Desi Linden, Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher
Getty Images

Fall marathons lack U.S. Olympic women’s contenders

Leave a comment

The news that 18-year-old Alana Hadley is the fastest American woman entered in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1 means that none of the 2012 U.S. Olympic women’s marathoners have announced they’re in a fall marathon ahead of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials on Feb. 13.

Though Hadley is qualified for the trials (live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra), it appears she is too young to compete in the Olympic marathon.

London Olympic marathoners Shalane Flanagan, Desi Linden and Kara Goucher have not announced fall marathons, which is no surprise with the Olympic trials on the horizon. More than half of the elite U.S. men’s marathoners are also sitting out fall marathons.

The top U.S. woman in a fall marathon appeared to be Amy Cragg, who finished 11th in the 2012 Olympic 10,000m. Cragg was entered in the Sept. 27 Berlin Marathon but is no longer in the field. She ran the U.S. 20km championships Sept. 7, placing 14th.*

Cragg ran 2:27:03 at the 2014 Chicago Marathon, ranking her third among U.S. women across all marathons since the start of 2013. Flanagan is first at 2:21:14, followed by Linden with a 2:23:54.

The next fastest Americans since the start of 2013 are Serena Burla, a cancer survivor who was the top U.S. finisher at the World Championships on Aug. 30 (10th), Goucher and Annie Bersagel, a Norway-residing lawyer.

Burla, Goucher and Bersagel are not among the elite fields of the major fall marathons (Berlin, Chicago, New York City).

The last U.S. woman to earn an Olympic marathon medal, Deena Kastor (2004 bronze), is to run the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11 at age 42.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Meb Keflezighi faces tough international field at NYC Marathon

*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Amy Cragg was running the Berlin Marathon.

Maya Moore withdraws from Olympic consideration

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maya Moore, the U.S. second-leading scorer at the Rio Olympics, withdrew her name from Tokyo Olympic consideration and will skip a second straight WNBA season.

Moore is on hiatus from competitive basketball to focus on criminal justice reform. Specifically, the case of a man who was sentenced to 50 years in prison but Moore believes is innocent, according to The New York Times.

USA Basketball confirmed Wednesday’s Times report that Moore took her name out of consideration for the 12-player Tokyo Olympic team, which is expected to be named in late spring or early summer.

“We are going to miss Maya tremendously, but we also respect her decision,” U.S. women’s national team director Carol Callan said, according to the report. “A player of Maya’s ability does not walk away from the gym lightly. Everyone feels it. The thing that makes her so special is her approach, her dedication, which has always been contagious for our team.”

Moore last played for the U.S. in major competition at the Rio Olympics. She was one of the leaders on a team that earned a sixth straight gold medal. Moore started all eight games and averaged 12 points per game, second on the team behind fellow former University of Connecticut star Diana Taurasi.

Breanna Stewart, another former UConn standout, entered the starting lineup at the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Moore’s absence and earned tournament MVP. Stewart is returning after missing the entire 2019 WNBA season with an Achilles tear.

Moore also started five games at the 2012 London Olympics as the team’s youngest player.

Moore, 30, said “this is not the time” to retire, according to the Times, but it’s unknown when she might return to the national team or to the WNBA, where she won four titles and an MVP with the Minnesota Lynx from 2011-18.

“I got to experience the best of my craft, and I did that multiple times,” Moore said, according to the report. “There is nothing more I wish I could experience.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. 3×3 basketball teams get one chance to qualify for Olympics

Major League Baseball sponsors U.S. Olympic softball team

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is using its financial muscle to support the U.S. women’s softball team, which already is assured a spot in the Tokyo Olympics while the American men’s baseball team struggles to qualify.

MLB announced an agreement Thursday to become presenting sponsor of the women’s “Stand Beside Her” tour, a slate of exhibition games leading up to the Olympic tournament from July 22-28.

“We’re both bat and ball sports. Even though we’re not the same sport, there are so many similarities that you just can’t ignore,” said Kim Ng, MLB’s senior vice president for baseball operations. “It was important for us to make sure that they have this acknowledgment and recognition of their ability and their talent.”

Softball began as an Olympic sport for the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. won gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004 with players that included Dot Richardson, Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza, then lost to Japan in the 2008 gold-medal game.

Baseball and softball were dropped for the next two Olympics, then restored for this year, when the U.S. and Japan will be joined by Australia, Canada, Italy and Mexico for games in Fukushima and Yokohama but not Tokyo. The sports are likely to be dropped for 2024 in Paris but could return four years later in Los Angeles.

The U.S. men’s baseball team stumbled in its first attempt to qualify, wasting a ninth-inning lead against Mexico in the final game of the Premier12 tournament in November and losing in the 10th. The U.S. has two more chances to join Israel, Japan, Mexico and South Korea in the Olympic field: an Americas tournament in Arizona from March 22-26 and a final tournament in Taiwan from April 1-5.

MLB is not allowing players on 40-man big league rosters to compete in qualifying, and few top pitching prospects were at the November tournament.

Softball has no such issues. The Olympics are the sport’s highest-profile event.

“The platform for us is 10 times bigger,” American outfielder Haylie McCleney said. “For us, it’s a great opportunity for people that have never watched softball before, people that have only followed it at the collegiate level, to really see how fun our game is to watch, how pure it is. If people are baseball fans, I guarantee they’re going to love softball because it’s pretty much just a faster game – it’s shorter, it’s quicker, it’s more entertaining to watch, in my opinion.”

The 2008 gold-medal softball game took 1 hours, 45 minutes — less than half the 3:45 average for this year’s World Series.

As part of the deal with MLB, the softball team’s official training facility will be at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach, Florida, the old Dodgertown spring training camp.

MLB Network will include programming from the tour, which currently starts Feb. 4 in Tampa and has about three dozen stops.

The U.S. women’s soccer team has attracted huge television audiences. MLB sees softball as an opportunity for the sport’s growth.

“These are world-class athletes,” Ng said. “Because we have not been in the Olympics for the last 12 years, they just haven’t had that stage. So it’s really important at this point that we show as much support as we can for them.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics