U.S. Olympic hopefuls train for Tokyo inside abandoned Macy’s

Olympic Macy's
USA Boxing

U.S. Olympic hopefuls in boxing and shooting began training inside an abandoned Macy’s in the last month, the latest adaptive move by athletes ramping up preparation for the Tokyo Games that open in less than six months.

“It kind of feels like you’re in a ‘Rocky’ movie,” said Richard Torrez Jr., a super heavyweight boxer who knows a thing or two about unorthodox training setups. His youth gym in Tulare, Calif., was converted by his grandfather from a broken-down fire station in 1975.

USA Boxing and USA Shooting made deals to use the space at The Citadel mall in Colorado Springs in part because the nearby U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center isn’t fully reopened to athletes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have not been able to be there since March 16,” USA Boxing executive director Mike McAtee said of the training center, which phased athletes in some sports back in over the summer and fall, then closed again from Dec. 10 until Jan. 15. “The Games are going to happen, or we must prepare that they are.”

USA Boxing held national team camps last year under a tent on a tennis court at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., and inside ballrooms at Hotel Eleganté in Colorado Springs.

It also considered fitness centers that went out of business because of the pandemic and other vacant spaces in The Citadel. The national governing body (NGB), seeking 20,000 square feet, ended up getting a favorable financial deal with the former Macy’s adjacent to a Hooters.

The owner of the Hotel Eleganté, which previously hosted a youth continental boxing championships, also owns the abandoned space that was a Macy’s until about 11 years ago. During USA Boxing’s current monthlong training camp, the hotel accommodates boxers who under normal circumstances stay at the training center.

The Macy’s has been filled with four rings and heavy bags brought over from the training center, plus strength and conditioning equipment such as stationary bikes.

“It’s our new home away from home,” McAtee said.

A total of 13 U.S. boxers are training for international Olympic qualifying tournaments in the spring. Torrez and fellow Olympic hopeful Ginny Fuchs appreciated the creative adaptation to the circumstances.

“You can tell it used to be a Macy’s,” Fuchs said. “Obviously all the furniture and everything is out, but you can still see the shoe racks [sixth image in this series], price checks [signs].”

The amount of ventilation is such that the space can get a little chilly, but the stench of sweating athletes hasn’t displaced the previous residing odor.

“You know that musk smell of an old department store? That’s kind of what it smells like,” said Fuchs, who was, pre-pandemic, open about struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder and, more recently, developed panic attacks while in quarantine.

USA Shooting also sought out the Macy’s last month, when a virus surge signaled to Matt Suggs, the NGB’s CEO, that the training center would shutter at least temporarily.

USA Shooting looked at other locations in the autumn, including an indoor facility for baseball batting cages. The Macy’s space ownership reached out, mentioned USA Boxing’s arrangement, and USA Shooting joined them.

“It’s a good stopgap, but it is not a good long-term solution,” Suggs said. “It’s a lot better than nothing, but the place we really need to be is here on complex at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center.”

The Macy’s can accommodate two of the five Olympic pistol or rifle events — the air pistol and air rifle, where targets are 10 meters (33 feet) away from the shooter. The other three events, where targets are 25 meters or 50 meters away, can only be done at the training center.

Ginny Thrasher, a 2016 Olympic champion in the 10m air rifle, is trying to make the Tokyo Olympic team in the 50m event at upcoming trials. She practices at the training center, now that it reopened to some athletes, but still drives over to the Macy’s.

“It’s beneficial to actually go to different places to train,” she said. “It can help you build your ability to adapt.”

About 30 total shooters have been using the Macy’s. USA Shooting is prepared to keep the space through the Olympics.

“It may not be the perfectly ideal situation, but it is a solution,” Thrasher said, “and if I’m able to train in any capacity, no matter how challenging or different it is, it doesn’t matter.”

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U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

FIBA Women's World Cup

The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new up-tempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup

The U.S. women’s basketball team won its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headlined a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, included neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team had nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 60 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The U.S. beat China in the final, while host Australia took bronze to send 41-year-old Lauren Jackson into retirement.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), wasn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule, Results

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA 88, Serbia 55 Quarterfinals
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada 79, Puerto Rico 60 Quarterfinals
4 a.m. China 85, France 71 Quarterfinals
6:30 a.m. Australia 86, Belgium 69 Quarterfinals
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. USA 83, Canada 43 Semifinals
5:30 a.m. China 61, Australia 59 Semifinals
11 p.m. Australia 95, Canada 65 Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. USA 83, China 61 Gold-Medal Game