Seb Coe: Track and field needs more U.S. meets

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Seb Coe, president of track and field’s international governing body, urged for more one-day track and field meets in the U.S. to reconnect American fans with the sport that is mostly contested, at the top level, in Europe.

“You are the powerhouse of track and field. You have been for a long time,” Coe, the 1980 and 1984 Olympic 1500m champion for Great Britain, told Mike Tirico on Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN on Friday. “But we also need to have the opportunities for American athletes to be earning their crust, to be performing in front of great crowds and audiences in the U.S. At the moment, it’s rather European tilted. So I’m hoping that we can really start developing more one-day meetings in the U.S., which is what you had in the past.”

Coe hopes those meets can be developed between 2022, when the U.S. hosts the world outdoor championships for the first time, in Eugene, Ore., and the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

“It’s really important for our sport to have a foothold, more than a foothold, in the U.S.,” he said. “Look, you are the largest global sports market. Athletics needs to be there.”

Currently, one of the 15 annual Diamond League meets is held in the U.S. — the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene. The U.S. also had a meet in New York City that was taken off the calendar after 2015.

Meanwhile, Americans earned more than twice as many golds and total medals as the next-best nation at the most recent Olympics (2016) and world championships (2019).

“When I was competing a long time ago, there did seem to be more opportunities for U.S. athletes to be competing on domestic soil,” Coe said. “I would just like to see more opportunities for those athletes to earn a living domestically, and maybe we’ve all taken our eye off the ball a little bit here. We’ve got a strategic plan that we are working our way through at the moment, and a very key indicator there is to try to reconnect more American fans with track and field. … I think it’s not that difficult to reconnect, but I think we’re all going to have to work a little bit harder at that.”

MORE: Ato Boldon’s Tokyo Olympic track and field storylines in 2021

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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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