Logan Tom continues volleyball career in Indonesia

Logan Tom
Getty Images
0 Comments

The U.S. women’s volleyball team spent January clinching a Rio Olympic berth in Nebraska. Logan Tom, the program’s most recognizable name spanning the previous three Olympic cycles, spent the time moving to Indonesia.

Tom, 34, hasn’t been a part of the national team in three years and doesn’t expect to be called for a fifth consecutive Olympics in August.

But she’s not done playing.

Tom, the top scorer at the Beijing 2008 Games and the “glue” of the London 2012 team, started an abbreviated three-month season for an Indonesian club this month.

“I honestly didn’t know Indonesia had a league,” she said in a Skype interview about one week after arriving. “It was the first offer that piqued my curiosity, just because it’s a new place I haven’t been to.”

Tom was the youngest player on the Sydney 2000 Olympic women’s team, at age 19 following her freshman year at Stanford. She earned the nickname “Doogie,” after Doogie Howser, M.D.

She went on to earn Olympic silver medals in 2008 and 2012.

Tom “tore everything” in her left ankle on a bad landing training for her Brazil club team in February 2013. She decided to return to Stanford to finish her degree while considering if she wanted to continue in the sport.

While back in the U.S., Tom said she told USA Volleyball that she, once recovered from the injury, would be available for the national team that summer, should they need her.

She later received a phone call from Karch Kiraly, a two-time Olympic indoor champion. Kiraly served as an assistant coach for the London Olympic team and was elevated to head coach one month after the Games.

“I got a phone call saying, ‘Thank you for the time you put into USA Volleyball, but we won’t be needing your services anymore,'” she said.

Tom said she respected the decision but was caught off-guard by how the news was delivered.

“It was more how it was done than what was done,” she said. “I thought it was a good relationship [with Kiraly]. He was probably the coach I was most close to, 2012 and before. That wasn’t the best feeling.”

Kiraly declined to discuss why Tom is no longer part of the national team.

“One of the important and difficult parts of this job is that my staff and I, our USA team staff and I, have to make important roster and personnel decisions that can, to some outsiders, appear confusing, even up to enraging, and those decisions have to be made,” Kiraly said in a phone interview.

Tom said she and Kiraly haven’t spoken since.

It’s not always a painless exit when national team stalwarts bow out. Landon DonovanAbby Wambach and Kobe Bryant‘s retirements from international play came under different circumstances, with perhaps Wambach the only one who exited smoothly.

And the fact is, the U.S. women’s national team pool has gotten younger under Kiraly.

The last three Olympic teams, not coached by Kiraly, all had at least three players in their 30s, including five in 2012.

Under Kiraly, the 2014 World Championship-winning roster included one player older than 29. The 2015 World Cup roster included no players older than 28. The 2016 Olympic qualifying tournament roster included one player older than 29. Tom is older than every player on those squads.

Tom, who had played club volleyball in Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Russia, Japan, China and Turkey, plus a domestic beach volleyball stint, decided in late 2013 to finish her degree at Stanford’s program in Florence, Italy.

One of her old club managers learned Tom was in Italy, called and asked if she would be interested in playing for a club in northern Italy in 2014. She signed a one-year contract and began a six-hour commute three days per week from school to club.

“It’s always been better for me to be over-busy than under-busy,” Tom said. “I wanted to try playing because I hadn’t played on my ankle in about a year. To see if I could play, if I still loved to play, or if it was something I still wanted to do.”

She still enjoyed it, and graduated, so Tom played another season in 2015 in Cannes, France, ending last May.

“If I don’t know what I truly want to do right now, I still have the option to go play [volleyball],” she reasoned.

She disconnected from the sport over the summer, save a football/volleyball camp with former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu in American Samoa. (Tom’s father, Melvyn Tom, of Hawaii, played nine NFL seasons in the 1960s and ’70s.)

Clubs called, but Tom deemed herself unavailable until the intriguing offer from Indonesia to play a shortened, three-month season. She signed in September to start playing in February 2016.

“Short season, three months, which is good for me,” she said. “I grew up playing Asian-style volleyball. It’s my favorite style to play, because it’s more defense and more technical.”

A club in Ankara, Turkey, then requested her services for the fall, so she tacked that on before flying to Jakarta. The 6-foot, 1-inch Tom is holding up well in Indonesia, playing with younger, shorter teammates. Most are Indonesian, except for veteran Brazilian Olympian Mari.

“I’m 34, getting old for any kind of professional athlete,” Tom said. “But I feel really good. It’s funny, when you get older, you learn what your body needs. Working out, keeping in shape, keeping my body healthy has become a lifestyle for me, much more than when I was younger.”

She’s been aided by Dr. Jason Han, a former taekwondo athlete who started HealthFit and is one of the members of the Juice Athlete Compound in Pasadena, Calif. Tom worked closely with Han before heading to Turkey.

“I had been static for about five months and needed somebody to get me going in about two weeks,” Tom said. “He kicked my ass. Every session, there were always about three or four times where I was like, oh my god, I can’t do this.”

Tom’s plan after the Indonesian season is to visit New Zealand. After? She hasn’t thought that far ahead.

“I just kind of go where life takes me,” Tom said.

MORE: U.S. women’s volleyball team clinches Olympic berth

Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

Diana Taurasi
Getty
0 Comments

Diana Taurasi said immediately after winning her fifth Olympic gold medal in Tokyo that she might try for a record sixth in Paris.

It’s still on her mind 17 months out of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“It’s something that it’s on my radar,” Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday after the first day of a USA Basketball training camp in Minnesota, her first national team activity since Tokyo. “I’m still competitive, still driven, still want to play, I still love being a part of USA Basketball.”

Taurasi will be 42 at the time of the Paris Games — older than any previous Olympic basketball player — but said if she’s healthy enough she’d like to give it a go.

“If the opportunity comes to play and be a part of it, it’s something I’ve always taken a lot of pride in,” said Taurasi, who shares the record of five Olympic basketball gold medals with the retired Sue Bird. “When you get to my age at this point in my career, you just try to win every day. Right now this is a good opportunity to be part of this team moving forward we’ll see what happens.”

She said she would have played at the FIBA World Cup last year in Australia, but had a quad strain that kept her out of the end of the WNBA season.

“I got hurt a little bit before. I had a good conversation with Coach (Cheryl) Reeve and (USA Basketball CEO Jim) Tooley. I felt like I hadn’t played enough basketball to be out there and help,” Taurasi said. “That’s the biggest thing with USA Basketball is being able to help the team win.”

Reeve said Monday that when she succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach a few months after Tokyo, she wasn’t sure whether Taurasi would play for the national team again. That was before her conversation with Taurasi.

“I look forward to having a chance to have her be around and be, as I told her, a great voice,” Reeve said. “Obviously, the competitive fire that she competes with is something that we all do well with.”

In Tokyo, Taurasi started all six games and averaged 18.8 minutes per game, sixth-most on the team (fewer than backup guard Chelsea Gray). Her 5.8 points per game were her fewest in her Olympic career, though she was dealing with a hip injury.

Taurasi is an unrestricted free agent although she is expected to return back to Phoenix where she’s spent her entire career since getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2003.

“Phoenix still has things they need to work out,” the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer said.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Alexis Pinturault wins world championships combined; American in fourth

0 Comments

France’s Alexis Pinturault won the world Alpine skiing championships combined at his home venue after defending world champion Marco Schwarz blew a lead in the final seconds of his slalom run.

Pinturault, a 31-year-old who hadn’t won a race in nearly two years (the longest drought of his distinguished career), prevailed by one tenth of a second over the Austrian Schwarz in Courchevel, France.

“I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago,” Pinturault said.

Austrian Raphael Haaser took bronze in an event that combined times from a morning super-G run and an afternoon slalom run, one day after his older sister took bronze in the women’s combined.

River Radamus was fourth, a quarter of a second from becoming the first U.S. man to win an Alpine worlds medal since 2015. Radamus’ best event is the giant slalom, which is scheduled for Feb. 17 at worlds.

“It’s nice, but honestly, you don’t come to world championships hoping to get fourth,” Radamus said.

Five skiers finished within 2.98 seconds of the winner in an event that has been dropped from the annual World Cup schedule and is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

ALPINE WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Pinturault had the fastest super-G run by six hundredths over Schwarz. Schwarz, a slightly better slalom skier than Pinturault, erased that deficit early in the slalom and had a three tenths lead at the last intermediate split.

He gave it all away about six gates from the finish, slamming on the brakes. Moments later, he crossed the finish line one tenth behind Pinturault, who reacted by pumping his fists in the air.

The Frenchman earned his first race victory since the March 2021 World Cup Finals giant slalom, where he clinched his first World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in ski racing. Last season, Pinturault went winless on the World Cup for the first time since he was a teenage rookie in 2011, plus went medal-less at the Olympics.

Pinturault, who grew up in Courchevel and now co-owns the family’s five-star Hotel Annapurna there, had retirement cross his mind in the offseason, according to Eurosport. He skipped a pre-worlds Sunday press conference due to illness.

Nonetheless, Pinturault was on the front page of French newspapers this week, including L’Equipe on Tuesday. In a sports cover story for Le Figaro, Pinturault said that, given the circumstances, it would be almost a “nice surprise” to go for a medal at these worlds.

Olympic champion Johannes Strolz of Austria skied out of the slalom after tying for 29th in the super-G.

Olympic silver and bronze medalists Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway and Jack Crawford of Canada were among the speed specialists who did not start the slalom. They essentially used the event as a training run for Thursday’s super-G.

Worlds continue Wednesday with the women’s super-G, where Mikaela Shiffrin is a medal contender but not the favorite. She can tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!