Olympic medal forecaster has U.S. topping Tokyo 2020 standings

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TOKYO (AP) — If the Tokyo Olympics were opening today, the United States would top the overall medal count and the gold-medal count.

That’s the forecast released Tuesday by Gracenote Sports, which supplies statistical analysis for sports leagues around the world.

Simon Gleave, the head of sports analysis at Gracenote, said his model has the United States winning 51 gold medals, 34 silver, and 41 bronze for 126 overall. China is picked to finish second with 38 gold and 81 overall.

Host nation Japan is third, which would be a strong showing for a country with a much smaller population than China or the United States. Japan is predicted to win 29 gold medals, 67 overall and take advantage of the “home-field advantage” that almost always goes to the host nation. Spain got a boost back in the ’92 Barcelona Olympics, China jumped in 2008 in Beijing, as did Britain in London in 2012.

The Tokyo Olympics open on July 24, 2020.

The next seven countries ranked in order of overall medals are: Russia (65), Britain (43), Australia (43), France (41), Germany (38), Netherlands (34), and Italy (32).

This is fifth forecast Gleave has put together and the record is solid.

“Sometimes countries over-perform, or under-perform, and that’s not to do with our model,” Gleave told AP in an interview. “That just happens in sport.”

Three years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Gracenote picked the order of the top three countries correctly, and picked eight of the top 10 medal-winning countries. In the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, it correctly picked Norway to win a record number of medals and finish ahead of No. 2 Germany. It also picked the top four countries correctly, and in the correct order. Its predictions for seven of the top 10 countries were within one or two medals of their final totals.

Russia is a major headache. Its track and field athletes are still banned from Tokyo following a widespread doping scandal. The governing body of track and field, the IAAF, has had a ban on the Russian athletics federation since 2015. Russia’s medal total of course will be impacted by any change in eligibility.

“If just before the Olympics, Russia is allowed to enter again it’s going to be a bit of an issue,” Gleave said of the medal predictions.

Other highlights.

— Britain finished in the top three in the last two Olympics, but is expected to fall out of that ranking. Look for Australia and Britain to be vying for a spot in the top five.

— The Netherlands is picked to surpass its best overall medal total of 25 — that was 2000 in Sydney — and reach 34.

— The second 10 in overall medal totals predicted are: South Korea (30), Hungary (27), Canada (25), Kenya (20), Spain (20), New Zealand (18), Ukraine (16), Brazil (15), Poland (14), and Turkey (14).

— Women’s participation in Tokyo will almost reach parity with men. Countries not promoting women’s sports are sure to suffer in the medal standings.

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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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