Ten best performances from World Track and Field Championships

Wayde van Niekerk
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Here are the 10 best performances from the World Track and Field Championships, not counting Usain Bolt‘s triple gold effort in Beijing:

10. Julius Yego becomes third farthest javelin thrower ever

Yego, who honed his throwing by watching YouTube javelin videos, became the first Kenyan to win an Olympic or Worlds medal in a field event. His golden throw, 92.72 meters, was the farthest in the world since 2001, eighth farthest all time and made him the No. 3 javelin thrower ever.

9. Anita Wlodarczyk’s second farthest hammer throw ever

The women’s hammer throw does not get much visibility in the U.S., but Wlodarczyk is undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in the sport. The Pole broke the world record each of the last two years and came within 10 inches of her best in winning her second World title with an 80.85-meter heave.

8. Jamaica runs second fastest women’s 4x100m relay ever

The 100m gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce anchored the Jamaicans to a comfortable win in 41.07 and by .61 over the Americans, but at least the U.S. still owns the world record (40.82) from the London Olympics.

7. Allyson Felix runs third fastest 4x400m relay leg ever

Felix, now with 13 Worlds medals (most by an American), won the 400m in a personal-best 49.26 seconds. Three nights later, Felix’s split on the 4x400m relay was 47.72, the third fastest split all time. She made up a 1.99-second deficit to start her leg and handed the baton off with a .48 advantage.

6. Wayde van Niekerk runs sixth fastest 400m ever

The South African ran 43.48, a time so exhausting that he had to be stretchered off the track. Van Niekerk would have beaten Michael Johnson at the 1996 Olympics. Only Johnson (43.18 world record, 43.39, 43.44), Harry Reynolds (43.29) and Jeremy Wariner (43.45) have covered one lap quicker.

5. Dafne Schippers runs fourth fastest 200m ever

Schippers, the 2013 World bronze medalist in the heptathlon, is now a full-time sprinter. She chose wisely. The flying Dutchwoman earned 100m silver and, four days later, gold in the 200m. Schippers’ 200m time, 21.63 seconds, knocked four tenths off her personal best. She is now the third fastest woman ever in the distance, behind world-record holder Florence Griffith-Joyner (21.34, 21.56) and Marion Jones, who ran 21.62 at altitude in 1998, before the stretch when her times were wiped out for doping.

4. Genzebe Dibaba’s final 800 meters of the 1500m

The Ethiopian, who broke the 1500m world record July 17 with a 3:50.07, won the World Championship in a much more tactical race — in 4:08.09, the slowest to take gold in Worlds history. But her final two laps were absolutely stifling. Dibaba covered the final 800 meters in 1:57.2, which would have won the 800m at Worlds by eight tenths of a second.

3. Aries Merritt wins bronze medal with kidney function less than 20 percent

Merritt won the Olympic 110m hurdles title and broke the world record in 2012, but his performance in Beijing was even more incredible. Merritt finished third, four days before he was set to receive a kidney from his sister. He announced he had kidney failure just before Worlds and noted how taxing it was to have to race in three rounds with that condition.

2. Christian Taylor’s second farthest triple jump ever

Jonathan Edwards‘ world record of 18.29 meters from 1995 is under serious threat after the Olympic champion Taylor leaped 18.21 in Beijing. Taylor’s jump left Edwards in astonishment, as the British commentator smiled with his jaw agape and shook his head from the media tribune inside the Bird’s Nest.

1. Ashton Eaton breaks decathlon world record

Which was more impressive, Eaton breaking his world record by six points, or Eaton breaking the decathlon 400m world record by six tenths of a second? The world’s greatest athlete was so exhausted after his two-day, 10-event journey that he had to kneel and rest his head against the video board as he posed for photos next to his 9,045-point score.

U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new up-tempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

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The U.S. women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headlined a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, included neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team had nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 60 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The U.S. beat China in the final, while host Australia took bronze to send 41-year-old Lauren Jackson into retirement.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), wasn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule, Results

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA 88, Serbia 55 Quarterfinals
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada 79, Puerto Rico 60 Quarterfinals
4 a.m. China 85, France 71 Quarterfinals
6:30 a.m. Australia 86, Belgium 69 Quarterfinals
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. USA 83, Canada 43 Semifinals
5:30 a.m. China 61, Australia 59 Semifinals
11 p.m. Australia 95, Canada 65 Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. USA 83, China 61 Gold-Medal Game