh with Humphries in the Olympic two-woman event, began her transition to become a driver after the Games.

Worlds finish Sunday with the final two runs of the four-man event.

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Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

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Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it.

Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday. One names Foley, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and its former CEO, Tiger Shaw, as defendants. Another, filed by a former employee of USSS, names Foley, Shaw and the ski federation as defendants.

One of the lawsuits, which also accuse the defendants of sex trafficking, harassment, and covering up repeated acts of sexual assault and misconduct, allege Foley snuck into bed and sexually assaulted Fletcher, then shortly after she won her bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics, approached her “and said he still remembered ‘how she was breathing,’ referring to the first time he assaulted her.”

The lawsuits describe Foley as fostering a depraved travel squad of snowboarders, in which male coaches shared beds with female athletes, crude jokes about sexual conquests were frequently shared and coaches frequently commented to the female athletes about their weight and body types.

“Male coaches, including Foley, would slap female athletes’ butts when they finished their races, even though the coaches would not similarly slap the butts of male athletes,” the lawsuit said. “Physical assault did not stop with slapping butts. Notably, a female athlete once spilled barbeque sauce on her chest while eating and a male coach approached her and licked it off her chest without warning or her consent.”

The USOPC and USSS knew of Foley’s behavior but did nothing to stop it, the lawsuit said. It depicted Foley as an all-powerful coach who could make and break athletes’ careers on the basis of how they got along off the mountain.

Foley’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, did not immediately return requests for comment from The Associated Press. Jacobs has previously said allegations of sexual misconduct against Foley are false.

In a statement, the USOPC said it had not seen the complaint and couldn’t comment on specific details but that “we take every allegation of abuse very seriously.”

“The USOPC is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Team USA athletes, and we are taking every step to identify, report, and eliminate abuse in our community,” the statement said.

It wasn’t until the Olympics in Beijing last year that allegations about Foley’s behavior and the culture on the snowboarding team started to emerge.

Allegations posted on Instagram by former team member Callan Chythlook-Sifsof — who, along with former team member Erin O’Malley, is a plaintiff along with Fletcher — led to Foley’s removal from the team, which he was still coaching when the games began.

That posting triggered more allegations in reporting by ESPN and spawned an AP report about how the case was handled between USSS and the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which is ultimately responsible for investigating cases involving sex abuse in Olympic sports. The center has had Foley on temporary suspension since March 18, 2022.

The AP typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault unless they have granted permission or spoken publicly, as Fletcher, Chythlook-Sifsof and O’Malley have done through a lawyer.

USSS said it was made aware of the allegations against Foley on Feb 6, 2022, and reported them to the SafeSport center.

“We are aware of the lawsuits that were filed,” USSS said in a statement. “U.S. Ski & Snowboard has not yet been served with the complaint nor has had an opportunity to fully review it. U.S. Ski & Snowboard is and will remain an organization that prioritizes the safety, health and well-being of its athletes and staff.”

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages to be determined in a jury trial.