U.S. water polo player details South Korea balcony collapse

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One moment, Kaleigh Gilchrist was celebrating an unprecedented third straight world championship for the U.S. women’s water polo team.

In the next moment, she was headed to a hospital in South Korea.

Gilchrist was partying with teammate Paige Hauschild and other competitors from the world championships when a balcony at a nightclub near the athletes’ village collapsed early Saturday morning, killing two people and creating a chaotic scene in the southern city of Gwangju.

“We were having the best night ever celebrating our win, and somehow, a freak accident happened,” Gilchrist told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Gilchrist, a 27-year-old attacker from Newport Beach, Calif., who also was part of the United States’ gold medal-winning team at the Rio Olympics, sustained some deep lacerations on her left leg and got some stitches for cuts on her left thigh. But she said she had no broken bones or nerve damage.

Gilchrist had surgery later Saturday morning. She remained in the hospital Monday while doctors monitored her recovery, but she hoped to return to the U.S. on Tuesday.

She was counting her blessings, too.

“We are the lucky ones and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones,” she said.

Gilchrist, who also has traveled the world as an accomplished surfer, remembers only parts of the harrowing night.

Hours after the Americans’ 11-6 victory over Spain in the final, Gilchrist was on the balcony with Hauschild, U.S. men’s attacker Johnny Hooper and other athletes when it went down.

“It was all pretty quick, I think,” Gilchrist said. “But I remember falling and I talked to Johnny and we kind of thought the same thing: It’s like, we felt like (we were) falling for 10 seconds, which it probably ended up being one or two seconds. But everything kind of slowed down.”

Gilchrist said the railing of the balcony was lined with glued-down beer bottles that shattered when it collapsed. She thinks she was helped up before she made her way out of the nightclub with Hauschild.

When Gilchrist got outside, she realized the extent of her injuries and laid down on the sidewalk. She then got some help from some players on the U.S. men and Australian water polo teams, and Christopher Bates, a trainer for the U.S. men’s team, joined the group.

“Chris was kind of just the biggest blessing,” Gilchrist said. “He came, he’s a trainer, he put his belt around my leg as a tourniquet and he came in the ambulance with me.”

Gilchrist face-timed with her parents, Jenny and Sandy, and sister, Ali, right after she got hurt, and Bates and her U.S. teammates also provided updates. Larnie Boquiren, a trainer for the women’s team, and team doctor Seth Schmoll also helped take care of Gilchrist.

“My mom wanted to fly out, but I said ‘Don’t worry. I’m here with our trainer, Larnie, and Dr. Seth,’” Gilchrist said. “They’ve been so great to me, so I told my mom don’t worry and I’ll be home in no time.

“She still wanted to come, but it’s all good.”

Hauschild, Hooper and U.S. center Ben Hallock also got hurt. Hauschild got stitches on her right arm and Hooper needed stitches for cuts on his left hand. Hallock had some minor scrapes on his legs.

Gilchrist said she should know more about her recovery after she returns to the U.S., but she is hoping to be back in the pool with the team in a few months. The U.S. became the first team to win three straight world water polo titles with the victory in South Korea, and it is a big favorite to win a third consecutive gold at the Olympics next year.

“It’s awesome to be a part of history and I think there’s something special about our team,” Gilchrist told the AP. “It’s just a bummer that an incident like this has to bring headlines to our team and not just the way we play the game and the way we work and grind. I think there’s something to be said of the success and I think a lot of people could learn from us.”

MORE: Most experienced Olympian in history retires at 72

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U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new up-tempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

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The U.S. women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headlined a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, included neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team had nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 60 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The U.S. beat China in the final, while host Australia took bronze to send 41-year-old Lauren Jackson into retirement.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), wasn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule, Results

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA 88, Serbia 55 Quarterfinals
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada 79, Puerto Rico 60 Quarterfinals
4 a.m. China 85, France 71 Quarterfinals
6:30 a.m. Australia 86, Belgium 69 Quarterfinals
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. USA 83, Canada 43 Semifinals
5:30 a.m. China 61, Australia 59 Semifinals
11 p.m. Australia 95, Canada 65 Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. USA 83, China 61 Gold-Medal Game