Angry Isaac Makwala runs solo heat, qualifies for 200m final (video)

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Medically cleared, Isaac Makwala qualified for the 200m final at the world championships on Wednesday after missing the 200m heats and the 400m final due to a stomach virus.

The IAAF let Makwala back in the 200m one day after a controversy erupted over the Botswanan’s exclusion from the 400m final, where he was the top challenger to eventual winner Wayde van Niekerk. Makwala is the top-ranked 200m man this year, having run 19.77 seconds on July 14.

“I’m still running with heart broken,” Makwala said on the BBC after running a pair of 200m races in a 2-hour, 20-minute span on a rainy Wednesday evening in London. “I wish IAAF would take decision for me to run my 400m [final] first [on Tuesday]. I was ready to run the 400m. … 400m is the race that I’m training for, 200m I do sometimes.

“I’m running with anger. I still want my 400m. That’s my race. 400m is my race. … I wish to thank the IAAF for giving me another chance [in the 200m].”

Makwala was allowed to re-run the 200m heats, so he had to do so alone. Makwala needed to clock 20.53 seconds and did so easily, recording 20.20 and then doing five push-ups immediately afterward, proving he’s fit.

That earned Makwala a spot in the semifinals later Wednesday night. Out of lane 1, he finished second in his semifinal in 20.14, raising his right arm convincingly while crossing the finish line. He’s into Thursday’s final.

So is Van Niekerk, who was the last qualifier into the eight-man final via finishing third in his heat in 20.28 seconds.

The stomach virus that hit a number of athletes at the earlier in the week morphed into a full-fledged mess a few hours before the 400m final, when video surfaced of Makwala being escorted away from the athletes’ entrance to the stadium in London.

“I thought that was the end of my life and end of my career,” Makwala, 30, told Lewis Johnson on NBCSN on Wednesday. “I wanted to fight, you know, but in the end I said, just let this go and maybe we’ll come back.”

Makwala insisted he felt fine. But he vomited Monday before the 200m heats, and the IAAF said doctors checked him, determined he had norovirus and, per the recommendation of health regulators in Britain, told him he had to stay off the premises for 48 hours.

“I came here for a medal,” a healthy looking Makwala said in an interview with the BBC. “Some people force you to withdraw. I’m OK to run, but someone’s saying you can’t run. It’s a bad thing.”

The IAAF put out its own statement defending the decision, saying it “is very sorry that the hard work and talent of Isaac Makwala won’t be on display tonight but we have to think of the welfare of all athletes.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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.

“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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