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Caster Semenya considered boycott, says she’s blocked from Rabat meet

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Caster Semenya said she has been denied entry into Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, even though she is eligible to race her preferred distances while a Swiss supreme court decides on her appeal against the IAAF’s new rules for female events.

Semenya also said she considered boycotting racing the 800m unless the rule is lifted for all affected runners.

“I am a woman, but the IAAF has again tried to stop me from running the way I was born,” Semenya said in the release. “The IAAF questions my sex, causes me great pain and required me to take hormonal drugs that made me feel constantly sick and unable to focus for many years. No other woman should be forced to go through this in order to have the same right that all women have – to do what we love and run the way we were born.”

The two-time Olympic 800m champion’s team said she was told Tuesday that the president of the Moroccan track and field federation denied her from entering the 800m in Sunday’s meet.

“Caster is currently seeking clarity on the specific reasons for that decision, and she urges the IAAF to ensure its member federations comply with the law and the Supreme Court’s orders,” according to a press release.

The given media contact for the Rabat meet did not respond to an email last week asking if Semenya would be invited to race after the Swiss court made her eligible for the time being to race her best events — from the 400m through the mile. The same contact did not respond to a follow-up email Thursday afternoon following Semenya’s press release.

Later, on Friday, the meet announced it has invited Semenya into the meet. Semenya’s agent said it was too late for her to be able to travel to Morocco to compete, according to Reuters.

“It should be noted that the Diamond League meetings are not organized by the IAAF,” the IAAF said in a statement later Thursday. “Entry for any athlete into a Diamond League meeting is by invitation only from the meeting organizer.”

Semenya’s team also said the Swiss court denied an IAAF request to reimpose the regulations. The IAAF said it “continues to comply with” the Swiss court order to suspend the testosterone rule, strictly for Semenya.

“No woman should be subjected to these rules,” Semenya said in the release. “I thought hard about not running the 800m in solidarity unless all women can run free. But I will run now to show the IAAF that they cannot drug us.”

Semenya is also seeking to change her event at the Pre Classic on June 30 from the 3000m to the 800m, according to the release.

“As one of the premier track and field meets in the World, the Prefontaine Classic always strives to have the top athletes in attendance,” a meet spokesperson said when asked if Semenya will be allowed in the 800m. “If an athlete has a time/mark that is among the best in the World and is eligible in the eyes of the sports’ governing bodies, then yes, they will be considered for an invite to the Prefontaine Classic.”

MORE: Caster Semenya to IAAF: Focus on dopers, not us

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Kelly Slater has an Olympic decision to make

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Surfing icon Kelly Slater is in great position to qualify for his sport’s Olympic debut in 2020, but he’s undecided about making a required event appearance this summer to stay eligible.

The top two U.S. male surfers in this season’s World Surf League final standings are in line to qualify for the Olympics.

Slater, a 47-year-old, 11-time world champion, is ranked third among Americans through six of 11 events, but the No. 2, two-time world champion John John Florence, is likely out for the rest of the season after an ACL tear.

If Slater keeps up his current pace of results, he will pass Florence’s point total by the end of the season in December.

“It appears as though I have to make a decision [on the Olympics] sooner than that,” Slater said after being eliminated from South Africa’s J-Bay Open in ninth place on Wednesday. “I’ve really got to figure out all the factors around that and make a decision in the next few weeks.”

Slater’s concern is the ISA World Surfing Games in Miyazaki, Japan, in September, an event that top Olympic hopefuls on the WSL tour are required to attend, barring illness or injury.

“I think I have to surf that event, and if I don’t, it may disqualify me,” he said (the International Surfing Association, the sport’s governing body, later confirmed it would disqualify him). “But I’m not sure if I want to go to Japan and compete right now.”

The ISA Games take place in the week between the next two WSL events, the latter hosted by Slater’s Surf Ranch wave pool in California.

“I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the Olympics right now, anyways,” said Slater, who last year said he was “50-50” on the Olympics when noting his differing thoughts on the qualification process and venue. “The point is, I’m not really focusing on it at this point. I’m trying to get myself back in the flow of the tour.”

Slater missed 13 tour stops between the 2017 and 2018 seasons after breaking a foot and having multiple surgeries.

He finished fifth, third, ninth, ninth and ninth in his five most recent events to get into Olympic qualifying position. He expected more after placing third in the two contests he entered healthy last season. Slater said he competed at J-Bay after straining his back “really bad” on Sunday, keeping him from surfing the three days before the contest.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, at 48, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, via the OlyMADMen.

“Right now in my head the focus is more on this tour than it is on the Olympics, but we’ll see,” he said. “I was starting this year with a lot of pressure on myself to try and make the Olympic team and think, maybe I’ll retire there next year and that will be the end for me. It put so much pressure on the start of the year for me that I didn’t feel like I could freely compete. It was putting too many things in my head. I needed to let that take a backseat and not worry about it. I’m just not really thinking about it a lot.”

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

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China on brink of sweeping every gold medal at diving worlds

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Shi Tingmao joined Guo Jingjing as the only women to win three straight world titles in an individual diving event, giving China 11 gold medals in 11 events with two finals left in Gwangju, South Korea.

Shi, who swept the individual and synchronized springboard titles in Rio, claimed the 3m world title on Friday by 18.25 points with 391 total. Countrywoman Wang Han took silver, 5.8 points ahead of Australian Maddison Keeney.

Americans Sarah Bacon and Brooke Schultz missed the 12-woman final, placing 14th and 29th.

China, which has dominated the sport for two decades, is looking to sweep the golds at an Olympics or worlds for the second time after winning all 10 events in 2011. This year’s feat could be more impressive, should China win the last two events Saturday — a mixed-gender springboard and the men’s platform.

That’s because three mixed-gender events were added to the world program (but not the Olympic program) since 2011. And this year, China has not only won every gold but also taken every silver in the three individual Olympic program events thus far.

China is in strong position to go one-two in the men’s platform. Yang Jian and Yang Hao were nearly 70 points clear of the field in Friday’s semifinals.

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