U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team announced

Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi
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Sue BirdDiana Taurasi and Brittney Griner will lead the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team in Rio, seeking a sixth straight title for Team USA.

USA Basketball announced the 12-woman roster, chosen by a committee, featuring a men’s or women’s national record nine players with Olympic experience:

Seimone Augustus (2008, 2012)
Sue Bird (2004, 2008, 2012)
Tamika Catchings (2004, 2008, 2012)
Tina Charles (2012)
Elena Delle Donne
Sylvia Fowles (2008, 2012)
Brittney Griner
Angel McCoughtry (2012)
Maya Moore (2012)
Breanna Stewart
Diana Taurasi (2004, 2008, 2012)
Lindsay Whalen (2012)

Candace Parker, a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, was the only players with Olympic experience who didn’t make the team from the 25 overall finalists announced in January. Other 2012 Olympians Asjha Jones and Swin Cash were not finalists.

Skylar Diggins was also among the finalists who didn’t make the team after being one of the final four cuts from the 2014 World Championship team.

Catchings, 36, is the oldest U.S. Olympic basketball player of all time, according to sports-reference.com.

Stewart, 21, is the youngest U.S. Olympic women’s basketball player since 1988. She recently won her fourth NCAA title with Connecticut and was drafted No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm.

“Well, first of all when I saw that [national team director Carol] Callan was calling, I had a mini heart attack,” Stewart said, according to the Associated Press. “Because I’m like, ‘What’s going to happen? I don’t know! I don’t know!’ And then I answered it, and obviously I knew who was calling, but when she congratulated me, it was . I was speechless. I did not know what to say.”

Stewart played at the 2014 World Championship just after turning 20, recording a total of 36 minutes over six games and scoring 11 points, fewest on the team.

Catchings, Bird and Taurasi can tie former teammates Teresa Edwards and Lisa Leslie for the most Olympic team sport gold medals for an American.

Griner is on her first Olympic team after withdrawing from 2012 Olympic consideration due to a family illness and her summer school schedule, three months before the London Games.

“When I got the call, I was speechless,” Griner said, according to the AP. “Just knowing that this will be my first Olympics that I’ll be able to go to and play in, I’ve always said that that’s the biggest stage you could play on. It doesn’t get any bigger than putting on that jersey and playing for gold.”

Bird, Taurasi, Moore, Charles and Griner started every game at the 2014 World Championship, which Catchings, Delle Donne and Fowles missed due to injuries.

The U.S. women’s basketball team has won 41 straight Olympic games since losing to the Unified Team in the Barcelona 1992 semifinals.

MORE: Olympic basketball groups announced

Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

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Elena Fanchini, an Italian Alpine skier whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini, the 2005 World downhill silver medalist at age 19, passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in the combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her World Cup win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won her world downhill silver medal in Italy in 2005, exactly one month after her World Cup debut, an astonishing breakout.

Ten months later, she won a World Cup downhill in Canada with “Ciao Mamma” scribbled on face tape to guard against 1-degree temperatures. She was 20. Nobody younger than 21 has won a World Cup downhill since. Her second and final World Cup win, also a downhill, came more than nine years later.

In between her two World Cup wins, Fanchini raced at three Olympics with a best finish of 12th in the downhill in 2014. She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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