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Candace Parker unsure of 2020 Olympic run after Rio snub

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Dawn Staley was announced as the next U.S. women’s basketball head coach on March 10. Candace Parker said Tuesday that she learned of Staley’s hiring “a couple of days ago” from a Los Angeles Sparks teammate.

Parker was surprisingly left off the Olympic team more than 13 months ago. As the WNBA season gets going, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion has little to say about her future with the U.S. national team, if there is to be one at all.

Does she want to play in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at age 34?

“I don’t know,” Parker said before beating the New York Liberty on Tuesday night. “I haven’t thought about it.”

Parker was playing overseas for a Turkish club when Staley was announced as the successor to Geno Auriemma nearly three months ago.

Parker played collegiately at the University of Tennessee, the main rival to Auriemma’s Connecticut teams, but Parker suited up for Auriemma at the 2012 London Olympics and led the team in rebounds and blocks.

Auriemma was not part of the five-person selection committee that left Parker off the Rio Olympic team. Committee chair Carol Callan said the forward Parker played a position that was “the strength of” the U.S. team. Two of the three first-time Olympians in Rio, Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart, played the same position as Parker.

The selection committee for the 2020 Olympic cycle has not been announced. The next major tournament, the FIBA World Cup, is not until September 2018. Parker has plenty of time to weigh her options.

In the meantime, she praised Staley, both on social media after Staley won the NCAA title with South Carolina in April and on Monday night.

“I’m proud of her,” Parker said. “I think she deserves it [the U.S. head-coaching job]. She’s an outstanding coach winning a national championship.”

Parker is coming off an outstanding year since being left off the Rio team. She achieved her top career goal — a WNBA title, even greater than Olympic gold, she has said — with the Sparks last season, earning finals MVP.

Parker dedicated the campaign to her college coach, Pat Summitt, who died in June after battling Alzheimer’s for nearly five years.

After her first four games this season, Parker is the only WNBA player averaging 15 points, five rebounds and five assists per game.

Parker has said a primary motivation to play in Rio was that her daughter, Lailaa, then 7 years old, would be able to watch her at the Olympics and remember it.

After missing the Rio team, Parker spoke of being caught off-guard, mad and upset. She would not commit to hypothetically being an injury replacement if one of the 12 named players had to bow out. That situation did not arise.

Parker said last June that it was “too early to tell” if she would wear a USA jersey again.

Now, Parker has that WNBA title. Her next goal? Winning another WNBA title.

“You can luck up and do anything one time, not that you’re going to luck up and win a championship,” said Parker, who also won two NCAA titles at Tennessee. “There’s a lot of people that have one championship. I said it in college, all the greats had multiples. That’s kind of what I’m aiming for.”

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Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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