Kerri Walsh Jennings, Brooke Sweat
FIVB World Tour

Kerri Walsh Jennings, Brooke Sweat win first tournament title together

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Kerri Walsh Jennings‘ 56th international tournament title was among the most special. It marked her first in nearly three years (her longest drought), and the first ever for her new partner, Brooke Sweat. At 40, she became the oldest woman to win an FIVB World Tour event.

“It’s been so long,” Walsh Jennings said after the Americans doused Australians Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy 21-17, 21-19 in Sunday’s final of a four-star event in Jinjiang, China.

For Walsh Jennings, who has the same number of kids as Olympic golds, and the Rio Olympian Sweat, it means they are closer to, if not in the driver’s seat for one of two U.S. Olympic spots in Tokyo. Walsh Jennings is bidding to become the oldest Olympic beach volleyball player in history in 2020.

The U.S. Olympic qualifying standings, which will count each pair’s 12 best results together, with still more than a year to go:

1. Walsh Jennings/Sweat – 3,900 (8 events played)
2. Ross/Klineman – 3,240 (5 events)
3. Day/Flint – 2,500 (6 events)
4. Hughes/Ross — 2,240 (5 events)
5. Sponcil/Claes — 2,080 (4 events, have a higher per-event average than Walsh Jennings/Sweat)
6. Larsen/Stockman — 1,840 (5 events)

Walsh Jennings and Sweat’s breakthrough win came earlier Sunday, when they dispatched Brazilians Agatha and Duda 21-19, 19-21, 15-13 in the semifinals. Agatha and her previous partner, Barbara, handed Walsh Jennings her lone Olympic beach volleyball defeat in the semifinals in Rio. Duda, 20, is a world champion at the U19, U21 and Youth Olympic level.

Walsh Jennings and Sweat announced their partnership Oct. 9, after a tumultuous two years for Walsh Jennings and nearly 15 years after Sweat first saw Walsh Jennings at a Toyota dealership exhibition in her freshman year at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Walsh Jennings’ 2017 season, after she and Rio Olympic bronze-medal partner April Ross split, ended prematurely with her sixth right shoulder surgery (followed by an ankle surgery). She said before the 2018 season that the 2020 Olympics would be her last, assuming she qualifies.

Walsh Jennings paired with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh. They had a best 2018 finish of fifth in six FIVB World Tour events before splitting.

Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who went winless in Rio with Lauren Fendrick and then had her second shoulder surgery, have a pair of thirds, a runner-up and now a win in eight events together.

“Looking forward to more,” Sweat, after her first career gold in more than 60 international events, said Sunday.

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VIDEO: Beach volleyball Olympian surprises her team with baby announcement

Boxing body near bankrupt, facing 2020 Olympic exclusion

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Boxing Association (AIBA) is near bankruptcy, days before a decision to formally exclude the body from the Tokyo Olympics.

AIBA executive director Tom Virgets told board members it will be insolvent if International Olympic Committee members derecognize the troubled body next Wednesday.

The full IOC membership is expected to sign off on recommendations made last month by its executive board, which would deny AIBA its expected $17.5 million share of Tokyo Games commercial revenue and cut off the men’s and women’s 2019 world championships in Russia as qualifying paths.

“In my opinion, the decisions made by the IOC were clearly designed to bankrupt AIBA,” Virgets wrote in a letter seen by The Associated Press. “Every source of income that AIBA had going forward was taken away.”

The IOC board, chaired by President Thomas Bach, discussed the Tokyo boxing tournaments again Wednesday. However, there were no detailed talks about AIBA’s financial and staffing issues, IOC sports director Kit McConnell said.

AIBA has less than $400,000 in the bank and cannot afford to challenge any IOC ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Virgets wrote to senior officials.

The boxing body is also releasing all but three staff from its Lausanne offices, close to the IOC’s new lakeside headquarters which opened this month and cost around $145 million.

Virgets said he also is leaving, explaining “It is the correct thing to do” because he failed in his mandate to keep AIBA involved in the Tokyo Olympics.

AIBA plans to hold an executive committee meeting one day after its Olympic fate is likely sealed.

The IOC board wants AIBA excluded after appointing an inquiry panel to investigate its finances, governance, and the integrity of judging and refereeing in Olympic bouts, including at Rio 2016.

A key factor against AIBA was its members having elected Gafur Rakhimov as president last year while on a U.S. sanctions list with suspected links to organized crime. He denies wrongdoing.

The IOC detailed its plans Wednesday for a fresh qualification program next year to send male and female boxers to 13 medal events in Tokyo.

The eight men’s weight classes are a reduction of two from Rio, with two women’s classes added to make five.

Four regional qualification tournaments are planned between January and April — in the Americas, Africa, a combined Asia-Oceania region, and Europe — with a final global qualifier, likely in May, McConnell said. Past and future Olympic host cities should host the qualifiers.

After the previous AIBA president, long-time IOC member C.K. Wu, sought to put professional boxers into the Olympic tournaments, that is not a priority for Tokyo.

McConnell said national Olympic teams could choose to enter pro boxers, who would have to go through the full qualifying program.

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USA Gymnastics revamps Safe Sport policy amid abuse scandal

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USA Gymnastics is overhauling its Safe Sport policy in hopes of providing better protection for athletes and clearer guidelines for coaches, parents, trainers and club owners on what constitutes abuse.

The organization released the new policy on Wednesday after consulting with a wide spectrum of people inside and outside the sport. The group included child welfare advocates and survivors of sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

USA Gymnastics President Li Li Leung called the update the foundation of the embattled organization’s efforts to foster a safe environment. In addition to detailing where athletes and adults can report abusive behavior, the new guidelines outline 10 preventative policies that set personal and professional boundaries between coaches and trainers and athletes.

USA Gymnastics also said it is beefing up staffing at its Safe Sport center to help it deal with the volume of abuse claims.

MORE: Nassar judge, Olympians back USOC oversight push in Congress

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