The greatest champion moms in Olympic sports history

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Seventeen moms who became Olympic gold medalists or champions in their sport’s pinnacle equivalent, ahead of “On Her Turf: Inspiring Greatness” on NBCSN on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET… 

Lisa Andersen
United States
Surfing

Returned to competition two months after having daughter Erica in Aug. 1, 1993 at age 24. Then won her first world title in 1994, followed by the next three in a row, an unprecedented run for a female surfer.

Kristin Armstrong
United States
Cycling

The 2008 Olympic time trial champion first retired in 2009 to start a family. After son Lucas arrived in 2010, Armstrong came back to repeat as Olympic gold medalist. She retired again. Then she unretired again and three-peated in Rio, becoming at age 42 the oldest individual U.S. Olympic champion since 1968.

Natascha Badmann
Switzerland
Triathlon

The Swiss Miss won her first Ironman world championship in 1998, when she was 31 and her daughter was 13. Badmann won the 140.6-mile test in Kona five more times, putting her second on the all-time list behind Paula Newby-Fraser.

Marit Bjørgen
Norway
Cross-Country Skiing

The most decorated Winter Olympian with 15 medals, trailing only Summer Olympians Michael Phelps and Larisa Latynina. Bjoergen became a mom to son Marius in December 2015, then came back for her fifth Olympics in PyeongChang. She was arguably the most dominant athlete there, earning five medals, including two golds, at age 37. She won the last event of the Games, the 30km, by 109 seconds, the largest Olympic cross-country margin of victory in 38 years, in her final career race.

Fanny Blankers-Koen
Netherlands
Track and Field

“The Flying Housewife” won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, when the mother of two also held the world records in the high jump and long jump, two events in which she didn’t compete at those Games. Named the female athlete of the century by track and field’s international governing body. Would have won more Olympic medals in 1940 or 1944 if not for World War II canceling those Games.

Kim Clijsters
Belgium
Tennis

Clijsters lifted one Grand Slam singles trophy before motherhood, then three after having daughter Jada. The Belgian was one of the most adored players on the WTA Tour as she won the U.S. Open in 2009 and 2010 and the Australian Open in 2011 before retiring in 2012.

Margaret Court
Australia
Tennis

Court won three Slams as a mom — the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open in 1973. The top seed at Wimbledon that year, Court’s bid for a calendar Grand Slam as a mom was derailed by an 18-year-old Chris Evert in a three-set semifinal.

Joy Fawcett
United States
Soccer

As a mom, played every minute of the 1995, 1999 and 2003 World Cups and the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. She retired as the most capped defender in U.S. history, a mark that another mom, Christie Rampone, has since bettered.

WATCH LIVE: “On Her Turf: Inspiring Greatness,” Sunday, 8 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Birgit Fischer
Germany
Kayak

Arguably the greatest female Olympian. Fischer earned seven of her eight Olympic golds after becoming a mother in 1986. She won three world titles the year following her first childbirth. She took three years off after her second child, returning to win Olympic or world titles seven straight years from 1992 through 1998.

Juli Inkster
United States
Golf

Played most of her professional career as a mom. Inkster won four of her seven majors more than five years after having her two daughters, including a pair of U.S. Opens.

Mary Keitany
Kenya
Marathon

Became the second-fastest female marathoner in history almost nine years after having her first of two children. The slight, soft-spoken Keitany won four of the last six New York City Marathons and three London Marathons.

Larisa Latynina
Soviet Union
Gymnastics

The Olympic career medals leader (18) before Michael Phelps broke the record in 2012. Latynina competed at the 1958 World Championships in Moscow while four months pregnant with daughter Tatyana. She didn’t tell a soul she was expecting, fearful she would be forced to sit out. She won five of six events and took silver on the other. Two years later, she repeated as Olympic team, all-around and floor exercise champion. She finished her Olympic career with another six medals, including two golds, at the 1964 Tokyo Games.

Pat McCormick
United States
Diving

Swept the springboard and platform at a second straight Olympics in 1956 after giving birth to son Tim earlier that year. McCormick and Greg Louganis remain the only divers to sweep the golds at multiple Olympics.

Candace Parker
United States
Basketball

Had daughter Lailaa in 2009. Earned her second Olympic gold medal in 2012. Earned her second WNBA MVP in 2013. Became a WNBA champion for the first time in 2016.

Wilma Rudolph
United States
Track and Field

The 17th of 18 children who contracted polio as an infant, unable to walk properly until age 11, swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1960 Rome Olympics. She had daughter Yolanda two years earlier, shortly after her high school graduation.

Sheryl Swoopes
United States
Basketball

Debuted in the WNBA’s first season in 1997 less than two months after having son Jordan. Swoopes starred on the Houston Comets teams that won the first four WNBA titles. She was WNBA MVP three times and earned her second and third Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2004.

Kerri Walsh Jennings
United States
Beach Volleyball

The greatest female beach volleyball player in history had sons Joey (conceived shortly after her 2008 Olympic title) and Sundance in 2009 and 2010, between her second and third gold medals with Misty May-Treanor. Walsh Jennings had daughter Scout in 2013, then came back to earn bronze with April Ross at the Rio Games. She’s still at it, looking to become the oldest Olympic beach volleyball player in history at age 42 in Tokyo, which would be her sixth Games overall.

MORE: Moms set to star at Tokyo Olympics

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Alpine skiing to test new format for combined race

Alpine Skiing Combined
Getty
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Alpine skiing officials will test a new format for the combined event, a race that is under review to remain on the Olympic program.

French newspaper L’Equipe reported that the International Ski Federation (FIS) will test a new team format for the combined, which has been an individual event on the Olympic program since 1988. L’Equipe reported that a nation can use a different skier for the downhill and slalom in the new setup, quoting FIS secretary general Michel Vion.

For example, the U.S. could use Breezy Johnson in the downhill run and sub her out for Mikaela Shiffrin in the slalom run, should the format be adopted into senior competition.

The format will be tested at the world junior championships in January in St. Anton, Austria, according to the report.

In response to the report, a FIS spokesperson said, “Regarding the new format of the combined is correct, and our directors are working on the rules so for the moment the only thing we can confirm is that there will be this new format for the Alpine combined that has been proposed by the athletes’ commission.”

Some version of the combined event has been provisionally included on the 2026 Olympic program, with a final IOC decision on its place coming by April.

This will be the third consecutive World Cup season with no combined events. Instead, FIS has included more parallel races in recent years. The individual combined remains on the biennial world championships program.

L’Equipe also reported that the mixed team parallel event, which is being dropped from the Olympics, will also be dropped from the biennial world championships after this season.

“There is nothing definitive about that yet, but it is a project in the making,” a FIS spokesperson said in commenting on the report.

Vion said the mixed team event, which debuted at the Olympics in 2018, was not a hit at the Beijing Games and did not draw a strong audience, according to L’Equipe.

The World Cup season starts in two weeks with the traditional opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona men’s pro race, Saturday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Both entered Kailua-Kona, where the races were now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men. Chelsea Sodaro won the women’s race, ending a 20-year American victory drought.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

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