FINA World Swimming Championships 15th edition ends with 46 champions crowned in Abu Dhabi

FINA World Swimming Championships 15th edition ends with 46 champions crowned in Abu Dhabi
The FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi produced 46 champions and four world records. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 December 2021

FINA World Swimming Championships 15th edition ends with 46 champions crowned in Abu Dhabi

FINA World Swimming Championships 15th edition ends with 46 champions crowned in Abu Dhabi
  • Four world records set during five days of competition at the Etihad Arena on Yas Bay

ABU DHABI: The 15th edition of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) concluded on Tuesday, after a five-day competition which had witnessed 46 world champions crowned and four world records broken at the Etihad Arena on Yas Bay.

Germany’s Florian Wellbrock became the latest swimmer to set a new world record after triumphing in the men’s 1,500m freestyle on the last night of action. 

Officials from organizers Abu Dhabi Sports Council and FINA attended the championships’ closing press conference, ahead of the closing ceremony which took place inside the arena. They included Aref Al-Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council; Husain Al-Musallam, FINA president; and Brent Nowicki, FINA executive director.

The officials were joined by several swimmers and high-divers , including Chad Le Clos (Olympic, world and Commonwealth Games champion) and Siobhan Haughey (women’s 200m/100m freestyle champion in Abu Dhabi).

Haughey had stormed to a world record of 1:50.31 in the women’s 200m freestyle, while Sweden equalled the 4x50m medley relay world record set by the US in the event’s previous edition. Haughey and the Swedish quartet earned an additional $50,000 for their record-setting performances.  

As well as the newly crowned world champions, the championships also featured an array of talented swimmers from across the world, including Alaa Maso, the lone member of the FINA Refugee Team, who fled his home nation Syria to pursue his swimming ambitions.  

“Over the last week, Abu Dhabi has been at the center of the swimming global sphere, with more than 1,100 athletes from over 183 countries competing not only in the swimming pool, but also across high-diving and the open water swimming, for a prize purse of $3.2 million — the highest in FINA’s history,” said Al-Awani. 

He also highlighted that the tournament was broadcast to a global TV audience across 133 countries, including CCTV in China, NBC in North America, Super Sports across Africa and local host broadcasters, Abu Dhabi Sports Channel.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to the media,” he said. “Over the past week, we have hosted 160 accredited media to this world-class venue. I hope you have enjoyed your time here at Etihad Arena. I would also like to thank Captain Husain, Taha Alkushari and our friends at FINA, and for all the participating countries and athletes.” 

Al-Awani added: “We are also sending our best wishes to the 2022 organizing committee in Kazan, Russia, as they embark on their journey to delivering the next short course world championships (25m).”  

Haughey said she and her nation can look back at the Abu Dhabi edition with pride following some impressive performances in the pool. 

“It was amazing to know that I was the first person from Hong Kong, China to win a world championship and break a world record,” she said. “I’m sure in the future there will be a lot of up-and-coming swimmers who can achieve the same thing, too. Since day one, when I broke the world record, the Hong Kong, China team has been doing really well and made a lot of finals and it’s been a great week for the whole country.” 

Aidan Heslop of Great Britain was among the winners at the FINA high diving qualifier, producing the hardest dive ever attempted to triumph in the final round of the event. 

The 19-year-old, who received sevens from the judges to secure a winning score of 436.90 points, reflected on his triumph by saying: “You do have to be a little bit crazy for it, but we take some calculated risks on what we’re doing and don’t do anything silly. We really use out 10m diving that we started off with and adapt to these heights.” 

After the press conference the official closing ceremony took place inside the Etihad Arena, for the official handing over of the next FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), which is set to take place in Kazan, Russia in 2022.


Newcastle line up high-profile friendlies against Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao in late July

Newcastle line up high-profile friendlies against Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao in late July
Updated 29 May 2022

Newcastle line up high-profile friendlies against Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao in late July

Newcastle line up high-profile friendlies against Atalanta and Athletic Bilbao in late July
  • Magpies had to change summer plans after Ohio Cup involvement, also set to feature Valencia, Villarreal, Wolverhampton Wanderers, was canceled

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United’s US travel plans may well be in tatters but that hasn’t stopped them landing two high-profile home summer friendlies.

The Magpies have announced they will close off their summer preparation for the 2022-23 Premier League season with a St. James’ Park double-header on Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30.

First up Serie A and Champions League outfit Atalanta will take on Eddie Howe & Co. before Spanish side Athletic Bilbao will be on Tyneside less than 24 hours later.

The two matches, less than a day apart, are the final two games of what Howe hopes will be a very busy summer ahead of the big Premier League kick-off on the weekend of Saturday, Aug. 6.

A statement confirming the fixtures read: “Newcastle United have confirmed two home pre-season friendly fixtures ahead of the 2022/23 Premier League season.

“The Magpies will host a double-header against European opposition at St. James’ Park a week before the season gets under way, firstly taking on Italian club Atalanta on Friday 29th July (7:45pm) before welcoming Spanish side Athletic Bilbao on Saturday 30th July (time TBC).

“It is expected that head coach Eddie Howe will split his first team squad across the two fixtures.

“Both clubs finished eighth in their respective domestic leagues last season, with Atalanta also reaching the last eight of the UEFA Europa League after being eliminated from the Champions League during the group stage.

“Known formally as Athletic Club, Basque-based Bilbao also came close to cup success during the 2021-22 campaign but lost to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final after previously lifting the trophy last year.”

The fixture announcement comes after Newcastle’s pre-season plans had to be ripped up and rescheduled following the cancelation of their planned Ohio Cup involvement.

Tournament organizers pulled the plug on the fixtures, due to be played by Valencia, Villarreal, Wolverhampton Wanderers and United in Cincinnati and Columbus, due to concerns about Major League Soccer ticket sales in the area.

Howe and United’s backroom staff have been desperately trying to schedule another summer trip, but a journey to the US now appears off the table with Europe looking a more likely destination.

Meanwhile, Newcastle have confirmed their first summer signing with Republic of Ireland youth prospect Alex Murphy putting pen to paper.

Murphy, who turns 18 on June 25, joins the Magpies from Galway United and will take his place in Elliott Dickman’s under-23s side in July.

Murphy has captained Ireland’s under-18 side and was called up for the UEFA U19 European Championship Elite Phase qualifiers in March.

Steve Harper, Newcastle United’s Academy manager, said: “We are very pleased to have secured a deal to bring Alex to Newcastle United.

“He is a very promising young player who has attracted a lot of attention from clubs. It is a real coup for our academy and is testament to the direction the club is going in under our owners.

“I would like to thank everyone involved with Galway United for their assistance. The club has been a pleasure to deal with and I wish John Caulfield and his players the very best of luck for the rest of the season.”


Game 7: Heat, Celtics set to finally decide East champion

Game 7: Heat, Celtics set to finally decide East champion
Updated 29 May 2022

Game 7: Heat, Celtics set to finally decide East champion

Game 7: Heat, Celtics set to finally decide East champion
  • Miami have the home-court advantage for the finale, though home court has meant nothing in this series

MIAMI: Erik Spoelstra didn’t even have to finish the sentence. The Miami Heat coach was speaking in the locker room after a season-extending win in Boston, players and staff standing around him in a semicircle.

“There’s no two better words,” Spoelstra said.

“Game 7,” about a half-dozen people responded, in unison.

Game 7, for a berth in the NBA Finals. Either the Heat or the Boston Celtics will become Eastern Conference champions on Sunday night, when they’ll finally finish their series and see which club will face the Golden State Warriors in the title round.

It’ll be the second Game 7 between the teams; the other was in 2012, when the Heat topped the Celtics 101-88 to win that year’s East title.

“Look, we’re here,” Spoelstra said after Miami fended off elimination with a 111-103 win in Boston on Friday night, behind a 47-point, nine-rebound, eight-assist, four-steal effort from Jimmy Butler. “This is the way it should be with these two teams. It should have gone seven games.”

Miami have the home-court advantage for the finale, though home court has meant nothing in this series. The Heat went 2-1 in Boston, the Celtics have gone 2-1 in Miami so far with the two wins coming by a combined 38 points and Boston’s 6-2 road record is the best of any teams in this season’s playoffs.

And that has the Celtics brimming with confidence, even though road teams are 34-110 all-time — a winning percentage of .236 — in Game 7s.

“Scale of 1 to 10? Ten. I mean, it shouldn’t be any less than that, right?” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said when asked how certain he is that Boston can win the series on Miami’s floor. “You know, it’s the last game. That’s what it’s all about.”

Injuries have been one of the major storylines of the series, and that remains the case Sunday.

Butler has been dealing with knee issues and twisted an ankle late in Game 6 though still came through with arguably the best game of his career. Kyle Lowry and Max Strus — who had big bounce-backs Friday after posting a combined zero points in Game 5 — still have hamstring concerns. For Boston, Marcus Smart’s ankle has been balky, Robert Williams III’s knee is an ongoing question and Jaylen Brown banged a knee on a drive in Game 5 though finished the game with no obvious ill effects.

“This time of year, there’s nobody 100 percent healthy, both sides,” Miami’s P.J. Tucker said. “I’m sure they got a bunch of guys, too, just trying to figure it out and give what they can. Try to win. That’s it. You can’t get these days back. It’s living in the moment, trying to just do what you can.”

The Heat might get one key piece back: Tyler Herro, who has been sidelined for the last three games with a strained groin, is going to try some on-court work Sunday in hopes of playing in Game 7.

“For us, it’s just another opportunity,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said Saturday. “You put yourself in this position, going up 3-2, to have two games to win one. And so, as much as you’d love to finish it on your home court, we’ve been up and down in the series and due to that it’s where it is right now. ... It’s just another opportunity and we obviously see the big picture ahead.”

The Celtics last went to the NBA Finals in 2010. This is their fifth trip to the East finals since, and Friday’s loss made them 0-5 in potential East clinchers over that span.

“We’ve just got to come out and play, come out and respond,” Brown said. “Backs are on the wall, Game 7, loser go home. We’ve got to come out and find a way to win.”

From Miami’s perspective, the seeds began being planted for this just moments after Game 5. The Celtics had just won in Miami to take a 3-2 series lead, and Spoelstra stepped into a defeated locker room to lay out the objective. He repeated it, over and over.

“Bring this thing back on the 29th,” Spoelstra kept saying.

The 29th is Sunday.

They brought it back. Game 7 awaits.

“There’s nothing like a Game 7,” Spoelstra said. “And I’m just really excited that we all get to experience that together.”

Heat fined

The NBA fined Miami $25,000 on Saturday for violating league rules regarding team bench decorum. The league said “on multiple occasions, several players stood for an extended period in Miami’s team bench area, stood away from the team bench, and were on, encroaching upon or entering the playing court during live game action” during Game 6 in Boston.

It has been a point of emphasis for the league of late. Dallas was fined a total of $175,000 for three similar infractions.

Power of 3

No opposing team has ever won three games at Miami in the same playoff series, a trend that Boston will aim to break on Sunday.

This deep into the playoffs — conference finals or NBA Finals — such a feat has occurred only 10 times in the last 40 seasons, most recently when Toronto won three times at Golden State in the 2019 NBA Finals.

Game 7 history

Miami have two players who have scored at least 30 points in a Game 7. Lowry had 35 for Toronto in a 2016 romp over the Heat, and Victor Oladipo had 30 for Indiana in a 2018 loss to Cleveland. Tatum has averaged 24.0 points in four previous Game 7s, the best of anyone on this Boston roster.

The Celtics are 25-9 in Game 7s, Miami 6-4.

Trends

There have been two Game 7s so far in these playoffs, both in the second round: Boston beat Milwaukee by 28 and Dallas won at Phoenix by 33.

Road teams have won three of the last four Game 7s.

Century mark

Both teams will be playing their 100th games of the season. Miami enters 64-35, Boston 62-37.


Scheffler seizes PGA Colonial lead with closing birdie

Scheffler seizes PGA Colonial lead with closing birdie
Updated 29 May 2022

Scheffler seizes PGA Colonial lead with closing birdie

Scheffler seizes PGA Colonial lead with closing birdie
  • Scheffler could become the first world No. 1 to win the event since Australian Adam Scott in 2014

LOS ANGELES: Top-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler closed with a 30-foot birdie putt to seize a two-stroke lead after Saturday’s wind-whipped third round of the US PGA Charles Schwab Challenge.

The 25-year-old American, chasing his fifth victory of the year, fired a 2-under par 68 to stand on 11-under 199 after 54 holes at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

“The winds were up really high. The greens were actually pretty firm, and so it was challenging,” said Scheffler. “The birdies were not coming easy to anybody out there late in the day.”

Scheffler, among eight players sharing the 18-hole lead and four co-leaders after 36, had not made a bogey over the first 52 holes before stumbling at the 17th.

But he responded with a dramatic birdie at the 18th to stretch his lead back to two entering Sunday’s final round.

“I was glad it was going toward the cup. I hit it a little bit too firm,” Scheffler said of his final birdie. “I struggled a little bit with the speed of the greens today. It’s tough when the wind gets blowing that hard.

“Like 18, I’m putting downhill but straight into the wind. That one I was just trying to make sure I got to the hole because putting downhill when the greens get iffy late in the day is very tough... fortunately that one hit the bottom of the cup.”

An eagle-birdie start helped American Brendon Todd shoot 65, the day’s low round, to share second on 201 with countryman Scott Stallings. American Harold Varner was in fourth on 202.

Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, was on 203 with fellow Americans John Huh and Chris Kirk and Australian Cam Davis.

Scheffler could become the first world No. 1 to win the event since Australian Adam Scott in 2014.

With a victory, Scheffler would join South African Bobby Locke from 1947 and Australian Joe Kirkwood Sr. from 1923 as players winning their first five  PGA Tour titles in the same season. Locke took six in his debut campaign while Kirkwood won five.

After winning his first US PGA title at Phoenix in February, Scheffler won at Bay Hill and captured the WGC Match Play title in March then won his first major title at Augusta National in April to overtake Spain’s Jon Rahm as world No. 1.

Patience was at a premium on a blustery day for Scheffler, who parred his way through the front nine to remain tied for the lead.

At the 10th, Scheffler found greenside rough but chipped in from 20 feet to seize the solo lead, then landed his approach at the par-5 11th inches from the cup and tapped in to reach 11-under and lead by two.

At 14, Scheffler chipped from 70 feet to inches from the cup for a tap-in par, but his bogey-free run ended with a five-foot par putt miss at the 17th, setting the stage for his dramatic birdie finish.

“This is a golf course you have to be pretty careful around. It’s very challenging,” Scheffler said.

Todd drove the green in two and sank an eight-foot eagle putt on the par-5 opening hole, then holed out from just over 33 feet at the second.

Todd dropped his approach to four feet to set up a birdie at the sixth and rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-3 eighth, then parred his way to the clubhouse.


Jai Hindley on brink of Giro glory after snatching overall lead in Dolomites

Jai Hindley on brink of Giro glory after snatching overall lead in Dolomites
Updated 29 May 2022

Jai Hindley on brink of Giro glory after snatching overall lead in Dolomites

Jai Hindley on brink of Giro glory after snatching overall lead in Dolomites
  • Hindley made his move with less than 3 km remaining of the final Passo Fedaia climb and left Carapaz needing a miracle in Sunday’s final stage time trial in Verona
  • Stage winner Covi claimed the biggest win of his career on home turf after a bold attack with over 50km to go

PASSO FEDAIA, Italy: Jai Hindley took a huge step toward winning the Giro d’Italia on Saturday after snatching the overall lead from Richard Carapaz in the final kilometers of the gruelling penultimate stage in the Dolomites, won by Italian Alessandro Covi.

Bora-Hansgrohe’s Hindley all but ensured that he would win his first Grand Tour after a dazzling raid at the end of the mountainous, 168km 20th stage which left him one minute and 25 seconds ahead of Carapaz in the fight for the pink jersey.

The 26-year-old made his move with less than three kilometers remaining of the final Passo Fedaia climb and left Carapaz needing a miracle in Sunday’s final stage time trial in Verona.

“I knew this was going to be the crucial stage of the race. I knew there was a brutal finish and that you could make a difference,” said the 26-year-old.

“We just stayed patient, saved our energy until today and, you know, actually it was perfect. “I will die to defend the pink jersey.”

The Australian, who has won only stage nine in this year’s Giro, started the day just three seconds behind 2019 winner Carapaz and demolished the Ineos rider toward the summit of the Passo Fedaia.

Ecuadorian Carapaz visibly struggled to keep up with Hindley on a 14km climb at 7.6 percent and watched his slender lead vanish after a powerful and well-time attack by his rival.

Carapaz even finished behind Mikel Landa, who had appeared out of the running earlier in the day and is 1:51 off the pace in the general classification.

Hindley will be especially happy with the time gap between him and Carapaz as he struggles in time trials and lost the 2020 edition of the Giro on the final time trial stage.

He had come into that year’s climax in Milan level with Briton Tao Geoghegan Hart, who ended up winning the overall race.

Stage winner Covi claimed the biggest win of his career on home turf after a bold attack with over 50km to go.

The 23-year-old UAE rider went for it on the stage’s second big Passo Pordoi climb and held off Domen Novak to win his first Grand Tour stage.

Covi had finished second in last year’s 11th stage, and came in third at the top of Monte Zoncolan three stages later.

“Last year we went close a couple of times, this year I wanted to win a stage, but I had to help (Joao) Almeida so my chances for winning were few and far between,” said Covi.

“Unfortunately Joao caught Covid and we were left bare for the final three stages, so we wanted to take home at least one of them for the team.”

Hindley should seal his win on Sunday in Verona, where the race will climax at the famous ancient Roman Arena at the end of a 17.4km time trial.


Bromell, Thompson-Herah bag 100-meter wins at Prefontaine Classic

Bromell, Thompson-Herah bag 100-meter wins at Prefontaine Classic
Updated 29 May 2022

Bromell, Thompson-Herah bag 100-meter wins at Prefontaine Classic

Bromell, Thompson-Herah bag 100-meter wins at Prefontaine Classic
  • Despite intermittent rain, the day included a host of world-leading performances, starting with Brazilan Alison dos Santos’s 400m hurdles victory in 47.23
  • Dos Santos' win shaved one-hundredth of a second off the world leading mark he posted in winning at the Doha Diamond League meet

EUGENE, Oregon: Trayvon Bromell and Elaine Thompson-Herah grabbed 100m Wanda Diamond League Prefontaine Classic victories Saturday in Eugene, where eight world-leading performances highlighted the action at Hayward Field.

America’s Bromell, the fastest man in the world last year, bounced back from a false start disqualification in Birmingham last weekend to win a star-studded men’s 100m in 9.93sec.

Jamaica’s Thompson-Herah, who won back-to-back Olympic 100m-200m doubles in 2016 and last year, captured the women’s 100m in 10.79.

Neither was a world best for 2022, but Thompson-Herah said she was just pleased to hit the line first and healthy on a rainy day in Eugene at the same venue that will host the athletics World Championships on July 15-24.

“I’m excited I crossed the line healthy,” Thompson-Herah said. “I don’t care about the time. The rain was falling. It was a little cold.

“It shows I’m on a great path,” added the Jamaican star, who pulled out of the Birmingham Diamond League meeting with a shoulder injury, testing herself in a lower-level meeting in Kingston last Saturday instead.

“I’m getting into shape,” added the Jamaican, who said on Friday that her training had also been disrupted by a nagging Achilles injury. “I’m getting where I need to be.”

Thompson-Herah made a smooth start on the damp track and took control at the 50m mark. Rising US star Sha’Carri Richardson won a close battle for second place ahead of Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, both credited with a time of 10.92.

Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica celebrates after winning the women's 1,500m at the Wanda Diamond League Prefontaine Classic. (AFP]

Richardson, 22, shot to prominence last season at the US Olympic trials with a wind-aided 10.64 in the final. But she missed the Tokyo Games after a positive test for marijuana.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce made it a women’s sprint double for Jamaica with a victory in the 200m in 22.41.

Bromell, who clocked a wind-aided 9.75 in Florida earlier this month, said his race left plenty of room for improvement as he looks toward the US World Championship trials in Eugene next month and the Worlds themselves.

“I was happy to come out with a win, but I felt like there was a lot of technical stuff I messed up on,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I’m already getting messages from my coach.”

Compatriot Fred Kerley, silver medallist at the Tokyo Olympics last year, was second in 9.98 and reigning world champion Christian Coleman, still working his way back after an 18-month suspension for violating doping whereabouts rules, completed a US podium sweep in 10.04.

“It went pretty well, just considering the elements and where I’m at in the season,” Coleman said.

Despite intermittent rain, the day included a host of world-leading performances, starting with Brazilan Alison dos Santos’s 400m hurdles victory in 47.23, which shaved one-hundredth of a second off the world leading mark he posted in winning at the Doha Diamond League meet.

The Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist said it was “amazing” to get a chance to test the World Championships venue.

“It’s so nice, because you can feel the energy, you can feel the track, you can feel everything before the championships.”

American Michael Norman shattered a 22-year-old meet record set by Michael Johnson with his 400m triumph in 43.60.

Norman’s fastest performance in more than a year was the best in the world in 2022 and carried him to victory over Grenada’s 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James (44.02) and Britain’s Matthew Hudson-Smith (44.35).

Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson backed up her victory in Birmingham with a gritty win in the women’s 800m in a world-leading 1:57.72.

Kazakhstan’s Norah Jeruto won the women’s 3,000m steeplechase in a world-leading 8:57.97. Winfred Mutile Yavi of Bahrain became just the seventh woman to break nine minutes in the event with her second-place finish in 8:58.71.

World record-holder Ryan Crouser won the shot put with a season’s best 23.02 ahead of compatriot Joe Kovacs (22.49) and New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh (21.96).

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Faith Kipyegon of Kenya won the women’s 1,500m in 3:52.59, Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen won the men’s mile in 3:49.76 and Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi won the men’s 5,000m in 12:50.05.

Aregawi’s victory improved on the world leading time of 12:57.99 set by Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Joshua Cheptegei on Friday night in a separate 5,000m race billed as a world record attempt by the Ugandan.