Caroline Marks wins first World Surf League title

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GOLD COAST, Australia — Florida teenager Caroline Marks claimed her first title in the World Surf League by maintaining the form that helped her defeat world champion Stephanie Gilmore on her home break in Monday’s final over Hawaii’s Carissa Moore.

The youngest competitor on the world tour at 17, Marks beat Moore by 13.83 points to 11.67 in tricky conditions in the final to clinch the Boost Mobile Pro on the Duranbah Beach break.

Rookie of the year last year after finishing seventh in the world series, Marks became the first woman to benefit from the WSL’s new policy of equal prize money for men and women, winning $60,000.

“I just have so much adrenaline,” Marks said. “I’ve looked up to these girls my whole life and still do, they’re just my heroes.

“It’s incredible. I didn’t know it would happen this fast. I’m just so psyched.”

Marks, who beat Gilmore in Saturday’s quarterfinals, is the middle child of six siblings whose first love was horse riding before she was encouraged by a brother to take up surfing.

“Being around older people, a bunch of older brothers and their expectations of me were so high,” she said. “If I wasn’t surfing like the boys they’d give me such a hard time. I just learned I had to be super good at a young age.

“After I won, the first person I hugged was my brother because I wouldn’t surf if it wasn’t for him.”

The top 10-ranked men and eight highest-ranked women on the 2019 WSL tour will be among those qualifying for the Tokyo Games.

Brazil’s Italo Ferreira executed a brilliant 360 on a late wave to win the men’s event, denying American Kolohe Andino a maiden win in his eighth year on the circuit.

Andino had controlled the final, leading by 6.93 points until Ferreira executed a clean 360 which earned 7.07 points and gave him a narrow win.

The 24-year-old Ferreira finished with 12.57 points to Andino’s 12.43, celebrating his win with a trademark backflip from the stage after the trophy presentation.

“I tried to catch a lot of waves,” Ferreira said. ”(I) knew it was my last chance, thought, ‘Let’s do it, one shot,’ then boom.”

Andino, 25, said he would turn his disappointment into motivation for the next leg of the series.

“It’s a super bummer I wasn’t getting chaired out,” he said. “But it’s a long year, great result and hopefully I can win one soon.”

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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