Russia names figure skating worlds team; Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva oldest in 14 years

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva
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Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva grabbed the last spot on Russia’s three-woman team for the world figure skating championships and is set to become the first non-teen to compete in women’s singles at worlds for the nation since 2013.

Russia named its roster for worlds — in Stockholm in three weeks — after a domestic competition this past weekend.

It’s led by three-time reigning national champion Anna Shcherbakova, a 16-year-old set for her senior worlds debut. Another 16-year-old, Aleksandra Trusova, all but wrapped up the second spot by placing third at nationals in December (and second among skaters old enough for senior worlds).

Tuktamysheva, 24 and the gold medalist at her last worlds in 2015, was seventh at nationals in December. But she was fourth among skaters age-eligible for worlds (and just .38 of a point behind the third age-eligible skater).

At last weekend’s Russian Cup Final, Tuktamysheva placed fourth. But the top three finishers are all 14 years old, and thus too young for senior worlds.

For the last spot on the world team, Tuktamysheva essentially outdueled Aliona Kostornaya, the world’s top skater last season who missed competitions this season, including nationals, after testing positive for the coronavirus. Kostornaya was sixth at the Russian Cup Final.

Olympic gold medalist Alina Zagitova last competed in December 2019 and is on an indefinite break from competition. Olympic silver medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva hasn’t competed since an early September domestic preseason event, dealing with a back injury and then being hospitalized after being diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Aleksey Mishin, the venerable coach who turns 80 next week, called student Tuktamysheva a Statue of Liberty for female singles skaters 20 and older, according to Russian media.

Tuktamysheva is set to become the first non-teenage Russian female singles skater to compete at worlds since Alena Leonova, who did so at 22 in 2013.

That same year, Tuktamysheva made her world champs debut at 16. That was also the last year when the world’s top skater was not Russian.

Tuktamysheva will be the oldest Russian female singles skater to compete at worlds since 27-year-old Yelena Sokolova in 2007. Tuktamysheva has yet to make an Olympic team, but should she next year, she would be the oldest Russian Olympic female singles skater since 2006, when Sokolova was 26 and Irina Slutskaya was 27.

Russia could sweep the medals at worlds. It was expected to do so last year, before worlds were canceled, with Kostornaya, Shcherbakova and Trusova having swept the Grand Prix Series and European Championships titles in their senior debut seasons.

Japanese Kihira Rika, who was fourth at the last worlds in 2019, may be the biggest threat.

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw

Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They meet in Friday’s semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

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IOC board recommends withdrawing International Boxing Association’s recognition

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Boxing

The IOC finally ran out of patience with the International Boxing Federation on Wednesday and set a date to terminate its Olympic status this month.

While boxing will still be on the program at the 2024 Paris Games, the International Olympic Committee said its executive board has asked the full membership to withdraw its recognition of the IBA at a special meeting on June 22.

IOC members rarely vote against recommendations from their 15-member board and the IBA’s ouster is likely a formality.

The IOC had already suspended the IBA’s recognition in 2019 over long-standing financial, sports integrity and governance issues. The Olympic body oversaw the boxing competitions itself at the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 and will do so again for Paris.

An IOC statement said the boxing body “has failed to fulfil the conditions set by the IOC … for lifting the suspension of the IBA’s recognition.”

The IBA criticized what it called a “truly abhorrent and purely political” decision by the IOC and warned of “retaliatory measures.”

“Now, we are left with no chance but to demand a fair assessment from a competent court,” the boxing body’s Russian president Umar Kremlev said in a statement.

The IOC-IBA standoff has also put boxing’s place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games at risk, though that should now be resolved.

The IOC previously stressed it has no problem with the sport or its athletes — just the IBA and its current president Kremlev, plus financial dependence on Russian state energy firm Gazprom.

In a 24-page report on IBA issues published Wednesday, the IOC concluded “the accumulation of all of these points, and the constant lack of drastic evolution throughout the many years, creates a situation of no-return.”

Olympic boxing’s reputation has been in question for decades. Tensions heightened after boxing officials worldwide ousted long-time IOC member C.K. Wu as their president in 2017 when the organization was known by its French acronym AIBA.

“From a disreputable organization named AIBA governed by someone from the IOC’s upper echelon, we committed to and executed a change in the toxic and corrupt culture that was allowed to fester under the IOC for far too long,” Kremlev said Wednesday in a statement.

National federations then defied IOC warnings in 2018 by electing as their president Gafur Rakhimov, a businessman from Uzbekistan with alleged ties to organized crime and heroin trafficking.

Kremlev’s election to replace Rakhimov in 2020 followed another round of IOC warnings that went unheeded.

Amid the IBA turmoil, a rival organization called World Boxing has attracted initial support from officials in the United States, Switzerland and Britain.

The IBA can still continue to organize its own events and held the men’s world championships last month in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.

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