Swimming: U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Coughlin and her coach may (or may not) be in a tiff

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Neither U.S. swimmer Natalie Coughlin nor her long-time coach, Terri McKeever, seem to know if they’ve had a falling out since an Olympics experience in London that was a little awkward for the pair.

Coughlin won bronze in London in the 4x100m freestyle relay, her twelfth career medal tying her with Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson as the most decorated lady swimmers of all-time. But she won the medal after only participating in the prelims and then – surprisingly – being dropped from the squad that raced in the final, a decision made by McKeever, who coached the women’s team in London. Naturally, the snub has everyone wondering if there’s bad blood between the two.

“No, no, no, no,” Coughlin told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’ve been with Teri for 12 years. Our relationship is good… Teri’s been the most important figure in my swimming career. Our relationship is good; it’s fine.”

McKeever, who guided the U.S. women to 14 total medals this summer, seemed less certain.

“I don’t know that, to be honest,” McKeever was quoted as saying. “I would hope it doesn’t hurt our relationship. … I am proud of our relationship and what we accomplished over the last 12 years, 12 amazing years that have changed my life and her life.”

McKeever said she made the tough call to drop Coughlin in part because she was uncomfortable with how fast Coughlin made the exchange in swimming her leg of the prelims. The exceptionally fast exchange clocked in at 0:00, meaning Coughlin came as close as possible to leaving the block before her teammate touched the wall, narrowly avoiding an error that would have disqualified the team. It also meant that Coughlin’s split time, the fastest of among her teammates in the qualifying round, was deceptive. All that made McKeever nervous and led to her controversial choice.

After her disappointing showing in London, which Coughlin chalked up to a bad season, the swimming legend says she’s unsure of what’s next. The 30-year-old says she has made no decisions yet about her future and is leaving the door firmly open to continue her illustrious career.

It’s a decision she says she plans to make with McKeever’s input – but that’s a conversation that would necessitate, you know, talking to each other.

Bob Beamon on his favorite track and field record, amputee long jumper, Mike Powell’s comeback

Bob Beamon
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NEW YORK — Bob Beamon holds the longest-standing Olympic track and field record, and it looks likely to survive Rio 2016 and cross the 50-year mark.

Beamon leaped 8.90 meters to win the Mexico City 1968 Olympic long jump. It smashed the world record at the time and stood as the longest jump ever until Mike Powell‘s 8.95-meter leap in the epic 1991 World Championships.

Nobody, in any competition, has come within 17 inches of Beamon’s Olympic record since 2009. It would be astonishing if the Olympic record fell in Rio next year.

NBC SportsWorld documented Beamon, Powell, Carl Lewis and the long jump world record last fall.

OlympicTalk spoke with Beamon at NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti‘s Fund to Cure Paralysis dinner at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel Tuesday.

OlympicTalk: Which track and field record, outside of the long jump, impressed you the most?

Beamon: I think that Al Oerter is probably one of the most exciting who has broken world records but also is a five-time Olympian, just incredible [Oerter won four straight Olympic discus titles and held the world record for most of 1962-64]. I think Edwin Moses, 107 wins consecutively [in the 400m hurdles from 1977-87]. I think Carl Lewis duplicating Jesse Owens, four gold medals [in 1984]. He’s amazing. He’s a guy that had all the potential to hold the world record in the 100m, the 200m and the long jump [Lewis held the world record in the 100m only]. I think he’s probably at the top, but of course you have Usain Bolt now who has mastered the 100m and the 200m.

OlympicTalk: You mentioned last year that you were working on a documentary to come out in 2016. What’s the status of that?

Beamon: It’s still going. Since I’ve been doing some things with the IOC but also Adidas, I’ve stayed pretty busy, but, yes, that’s a top priority.

OlympicTalk: How would you feel if you had to compete against impressive German amputee long jumper Markus Rehm, who has won against able-bodied athletes?

Beamon: I think it’s amazing that people don’t give up and that they feel they’re just as competitive as the next person. So you have to look at this athlete as probably, if not, a great one. He has what looks like a handicap, but he’s really not handicapped. If I was competing against him, I would say, “Good luck to you,” because you have the juice to win. I’d give him all his dues.

OlympicTalk: Mike Powell said this year that he was considering trying to qualify for and then entering the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. What do you think of that?

Beamon: I didn’t know that. I think Mike is extremely ambitious, and I think that, you know, who knows? Who knows when you should retire? People are living longer. People are living better. I’m almost 70 years old. Sometimes I feel like I might want to come out of retirement [laughs].

Editor’s Note: Beamon retired before the 1972 Olympics and said he never competed in masters-age track and field competitions.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Usain Bolt beaten by boy YouTube sensation on ‘Ellen’

Baseball qualifying for 2020 Tokyo Games would be tricky

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ROME (AP) — If baseball rejoins the Olympics for the 2020 Tokyo Games, just qualifying for the tournament could be a challenge.

Under Tokyo’s recommendations, the men’s baseball competition would consist of just six teams — two less than the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s proposal.

WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari told The Associated Press on Friday that, in addition to host and automatic qualifier Japan, one team would qualify by winning the 2019 Premier 12 tournament.

The other four entrants could be determined by continental qualifying tournaments: two from the Americas, one from Europe-Africa and one from Asia-Oceania.

The toughest competition could come in an Americas tournament featuring the United States, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Panama and Venezuela.

“It’s going to be a battle to the last out,” Fraccari said.

Under the current plan, the 2017 World Baseball Classic will have no impact on the Olympic tournament. That will give more importance to the Premier 12, a tournament Fraccari devised for the top-12 ranked nations.

The first edition of the Premier 12 will be held in Japan and Taiwan next month.

Fraccari is still holding out hope that his original Olympic proposal of eight teams can be revived.

“There’s still a chance, depending on the number of athletes,” he said.


A combined baseball-softball bid was among five additional sports recommended last month by Tokyo organizers. Karate, surfing, skateboarding and sports climbing were the others.

The International Olympic Committee will make a final decision in August.

The IOC voted in 2005 to remove baseball and softball after the 2008 Beijing Games. As separate bids, the two sports failed to return for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Baseball and softball merged into a single confederation two years ago.

MORE BASEBALL: Mark McGwire remembers Olympic baseball boom in 1984