Allyson Felix says coach to ‘voice opinion’ about Olympic track and field schedule

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Allyson Felix repeated Wednesday that August’s World Championships schedule “doesn’t allow” her to run both the 200m and 400m, six days after her coach reportedly said the 200m-400m double was still a possibility.

Felix also said her coach, Bobby Kersee, would make his final decision on what her schedule will be for the World Championships (Aug. 22-30 in Beijing) after she races a 200m in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday. No woman has swept the 200m and 400m at a Worlds, though it’s been done in both genders at the Olympics.

Felix was also asked Wednesday if Kersee had, in an effort to seek flexibility in the Rio 2016 Olympic track and field schedule approved in November, reached out to the IAAF (track and field’s international governing body), the International Olympic Committee or Michael Johnson (who lobbied for a March 1996 change to the Atlanta 1996 Olympic schedule that increased the time between the men’s 200m and 400m at those Games).

“I haven’t talked to [Kersee] on the specifics of it, but he definitely told me that he would be talking to whoever he needs to talk to, just voicing his opinion,” Felix told media in Lausanne. “Just not only for myself, but the 200m-400m double, to me, is a common double. A lot of 400m runners can the run the 200m as well. Any case moving forward, it would be a great opportunity for a long sprinter to have.”

Felix was also asked if a 200m-400m double attempt at Worlds (where the 200m semifinals and 400m final are about an hour apart) was important so Olympic schedulers could consider athletes who want to attempt the double next year.

“I would love to run the double,” Felix answered. “It’s something that I did before, and I would love to do it again. In my opinion, the schedule just doesn’t allow for it [at Worlds]. To me, it’s really disappointing because there are so many people who can do a 200m-400m double, and I think that we should be allowed to attempt it. So I would hope that, moving forward, that the Olympic schedule would reflect that. But at this World Championships, in my opinion, I don’t see it as being ideal to be able to run optimal in both the 400m and the 200m.”

In 1996, the original Olympic schedule called for the men’s 200m semifinals and 400m final on the same day, as is the case for the women’s races at the World Championships in Beijing next month. Johnson reportedly said then that he would have chosen one individual race if the Atlanta 1996 schedule remained that way.

The March 1996 revised schedule allowed Johnson a full day of rest between the 400m final and the start of the 200m rounds. Johnson, in golden shoes, went on to become the first man to sweep the 200m and 400m at an Olympics.

The women’s 200m-400m double gold has also been done at the Olympics. American Valerie Brisco-Hooks swept them at Los Angeles 1984, and France’s Marie-Jose Perec in 1996.

Brisco-Hooks and Perec, like Johnson, also had one day off between the 400m and 200m in their Olympic schedules.

The Rio 2016 Olympic schedule calls for the women’s 400m final to go off 75 minutes after the start of the first round of the women’s 200m. It’s not as tough as August’s Worlds, but it’s a departure from London 2012, when there was a day off between the 400m and 200m.

In 2012, Felix attempted the 100m-200m double rather than the 200m-400m (one day off between the 100m and 200m) and finished fifth in the 100m and, in her primary goal, won gold in the 200m.

In 2011, the Worlds schedule had two days between the women’s 400m final final and the start of the women’s 200m.

“Going through this will tell me if it’s even going to be a possibility to do the same thing in London [at the 2012 Olympics],” Felix said before the 2011 Worlds, according to The Associated Press.

In 2011, Felix won 400m silver (in a personal-best time, beaten by .03 by Botswana’s Amantle Montsho in her personal best; Montsho is currently serving a doping ban) and 200m bronze.

“You definitely are going to be more fatigued, but I think that’s the challenge of it,” Felix said of the 200m-400m double Wednesday. “That’s a great thing about athletics, to challenge yourself and see what you can accomplish.”

Allyson Felix’s patience pays off in 2014; ready to explore in 2015

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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