Kaillie Humphries
AP

Kaillie Humphries in dispute with Canada bobsled federation

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Two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries said she’s being forced to choose between two-woman bobsled and continuing to push the gender barrier in four-man by Canada’s bobsled federation, according to Canadian media.

“I’m mad,” Humphries said Wednesday after spending most of the previous two days crying at home, according to Postmedia News in Canada. “This sucks. I’m being told I can’t do something, because I’m a girl.”

Humphries and American Elana Meyers Taylor became the first women to pilot four-man bobsleds last season, but Humphries will likely not be driving in that event for at least the first three World Cups this season.

That’s not because of her gender but because the athletes behind Humphries are not skilled enough, according to Canada’s bobsled federation.

Six Canadian push athletes met the nation’s World Cup qualifying criteria in preseason training times, and with three push athletes (plus one spare) per sled, the nation will send one four-man sled to the first three World Cups rather than a potential three, according to Postmedia News.

Humphries is the third-ranked Canadian driver for four-man bobsleds, meaning that even if two more push athletes meet the qualifying times later in the season, she isn’t in line to drive that second sled.

“It’s an outrageous accusation that we’re standing in her way because she’s a woman,” Canada bobsled president Sarah Storey said, according to Postmedia News. “We set out months ago the objectives and clear selection criteria. These were published to all the athletes – Kaillie included – in July. The selection criteria were created with the goal of making sure that we field the best teams. … We don’t send people on the World Cup to develop, we don’t send them as tourists. We send them to win medals, to contend at every race.”

Humphries will compete in four-man at development-level North American Cup races in Calgary on Friday and Saturday but is unsure when she’ll drive them again, according to the Canadian Press.

The World Cup season starts the last weekend of November, with Humphries set to drive her two-woman sled on that circuit. It’s logistically hard to compete in both World Cup races in two-woman and lower-level North American or Europe Cup races in four-man in the middle of a season.

“I’m being forced to pick medals [in two-woman] over development of Canada 3 [four-man],” Humphries said, according to the Canadian Press. “I don’t feel there needs to be a choice made here. I feel I can step up to the challenge of doing both.”

Humphries had a best finish of 14th place in six World Cup four-man bobsled races last season.

MORE: Humphries named Canada Athlete of the Year

Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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