U.S. women can clinch Olympic berth; FIBA World Championships preview

Maya Moore

The U.S. women’s basketball team’s objective at the FIBA World Championships, which start Saturday, is exactly the same as what the U.S. men accomplished two weeks ago — repeat as world champion and clinch a spot in the 2016 Olympics.

The team guided by UConn coach Geno Auriemma is arguably more heavily favored than Mike Krzyzewski‘s crew to reach that goal, even after losing its first game in three years in an exhibition last week.

The U.S. roster includes Brittney Griner for the first time at a global championship plus seven members of the 2012 Olympic champion team. WNBA MVP Maya Moore and Finals MVP Diana Taurasi are in Turkey for the tournament, but the U.S. squad is so deep that All-WNBA First Team selection Skylar Diggins was one of the final cuts. (more analysis of the U.S. roster here)

The U.S. showed some weakness in pre-tournament games — its first loss since 2011 on Sunday, a 76-72 defeat to France. The U.S. beat France in the London Olympic final by 36 points.

Still, the U.S. is in much better shape than its longtime top challenger — Australia. The Aussies took silver in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics and came the closest to the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics, falling by 13 in the semifinals.

For the World Championships, Australia is without stalwart Lauren Jackson (hip injury) and its No. 2 scorer from London, Liz Cambage, who ruptured an Achilles tendon in a 72-66 exhibition loss to the U.S. last week.

Still, Australia beat France without Jackson and Cambage by 16 points last Saturday. The Aussies will be led by two-time Olympian Penny Taylor, the MVP of the 2006 FIBA World Championship, when the U.S. was shocked by Russia in the semifinals.

The U.S. begins play in four-nation Group D against China on Saturday. All four group winners advance to the quarterfinals. The second- and third-place teams advance to an elimination round to determine the other four quarterfinalists.

If the U.S. and Australia win their groups and their quarterfinals, they will meet in the Oct. 4 semifinals.

Here’s the U.S. schedule:

Saturday — China, 2:30 p.m. ET
Sunday — Serbia, 2:30 p.m. ET
Tuesday — Angola, 2:30 p.m. ET
Friday, Oct. 3 — Quarterfinal
Saturday, Oct. 4 — Semifinal
Sunday, Oct. 5 — Final

Kosuke Hagino not satisfied with 7 medals at Asian Games

Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”


Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele

LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”


Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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