Usain Bolt: Nobody is running fast, except for the women

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Usain Bolt is off to his slowest-ever start to a season. Having seen his rivals’ times, Bolt is not worried about ending his career in defeat next month.

“No one is really running fast at the moment,” Bolt said Wednesday, ahead of his last 100m tune-up before the world championships in Monaco (Friday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold). “I really can’t say [why]. The only thing I’ve noticed is the guys over the years who have really competed like me, Tyson [Gay], Asafa [Powell], and all these guys, we’re just getting older. So just the young crop is coming up now. I guess they’ll take time to mature.

“The girls have really outperformed us over the past three years. They’ve really stepped up and been running some fast times. It’s been really competitive. I take my hat off to the girls for really competing a higher level. I think we’re just getting old.”

Bolt, who failed to break 10 seconds in two June 100m races, will race in Monaco for the first time in three weeks. He visited a doctor in Germany following his last meet in the Czech Republic to work on his usual cranky back.

“People have counted me out [in past years], but I said the team I have always come through for me,” Bolt said.

Like in 2015, when Bolt pulled out of two early July meets with a leg injury and serious doubts about his readiness for those world championships. But Bolt visited his German doctor and returned four weeks before worlds to show medal-worthy form for the first time in nearly two years. He then swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at worlds.

This year is different. Bolt said he missed weeks of training following the April 20 death of friend and 2008 Olympic high jump silver medalist Germaine Mason.

“[My back] is not perfect, but I can train, which is the key thing,” Bolt said. “I’m training much better now. Over the next two weeks, it should be fine.”

In Bolt’s favor is a lack of challengers. Only one man has broken 9.90 seconds this year (American Christian Coleman, who couldn’t replicate that speed at nationals), and nobody has broken 9.96 outside of their home country.

At this time in 2015, Justin Gatlin had broken 9.80 a total of four times. Six other men had broken 9.90.

Bolt said it “would be good to dip under 10 seconds” in Monaco on Friday. He will likely need to in order to extend a four-year winning streak in 100m and 200m races, though the field lacks Coleman, Gatlin and Olympic medalists Yohan Blake and Andre De Grasse.

Bolt’s goal isn’t to win on Friday, but “to get perfect for when the big race comes, and that’s in three weeks [at worlds].”

Bolt added that he will not enter any meets after worlds, meaning his career finale will be the 4x100m relay at the London Olympic Stadium on Aug. 12.

“[My agent] says if I’m going to run after London, it has to be like a [Floyd] Mayweather[Conor] McGregor fight,” Bolt joked. “My coach said that I have to be his assistant until he decides to retire also.”

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here with redactions.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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