Ukraine boycotts Olympic judo qualifier as Russians compete

Madina Taimazova,
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Ukraine has begun a boycott of international judo events because the Russian team was allowed to compete as Olympic qualification began on Friday.

Judo is one of the few Olympic sports in which Russians can still compete, though they must do so without their flag and are officially representing the International Judo Federation. That goes against the wishes of the International Olympic Committee, which recommends excluding athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Until this week, Russia stayed away from international judo events citing what the IJF termed “logistics and safety” concerns, but it entered 24 athletes in the Grand Slam tournament in Mongolia which started on Friday. That’s the first competition which counts toward qualification for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Ukraine is staying away in protest.

“Everybody who follows world sport a small way understands that Russian athletes are a key part of this country’s aggressive propaganda politics,” Ukrainian Judo Federation president Mykhailo Koshliak wrote in an open letter dated Thursday.

“Speaking of Russia and sport, it is by no means possible to say that ‘sport is out of politics.’ The silence of Russian and Belarusian athletes and coaches supports the war against Ukraine and kills thousands of Ukrainian citizens.”

Koshliak alleged 11 of the Russian team competing in Mongolia were “active representatives of the Russian Armed Forces” and held military ranks. They include Madina Taimazova, who was congratulated by the Russian Defense Ministry in a statement after she won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year, with her rank listed as that of warrant officer.

The IJF has argued it is preventing discrimination by allowing the Russians to continue competing and said on Thursday it would punish any athlete who displays “political vindication or unsportsmanlike attitude.”

“The International Judo Federation is against war, against any kind of violence, as well as hate and discrimination,” IJF general director Vlad Marinescu said in a statement. “Sport is not politics, sport is a bridge between different cultures. Our values are the values of sport, where there is no room for politics.”

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Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde
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BEAVER CREEK, Colorado — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph (121 kph) in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

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Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

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Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

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