Five Russian track and field stars set to miss Rio Olympics

Maria Kuchina, Anna Chicherova
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Russia’s ban from Olympic track and field means some of the sport’s most successful athletes are not eligible for the Rio Games.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected the appeal by 68 Russian track and field athletes seeking to overturn the ban imposed by the IAAF following allegations of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups.

Here are five Russian Olympic or World champions who are set to miss the Rio Games:

Yelena Isinbayeva, Pole Vault
Olympic champion in 2004, 2008
World champion in 2005, 2007, 2013
World-record holder

Isinbayeva, a 34-year-old converted youth gymnast, is the greatest female pole vaulter of all time and one of the greatest athletes in Russian history across all sports. She has broken the world record 17 times.

Isinbayeva is certainly past her prime, and her fitness a complete unknown after taking 2014 and 2015 off due to pregnancy and her build-up to Rio set back by injuries. She went three years between competing until June 21, when she cleared the highest height in the world this year.

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Anna Chicherova, High Jump
Olympic champion in 2012
World champion in 2011

Chicherova has been the most consistent female track and field athlete in the world the last decade. She and Usain Bolt are the only track and field athletes to earn individual medals at every Olympics and World Championships since 2007.

However, the 33-year-old reportedly failed a recent retest of 2008 Beijing Olympic doping samples, putting her bronze medal from those Games in jeopardy. Like Isinbayeva, Chicherova is in the twilight of her career. Her best clearance in domestic competitions this year would rank No. 4 in the world.

Sergey Shubenkov, 110m Hurdles
World champion in 2015

At age 25, Shubenkov is arguably the biggest Russian track and field star at or near a career peak. He was eliminated in the first round at 2011 Worlds, then the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics before winning bronze at the 2013 Worlds and gold last year.

Shubenkov has struggled this year while not being able to compete internationally, with a best time of 13.20 seconds that would be joint ninth place in world rankings, according to Tilastopaja.org.

Shubenkov said before Thursday’s ruling that he would “get drunk” if Russia lost its appeal.

Natalya Antyukh, 400m Hurdles
Olympic champion in 2012

Antyukh, 34, beat American Lashinda Demus by .07 for London Olympic gold, eight years after taking bronze in the Athens Olympic 400m (without hurdles).

Antyukh has also been a longtime member of the 4x400m relay pool for Russia, a close rival to the U.S. over the last 10 to 15 years. Her Rio Olympic 400m hurdles chances were not great, given she ranked No. 42 in the world last year and withdrew before the 2015 World Championships.

Maria Kuchina, High Jump
World champion in 2015

Kuchina, 23, set a personal best to win the 2015 World Championship, continuing a strong tradition of female Russian high jumpers. She was expected to make her Olympic debut in Rio.

Kuchina told NBC News in June that she has never taken performance-enhancing drugs, nor been urged to take performance-enhancing drugs.

“Why should I pay for someone else’s mistakes?” she said, according to NBC News.

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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