When Ronda Rousey competed at the Olympics

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Even when Ronda Rousey was at the height of her MMA fame, she spoke about the most crushing defeat of her career — that her Olympic judo medal was bronze and not gold.

“That was my childhood dream,” Rousey said in October 2015, two weeks before the first of two UFC defeats that ultimately led to her retirement. “I spent my whole life in pursuit of that. I had to give that up, and I had to really come to terms with the fact that wasn’t for me. I’ve always really been heartbroken from that in a way, and in a way that I’m still really grateful for because I think if I did win the Olympics, I wouldn’t have this never-ending resource of motivation that I have. Every single time I go out there to defend my [UFC] title, it’s like another chance to redeem myself, but it’s never quite an Olympic gold medal.

“In judo, you train your whole life, and you have one day to be an Olympic champion, and that’s it. … Nothing can compare to that pressure.”

Rousey was the face of U.S. judo in the mid-2000s. In 2004, she became the youngest American judoka to compete in an Olympics, losing in the first round at age 17.

Rousey entered the 2008 Beijing Games as a world championships silver medalist. She had a chance to become the second American woman to win a global judo title. The first? Mom AnnMaria De Mars, who bagged the 1984 World title, four years before Olympic judo opened to women (first as a demonstration sport).

“My mom always said she wanted me to know what it feels like to be best in the world because, no matter what happens to you later, you’ll always have that as inspiration to know you can do anything you want,” Rousey said in Beijing.

Rousey didn’t quite get there in judo. She was halted in the quarterfinals by Dutchwoman Edith Bosch, whom the 5-foot-7 Rousey described in her autobiography as “a six-foot Dutch chick with an eight-pack. I looked like a hobbit next to her.”

Bosch had dislocated Rousey’s elbow in two matches in 2007. At the Olympics, they went scoreless in regulation to force a five-minute overtime where the first to score wins. Rousey went for a throw, was countered and turned onto the mat.

“I went back to the warm-up room and sobbed, hot tears running down my face,” Rousey wrote. “I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. Then something clicked and I went from devastated to f—— furious.”

She marched through the repechage, winning all three matches to take the bronze medal. Rousey may not have left a world champion, but she became the first U.S. woman to earn an Olympic judo medal.

“Of all the third-place finishes in my career, the bronze in the Olympics was the only one I took any satisfaction in,” Rousey wrote. “But still, there was a void.”

Rousey took a year off, returned to training in 2009 and competed in 2010. She hoped to continue in judo and start mixed martial arts. But she and coach Jimmy Pedro split, and soon after Rousey canceled a trip to a Brazilian tournament and began focusing on MMA.

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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

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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