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Sarah Hirshland is first woman named U.S. Olympic Committee CEO

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The U.S. Olympic Committee named Sarah Hirshland its new CEO, the first woman to hold the permanent role after 11 men dating to 1950.

Hirshland, the chief commercial officer for the United States Golf Association, takes over during what she called “a critical moment in time” in its history.

The USOC and multiple national governing bodies for Olympic sports are dealing with sexual-abuse scandals, notably Larry Nassar‘s crimes against gymnasts.

“I also recognize the challenges ahead as we navigate this critical moment in the USOC’s history,” Hirshland said in a press release. “We must protect, support and empower athletes, young and old, elite and beginner. Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States must be a shining example, able to provide athletes with the benefits of participation in an environment free from abuse of any kind. The USOC has made great strides in this area, and I look forward to carrying on that critically important work.

Hirshland said she took the job because it’s “an opportunity to take on a challenge.”

“As a female leader in the world of sport, I understand the importance of creating cultural change,” she said.

Hirshland has been with the USGA since 2011. Before that, she was senior vice president for strategic business development at Wasserman Media Group, headed by Casey Wasserman, the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic leader.

The previous USOC CEO, Scott Blackmun, resigned in February, citing prostate cancer and the USOC’s need to immediately address the USA Gymnastics sexual-abuse scandal. Blackmun had been CEO since January 2010.

Susanne Lyons, a USOC board member, was acting CEO the last four months during the search for Blackmun’s successor. Lyons and Stephanie Streeter were the only women to be USOC CEO, but both were in acting roles as searches went on to find full-time replacements.

The USOC’s work ahead also includes planning for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics (the first hosted by the U.S. since the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games) and potentially bidding for the 2030 Winter Games with Denver, Reno-Tahoe or Salt Lake City.

ALL-TIME USOC EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS/CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
1. Lyman Bingham (1950-November 1965)
2. Arthur G. Lentz (November 1965-February 1973; leave of absence June-December, 1968)
3. Everett Barnes (Acting Executive Director, June-December, 1968)
4. Don Miller (February 1973-February 1985)
5. George D. Miller (February 1985-August 1987)
6. Baaron B. Pittenger (Acting Executive Director, October-December 1987; Executive Director, January 1988-July 1990)
7. Harvey W. Schiller (January 1988; January 1990-October 1994)
8. John Krimsky Jr. (Interim Executive Director, October 1994-September 1995)
9. Richard D. Schultz (September 1995-February 2000)
10. Norman Blake (February 2000-November 2000)
11. Scott Blackmun (Acting Chief Executive Officer, November 2000-October 2001)
12. Lloyd Ward (October 2001-March 2003)
13. Jim Scherr (Acting Chief Executive Officer, March 2003-April 2005; Chief Executive Officer, April 2005-March 2009)
14. Stephanie A. Streeter (Acting Chief Executive Officer, March-December 2009)
15. Scott Blackmun (January 2010-February 2018)
16. Susanne Lyons (Acting Chief Executive Officer, February-August 2018)
17. Sarah Hirshland (August 2018-)

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David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

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David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

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Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

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Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

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