Tatyana McFadden’s path to potential 7 gold medals in Rio

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No American has done it in 12 years, but Tatyana McFadden is giving it a go at the Rio Paralympics.

McFadden is entered in seven track and field events, a total of 12 races in 11 days traversing 58,195 meters (or 630 football fields). The wheelchair racer believes it’s possible to win them all. No American has bagged seven golds at a single Paralympics since 2004.

“It’s definitely going to be one of the greatest challenges I face in athletics,” said McFadden, a 27-year-old who swept the Boston, Chicago, London and New York City Marathons in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

McFadden is entered in the 100m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 4x400m relay and the marathon. Her first preliminary heat is Thursday night. Her last medal race in her trademark event, the marathon, is on the final day of the Games on Sept. 18.

“In the sprinting, most of those girls are really just focused on the 100m and 400m, so I know that I have a lot of work cut out for me,” McFadden said Tuesday.

McFadden’s back story is well-known in Paralympic and marathon circles. She was born in Russia paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida and adopted from a St. Petersburg orphanage at age 6.

The last American to win seven golds at a single Paralympics was swimmer Erin Popovich at Athens 2004. Most of the Americans to earn that many golds were swimmers. The only U.S. track athlete to do it was Bart Dodson at Barcelona 1992, according to International Paralympic Committee archives.

McFadden is already one of the Paralympic greats going into Rio, her fourth Games. She owns 10 Summer Paralympic medals dating to her debut at age 15 in 2004 and tacked on a cross-country skiing silver at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.

McFadden showed her track versatility at the 2013 IPC World Championships, sweeping the 100m through the 5000m to become the first athlete to take six golds at a single worlds. That was in July 2013. Earlier that year, she won the Boston and London Marathons. Later that year, she won the Chicago and New York City Marathons.

McFadden skipped the 2015 IPC Worlds to focus on her marathon racing, so she hasn’t been tested in a global championship in three years.

McFadden is confident, though, and pointed to Canadian wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc, who swept the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m at the 2004 and 2008 Paralympics.

“If she can do it, I feel like I can do it as well,” McFadden said.

However, Petitclerc did not contest the 5000m 0r marathon at those Games.

If McFadden can even win six golds, it would be the largest haul by an American in Rio this year, topping the likes of Michael PhelpsKatie Ledecky and Simone Biles.

“Legends like Michael and Katie, and some of the U.S. girls, especially in gymnastics, too, they’ve made history,” McFadden said. “It would be honoring to be part of that history and part of that movement. I think it would also really, really help to grow the Paralympic sport as well, to show how dominant it is. Hopefully people will go wow.”

MORE: Rio Paralympics broadcast schedule

Diana Taurasi says 2024 Paris Olympics ‘on my radar’

Diana Taurasi
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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.

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Alexis Pinturault wins world championships combined; American in fourth

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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.

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