How to watch 2018 Kona Ironman World Championship

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“Whoever crawls across the finish line first, we’ll call him the Iron Man.” — Navy commander John Collins, before the first Hawaii Ironman in 1978.

The Ironman triathlon began as a 15-athlete event on Waikiki Beach to settle a debate. On Saturday, approximately 2,500 entrants take part in the 140.6-mile crucible with live coverage on NBC Sports. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

It begins with a 90-minute show on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. ET, just as the elite men’s race starts with the 2.4-mile swim at 6:35 a.m. local time. The women follow five minutes later. The Ironman Facebook page will have live streaming coverage.

LIVE STREAM: IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Live reports on NBCSN and NBC air throughout Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m. ET. NBCSN airs a recap Sunday at 12 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.

Live Update Schedule on NBCSN (ET)
3 p.m.
4 p.m.
6:15 p.m.
8:30 p.m. (RACE FINISH)

This event was the idea of Hawaiians John Collins and wife Judy. He had read in Sports Illustrated that five-time Tour de France champion Eddy Merckx of Belgium was the world’s best athlete, which sparked conversation.

“It was an argument as to who was in better shape, runners or swimmers. I proposed that, possibly, cyclists were in better shape,” Collins said on the 1998 Ironman broadcast on NBC.

On Feb. 18, 1978, Collins and 14 others dove into the Pacific Ocean to settle it. Each competitor received three sheets of paper beforehand listing rules, a course description and, on the last page, one last motivator.

“Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”

Collins has regrets from that day. That half a beer on the 26.2-mile run. That bowl of chili on the 112-mile bike.

Gordon Haller, a taxi driver, would win in 11 hours, 46 minutes, 58 seconds (Saturday’s champion will cover the course in a little over eight hours). The trophy, made by Collins, was an iron man.

This year’s race is headlined by defending champions Daniela Ryf of Switzerland and Patrick Lange of Germany, who own the course records.

Ryf, a 31-year-old who converted to the Ironman distance after placing 40th in the 2012 Olympic triathlon, is going for a fourth straight Kona crown to match Paula Newby-Fraser‘s female record. On July 8, Ryf won the Ironman European Championship by 26 minutes with a time that would have placed seventh in the men’s division.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Sarah True was the distant runner-up to Ryf at Europeans and is making her Kona debut after retiring from the Olympic distance. More on True’s transition here.

Australian Mirinda Carfrae owns three Kona titles and has made the podium in seven of her eight Kona starts.

Lange’s chances to repeat were boosted when countryman and 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno withdrew with a hip fracture last month. Frodeno won Kona in 2015 and 2016, plus took this summer’s Ironman European title by nearly eight minutes against a field that included Lange.

Lange, 32, broke the Kona course record last year — 8:01:40 — with a 2:39:59 marathon, just off his run course record of 2:39:45 from the previous year. He ran the final mile in 5:37.

Runner-up Lionel Sanders of Canada, back for this year’s race, emerged from a drug addiction to become one of the world’s best athletes with most of his training done in a 10-foot-by-10-foot room dubbed “the pain cave.”

Then there’s Spaniard Javier Gomez, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist and five-time Olympic-distance world champion making his Kona debut. Gomez owns a pair of half Ironman world titles from 2014 and 2017.

Notable non-elite entrants include 2012 Olympic road race champion Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan and 1990s Tour de France veteran Laurent Jalabert of France. Vinokourov served a blood-doping ban a decade ago. In 2013, a French Senate report listed Jalabert as one of many cyclists to use illegal drugs in that era.

MORE: Gwen Jorgensen questions marathon after Chicago disappointment

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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.

“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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