Olympic Weekend Preview: June 8, 2012
The U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team during a training session on May 4th, 2012.
With 49 days remaining until the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games, there is plenty of action for American athletes all over the world. Some of the biggest names in U.S. gymnastics, volleyball, track and field and men’s soccer will be competing while U.S. athletes will be seeking Olympic Team berths in shooting, canoe/kayak and equestrian. Check out the Olympic Weekend Preview for all the details about these events and others in the world of Olympic sports.
FIVB World Grand Prix, June 8-10, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
The U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team will begin its three-peat run in the FIVB Grand Prix on Friday with an opening-round game against Germany in the Dominican Republic. The United States, which is ranked No. 1 in the world by the FIVB, will also play Chinese Taipei on Saturday and the Dominican Republic on Sunday in Pool B matches.
Following this weekend’s games, the United States will play three more matches, beginning June 15, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The tournament continues through July 1 with the championship match in Ningbo, China, and is the final preparation before the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The United States won the tournament in 2010 and 2011. Among the star players on this year‘s team, coached by Hugh McCutcheon, are 2011 FIVB Grand Prix MVP Destinee Hooker, three-time Olympian Heather Brown at middle blocker, two-time Olympian Lindsey Berg at setter, three-time Olympian Stacy Sykora at libero and three-time Olympian Logan Tom at outside hitter.
“Obviously the FIVB World Grand Prix is another chance to compete and get better in preparation for London,” McCutcheon said. “There is a lot of value to get out of this tournament and hopefully we can make the most of this opportunity.”
Also in volleyball:
FIVB Swatch World Beach Volleyball Tour, Moscow Grand Slam, June 6-10, Moscow
Visa Championships, June 7-10, St. Louis, Mo.
Danell Leyva felt nearly perfect after grabbing the men’s all-around lead Thursday night at the 2012 Visa Championships at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis. He won the parallel bars and tied Paul Ruggeri for first place on the horizontal bar, scoring 91.850 in the all-around. The second round of men’s competition will be Saturday. Scores from both Thursday and Saturday will be added to determine the all-around and individual event champions.
“It feels pretty good to be leading the Visa Championships,” said Leyva, the 2011 U.S. all-around champion and world parallel bars gold medalist. “I’m using this meet as a stepping stone to get to the Olympic Games, so it’s perfect.”
The women’s competition begins Friday on both the senior and junior levels. The second round will be Sunday. Among the leading women are 2011 world and national all-around champion Jordyn Wieber, 2008 Olympic all-around gold medalist Nastia Liukin, world vault gold medalist McKayla Maroney and world floor exercise bronze medalist Alexandra Raisman.
The competition will determine not only the national champions, but also spots for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
John Orozco was runner-up to Leyva in the all-around Friday with 91.800 points. Jonathan Horton, a 2008 Olympic silver medalist, leads the still rings with a score of 15.500. Steve Legendre leads the floor exercise with a score of 16.150 and Chris Brooks leads the vault with 16.450 on a front handspring double-pike front vault.
TV: 8 p.m.-10 p.m. ET Friday, Universal Sports; 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, NBC; 4 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, NBC
Also in gymnastics:
Junior Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championships, June 6-9, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
USA Gymnastics Open Championships, June 10-12, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore, May 31-June 11, Fort Benning, Ga.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore has already produced what is believed to be the first husband-and-wife U.S. Olympic team for the 2012 Games in Eric and Sandra Uptagrafft. Sandra, a Petty Officer First Class in the U.S. Navy Reserves, qualified for the Olympic Games (pending approval from the U.S. Olympic Committee) earlier this week in the women’s 25-meter pistol; Eric, a two-time Olympian, had previously qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games in men’s rifle prone.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Sanda Uptagrafft, who failed in four previous attempts at an Olympics berth. “It sounds cliché, but it’s been a long struggle and it does prove that hard work, perseverance and determination really do pay off.”
Sandra Uptagrafft is looking to add a women’s pistol national championship to her collection this week. Her score of 387 is No. 1 in the women’s 10-meter air pistol.
Four Olympic spots remain to be won. Two spots in men’s 25-meter rapid fire pistol and one spot in women’s three-position rifle will be determined Friday. Amanda Furrer scored a 100.4 in Thursday’s final round to take the two-day lead in the women’s competition. Keith Sanderson and Emil Milev are one-two in the men’s pistol. There will also be one Olympic nomination in men’s three-position rifle, a three-day competition which begins Saturday.
U.S. Olympic Trials for Rowing (small boats), June 11-14, West Windsor, N.J.
Olympic berths in women’s pair, men’s pair and men’s single sculls will be on the line at the U.S. Olympic Trials for Rowing in West Windsor, N.J. The competition begins Tuesday after training and athletes’ pre-race meetings Monday. Overall, 12 crews will represent the United States at the London 2012 Olympic Games; 22 athletes have already been nominated to the Olympics Team.
Eleanor Logan and Erin Cafaro, both gold medalists in the women’s eight at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, turned down automatic berths to race at the London 2012 Olympic Games in women’s pair, opening up the competition at the trials. They had won nominations by finishing first in the National Selection Regatta I and then winning silver at the Belgrade World Cup.
Also in rowing:
USRowing Youth National Championships, June 8-10, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
ICF Slalom World Cup, June 8-10, Cardiff, Wales
Two-time Olympian Scott Parsons, 2008 Olympian Benn Fraker and 2011 women’s kayak national champion Caroline Queen are among the U.S. athletes hoping to clinch an Olympic berth at this weekend’s ICF Slalom World Cup in Cardiff, Wales. In all, five U.S. Olympic berths will be determined through the competition, which was to begin Friday.
Sprint kayakers Carrie Johnson and Tim Hornsby previously secured nominations to the U.S. Olympic Team, pending approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Parsons is the U.S. Olympic qualification points leader in men’s kayak, Fraker in men’s single canoe, and Eric Hurd and Jeff Larimer in men’s double canoe. Queen is tied with Ashley Nee for the lead in women’s kayak. If the points leaders are the top U.S. finishers in their events, they win the Olympic berths. If not, other U.S. athletes can grab the Olympic berths by finishing among the top 20 in an event and above the point leaders. Queen is actually rated above Nee in terms of Olympic qualification because she qualified the U.S. boat in women’s kayak at the 2011 ICF World Championships.
TV: 5:30 a.m. ET Saturday, ESPN3; 5 a.m. Sunday, ESPN3
TRACK AND FIELD
adidas Grand Prix, June 9, New York City, N.Y.
Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix are among a star-studded field of sprinters who will compete Saturday in the adidas Grand Prix in New York City. Felix, a three-time world champion at 200 meters and two-time Olympic silver medalist in that event, will battle Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobago in the women’s 100. Richards-Ross plans to run in the 200 and 400.
The competition, the third stop in the Visa Championship Series and also a part of the Samsung Diamond League, will be held at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. The event has drawn athletes from 42 countries, including 72 Olympic or world medalists.
Tyson Gay, who is the American record-holder for 100 meters, is returning to compete after almost a year off due to a hip injury. He is using the race as a rehab start for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Other notable U.S. athletes include discus thrower Stephanie Brown Trafton, a two-time national champion, and middle-distance runner Bernard Lagat, a two-time Olympic medalist.
TV: 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC
Also in track and field:
USA Half Marathon Trail Championships, June 10, Bend, Ore.
2012 World Cup qualifying, U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Antigua & Barbuda, June 8, Tampa, Fla.
Landon Donovan, the United States’ all-time leader in international caps and the team’s all-time leading scorer in FIFA World Cup qualifying, will lead the U.S. Men’s National Team into its 2014 World Cup qualifying opener Friday night. The United States will face Antigua & Barbuda in its opening game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Donovan, who earned a hat trick and had an assist in a 5-1 win over Scotland May 26, will play in his 142nd international game Friday and his likely 126th start. He will combine with attacker Clint Dempsey, among others, who scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Italy in February and had a record 17 Premier League goals while playing in England.
The United States, which has never played Antigua & Barbuda, will follow the game Friday with another World Cup Qualifying match Tuesday against Guatemala in Guatemala City. The team’s next qualifying game after that won’t come until Sept. 7.
“We have no other choice than having that sense of urgency every single game because we can’t kind of relax for even one game in World Cup qualifiers,” coach Jurgen Klinsmann told the Tampa Bay Times.
TV: 7 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN, Galavision
Also in soccer:
U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team vs. Uruguay, June 8, Montevideo, Uruguay
USA Field Hockey Women’s National Championship, June 1-8, College Park, Md.
The last round of games in the USA Field Hockey Women’s National Championship will be held Friday at the University of Maryland in College Park. The eight-day showcase featured eight regions playing in five matches total as players competed for spots on the U.S. National Team. Shannon Taylor of the North squad had a tournament-leading eight points through Thursday’s games. Taylor was a member of the gold medal-winning national team at the 2011 Pan American Games.
Lee Bodimeade, coach of the U.S. National Team, will name athletes to the national team and development squads following the championship game Friday. On June 23, Bodimeade will name the 16-member Olympic squad for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
IJF Grand Slam, June 9-10, Rio de Janeiro
Kayla Harrison, Travis Stevens and Nick Delpopolo, who all qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team (pending nomination by the U.S. Olympic Committee), will compete in a Grand Slam tournament Saturday and Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. Harrison, who will compete at 78 kilograms and won Grand Prix gold earlier this year in Dusseldorf, is a favorite to win gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Stevens will compete at 81kg and Delpopolo at 73kg. This event will be one of the final elite-level competitions prior to London.
“This will be a good tune-up,” said coach Jimmy Pedro, Harrison’s coach. “We do not expect her to face any stiff competition. But she always fights better in the big ones, when she is actively competing.”
Also in judo:
IJF World Cup, women, June 9-10, Tallin, Estonia
IJF World Cup, men, June 9-10, Lisbon, Portugal
National Presidents Cup Championship, June 9-10, Irvine, Calif.
ISAF World Cup, Sail for Gold, June 4-9, Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain
Anna Tunnicliffe and the Team Maclaren crew of Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi won both gold round matches Thursday, advancing to Friday’s quarterfinal round of women’s match racing at the ISAF World Cup being held in Great Britain. The crew previously qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Zach Railey was in third place in the Finn competition when a collision with another boat in windy and rainy conditions Thursday threw Railey into the water and virtually destroyed his boat. However, he remains in third place in the overall standings. Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan were in sixth place in the Women’s 470 class. Paralympic SKUD-18 skipper Jan French and JP Creignou were in fourth place. The competition continues through Saturday; Paralympic sailing concludes Friday.
Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational, June 8-10, Omaha, Neb.
Competition begins Friday in the Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational, which is a preview meet for the U.S. Olympic Trials to be held at the same venue in two weeks. Amanda Beard, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, and Matt Grevers, a 2008 Olympic silver medalist, are among the top swimmers expected to compete. Up to 700 will compete in the three-day meet.
Women’s Sabre World Cup, June 8-10, Gand, Belgium
Mariel Zagunis, who has won a medal at every World Cup event this season in women’s sabre, will go after another this weekend at a World Cup event in Gand, Belgium. It is the final World Cup tournament overseas before Chicago is host to the last World Cup of the year in late June. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Zagunis earned a bronze in the Bologna Sabre World Cup in May.
Also in fencing:
Women’s Epee Grand Prix, June 9-10, Nankin, China
USA Softball Women’s National Team Selection Camp, June 10-12, Ashland, Ohio
Jackie Traina, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, was added to a roster of 20 athletes who’ll compete for spots on the USA Softball Women’s National Team, beginning Sunday in Ashland, Ohio. The three-day selection camp will determine the final five roster spots on the squad. Twelve roster spots were named in January.
The team will compete in the World Cup of Softball VII, beginning June 27 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Those not making the national team will be named to the USA Softball Women’s Elite National Team.
USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team training camp, June 5-11, Colorado Springs
Jarnell Stokes, a rising sophomore at the University of Tennessee, and two-time Texas Gatorade Player of the Year Marcus Smart were among 14 players named Thursday night as finalists for the USA Basketball Men’s U-18 National Team. The roster also includes 2012 Nike Hoop Summit selections James Robinson of DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland and Rasheed Sulaimon of Strake Jesuit College Prep in Houston.
Two more players must be trimmed from the roster before the team breaks camp Tuesday and departs for the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. The tournament begins June 16 in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil.
“I think it was very, very difficult for the (selection) committee to get this group narrowed down just because there were so many good players,” said U.S. coach Billy Donovan, who also heads the basketball team at the University of Florida.
USEF Dressage Festival of Champions, June 8-10 and 14-17, Gladstone, N.J.
Six USEF dressage national championships will be conducted over the next 10 days at the USEF Dressage Festival of Championships, including the Grand Prix National Dressage Championships. The Grand Prix is also the selection trial for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Among the leading rider-horse combinations are defending Grand Prix champion Steffen Peters, aboard Legolas 92, and Adrienne Lyle, aboard Wizard. Ravel, also ridden by Peters, and Legolas 92 are the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked Grand Prix horses.
Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Selection Trial, June 8-10, Leesburg, Va.
Six horses in the 6-year-old division and three in the 5-year-old division will compete this weekend in the final Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Selection Trial at Morven Park in Leesburg, Va. The competition will be used to determine spots on the USEF Young Horse Dressage Short List, leading to the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Dressage.
Also in equestrian:
USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship, June 11-13, Gladstone, N.J.
Giro Ciclistico d’Italia, June 8-17, Italy
Ian Boswell and Joe Dombrowski of the Bontrager-Livestrong Team are among six U.S. elite U-23 riders competing in the Giro Ciclistico d‘Italia. The 10-day event begins Friday.
Also in cycling:
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, June 9-10, Fort William, England
Chile Challenge, Pro GRT, June 8-10, Angel Fire, N.M.
USA Rugby Men’s National Team vs. Canada, June 9, Kingston, Ont., Canada
The USA Rugby Eagles will open their international season Saturday in Kingston, Ont., when they face Canada. Mike MacDonald, who will extend his Eagles cap record to 66 with the game, is one of 11 starters from the 2011 Rugby World Cup squad. The game is the first for first-year coach Mike Tolkin and an early step on the way toward the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The Eagles will also play the Republic of Georgia on June 16 in Glendale, Colo., and Italy on June 23 in Houston.
Denver Triathlon, June 10, Denver
The second event in the 2012 USA Paratriathlon Race Series will be held Sunday as a part of the Denver Triathlon. The series opened in May with the USA Paratriathlon National Championship and finishes on Sept. 16 with the Nickel City Triathlon in Buffalo, N.Y.
Nor’easter, June 9-10, Canton, Mass.
Qualification rounds begin Saturday in the annual Nor’easter USA Archery-sanctioned tournament for senior, junior and cadet archers in both recurve and compound disciplines. It is the final national tournament and USA Archery qualifier prior to the National Target Championships and Easton JOAD Nationals, which begin June 25 in Hamilton, Ohio.
Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. Material from various news services and press releases from National Governing Bodies was used to compile this report. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.