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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Brooke Raboutou is first U.S. Olympic sport climbing qualifier

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Brooke Raboutou, 18, became the first American to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in sport climbing by reaching Tuesday’s combined final at the world championships in Hachioji, Japan, USA Climbing confirmed.

She qualified ninth into that final.

Raboutou, the daughter of two world-class climbers who has competed since age 7, became the seventh American across all sports to qualify for the 2020 Olympics after three open-water swimmers, two modern pentathletes and a triathlete.

Olympic sport climbing will feature one set of medals per gender, the event combining three disciplines: lead, speed and bouldering.

From Tokyo 2020: Speed climbing pits two climbers against each other, both climbing a fixed route on a 15-meter wall at a 95-degree angle. Winning times are generally between five and eight seconds. In bouldering, climbers scale a number of fixed routes on a four-meter wall in a specified time without safety ropes. In lead climbing, athletes attempt to climb as high as possible on a wall measuring over 15 meters in height within a fixed time with safety ropes.

A nation can qualify up to two athletes per gender into Olympic sport climbing.

The sport debuted at the Youth Olympics in 2018 in Buenos Aires, but no Americans were entered.

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Danielle Williams cemented as world No. 1 hurdler in Birmingham

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The 100m hurdles has been one of the U.S.’ deepest events the last several years, but Jamaican Danielle Williams looks like the favorite at the world championships in early October.

Williams, who owns the world’s fastest time this year, easily beat world-record holder Kendra Harrison and Olympic champion Brianna McNeal at a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, Great Britain, on Sunday.

Williams crossed in 12.46 seconds despite hitting her knee on one hurdle, but still two tenths clear of Harrison, whose world record is 12.20. It marked Harrison’s first loss in nine meets this year and the first time a non-American has ever beaten her at a Diamond League stop.

It looked like Williams wouldn’t make it to worlds in Doha when she false started out of the Jamaican Championships. But the final was soon after strangely canceled, and Jamaican media reported last week that Williams, the 2015 World champion who failed to make the Rio Olympics, is eligible to be chosen next month by the federation.

The U.S. had at least the two fastest women in the world each of the previous six years. Then Williams re-emerged with a Jamaican record 12.32 on July 20.

The meet airs Monday on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA at 4 p.m. ET and NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET. The Diamond League moves to Paris on Saturday.

In other events Sunday, Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo overtook Brit Dina Asher-Smith and Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 200m in 22.24. Miller-Uibo extended her unbeaten streak to two years across all distances.

It appears Miller-Uibo will not be racing the 200m at worlds, given it overlaps with the 400m. She ranks third in the world this year at the shorter distance, trailing Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson, who clocked 22.00 on June 23 but was not in Sunday’s field. Miller-Uibo has ranked No. 1 at 400m four straight years.

Yohan Blake won the 100m in 10.07 seconds, holding off Brit Adam Gemili, who had the same time with a 2 meter/second tailwind. Blake, the second-fastest man in history with a personal best of 9.69, hasn’t been the same since suffering a series of leg injuries starting in 2013.

Sunday’s field lacked the world championships favorites — Americans Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin, who clocked 9.81 and 9.87 on June 30.

Surprise U.S. champion Teahna Daniels placed third in her Diamond League 100m debut, clocking 11.24 seconds. The field lacked world championships favorites Thompson and Fraser-Pryce, who each ran 10.73 at the Jamaican Championships on June 21.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won an 800m that lacked all three Rio Olympic medalists, who are barred from racing the event due to the IAAF’s new testosterone cap in middle distances. Wilson’s time, 2:00.76, was far off her 2019 world-leading time of 1:57.72 among eligible women.

Olympic and world heptathlon champion Nafi Thiam broke the Belgian long jump record twice, winning with a 6.86-meter leap. That ranks ninth in the world this year. The field lacked the last two Olympic champions, Americans Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese.

A meeting of the last two Olympic pole vault champs went to Rio gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi of Greece, who cleared 4.75 meters in swirling wind. London 2012 champ Jenn Suhr was third but remains No. 1 in the world this year with a 4.91-meter clearance from March 30.

Croatian Sandra Perkovic, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic discus champion, lost her third straight Diamond League meet to start the season as she returns from injury. Perkovic, who placed third behind winner Cuban Yaimé Pérez, had not lost in back-to-back meets since returning from a six-month doping ban in 2011, according to Tilastopaja.org.

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