Best women’s basketball players who haven’t made the Olympics

Skylar Diggins
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Elena Delle DonneBrittney Griner and Breanna Stewart are arguably the three most accomplished players in the WNBA era yet to play in the Olympics.

(Yes, Stewart hasn’t played a pro game yet, but her NCAA record is unmatched)

That should all change in August, when the trio plus nine Americans who already own gold medals make up Team USA in Rio.

Who does that leave as the best players in the WNBA’s 19 seasons not to play at the Olympics?

Seven All-WNBA first-team players haven’t made an Olympic team:

1999, 2000 — Ticha Penicheiro
2001 — Merlakia Jones
2005, 2007 — Deanna Nolan
2006 — Katie Douglas
2008 — Sophia Young
2014 — Skylar Diggins
2015 — DeWanna Bonner

Penicheiro is Portuguese, and her national team never qualified for the Olympics.

Jones made the first three WNBA All-Star Games in 1999, 2000 and 2001, but she was not one of six alternates for the 2000 Olympic team.

Nolan and Douglas were on the 21-woman U.S. national team for 2007-08 but not the 12-woman roster in Beijing. In fact, Nolan tried out for the Russian Olympic team in 2008 but didn’t make it (unlike Becky Hammon).

Young was born in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, became a U.S. citizen in 2011 and was among 21 finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.

Diggins was one of the final four cuts for the 2014 World Championship team and was among 25 finalists for the Rio team but didn’t make it. She’s coming back from a June 28 torn ACL.

Bonner was not among the 25 finalists for the Rio Olympic team.

The WNBA players with the most All-Star nods not to make an Olympic team:

7 — Nykesha Sales (1999-2006)
6 — Taj McWilliams-Franklin (1999-2001, 2005-07)
5 — Katie Douglas (2006-07, ’09, ’11, ’14)
5 — Candice Dupree (2006-07, ’09, ’14-15)

Sales was one of six alternates for the 2000 Olympic team.

There’s no widespread mention of McWilliams-Franklin being in the running for an Olympic spot in 2000, 2004 or 2008. Her best WNBA seasons were in the middle of an Olympic cycle in 2005 and 2006.

Dupree made the 2014 World Championship team and was among 25 finalists for the Rio Olympic team.

MORE: Why Candace Parker was left off Olympic team

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Merlakia Jones did not make a WNBA All-Star team.

Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return, 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.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona men’s pro race, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Both entered Kailua-Kona, where the races were now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men. Chelsea Sodaro won the women’s race, ending a 20-year American victory drought.

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.

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.

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