Brazil’s first Olympic biathlete trained on sand dunes near Rio

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When you get the opportunity to compete in the Olympics, you do whatever it takes to prepare.

Case in point: Brazil’s Jaqueline Mourao, a five-time Olympian that’s competing in two disciplines in Sochi: Cross-country skiing and biathlon (she’s Brazil’s first Olympian to compete in the latter).

To get herself ready on the skiing side of things, she trains on the sand dunes that surround Rio de Janeiro, site of the next summer Olympics in 2016.

It’s the Olympics. Whatever it takes.

And Mourao insists that the Rio dunes are a perfectly good training ground. From a 2010 Reuters story:

“It’s like skiing minus 40 (kph),” Mourao said. “It’s very slow, the kick is hard and the glide is hard but to learn the movements and to work the arms and the upper body, it’s perfect.”

Mourao is not expected to be a medal contender, but should be commended for her versatility. In addition to cross-country skiing in the last two Winter Olympics, she’s also competed in mountain biking in the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

MORE: Team USA’s hunt for elusive biathlon medal continues in Sochi

Now that she’s going into the biathlon, she becomes the second female three-sport Olympian alongside Sheila Taormina of the U.S.

Taormina swam at Atlanta in 1996 (earning a gold as part of the 4×200 meter freestyle relay), competed twice in the triathlon at Sydney (2000) and Athens, and then took part in the modern pentathlon at Beijing.

source: AP
Brazilian cross-country skier and biathlete Jaqueline Mourao. Photo: AP

Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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