Russia may boycott Olympic fencing qualifying after gold medalists barred – Home of the Olympic Channel

The president of the Russian Olympic Committee indicated Thursday that the country could boycott qualifying competitions in fencing for next year’s Paris Games after some athletes, including his own daughter, were barred from competing.
On March 28, the International Olympic Committee updated its recommendations to international sports federations to possibly allow competitors from Russia and Belarus to compete as neutral athletes without national symbols after the invasion of Ukraine, but still excluding those employed by the military or security services, or those who have publicly backed the war.
Two-time gold medalist Yana Egorian and all three of the gold medalists in women’s team sabre from the Tokyo Olympics — Sofya Velikaya, Olga Nikitina and Sofia Pozdniakova — were refused after vetting from the International Fencing Federation, Russian Fencing Federation president Ilgar Mamedov told state news agencies.
Pozdniakova is the daughter of Russian Olympic Committee president Stanislav Pozdnyakov.
Some lesser-known fencers were approved to compete, Mamedov said. But he didn’t say why the other fencers were refused and there was no immediate confirmation from the International Fencing Federation, known as the FIE.
All three of the women’s team sabre gold medalists were identified as being affiliated with the Central Sports Club of the Army, known as CSKA, in a 2021 statement on the Russian Defense Ministry website following the Tokyo Olympics. It listed Velikaya with the rank of captain and Nikitina as a sergeant. They and Egorian are all listed in profiles on the FIE website with the term “armed forces athlete.”
The FIE decisions showed IOC criteria for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to be a “farce” and a “thinly veiled suspension” which amounted to discrimination, Pozdnyakov wrote in posts on the Telegram app.
“The International Olympic Committee is imposing such criteria that the participation of the overwhelming majority of our athletes and practically all of the leaders of the national teams in Olympic qualifying and other competitions is in practice unrealistic,” he added.
Pozdnyakov said he had spoken with the Russian fencing team and indicated that they supported boycotting competitions under the current conditions.
“The position is unanimous, our fencers will take part only if there are equal rights with athletes of other countries, without contrived or wrongful parameters and other artificial obstacle courses,” Pozdnyakov said.
There was also criticism from the Kremlin. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said Russia opposes restrictions on its athletes.
“We consider it absolutely wrong to try to apply conditions of some political requirements to athletes and their participation in international competitions,” Peskov said. “We do not agree with such recommendations.”
Fencing has a central place in Olympic politics because it is the sport of IOC president Thomas Bach, who was a gold medalist at the 1976 Montreal Games. Pozdnyakov himself won four Olympic gold medals in fencing, and his daughter won both the individual and team sabre gold medals in Tokyo.
A Russian boycott could smooth the way for Ukraine’s fencers to keep competing. The Ukrainian government and fencing team have a policy of not entering any events where Russian or Belarusian competitors are allowed.
The FIE’s earlier moves toward readmitting Russians and Belarusians led to a protest petition from top fencers from around the world against the plan. At least four competitions on the FIE’s World Cup circuit have also been called off by organizers unwilling to host Russian and Belarusian competitors.
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Jamaican Britany Anderson, the world silver medalist in the 100m hurdles, will miss the outdoor track season due to a knee injury.
“These past few weeks have been personally challenging for me as I’ve had to deal with a significant injury to my knee,” she posted. “Unfortunately I will be sitting out this season, just to make sure I get the best recovery possible.
“The good news is that I will make a full recovery. The prognosis from my medical team is nothing short of 100% positive.”
Last July, Anderson, then 21, became the youngest 100m hurdles medalist in world championships (or Olympic) history, according to Olympedia.org.
She broke the Jamaican record in the semifinals (12.31 seconds), then ran the fifth-fastest all-conditions time in history in the final (12.23 with an illegal tailwind of 2.5 meters per second). Nigerian Tobi Amusan broke the world record in the semifinals (12.12), then ran 12.06 in the windy final.
Anderson was eighth in Tokyo as the youngest Jamaican woman to contest an individual Olympic track and field event since 2004.
Jamaica also boasts the Olympic bronze medalist in the 100m hurdles (Megan Tapper) and 2015 World champion Danielle Williams.
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Clarisse Agbégnénou cemented herself as one of the host nation’s biggest gold-medal hopes for the 2024 Paris Games by winning her sixth world judo title, returning to the top of the sport 11 months after having daughter Athena.
Agbégnénou, 30, beat Slovenian Andreja Leški in Wednesday’s 63kg final in Doha.
“It is really for [Athena],” Agbégnénou said. “For days, I said, ‘I’m going to bring you the gold medal.’ Or, at least, ‘I’m going to bring you a medal. I want to put this on your neck.’ Now I can finally do it.”
Agbégnénou prevailed with Athena in attendance. She held her daughter while waiting for the medal ceremony. She made the cover of French sports daily L’Equipe.
“I can say that I am stronger than before,” she said before worlds. “The pregnancy, giving birth, all of this makes you strong. I’m focusing on how she can say, ‘Oh she’s my mom, and she is strong, and I want to be like her.’”
France won more medals in judo (eight) than any other sport at the Tokyo Olympics. Agbégnénou was the lone French athlete across all sports to win multiple golds in Tokyo, taking the 63kg title and being part of the victorious mixed-gender team in that event’s Olympic debut.
After June childbirth, she returned to international judo for a Grand Slam in February. She placed seventh, marking the first time she missed the podium of a top-level global event since 2012. That was her lone competition before worlds.
“I was not in shape,” she said. “I am in shape [now], but I missed some stuff. So I was like, OK, I can get a medal, but winning, it’s going to be complicated.”
Agbégnénou is now one shy of the women’s record of seven world judo titles shared by Japan’s Ryōko Tani and China’s Tong Wen.
Frenchman Teddy Riner holds the overall record of 10 world titles and goes for No. 11 on Saturday.
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