Cycling Mountain: Australia wins double gold in cross-country events at Oceania champs

Australia has shown that it is still the dominant nation in Oceania by winning gold in both the men’s and women’s cross-country event at the 2015 Oceania Mountain Biking Continental Championships held from February 26th to February 27th 2015. In terms of Olympic qualification the top two nations in the men’s cross-country race qualify while the top nation in the women’s cross-country race will also qualify.

In the men’s cross-country race it was Daniel McConnell from Australia that took the lead and won by over 3.5 minutes against his closest rival with a time of 1:29:50. The second Olympic quota place went to silver medalist Anton Copper from New Zealand. Bronze went to Cameron Ivory of Australia.

The women’s cross-country race was a closer affair with Rebecca Henderson of Australia winning and taking the Olympics quota by 50 seconds with a time of 1:28:10 over New Zealand’s Kate Fluker. New Zealand also took the bronze medal with Karen Hanlen.

However the Olympic quotas are not set in stone because in the Olympic qualification for mountain biking the world rankings will have priority over the continental championships so if Australia and/or New Zealand qualify through the rankings the next highest ranked nation will take the continental spot. Looking at the 2014 rankings both Australia and New Zealand have a great chance at qualifying in the men’s event while in the women’s event Australia will a decent chance at qualifying through the rankings.

Another interesting wrinkle in the reallocation is that only Australia and New Zealand competed at the continental championships so potentially we could have unused quotas. Looking at the qualification pathway any unused spots from the continental championship will go to the highest ranked Oceania country in the world rankings. Currently Guam in the men’s rankings is the only non-Australian/New Zealand Oceania nation present so unless another nation decides to take up mountain biking Guam will essentially have a free spot in the men’s cross-country. In the event that there are still unused quotas the next highest ranked nation in the world rankings regardless of continent will qualify.

Quotas by Nations

  • Australia – 2
  • New Zealand – 1

References

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Equestrian: Qatar Wins 2nd leg of the 2015 Nations Cup Jumping Series

The second leg of the 2015 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping Series held from February 18th to February 21st 2015 also doubled as an Olympic qualifier for nations in the Group F region (Africa and the Middle East). The top Group F nation in the team jumping event will qualify a team to the Olympics.

Qatar took control of the competition in the first round getting only 3 penalty points; the closest rival was France with 6 penalty points while the closest Group F nation was Egypt with 10 penalty points. Qatar continued its impressive performance in the final round winning the Olympic berth and the overall competition with only 5 total penalty points. Second went to Ukraine (19 points) while Egypt finished in third (21 points). This will be the first time Qatar will have a team in jumping.

Qatar winning the team quota has all, but eliminated 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Saudi Arabia from qualifying a team. Unlike in the dressage and eventing disciplines you are not allowed to qualify a composite team as there is a limit of two individual athletes per nation in the individual qualification. The only way for Saudi Arabia to qualify a team would be if Qatar withdraws their team and then Egypt declines to take their spot.

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Boxing: AIBA Pro Boxing Champions Crowned

As Olympic boxing slowly steps away from being strictly an amateur sport AIBA has created a pro boxing competition where athletes can turn professional yet still remain eligible for the Olympics. The champion of each weight class along with the first challenger at the end of the first cycle in 2015 will qualify to the Olympics. While the challengers will not be known until later this year the first 10 champions of each weight were decided at various locations from January 23rd to February 19th 2015.

With three world champions (Flyweight, Light Welterweight and Heavyweight) Russia is well represented, Turkey is second with two (Welterweight and Middleweight) while China (Light Flyweight), France (Bantamweight), Germany (Super Heavyweight), Iran (Light Heavyweight) and Kazakhstan (Lightweight) all have a single champion.

Also to note are the boxers ranked second to fifth in each category because those are the only boxers that are able to become the first challenger by the end of the first cycle in 2015. Overall I find the AIBA Pro Boxing circuit to be a bit confusing, but that may have been because this was the first season. Now with a proper ladder of champion to lowest ranked challenger things should become a bit easier to understand.

Quotas by Nation

  • Russia – 3
  • Turkey – 2
  • China – 1
  • France – 1
  • Germany – 1
  • Iran – 1
  • Kazakhstan – 1

Reference

Cycling Road: 40 Year Old wins Men’s Road Race at Asian Champs

Two quotas for the men’s road race event were up for grabs for two nations at the 2015 Asian Continent Championships held from February 12th to February 14th 2015. Showing that age doesn’t matter it was the 40 year old Hossein Askari from Iran that took gold and the first Olympic quota in a time of 2:47:23. The second Olympic quota came down to a sprint finish between 10 cyclists where in the end it was United Arab Emirates’ Yousef Mirza Banihammad whom grabbed silver and the second quota. Kohei Uchima from Japan won bronze.

Like with the African Championships the World and Asian Tours will have priority over the continental championship so if Iran and/or the United Arab Emirates qualify through the rankings the next best nation will take the continental spot. Looking at the 2014 rankings it is unlikely that an Asian nation will qualify through the World Tour, but Iran will likely qualify as one of the top nations through the Asian Tour and United Arab Emirates could potentially have an athlete in the top 10. For reallocation purposes the next best ranked nations at the Asian Continent Championships are; Japan, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Thailand and Philippines.

Quotas by Nations

  • Iran – 1
  • United Arab Emirates – 1

Reference

UCI. Men Elite Asian Championship Road Race Results. Access on March 7 2015.

Cycling Road: South Africa Completes Sweep in Men’s Road Race at African Champs

The South African men completed a sweep in the road race during the 2015 African Continent Championships held from February 9th to February 14th 2015. The race was won by Louis Meintjes with a time of 3:59:27. Jay Thompson and Jacques Janse van Rensburg came in second and third respectively. In terms of Olympic qualification the top two nations receive 1 quota place to the men’s road race so along with South Africa receiving a place Ethiopia will also get a quota due to Tsgabu Grmay finishing in fifth.

However qualification in road cycling is a bit more complicated than that. Rankings from the World and African Tours will have priority over the continental championships so if South Africa and/or Ethiopia qualify through the rankings the next best nation will take the continental spot. Looking at the 2014 rankings in the World Tour South Africa was on the outside for Olympic qualification. Should South Africa fail to qualify through the World Tour they will probably qualify through the African Tour as either a nation or by having an athlete in the top 10. For potential reallocation purposes the next best ranked nations at the African Continent Championships were; Eritrea, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Namibia.

Quotas by Nations

  • Ethiopia – 1
  • South Africa – 1

Reference

Football: Argentina wins 2015 Men’s South American Youth Championship

Argentina wins its fifth title and an Olympic berth by winning the 2015 Men’s South American Youth Championship held from January 14th to February 7th 2015. Despite this being a U20 tournament it was the South American qualifier to the Olympics (a U23 tournament). The tournament was also a qualifier to the Men’s U20 World Cup and the 2015 Pan American Games where in a bit of a twist teams ranked third to sixth qualified. The format for the tournament included a first stage round robin of five teams in two groups where the top 3 advance to the final stage round robin to determine the rankings.

The six teams to reach the final stage were Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Argentina took control of the group early on and had developed a record of 3 wins and 1 draw (10 points) going in to the final match. However, the only team that could stop Argentina from directly qualifying to the Olympics was their final opponent, Uruguay whom was also undefeated in the final stage (2 wins, 2 draws, 8 points). Uruguay took an early lead with a goal from Gaston Pereiro at the seventh minute, but Argentina was able to tie the match 10 minutes before half-time with a goal from Sebastian Driussi. The match remained a stalemate until the 80th minute where Angel Correa broke the tie which ended up being the game winner as Argentina won 2-1.

Sadly the loss to Uruguay not only prevented them from directly qualifying to the Olympics, but along with Colombia’s 3-0 win over Brazil in their final game also prevented them from qualifying to a play-off match against the third ranked CONCACAF team. By finishing second in the group Colombia will have a second chance in 2016 to qualify to the Olympics. Argentina’s Giovanni Simeone won the golden boot by scoring 9 goals and Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay all qualify to the Men’s U20 World Cup while Brazil, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay qualify to the 2015 Pan American Games by finishing third to sixth.

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Handball: France Completes Triple Crown by Winning World Champs

France men’s handball team qualifies to the Olympics by winning the men’s Handball World Championship held from 15 January to 1 February 2015 for the third time in four championships. By winning the world championships France has completed the rare feat of holding the Olympic, World and European titles all at the same time. The last nation to accomplish this was France whom won the 2008 Olympics, 2009 World and 2010 European titles which further cements France as one the best current nations in the sport.

In the final France met with the tournament’s surprise host nation Qatar whom made their own history by becoming the first non-European nation to reach the final of this tournament. However, their Cinderella run ended here as France was able to take the lead and by half-time was winning 14-11. While Qatar made attempts at coming back France was always one step ahead and won the championship with a score of 25-22.

In addition to Olympic qualification this tournament serves as qualification for the final Olympic qualifying tournament. The top six non-qualified nations will be present at the final qualifying tournament. Currently the six teams are Qatar, Poland, Spain, Denmark, Croatia and Germany. Should Qatar win the Asian qualifier or one of those European nations win the European qualifier the next spot will go to Slovenia and if both scenarios happen then Slovenia and Macedonia will be the two replacements.

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