Christian Sprenger, Olympic silver medalist breaststroker, retires

Christian Sprenger
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Australian Christian Sprenger, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2013 World champion in the 100m breaststroke, retired, citing a 2014 shoulder injury and inability to compete at an elite level.

“I tried to get it back, but the power just wasn’t there, and I didn’t want to go to the Olympics to swim a heat,” Sprenger said, according to the Australian.

Sprenger, 30, also broke the 200m breaststroke world record in the 2009 World Championships semifinals (he would win bronze), keeping it until Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta broke it in the 2012 Olympic final.

In London, Sprenger was beaten by South African Cameron van der Burgh by .47 for gold in the 100m breast, the Australian’s only career Olympic individual final.

Van der Burgh, however, broke a rule by doing multiple underwater dolphin kicks at the start of the race en route to a world record.

‘‘If you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind,” van der Burgh said in 2012, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s not obviously — shall we say — the moral thing to do, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my personal performance and four years of hard work for someone that is willing to do it and get away with it.

‘‘I think every single swimmer does that. At the point in time before the ’fly kick was legal [when swimmers weren’t allowed any dolphin kicks at all], [Japan’s four-time Olympic gold medallist Kosuke] Kitajama was doing it, and obviously the Americans were complaining.”

Sprenger, who relegated van der Burgh to silver at the 2013 Worlds, held no ill-will toward the South African, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I know why he did it,” Sprenger said, according to the newspaper. “I understand at that point in time and even now probably, people are doing it all around the world. And they’re doing it because they think they can get away with it.

“I understand he was trying to even the playing field. I get that. But I believe that he would have been good enough to win an Olympic gold medal without that. I don’t think that’s what people need to focus on. I think if you take that out of the equation, I think he would have won at the end of the day.

“I know him well. He’s a friend of mine. And that’s why at the Olympics I didn’t kick up a stink. I could have done all sorts of things, taken it anywhere I wanted to take it.”

Sprenger was eliminated in the first-round heats of the 50m and 100m breast at the World Championships last August.

“The injury I sustained in 2014 really took a bigger toll on me than I thought it would,” Sprenger said, according to the Australia Olympic Committee. “After returning in 2015, after almost four months out of the water, I worked hard to get back what I had lost, but although I may have thought I wanted it, it wasn’t enough.

“Towards the end of 2015, my breaststroke just didn’t feel how it used to, and I became more and more frustrated.

“The Olympic gold is the only thing missing from my collection, but in this sport, if the mind and body are not perfectly in sync and focused beyond capacity, the performance will not come.

“Ultimately for me, I am not there anymore, and although I may be good enough to make the Olympic team, I can’t just be a number on a team, that is not who I am.”

MORE SWIMMING: Ledecky breaks another WR (video)

Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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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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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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