USA Basketball names Olympic women’s team finalists

Brittney Griner, Maya Moore
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Ten of the 12 members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team are among 25 finalists to make the Rio squad.

Three-time Olympic gold medalists Sue BirdDiana Taurasi and Tamika Catchings, plus the last four WNBA MVPs Elena Delle DonneMaya MooreCandace Parker and Tina Charles and Brittney Griner were among the finalists announced Monday.

“We could split them down the middle and have two very competitive teams,” coach Geno Auriemma said in a press release. “We have a great mix of gold medalists and players who are hungry to play in their first Olympics. There is versatility at all positions. Our posts are the strongest we’ve seen in years, we have guys who can shoot, guys who can defend, and I’m just happy I don’t have to make the decision as to who will be playing in Rio.”

The two members of the 2012 Olympic team out of the running are former UConn players Swin Cash and Asjha Jones.

Competition to make the Olympic team will be fierce.

Delle Donne and Griner lead the group of potential first-time Olympians, including guard Skylar Diggins, one of the final four cuts from the 2014 World Championship team, reigning WNBA No. 1 pick and Rookie of the Year Jewell Loyd and UConn senior Breanna Stewart.

Stewart, 21, is younger than any U.S. Olympic women’s basketball player since 1988, according to sports-reference.com. Stewart did make the 2014 World Championship roster.

Catchings, 36, is the oldest finalist and, in August, will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic women’s basketball player, according to sports-reference.com.

The expected final training camp before the Olympic team is named will be Feb. 21-23 at the University of Connecticut.

FINALISTS

Guards
Sue Bird — Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012)
Skylar Diggins
Briann January
Jewell Loyd
Kayla McBride
Danielle Robinson
Odyssey Sims
Diana Taurasi — Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012)
Courtney Vandersloot
Lindsay Whalen — Olympian (2012)

Forwards
Seimone Augustus — Olympian (2008, 2012)
Tamika Catchings — Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012)
Elena Delle Donne
Candice Dupree
Angel McCoughtry — Olympian (2012)
Maya Moore — Olympian (2012)
Chiney Ogumwike
Nneka Ogwumike
Candace Parker — Olympian (2008, 2012)
Breanna Stewart

Centers
Tina Charles — Olympian (2012)
Stefanie Dolson
Sylvia Fowles — Olympian (2008, 2012)
Brittney Griner
Jantel Lavender

MORE: Sue Bird looks ahead to ‘likely last Olympics’

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

Ironman Kona World Championship
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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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