91-year-old woman breaks marathon record

Harriette Thompson, Meb Keflezighi
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source: Getty ImagesHarriette Thompson didn’t let age or cancer stop her from making history at the San Diego Marathon on Sunday.

Thompson, 91, broke the women’s 90-94 age-group marathon record when she crossed the finish in 7 hours, 7 minutes, 42 seconds.

She was still healing from squamous cell carcinoma radiation treatments as recently as one month before the marathon. Her white tights covered wounds on her legs. It wasn’t her first time battling cancer. She ran San Diego in 2010, 2011 and 2012 with an oral cancer that took all but one of her upper teeth and her jawbone, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Actually, Thompson shattered the previous 90-94 age-group record of 8:53:08, set by Mavis Lindgren in 1997. She came close to the men’s mark of 6:46:34.

Get this: Thompson didn’t take up marathon running until 15 years ago, at age 76.

“I started running because I had friends who were very ill from leukemia,” the Charlotte retirement community resident said. “A friend of mine was gathering money for the race, and she was going to run for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I decided, well, I could walk that. So I signed up, and I came out here in 1999 and ran my first marathon.”

Everybody in her family has died from leukemia or cancer, including the recent passing of her 99-year-old brother, she told NBC San Diego. She has raised more than $90,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society running 15 marathons, according to the Charlotte Observer.

She was given a special introduction before Sunday’s race and met Meb Keflezighi, the Boston Marathon winner and 2004 Olympic silver medalist.

Her longest training run/walk was five or six miles, and she told reporters wasn’t sure she would be able to finish Sunday. But she powered on with her son, Brenny, 55, by her side.

Thompson, reportedly a former concert pianist who played Carnegie Hall three times, was surrounded by media after completing the 26.2 miles in about 16:20/mile pace Sunday.

“I don’t deserve all this attention,” she said, according to competitor.com. “I feel relieved. But I’m interested in getting into a cold shower and falling into bed for a while.”

Thompson told reporters she would run the San Diego Marathon again next year, if she’s able.

“I can’t believe how big a deal they’re making over me,” she told the Charlotte Observer. “I felt like a queen for the day.”

Spain King Juan Carlos I and the Olympics

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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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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