Caster Semenya eyes Olympic 400m-800m double, possible Allyson Felix clash

Caster Semenya
AP
2 Comments

Scrutinized South African Caster Semenya said she thinks she will race both the 400m and the 800m at the Rio Olympics after she broke her national record in the 800m at a meet in Monaco on Friday night.

“I think we’re going to take part in two events, four and eight,” Semenya said on BBC Radio after the race. “But, yeah, we still have to go decide again.”

If Semenya races the 400m in Rio, in addition to her favored 800m, she could face the biggest U.S. track and field star, Allyson Felix, the reigning world champion and fastest woman of 2016 in the one-lap race.

Semenya, known for a gender-testing controversy after she won the 2009 World 800m title, set her 400m personal best on April 16, clocking 50.74 seconds. She ranks ninth in the world this year in the event among women poised to compete in Rio.

Felix’s world-leading time for 2016 is 49.68 seconds. Felix won the 2015 World title in 49.26 seconds. It doesn’t sound like Semenya has eyes on beating Felix in Rio.

“The main thing for me is try to run under 50, that’s the main target,” Semenya said Friday night.

Semenya could try to become the second woman to earn Olympic 400m and 800m medals in the same Games, joining Brit Ann Packer, who took 400m silver and then broke the 800m world record at the 1964 Tokyo Games.

The women’s 400m final in Rio is Aug. 15. The women’s 800m rounds start Aug. 17.

In Monaco, Semenya cemented her status as Olympic 800m favorite, breaking her national record with the fastest time in the world since 2008.

Semenya clocked 1:55.33 for two laps (video here). The previous national record was Semenya’s 1:55.45 from 2009 Worlds.

Semenya won by .91 over Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, who is shaping up to be the silver-medal favorite in Rio. Full Monaco meet results are here.

Semenya’s time is the 22nd-fastest ever and still 2.05 seconds slower than the world record set by Czech Jarmila Kratochvílová in 1983.

Semenya has re-emerged this year with form not seen since she took silver at the London Olympics. The sudden revival came after a July 2015 decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that suspended for two years a 2011 IAAF ruling that regulated women’s testosterone levels for competition eligibility.

Semenya, who was kept out of competition by the IAAF for 11 months in 2009 and 2010 while undergoing gender tests, has performed well at various times before the 2011 ruling, during the regulation period (2012 Olympics) and now without the regulation.

In other Monaco events, the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers won the 100m in 10.94 seconds into a -.5 meters/second headwind. Jamaican veteran Veronica Campbell-Brown was second in 11.12, with Tianna Bartoletta fifth in 11.21. Bartoletta was second at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Jamaican Elaine Thompson, who was not in the Monaco field, is fastest in the world this year at 10.70 seconds.

In the 110m hurdles, Olympic favorite Omar McLeod of Jamaica hit the last hurdle and fell, finishing last (video here).

World champion Wayde van Niekerk won the 400m in 44.12 seconds. The field did not include 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt or 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James, who rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world (43.97, 44.08) this year ahead of the South African.

The men’s 1500m included the last two Olympic champions in the event — Asbel Kiprop and Taoufik Makhloufi — and Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah. They were all beaten by Kenyan Ronald Kwemoi.

New Zealand’s Valerie Adams beat fellow Olympic medal contenders Christina Schwanitz of Germany and Michelle Carter of the U.S. in the shot put.

MORE: American record holder concerned about Semenya competing in Rio

U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup
Getty
0 Comments

The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new up-tempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
Getty
0 Comments

The U.S. women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headlined a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, included neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team had nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 60 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The U.S. beat China in the final, while host Australia took bronze to send 41-year-old Lauren Jackson into retirement.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), wasn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule, Results

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA 88, Serbia 55 Quarterfinals
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada 79, Puerto Rico 60 Quarterfinals
4 a.m. China 85, France 71 Quarterfinals
6:30 a.m. Australia 86, Belgium 69 Quarterfinals
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. USA 83, Canada 43 Semifinals
5:30 a.m. China 61, Australia 59 Semifinals
11 p.m. Australia 95, Canada 65 Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. USA 83, China 61 Gold-Medal Game