Japanese legends to miss world wrestling championships

Kaori Icho
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Japan’s Kaori Icho and Saori Yoshida, who combined to win seven Olympic wrestling titles, will both miss the world championships in Paris in August, according to United World Wrestling.

Neither Icho nor Yoshida has competed since Rio, where the 32-year-old Icho became the first woman to win individual gold at four Olympics in any sport.

Yoshida, now 34, was bidding for the same but was beaten in the 53kg final by American Helen Maroulis in one of the seminal moments of the Games.

Neither Icho nor Yoshida registered for next week’s Japanese Championships, a selection event for worlds, according to Nikkan Sports.

Icho, a 10-time world champion, will miss a world championships outside of an Olympic year for the second time in her career. She skipped the 2009 Worlds while taking a break from wrestling but is otherwise undefeated in Olympic and world championships competition dating to her 2002 debut.

Yoshida also began her undefeated Olympic/worlds streak in 2002, a run that ended at the hands of Maroulis. The 13-time world champion will miss worlds for the first time since 2004.

Neither Icho nor Yoshida has committed to a run for Tokyo 2020, where each would be among the biggest stars of their home Games in any sport.

Yoshida said in the spring that she is now focused on coaching.

Maroulis, the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion, moved up from 53kg to 58kg (Icho’s weight class) this year and in April qualified for worlds.

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

Chloe Covell
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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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