Ten things to know from last week. March 15-21, 2022: Ferrari is back, Rachael Blackmore is gold, Indoor World Championships...
|Five things to know from last week|
- Ferrari is back. The Cavallino Rampante returned to the top of the F1 podium for the first time since the 2019 Singaporean Grand Prix (Sebastian Vettel, DEU), as Charles Leclerc (MCO) led a 1-2 ahead of Carlos Sainz (ESP) in the opening race of the season, in Bahrain. Max Verstappen (NED) challenged for the win but his Red Bull suffered a mechanical issue that triggered his retirement, as it did for teammate Sergio Pérez (MEX), who was running 3rd on the final lap. Lewis Hamilton (ENG, Mercedes) inherited the podium position. Soon after, Josef Newgarden (USA) won the IndyCar race in Texas, passing Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin (NZL) in the last lap of the race at Texas Motor Speedway.
- Double Sebring. The Sebring International Raceway hosted two world-class races within two days. First, the FIA World Endurance Championship opened its season, with Alpine taking its maiden victory in a storm-shortened 1000 Miles of Sebring ahead of the handicapped #8 Toyota. The lineup was André Negrão (BRA) / Nicolas Lapierre (FRA) / Matthieu Vaxiviere (FRA). United won LMP2 with Paul Di Resta (SCO), Olivier Jarvis (ENG), and 16-year-old Joshua Pierson (USA). Porsche GT Team con LMGT Pro. One day later, Chip Ganassi Racing won IMSA’s 12 Hours of Sebring, with Earl Bamber (NZL), Alex Lynn (ENG), and Neel Jani (CHE), after overcoming a spin and a drive-through penalty. This follows another Cadillac win at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Corvette Racing won GTD Pro for the 12th time, with Antonio García (ESP), Jordan Taylor (USA), and Nicky Catsburg (NED).
- Blackmore is gold. Rachael Blackmore (IRL) won her first Cheltenham Gold Cup, becoming the first female jockey to take the prestigious steeplechase race, riding favorite A Plus Tard (FRA) to a 15 length win. She also repeated her Champion Hurdle win with Honeysuckle (ENG), who is now unbeaten in 15 races. She also took Bob Olinger (IRL) to the Golden Miller Novice Chase win. Another repeat win was Danny Mullins’s (IRL) with Flooring Porter (IRL). Trainer WIllie Mullins was also quite successful, with several Grade 1 wins, such as the Champion Chase win with Energumene (FRA) and Paul Townend (IRL), the Ryanair Chase with Allaho (FRA) and Townend, the Champion Bumper with Facile Vega (IRL) and Patrick Mullins (IRL), and the Triumph Hurdle with Vauban (FRA) and Townend. He also saw the heartbreak of Galopin Des Champs (FRA) losing the Champion Hurdle as he fell in the last jump, handing Bob Olinger the win.
- Ethiopia tops the table. Ethiopia topped the World Indoor Championships medal tally for the first time, with four gold medals, ahead of 3 by the United States of America. Some of the most notable results include Yulimar Rojas (VEN) becoming the first athlete to win three World Indoor Championships in the triple jump, with a jump of 15.74m that is a provisional World Record, Armand Duplantis (SWE) breaking his own Pole Vault World Record of 6.19 set last February in Belgrade (SRB) by jumping 6.20 en route to his World Indoor Athletics Championship gold medal, also in Belgrade, and Grant Holloway (USA) equalling his own 60-meter Hurdles World Record of 7.29 seconds in the Semifinals, before eventually winning gold. Yaroslava Mahuchikh (UKR) won the women’s high jump, a month after she had to leave her home following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Local star Ivana Vuleta won the women’s long jump.
- Japanese Light Flyweights. Kenshiro Teraji (JPN) avenged his 10-Round TKO loss against Masamichi Yabuki (JPN) from last September by beating him with a 3-Round TKO in order to regain the World Boxing Council World Light Flyweight Title. A fight against WBA and The Ring Champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (JPN) would be the best fight to make in the division. In Flyweight, Sunny Edwards (ENG) beat Muhammad Waseem (PAK) in a Unanimous Decision to successfully defend his IBF World Flyweight Title. He is asking for the unification fight against Julio César Martínez (MEX), WBC Champion.
- Scare in Catalunya. Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) collapsed with a cardiac arrhythmia following a 2nd place in the opening state of the Volta a Catalunya but one day later was already thinking about his comeback. Michael Matthews (AUS) won the Stage. Previously, Matej Mohorič (SVN) won the Milano – San Remo. With this win, Slovenian riders have won five out of six Men’s Road Cycling World Tour events this year.
- Goodbye, Therese! Therese Johaug (NOR) retired from Cross-Country Ski competition in the Worldloppet’s Birkebeinerrennet in Norway, finishing just one second behind the winner, Astrid Øyre Slind (NOR). Within the last months, she won three Olympic gold medals, three World Cup races, and the Long Distance World Cup. She retired with a total of 82 individual and 18 team World Cup victories -only behind Marit Bjørgen (NOR), who finished 5th in this race-, 14 World titles, and 4 Olympic gold medals. It is expected that she might continue to compete in athletics, which she has taken up lately.
- 20 editions later. Taylor Fritz (USA) became the first US American to win the ATP Masters 1000 at Indian Wells, in California, beating Rafael Nadal (ESP) in two sets. He is the first US American to win the Men’s Singles since Adre Agassi in 2001. Nadal had a close semifinal against Spanish sensation, Carlos Alcaraz. The US player also won in Men’s Doubles, as John Isner and Jack Sock defeated Santiago González (MEX) and Édouard Roger-Vasselin (FRA). Iga Świątek (POL) won the WTA 1000 tournament over Maria Sakkari (GRC), and the Chinese pair of Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan won Women’s Doubles.
- Almost perfect Champion. Billy Bolt (ENG, Husqvarna) won his second consecutive FIM SuperEnduro World Championship title, after yet another clean sweep, this time winning the six races in Germany’s SachsenArena. He won a total of 14 out of 15 races in this year’s Championship. In MotoGP, Miguel Oliveira (POR, KTM) won a rainy Indonesian Grand Prix, ahead of Fabio Quartaro (FRA, Yamaha). Somkiat Chantra (THA) won the Moto2 race and became the first Thai rider to win a Motorcycling Road Race at the world stage.
- The impact of a war. The Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships took place in Azerbaijan, however they suffered a big blow without the participation of suspended Russia, as they won all but one gold last time out, in 2021. This time Belgium won 7 gold medals, as the Championship also included feature events for the “Balance” and “Dynamic” divisions, on top of the “Combined” competitions.