On Olympic and Paralympic Day, how both Games intersected over time

Olympic and Paralympic Day
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The annual Olympic Day, first held in 1948 to celebrate the rebirth of the Olympic Games dating to June 23, 1894, is now known in the U.S. by a new name — Olympic and Paralympic Day.

It’s the latest move toward inclusion by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The USOPC changed its name last June to include the Paralympic movement.

“The decision to change the organization’s name represents a continuation of our long-standing commitment to create an inclusive environment for Team USA athletes,” USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland said at the time. “Paralympic athletes are integral to the makeup of Team USA, and our mission to inspire current and future generations of Americans. The new name represents a renewed commitment to that mission and the ideals that we seek to advance, both here at home and throughout the worldwide Olympic and Paralympic movements.”

The Olympics and the Paralympics are separate entities. There is an International Olympic Committee and an International Paralympic Committee. But both Games intersected in many ways since 1960, when Rome became the first city to host both the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year.

Start with the word “Paralympic,” derived from the Greek preposition “para” (beside or alongside) and the word “Olympic.”

Since 1992, every Olympic host city also held the Paralympic Games. In most cases, the same venues hosted Olympic and Paralympic events, the most visible difference often the Paralympic Agitos logo in place of the Olympic rings.

A total of 34 athletes competed in both the Olympics and the Paralympics. That includes one American, Marla Runyan, who won Paralympic titles in the 100m, 200m, 400m, long jump and pentathlon in classifications for visual impairment before making the 2000 and 2004 Olympic teams in the 1500m.

Brazilian Joaquim Cruz is among those most synonymous with the Olympic and Paralympic movements. Cruz won the 1984 Olympic 800m, then in retirement became a guide runner and coach for the U.S. Paralympic track and field team.

Olympians and Paralympians train together. Most notably, Jessica Long and Michael Phelps for a time were in the same group under Bob Bowman. Long is the second-most decorated U.S. Paralympian in history with 23 medals. Together, Long and Phelps own 51 medals from the Games.

The Tokyo Games will mark the first for which Olympians and Paralympians will receive the same prize money from the USOPC for medals — $37,500 for gold, $22,500 for silver and $15,000 for bronze — increasing Paralympic payouts as much as 400 percent.

NBC’s TV coverage of the Paralympics nearly doubled for the Winter Games from 2014 to 2018. In all, NBC aired 250 hours across TV and digital platforms from PyeongChang.

MORE: Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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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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