Galen Rupp will race U.S. Olympic marathon trials

Galen Rupp
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Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Galen Rupp will make his marathon debut at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 13.

“It came up a little sooner than I would have thought,” Rupp said of his marathon debut in a USATF.TV interview. “For a long time, it was always … after the Olympics this summer, then I would really start to look at [the marathon] more. After this last summer, it kind of came up in conversations with [coach] Alberto [Salazar].”

Rupp, 29, qualified for the Olympic trials at a half marathon Dec. 13, his first time racing that long of a distance in more than four years. NBC Sports will have live coverage of the trials in Los Angeles.

He said he still plans to race the 10,000 meters this spring with the potential of contesting both the 10,000m and the marathon at the Rio Olympics.

“I would say that the 10k is still my primary focus,” said Rupp, who would have to make the Olympic track team at those trials in Eugene, Ore., from July 1-10. “Really, it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether that’s the 5k or the marathon.”

At the Olympics, the 10,000m is Aug. 13. The 5000m is Aug. 17 (heats) and Aug. 20 (final). The marathon is Aug. 21, the final day of the Games.

Rupp’s 1:01:20 half marathon Dec. 13 ranked second among U.S. men for 2015, behind U.S. champion Diego Estrada, who is expected to make his 26.2-mile debut at the marathon trials.

“Galen wants to keep all his options open,” Salazar said in December, according to Runner’s World. “No commitments one way or the other.”

Rupp previously signed up for the 2012 U.S. Olympic marathon trials — also, reportedly, because he wanted to keep his options open — with a qualifying time from the March 2011 New York City half marathon (1:00:30).

But Rupp withdrew one week before the Jan. 14, 2012, marathon trials.

Many have wondered when Rupp would make his marathon debut. And how he would fare.

“It’s a little daunting,” Rupp said in the USATF.TV interview published Thursday. “It obviously is a little risky. I’ve always been a 5k/10k guy.”

He’s long been best at the 10,000m, making the Beijing 2008 team in the second-longest running event on the Olympic program, breaking the American record in 2011 (and again in 2014) and taking that 2012 Olympic silver medal.

The Olympic marathon trials favorite is Meb Keflezighi, a 40-year-old who owns an Olympic silver medal and Boston and New York marathon victories.

The other top contender, three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein, dealt with a hip injury in the fall and didn’t contest a Dec. 13 relay race with other men’s and women’s marathon hopefuls.

The top three at the trials will make the Rio Olympic team.

“Guys that certainly have a lot more experience than I do in running a marathon,” Rupp said, not about specific runners but the field. “They’ve been so great for so long. They’re there for a reason. They’re going to make it tough.”

Rupp’s goal is Olympic gold, and his best shot to do so may still be in the 10,000m.

Rupp followed the Olympic 10,000m silver by finishing fourth at the 2013 World Championships and fifth at this past summer’s Worlds. Training partner Mo Farah won all of those races and appears an overwhelming favorite to repeat in Rio.

“I was really disappointed to finish fifth,” Rupp said in November of his 27:08.91 time in Beijing on Aug. 22. “If that had been six years ago, I would’ve broken the American record in 90-degree heat, basically. So I ran really, really solidly, I thought, but sometimes you can’t control what place you get.”

He’s focused offseason training on paying more attention to his diet, yoga and upper-body stretches.

“Say I had gotten second or third, gotten my medal in Beijing, I would’ve maybe been a little disappointed, but we would’ve been, hey, we’re still right there,” Rupp said in November. “Maybe we wouldn’t have found all those other things [to work on].”

VIDEO: Rupp part of Nike Oregon Animal House tribute

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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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

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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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