For Gabby Douglas, this break from gymnastics is different

Gabby Douglas
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Gabby Douglas has been away from gymnastics training for nearly one year now, her longest break since she took up the sport at age 6.

The 2012 Olympic all-around champion has not retired, but unlike Final Five teammates Simone BilesAly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez, has no set plan to return to the gym. Yet.

“We’ll see. I mean, right now, it’s up in the air,” Douglas said while promoting Post-it’s “Make it Stick” back-to-school initiative on Wednesday. “I’m enjoying the time off.”

At this time in the last Olympic cycle, Douglas had already returned to coach Liang Chow‘s gym in West Des Moines, Iowa, for two months. However, she would leave for Los Angeles in summer 2013 before ultimately landing in Ohio for her return to competition in March 2015.

It was all different five years ago. Today is the fifth anniversary of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

Douglas rose from out of nowhere — compared to Simone Biles, who dominated from 2013 through Rio — to win her Olympic all-around title and then repeatedly said the rest of summer 2012 that she planned a run to Rio.

“This time is different because I’ve been to two Olympics, and I always wanted to go to two Olympics,” Douglas said Wednesday. “But right now since I’ve been doing gymnastics for 14 years, I am taking this time off, especially growing into my own person.”

Douglas confirmed she’s keeping her gymnastics options open by saying she’s still filling out whereabouts forms for drug testing. Generally, Olympic medalists make their retirements official by filing paperwork to take their names out of a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing pool (see Michael Phelps).

But her focus is clearly outside of the gym for the forseeable future. Douglas began taking acting classes in Los Angeles in June, like fellow gymnastics medalist Danell Leyva (who doesn’t plan to come back).

Her ultimate goal is to appear in movies.

“It’s the same, but different,” Douglas said of acting versus gymnastics. “You have to expose your vulnerability a little bit in acting classes.”

Douglas is aware that 2012 and 2016 Olympic teammate Aly Raisman hopes to make a third Olympic team in 2020. Does Douglas think Raisman is inspirational or just crazy?

“It’s whatever you want to do,” she said, “whatever you want to achieve.”

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

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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.

“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

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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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