Olympic Weekend Preview: May 11, 2012

By Paul D. Bowker | May 11, 2012, 1:11 p.m. (ET)
Michael Hunter

With fewer than 80 days to go before the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, U.S. athletes will be competing for berths this weekend in boxing, volleyball, triathlon and modern pentathlon, while dozens of other U.S. athletes are competing in other events around the world. Check out all of the action in this week’s edition of the Olympic Weekend Preview.


Americas Olympics Qualifier, May 5-12, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

Dominic Breazeale, a super heavyweight, will fight for an Olympic spot when he competes Friday in the semifinal round of the Americas Olympics Qualifier in Rio de Janeiro. A victory would clinch a U.S. berth in an eighth weight class for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Jose Ramirez, a lightweight, and Terrell Gausha, a middleweight, clinched Olympic spots, pending U.S. Olympic Committee approval, with quarterfinal-round victories Wednesday. Jamel Herring, a light welterweight, and Marcus Browne, a light heavyweight, clinched their Olympic berths earlier in the week.

“All the pressure I endured and hard work that I put in has paid off,” Gausha said. “Dreams really do come true. I grew a lot over the last year and I saw what it took to get to this point, so the timing was right for me.”

Also in semifinals Friday, heavyweight boxer Michael Hunter will try to clinch an Olympic berth. Entering action Friday, the United States had not lost a bout. Championship bouts in each weight class will be held Saturday.

Also in boxing:

AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, May 11-20, Qinhuangdao, China

A record number of 343 women’s boxers from 77 nations will be participating in the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in China, and the main reason for the huge numbers is because women’s boxing will be a part of the Olympic Games for the first time this summer in London.

The Women’s World Championships official event draw was held Friday in Qinhuangdao, China and the three potential Olympians from the United States and six fellow World Championship team members know the road that lies ahead for each of them in the key international tournament.

An altered Olympic qualification process focused on continental quotas was announced at the event’s technical meeting on Thursday, and the United States’ three Olympic hopefuls now will have a slightly different road than initially thought to advance to London. While eight boxers from each Olympic weight class still will earn berths in China, the selections will be based on how they finish in comparison with the other boxers from their continent. Flyweight Marlen Esparza and middleweight Claressa Shields will need to place in the top two from the Americas while lightweight Queen Underwood requires a first-place finish in the continent. The qualification rule change could mean that it won’t be until the end of the tournament before the full list of 2012 Olympic Games competitors is announced.

Underwood and Shields will open action tomorrow with Esparza taking the ring for the first time on Sunday due to a first round bye. Underwood will take on Dayana Sanchez of Argentina while Shields battles India’s Pooja Raniin first round action on Saturday. Esparza will face the winner of a first round contest between Argentina’s Pamela Benavidez and Zohra El Zahraoui of Mauritius in her first bout on Sunday.


NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament, May 7-12, Long Beach, Calif.

The U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team, which is just two victories away from clinching a berth in the London 2012 Olympic Games, will meet Cuba on Friday in the semifinals of the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament. The match, beginning at 8 p.m. PT, will be held at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif.

The winner of the tournament clinches a spot in London 2012 Olympic Games. If the United States wins Friday, it would play Canada or Puerto Rico in the championship match Saturday. If the United States loses Friday or Saturday, it can still seek its seventh consecutive Olympic berth through World Olympic Qualification Tournaments set for June.

The United States won all three of its matches in pool play, including a 25-23, 25-19, 25-14 victory over Mexico Wednesday.

“We need as many good matches as we can get,” said Clay Stanley, who led the United States with 14 points on 10 kills, three blocks and an ace versus Mexico. “It is great that Team Mexico put the pressure on us and it reminds us that going into the next competition of who your opponents are going to be.”

Also in volleyball:

FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, May 9-13, Beijing


USA Swimming UltraSwim Grand Prix, May 10-13, Charlotte, N.C.

Chloe Sutton and Chad LaTourette won gold medals Thursday night, the opening day of action at the Charlotte (N.C.) UltraSwim Grand Prix. Sutton won the women’s 1500-meter freestyle in 16:29.96, and LaTourette won the 800 freestyle in 7:58.91.

The UltraSwim will heat up over the weekend with Grand Prix points leader and 16-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps facing Ryan Lochte in the men’s 200 freestyle Friday. Phelps will swim in several other events, including the 200 butterfly and 100 breaststroke. Lochte is scheduled to swim in nine events at the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center.

“I’m excited,” Lochte said. “I’ve been racing against Michael since the 2004 Olympics. What can I say? He’s one of the greatest swimmers ever. Any chance I can race against him, I’m more than happy to.”

Other national team members expected to compete include Rebecca Soni, Katie Hoff, Brendan Hansen, Jessica Hardy, Caitlin Leverenz, Mark Gangloff, Eric Shanteau, Cullen Jones, Allison Schmitt, Mike Alexandrov, Ricky Berens and 11-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin.

TV: 6 p.m. ET Saturday, Universal Sports


ITU World Triathlon, May 11-12, San Diego

Three-time Olympian Hunter Kemper, and 2008 Olympians Laura Bennett, Sarah Haskins and Jarrod Shoemaker will chase 2012 Olympic spots in the ITU World Triathlon San Diego. Also among the field of 140 international elite athletes and 16 top Americans are Sarah Groff and Gwen Jorgensen, who have already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team.

A top-nine finish in Friday’s women’s race would qualify a U.S. athlete for the Olympic Team. If none place among the top nine, the USA Triathlon Elite Athlete Selection Committee would decide the final spot for the Olympic Team. The race is the second and final automatic qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.

The men’s race will be held Saturday. The top U.S. finisher, regardless of placing, will qualify for the Olympic Team. If two U.S. men finish among the top nine, they both will qualify. Olympic distances will be used for the event: 1,500-meter swim, 40-km bike race, 10-km run).


IJF World Cup and U.S. Open, May 10-12, Miami

Kayla Harrison, a 2010 world champion, will be among the top elite athletes competing this weekend in a World Cup event being held at the Doral Resort and Spa in Miami. Harrison, who competes at 78 kg, will be in action for the first time since an MCL injury in March. She will attempt to win the first judo gold medal for the United States at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Harrison will face 2008 Olympic silver medalist Yalennis Castillo Ramirez in the second round of the tournament. Harrison has defeated her three times in various international competitions, and there is a possibility the two could meet in the finals.

Hour of Power, May 12, Miami, Fla.

The final spot on the U.S. Olympic Judo Team will be decided Saturday by USA Judo’s “Hour of Power” match between Nick Delpopolo and Michael Eldred at 73 kg. Delpopolo is ranked higher than Eldred internationally, so if Delpopolo wins the first match, he’ll clinch the Olympic berth. If Eldred wins the first match, it’ll be a best-of-three series to decide the spot. Each match is five minutes with a three-minute, golden-score overtime.


UIPM World Championships, May 7-13, Rome

Mickey Kelly, a captain in the U.S. Army, grabbed a spot in the women’s finals of the UIPM World Championships, placing 12th in the qualification round Thursday with 4,040 points. She turned in her group’s fastest time in the combined run/shoot to vault from 21st place in Group A to the 12th-place qualifying berth. A top-three finish in the finals Saturday would clinch an Olympic berth for Kelly.

Margaux Isaksen, a two-time Olympian who has already clinched a berth in the London 2012 Olympic Games, missed a spot in the finals, finishing 16th in Group A in qualifying.

Dennis Bowsher, Sam Sacksen, Will Brady and Eli Bremer will compete in men’s qualifying Friday. The finals are scheduled for Sunday. Bowsher is already a nominee for the U.S. Olympic Team due to his high finish at the 2011 Pan American Games.


ICHF Men’s World Championships, May 4-20, Helsinki

The U.S. Men’s National Team won three of its first four games in the IIHF Men’s World Championships, including a 5-3 viictory Thursday over Belarus. Team USA is in third place in Group H entering Friday’s game against Kazakhstan.

Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings and Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets scored in the first seven minutes against Belarus, leading Team USA to its third win.

Team USA also will play Finland on Sunday and Switzerland on Tuesday to wrap up group play. The quarterfinals are scheduled for Thursday, followed by the semifinals May 19 and the medal rounds May 20.

TV: 8 p.m. ET Friday, NBC Sports Network; 9:15 a.m. Sunday, NBC Sports Network; 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, NBC Sports Network


CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship, May 3-12, Guatemala City, Guatemala

A 7-0 victory by the U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team over Panama on Thursday clinched a spot in the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. The United States will face Canada on Saturday in the title game of the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship in Guatemala.

Summer Green, scoring at least three goals for the third time in the tournament, scored three times for the United States in its win over Panama. Her 12 goals is the most scored by any U.S. player in one tournament at any age level and broke a CONCACAF U-17 record that was held by Lindsey Horan of the United States. The Americans have outscored their opponents 25-0 in four games.

“I’m very excited for the team and I think they put on an excellent performance out there today,” U.S. coach Albertin Montoya said. “But I don’t think (qualifying for the World Cup) has hit me yet because I am already thinking about the final. I’ve already started preparing for it in my mind, who is going to play and how we are going to set up. But I am very happy for this team. They played their hearts out and they deserve it, but we have one more game.”

Webcast: 6:30 p.m. ET Saturday, concacaf.com


USA Women’s National Team vs. China, May 12, Seattle

A preview to the women’s basketball tournament at the London 2012 Olympic Games will happen Saturday night at Seattle’s Key Arena, when the USA Women’s National Team plays China in an exhibition game. Team USA will play China in the preliminary round of the London Games. China is the Asian champion. Tipoff is Saturday is 7:30 p.m., PDT.

Team USA is coached by University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma and the squad includes three-time Olympians Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, captain of the WNBA Seattle Storm. The Storm scrimmaged against the China National Team Tuesday.

Team USA will conclude three days of practices and games with a scrimmage Sunday morning against the Japan National team, bronze medalists at the 2011 FIBA Asia Championships.


AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix, May 10-13, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Christina Loukas and Thomas Finchum, both 2008 Olympians, advanced to the finals of their events in the AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Loukas won her semifinal with 345.75 points Thursday, and will compete in Saturday’s women’s 3-meter finals. Finchum finished second in the men’s 10-meter semifinals with 466.95 points to qualify for the finals.

Other U.S. divers at the competition, which goes through Sunday, include Cassidy Krug, Kassidy Cook, Toby Stanley, Ben Grado, Logan Shinholser, and Kelci Bryant, who placed seventh in the women‘s 3-meter semifinals Thursday.

Friday’s events include the preliminary and semifinal rounds in men’s 3-meter and women’s 10-meter.


FINA World League Prelims, May 10-13, Tustin, Calif.

The U.S. Men’s National Team opened play Thursday in the FINA World League Prelims with a 14-1 victory over Brazil. The United States will face Canada on Friday and Sunday, and Brazil again on Saturday at the FINA World League Prelims. The competition is being held at Foothill High School in Tustin, Calif.


Stars and Stripes Cup, May 11-13, Cleveland

U.S. trampoline champions Jeffrey Gluckstein and Savannah Vinsant, and tumbling champions Kalon Ludvigson and Karly Judkins will be among more than 350 gymnasts competing through Sunday at the USA Gymnastics Stars and Stripes Cup in Cleveland. The competition begins Friday at Cleveland Public Auditorium with preliminaries in men’s and women’s trampoline, double mini-trampoline and tumbling, and prelims and finals in men’s and women’s synchronized trampoline.

Other top gymnasts include Neil Gulati, Michael Devine, Alaina Williams and Dakota Earnest in synchronized trampoline; Erin Jauch in double mini-trampoline; and Olympic hopefuls Steve Gluckstein, Logan Dooley and Nani Vercruyssen.

One man and one woman will represent the United States in trampoline at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Stars and Stripes Cup is the second of three qualifying events. Steven Gluckstein and Vinsant won the first qualifying event, the U.S. Elite Challenge in Tulsa, Okla.

Also in gymnastics:

Junior Olympic National Championships, men, May 10-13, Cincinnati

Junior Olympic National Championships, women, May 11-12, Hampton, Va.


Samsung Diamond League, May 11, Doha, Qatar

The season opener for the Diamond League begins in Qatar Friday and there will be plenty of Olympic stars competing in Doha  Of course, one of the headline events will be the men’ 100 meters, which features American Justin Gatlin and Jamaicans Asafa Powell and Nesta Carter. One to watch on the women’s side is Allison Felix, a three-time world champion in the 200.

TV: 6 p.m. ET Friday, Universal Sports

Also in track and field:

IAAF World Race Walking Cup, May 12-13, Saransk, Russia

Trevor Barron, the 2010 U.S. Track and Field Youth Athlete of the Year, and Maria Michta, a two-time USA Outdoor 20-kilometer champion, will lead a U.S. team of 17 at the IAAF World Race Walking Cup on Saturday and Sunday in Russia. The men’s 20-kilometer race and junior events will be held Saturday, followed by the men’s 50km and women’s 20km on Sunday.


Freestyle World Cup, May 12-13, Baku, Azerbaijan

Sam Hazewinkel (55kg), Jared Frayer (66kg), Jordan Burroughs (74kg), Jake Varner (96kg) and Tervel Dlagnev (120kg), all 2012 Olympians, will be among the U.S. freestyle wrestlers competing Saturday and Sunday at the Freestyle World Cup in Azerbaijan. Other U.S. wrestlers include U.S. Olympic Team Trials champion Coleman Scott and Angel Escobedo at 60kg, Nick Simmons at 55kg, Chase Pami at 66kg, Kyle Dake at 74kg, Keith Gavin at 84kg and Dustin Kilgore at 96kg. The United States is among 10 of the world’s best freestyle teams competing in the event.

“I can’t tell you how good this team is,” U.S. freestyle coach Zeke Jones said. “They like each other, will do anything for each other, and want America to be the best in the world.”


Pan American Championships, May 11-19, Antigua, Guatemala

Kendrick Farris, a 2008 Olympian and American record-holder, is among 17 U.S. weightlifters who will compete in the Pan American Championships in Guatemala. The competition begins Friday.

At the same time, the Junior World Championships will be held. Fifteen members of the Team USA Junior World Team will compete.


U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Observation Event, Kentucky Spring Horse Show, May 8-13, Lexington, Ky.

The top three rider-horse combinations from the USEF Long List for the U.S. Show Jumping Team will be among 15 competing in Friday’s $50,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic and Sunday’s $75,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix. Both events, part of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, will be held at Rolex Stadium at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

The competitions are the second of four observation events that will be used to determine the U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team. Riders must compete in two of the events. Rich Fellers won the observation event last week in Del Mar, Calif., but he won’t compete again until the final event in June in Canada.

Among the riders in Lexington are 2008 Olympic gold medalist Laura Kraut, riding Cedric; two-time Pan American Games gold medalist Christine McCrea, aboard Romantovich Take One; Pan Am Games silver medalist Beezie Madden, aboard Cortes C and Simon, and 17-year-old Reed Kessler, the 2012 USEF National Show Jumping co-champion, aboard Cylana.

Also in equestrian:

Jersey Fresh CCI3*, May 9-13, Allentown, N.J.


Men’s Sabre World Cup, May 11-13, Madrid

Tim Morehouse and James Williams, both silver medalists at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, will be among the U.S. men’s fencers competing in the Madrid World Cup. The competition begins Friday.

Also in fencing:

Men’s Epée Grand Prix, May 12-13, Stockholm, Sweden


Pan American Bowling Confederation (PABCON) Champion of Champions, May 9-12, Babson Park, Fla.

Liz Johnson won gold Thursday in the women’s singles competition at the Pan American Bowling Federation Champion of Champions tournament, finishing with a 12-game total of 2,809. Steve Smith placed sixth in men’s singles.

The United States leads the nations all-events race with 5,460, entering Friday’s mixed doubles competition. The top seven teams, plus Colombia, will qualify for the 2013 World Games to be held in Colombia.


UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, cross country, Nove Mesto Na Morave, May 12-13, Czech Republic

Russell Finsterwald, Howard Grotts and Kerry Werner will compete in the elite men’s portion of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup event Saturday and Sunday in the Czech Republic. They competed, but did not place, in last week’s BMC Racing Cup in Switzerland. Also riding in the World Cup will be junior men Richard Cypress Gorry and Keegan Swenson, and junior woman Kate Courtney.

Also in cycling:

Giro d’Italia, long-distance road bicycle stage race, Italy and surrounding countries, May 5-May 27

Olympian Taylor Phinney crashed for a third time during the Giro d’Italia on Thursday during a stage between Modena and Fano. The second crash of this event resulted in an ankle injury.

UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, May 12-13, Papendal, Netherlands


National Field Championships and World Archery Field Championships Team Trials, May 10-13, Spokane, Wash.

Competition will be held through Sunday in Spokane, Wash., to determine the national champions in field archery. The nominations for the USA Archery World Archery World Team will be determined by the competition.

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.