Caeleb Dressel earns an individual race in Paris, winning 50m freestyle at US Olympic swimming trials

Caeleb Dressel earns an individual race in Paris, winning 50m freestyle at US Olympic swimming trials
Chris Guiliano and Caeleb Dressel react after the men's 50m freestyle finals Friday at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP)
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Updated 22 June 2024
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Caeleb Dressel earns an individual race in Paris, winning 50m freestyle at US Olympic swimming trials

Caeleb Dressel earns an individual race in Paris, winning 50m freestyle at US Olympic swimming trials
  • Dressell will get a chance to defend his 50m freestye title in Paris, blowing away the field in the all-out sprint from one end of the pool to the other
  • Guiliano has emerged as a big star of these trials, heading to his first Olympics with three individual events on his plate

INDIANAPOLIS: After a long layoff and all the doubts about whether he’d reclaim his place as one of the world’s greatest swimmers, Caeleb Dressel looked like himself again Friday night.

Dressel earned his first individual race of the Paris Games, powering to a relatively easy victory in the men’s 50-meter freestyle at the US Olympic swimming trials.

One of the biggest stars in Tokyo with five gold medals, Dressel finished third in the first individual event, the 100 freestyle, which relegated him to the relay at that distance.

But he’ll get a chance to defend his 50 free title in Paris, blowing away the field in the all-out sprint from one end of the pool to the other at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s tough. That was a tough one,” Dressel said. “I was not super-confident until I got up on that block. There’s only so much you can do in the 50. It’s head down and go fast.”

Dressel did just that to touch in 21.41 seconds, not far off his winning time (21.07) at the last Olympics. Chris Guiliano claiming his third individual race in Paris with a runner-up finish of 21.69.

In the aftermath of his Tokyo success, Dressel stunningly walked away from swimming during the 2022 world championships. He later revealed what a toll the sport had taken on him, saying he needed to take an extended break to rediscover his passion at the pool.

Dressel failed to even qualify for the 2023 worlds, but these trials have provided proof that he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in Paris.

About 35 minutes after his victory in the 50 free, Dressel returned for the semifinals of his final event, the 100 butterfly.

The tattooed Floridian showed more impressive speed, posting the fastest time of 50.79 to stamp himself as the favorite in the final Saturday night. Dare Rose was next at 51.11.

If Dressel can finish in the top two of that race, he would likely swim up to five events in Paris counting the relays — not far off his six-event program in Tokyo.

Regan Smith will also be swimming three individual events at the Olympics after winning the 200 backstroke.

Smith was under world-record pace through the first two laps, but faded a bit at the end to touch in 2 minutes, 5.16 seconds.

Still, she finished more than a second ahead of Phoebe Bacon, who grabbed the second Olympic spot in 2:06.27. She chased down reigning world champion Claire Curzan, who missed out on a berth in Paris with a time of 2:06.34.

Smith previously won the 100 backstroke in world-record time, along with a victory in the 200 fly. She just missed a fourth individual race in Paris with a third-place showing in the 100 fly.

Still, it’s been a dynamic meet for the Minnesota native, who has endured plenty of ups and downs since setting her first world record in 2019.

“I’m incredibly proud of this performance,” Smith said. “I ran out of gas in that last race, but its been a great meet for me.”

Guiliano edged Matt King for an Olympic berth by a hundredth of a second, with Jack Alexy taking fourth in 21.76.

Guiliano has emerged as a big star of these trials, heading to his first Olympics with three individual events on his plate. He won the 100 freestyle and was runner-up in the 200 free and now the 50 free.

Guiliano, who competes collegiately at Notre Dame, will be the first American male to swim those three events at the Olympics since the great Matt Biondi in 1988.

Carson Foster will be doubling up in Paris, adding a victory in the 200 individual medley to the title he won in the 400 IM.

Shaine Casas was under world-record pace through the first two laps, but Foster chased him down on the freestyle leg to win in 1:55.65.

Casas grabbed his first Olympic berth with a runner-up showing of 1:55.83 — a huge relief for a swimmer who was billed as a rising star ahead of the Tokyo Games but failed to qualify in either of his events at the 2021 US trials.

“This means everything,” Casas said. “Since I was a kid, it’s all I dreamed about. Now, I won’t have to pretend to be an Olympian. I am an Olympian.”
 


England great Anderson retires with one final flourish

England great Anderson retires with one final flourish
Updated 21 sec ago
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England great Anderson retires with one final flourish

England great Anderson retires with one final flourish
  • Anderson signed off from international cricket with his 704th and final wicket on Friday, ending a glittering 21-year career
  • West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite said he was a “legend of the game,” but understandably would not miss facing him

LONDON: James Anderson signed off from international cricket with his 704th and final wicket on Friday, ending a glittering 21-year career during England’s emphatic win over West Indies and prompting tributes from teammates and fellow greats.

The seamer, aged 41 years and 348 days, had Joshua Da Silva caught behind on his final day of test cricket. He spurned a golden opportunity to make it 705 wickets, shelling a simple catch from Gudakesh Motie and smiled ruefully at the miss.

“I am still gutted I dropped that catch,” he told Sky Sports as he sat in the England dressing room with a pint.

It was the only negative for Anderson on a day in which he demonstrated his skill one final time for an appreciative Lord’s crowd, repeatedly beating the outside edge with seam and swing.

Anderson, who finished with match figures of 4-58, said he would miss competing at the highest level, adding that there was “no better feeling” than winning a test match.

Asked what he was going to do next, Anderson – who is joining the England coaching set-up – added: “I’ve not really thought that far ahead.

“I’m going to stick around with these guys for the rest of the summer, try and help the bowling group out as much as I can and we’ll see where life takes us after that.”

Anderson has certainly earned a rest, having sent down his 40,000th delivery in test cricket late on day two, more than any other seam bowler and putting him fourth on the all-time list.

England captain Ben Stokes described Anderson as “an incredible inspiration for so many people,” adding: “He’s really keen to help the fast bowlers (in his coaching role). I don’t think I could think of a better person to be able to do that.”

West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite said he was a “legend of the game,” but understandably would not miss facing him.

England & Wales Cricket Board chief executive Richard Gould said in a statement: “Jimmy has rightly earned a place as one of the all-time iconic names from world cricket.

“It is testament to the way he has combined his rare talent with outstanding professionalism and work ethic that he bows out still bowling so well more than 20 years after his Test debut.”

India great Sachin Tendulkar said on X: “It has been a joy to watch you bowl — with that action, speed, accuracy, swing and fitness. You’ve inspired generations with your game.”

While Anderson leaves big shoes to fill, Gus Atkinson took 12 wickets in an impressive performance on debut as England cruised to victory by an innings and 114 runs.

Anderson was full of praise for Atkinson, despite the paceman’s wickets denying him a chance to catch Shane Warne (708) in second on the list of all-time test wicket takers.

“He’s going to be an amazing cricketer for England,” Anderson said.

And Stokes told reporters that Atkinson had even apologized to Anderson for taking the final wicket, which led to one last example of the 41-year-old’s competitive spirit.

“Jimmy told him to eff off,” Stokes said.
 


Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo

Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo
Updated 12 July 2024
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Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo

Spain winning Euro priority not Golden Boot race with Kane: Olmo
  • Olmo and Kane are tied on three goals with four other players and if either score in the final on Sunday in Berlin they will likely claim the prize
  • However, with Spain angling for a record fourth European Championship, Olmo said the team’s target was far more important than his own individual glory

DONAUESCHINGEN, Germany: Spain playmaker Dani Olmo is vying for the Euro 2024 golden boot with England’s Harry Kane, but said Friday he doesn’t care about winning it as long as his team lifts the trophy.
Olmo and Kane are tied on three goals with four other players and if either score in the final on Sunday in Berlin they will likely claim the prize.
However, with Spain angling for a record fourth European Championship, Olmo said the team’s target was far more important than his own individual glory.
“It’s an extra motivation, if there’s even room for that, but look, as long as we win, I don’t care if I score or if (Spain goalkeeper) Unai Simon does,” Olmo told reporters.
“I don’t care at all, the important thing is winning the game, but I always have the objective of helping to chip in.”
Olmo has also created two goals for his team-mates but unlike in the past when that was used as a tie-breaker, the award will be shared by any players joint-top of the charts.
The RB Leipzig midfielder did not start the tournament as part of Spain coach Luis de la Fuente’s first choice side but made a strong impact off the bench when given the chance.
Olmo replaced the injured Pedri in the quarter-final win over hosts Germany, scoring and setting up the winner for Mikel Merino.
The midfielder also struck against France in the semifinal and has scored in all three knock-out rounds Spain have played.
“In this tournament I feel very good, in a great moment of form, so I have to keep taking advantage of it,” continued the 26-year-old.
“It’s true (Kane and I) are tied, but there are other players too who have helped us get here, with goals and good play.
“Speaking of goals, Fabian (Ruiz) has two goals, Alvaro (Morata) has one — if he scores a hat-trick then he will win it, and we’d be just as happy — it doesn’t matter who scores, the main thing is the team.”
Olmo scored a hat-trick for Leipzig as they beat Bayern Munich 3-0 in the German Supercup final on Kane’s debut for the Bavarian giants last August.
The England captain has still not won a trophy in his career at club or international level, finishing a runner-up with England in the Euro 2020 final.
Kane, 30, has struggled for form and peak fitness at the Euros despite managing three goals.
“Of course it would be a dream to score a hat-trick (again) and win it,” added Olmo.
“But I repeat, the goal is just to win it.”


Saudi Arabia to host first Esports Olympics in 2025: IOC

Saudi Arabia to host first Esports Olympics in 2025: IOC
Updated 12 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia to host first Esports Olympics in 2025: IOC

Saudi Arabia to host first Esports Olympics in 2025: IOC
  • The duration of the partnership between the IOC and the Saudi NOC will be 12 years
  • Riyadh is already to host the Esports World Cup in July and August, when 2,500 gamers will battle for $60 million in prize money.

Lausanne: Saudi Arabia will host the inaugural Esports Olympics in 2025 the International Olympic Committee said on Friday.
“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced that it has partnered with the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Saudi Arabia to host the inaugural Olympic Esports Games 2025 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the body said.
“The proposal will be made to the IOC Session, which will be held on the eve of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
“The duration of the partnership between the IOC and the Saudi NOC will be 12 years, with Olympic Esports Games held regularly.”
Riyadh is already to host the Esports World Cup in July and August, when 2,500 gamers will battle for $60 million in prize money.
The IOC, in its perpetual quest to reconcile Olympic tradition with attempts to attract a younger audience, held an initial “Olympic e-sport week” in Singapore in June 2023, consisting of “ten mixed-gender category events.”
Last October, the IOC set up an “e-sport commission” chaired by Frenchman David Lappartient, the president of the international cycling union (UCI), to consider a dedicated competition.
However, IOC president Thomas Bach has said in the past he does not see e-sports as part of the traditional Olympics.
“With respect to esports, our values are and remain the red line that we will never cross,” he said.
Nevertheless he expressed his delight that the Esports Games had a natural home in Saudi Arabia.
“We are very fortunate to be able to work with the Saudi NOC on the Olympic Esports Games, because it has great — if not unique — expertise in the field of esports with all its stakeholders,” Bach said in a statement.
“The Olympic Esports Games will greatly benefit from this experience.
“By partnering with the Saudi NOC (National Olympic Committee) we have also ensured that the Olympic values are respected.
“In particular, with regard to the game titles on the program, the promotion of gender equality and engagement with the young audience, which is embracing esports.”
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, Minister of Sport and President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said he was happy his country was part of sporting history.
“Saudi Arabia is hugely excited by the prospect of partnering with the IOC and helping to welcome a completely new era for international sport,” he said.
“We believe that to take part in the Olympic Games is one of the greatest honors any athlete can achieve.
“And we are proud to support the writing of a new chapter in Olympic history that has the potential to inspire new dreams and new ambitions for literally millions of athletes around the world.”
Conservative Saudi Arabia’s bid to become a sports powerhouse is part of a larger attempt to soften its austere image.
That rebranding is central to the success of its Vision 2030 economic and social reform agenda, designed to prepare the world’s biggest crude exporter for a prosperous post-oil future.
Last year, the kingdom hosted its first ATP Tour event with the Next Gen Finals.
It has also hosted exhibition matches pitting Novak Djokovic against Carlos Alcaraz and Aryna Sabalenka against Ons Jabeur.
In early January, Saudi Arabia appointed Rafael Nadal as ambassador of the Saudi Tennis Federation.
The country, which hosts a Formula 1 and MotoGP Grand Prix, as well as the Dakar rally-raid, has recruited a large number of top football players to its national league in recent years.
The Kingdom has also hosted a series of headline-grabbing boxing matches including the heavyweight unification bout between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury earlier this year.


Etihad Arena to host global basketball stars, legends, coaches and senior executives

Etihad Arena to host global basketball stars, legends, coaches and senior executives
Updated 12 July 2024
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Etihad Arena to host global basketball stars, legends, coaches and senior executives

Etihad Arena to host global basketball stars, legends, coaches and senior executives
  • ‘Courtside Conversations and USA Basketball Showcase’ on July 16
  • Men’s teams from US, Australia, Serbia to play games in UAE capital

ABU DHABI: Sports enthusiasts are in for a treat as Etihad Arena will host a “Courtside Conversations and USA Basketball Showcase” on July 16 in Abu Dhabi featuring some of the sport’s top players and personalities.

This is in conjunction with the “2024 USA Basketball Showcase Games” in the UAE capital from July 15 to 17.

The games feature the world No. 1 US basketball men’s national team, Australian Boomers and Serbia, ranked at five and four respectively, that are all preparing for the Paris Olympic Games.

The “Courtside Conversations and USA Basketball Showcase” will be an evening of discussions with participants including basketball players, legends, and senior executives.

The forum will kick off with a “Global Growth of the Game” panel discussion highlighting the importance of investing in young people, women, and minorities.

It will also explore how programs beyond the court can mentor leaders in every community.

Speakers include Miami Heat legend Alonzo Mourning, the Las Vegas Aces’ Chief Business Development Officer Jennifer Azzi, and USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley.

The second panel, “The Road to Paris,” will have the panelists discuss how to build a championship-caliber team and the value of teamwork. The participants include NBA legend and US Men’s National Team MD Grant Hill and former NBA player Steve Smith.

Attendees will have the chance to ask questions, which have to be submitted in advance.

Select fans will be able to meet basketball legends Smith and Mourning, which includes on-court photo opportunities following the Australia-Serbia game.


Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup

Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup
Updated 12 July 2024
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Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup

Stars of ‘Free Fire,’ ‘Dota2 Riyadh Masters’ and ‘Mobile Legends: Bang Bang’ battle it out at Esports World Cup
  • World’s largest gaming competition runs until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City

RIYADH: Action at the Esports World Cup is hotting up across three of the most high-profile conceptions — “Free Fire,” the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters” and “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.”

Running until Aug. 25 at Boulevard Riyadh City, the eight-week Esports World Cup has seen strong showings in “Free Fire” from All Glory Gaming, Team Solid, and Twisted Minds.

At the “Dota2 Riyadh Masters,” HEROIC, Team Spirit, Tundra Esports, and WBG.XG were among the teams to impress.

Meanwhile, “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” has reached the quarterfinal stage.

The Esports World Cup features a unique cross-game structure pitting the world’s top clubs and players against one another across 22 global competitions in 21 leading games.

More than 1,500 players from 60 countries are battling it out for a share of the $60 million prize pool — the largest in the history of esports.