Noah Lyles responds to Usain Bolt’s question, honors Dragon Ball Z’s Goku

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DES MOINES — For everyone applauding Noah Lyles this season, and there are many, one of his most famous onlookers still wants to see the American answer one question on the track.

“Last season he was doing a lot of good things, this season he has started off good,” Usain Bolt said Thursday, according to The New York Times. “But as I said, it all comes down to the championship. Is he confident to come into a race after running three races and show up? For me he has shown that he has talent, but when the championship comes, we will see what happens.”

Bolt is right. Lyles, though he is the fourth-fastest 200m runner in history, has never competed at a global championship. How he will hold up through the rounds in a foreign setting, like Doha in two months, is one of his big unknowns.

“Sounds about right to me, sounds like my thoughts exactly,” Lyles said when shown the Bolt Q&A after winning his 200m first round heat at nationals on Saturday (the semifinals and final are Sunday). “It’s why I decided to run one event this year.”

Lyles chose not to race the 100m this week, even though he is ranked second in the world in the event this year. He didn’t want to take any energy away from making the world team by finishing in the top three in the 200m. The double can wait until the Olympic year.

Lyles was fourth in the 2016 Olympic Trials 200m out of high school, just missing that three-man Rio team. He was an overwhelming favorite to make the 2017 World Championships team but withdrew during that season’s USATF Outdoor Championships with a hamstring injury. There were no outdoor worlds in 2018, when Lyles went undefeated at 200m for a second straight season.

Lyles and Christian Coleman, the world’s fastest 100m sprinter since Bolt retired in 2017, are expected to go head-to-head on Sunday in the most anticipated duel of the four-day meet. Coleman is already on the team in the 100m.

Lyles said his season has gone to plan, from running 19.50 last month to coloring his hair half-gray/silver in honor of a Dragon Ball Z character Goku on Saturday. He already has designs to go full gray/silver for worlds in Doha.

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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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