Joakim Noah unlikely for EuroBasket, in doubt for Olympics

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Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is reportedly unlikely to play at EuroBasket in September, a tournament the French national team director has said is mandatory for players who want to make the French Olympic team.

Noah, 30, is averaging 7.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this season, following offseason arthroscopic knee surgery.

“The French team is a great experience, but it has never been my priority,” Noah told L’Equipe, according to The Associated Press.

Noah played at 2011 EuroBasket, helping France qualify for the 2012 Olympics, its first Olympic berth since 2000, when it won silver. But Noah missed the 2012 Olympics due to an ankle injury and did not play in 2013 EuroBasket or the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

The top two nations at EuroBasket will earn trips to the Rio Olympics. Spain and co-host France are favorites. If France fails to qualify through EuroBasket, it could still make the Olympics through a last-chance qualifying tournament in 2016.

San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, who led France in scoring at the 2012 Olympics, reportedly plans to help qualify France for the 2016 Olympics at EuroBasket in September.

The San Antonio Spurs guard would be 34 come the Rio Games. He led France with 15.7 points per game to a deceiving quarterfinal exit at the 2012 Olympics.

France could have easily been the third best team in London. Its only losses were to the gold and silver medalists, the U.S. and Spain.

In 2013, Parker was MVP as France won EuroBasket. Parker sat out the 2014 FIBA World Cup to rest, and France won bronze without him and Noah.

Parker could be the veteran leader on a potential 2016 France team with Portland Trail Blazers swingman Nicolas Batum, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Washington Wizards power forward Kevin Seraphin perhaps taking on bigger roles.

Video: Usain Bolt calls out Tony Parker, swishes unbelievable basketball shots

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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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.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

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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