Fifteen years ago today: Michael Phelps wins first gold medal

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Michael Phelps made his first Olympic team at age 15, finishing fifth in the 200-meter butterfly in Sydney.

Four years later, the expectations were much higher. He broke the 200 fly world record in 2001 and broke it again to win his first world championship later that year. In the 2003 world championships, he defended his title and added championships in the 200-meter medley, the 400-meter medley and 4×100 medley relay.

On Aug. 14, 2004, still barely 19 years old, Phelps jumped into the pool for his first final of the Athens Olympics, the 400-meter medley.

Even the yellow line for world-record pace was no competition for Phelps.

That year, Phelps took gold in both medleys, both butterflies and two relays. He added bronze in two other events for a total of eight medals.

Twelve years later, he wrapped up with a career total of 23 golds, three silvers and two bronzes.

The full list:

2004 Athens

Gold (6): 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m medley, 400m medley, 4x200m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay

Bronze (2): 200m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay

2008 Beijing

Gold (8): 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m medley, 400m medley, 200m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay, 4x200m freestyle relay

2012 London

Gold (4): 100m butterfly, 200m medley, 4x200m freestyle relay. 4x100m medley relay

Silver (2): 4x100m freestyle relay, 200m butterfly

Did not medal: 400m medley (fourth)

2016 Rio

Gold (5): 200m butterfly, 200m medley, 4x100m freestyle relay, 4x100m medley relay, 4x200m freestyle relay

Silver (1): 100m butterfly

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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