PHOENIX, Arizona, July 17. ASHLEY Twichell of the United States won the women's 10K today in Kazan, Russia, at the World University Games, taking the lead very early in the race and never relinquishing it to cap off a great competition for the Americans. She finished the race 31 seconds ahead of silver medalist Aurora Ponsele of Italy and Karla Sitic of Croatia. Emily Brunemann was fourth in the race as part of that tightly-knit pack that was fighting for medals behind Twichell, about seven tenths outside of the bronze medal.
The race for gold was much closer on the men's side, with Italy's Matteo Furlan getting to the finish line two seconds ahead of France's Romain Beraud and Germany's Andreas Waschburger. The Americans were never really in the race, with Ryan Feeley placing tenth and Joey Pedraza finishing in 14th place.
With the World University Games coming to a close, the aquatic sports community is turning its attention to the world championships, which starts July 20 with open water, synchronized swimming, and diving. Since pool swimming does not start until July 28, many of the teams have not arrived in Barcelona yet, but are holding training camps in various parts of Spain.
Water polo begins on July 21, and the global community of athletes in that sport have created an athletes' union to help with contract negotiation and work to expand exposure of the sport worldwide. American Tony Azevedo, a member of the USA national team for nearly 15 years, is president of the Water Polo Players' Organization and will hold a press conference on Saturday to officially announce the start of this union, which features 15 current and former water polo players as founders.
The subject of Olympic boycott is rearing its head again today, thanks to statements made by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, who is calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Graham says the Games should be boycotted as a response to Russia giving National Security Administration records leaker Edward Snowden sanctuary for the past few weeks. The US Olympic Committee has responded, saying boycotts do not work, and only serve to "deprive hundreds of American athletes of the opportunity of a lifetime." Even Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner says Graham is "dead wrong" about proposing a boycott. The last major boycotts of the Olympics happened in 1980, when the United States and others sat out the Moscow Olympics, followed by a boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 by Communist countries led by the Soviet Union.
The opening ceremony of the 19th Maccabiah Games is tomorrow in Jerusalem, and among the flagbearers in the event will be Olympic champion Garrett Weber-Gale. The 400 free relay gold medalist from 2008 was given the honor of representing the United States in the parade, which he said is something he had been dreaming of doing. Swimming at the Maccabiah Games begins Sunday.