USA Basketball has flexibility to replace Olympic players if need be

Devin Booker, Khris Middleton
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USA Basketball has more leeway to replace any of its 12 Olympic men’s players — should the albeit unlikely situation arise — given the unprecedented circumstances of the Tokyo Games.

“There’s much more flexibility this time around than ever in the past,” U.S. men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said after the roster was announced Monday. “In the past, you had to have your roster in by particular date, and once that happened, you had no ability to replace players. Fortunately, all of the powers that be, and I’m referring to the International Olympic Committee, FIBA, etcetera, they understood, because of COVID, because of the compact-fullness of the two seasons, because of injuries, we needed flexibility. I won’t be specific on the date that is the drop-dead date, but there’s much more flexibility to replace someone.”

The NBA season will end closer to the start of the Olympics than ever before. The Olympics open in three weeks, and the playoffs are still in the conference finals stage. If the Finals extend to six or seven games, they will run into the week leading up to the Opening Ceremony on July 23.

Three of the 12 players on the U.S. men’s roster — Devin BookerJrue Holiday and Khris Middleton — are still playing in the conference finals.

The IOC said earlier this month that USA Basketball has been granted an exception, after a petition, to enter the names of its Olympic male and female basketball players up to one week after the overall sport entries deadline of July 5.

All nations can replace basketball players from a list of 24 players per gender up until the day before the start of the men’s and women’s Olympic tournaments, according to FIBA, which said that its overall regulations have not been changed for these Games. The list of 24 must be submitted by July 18 for the men and July 19 for the women.

“I guess one option is we’re going to have nine players for the first game against France,” on July 25, Colangelo said Monday. “That’s the worst-case scenario. Second-case scenario is we have a couple of replacement players. Number three, that those three players [Booker, Holiday and Middleton] are going to be there, whether it’s 24 or 48 hours before game one, they’ll be there in uniform ready to play. My guess is all three of these guys are going to want to play, and they’re going to do everything they can to make that happen.”

USA Basketball will hold a male player training camp and exhibition games from July 6-18 in Las Vegas. Colangelo said Monday that other players can “fill in” at training camp, which Booker, Holiday and Middleton might all have to miss.

“Some of them are players who are playing elsewhere around the world, who have the availability to participate if we need help,” Colangelo said.

He also noted that there will be a U.S. Select Team, which for past Games has been younger players brought in to train with the national team.

USA Basketball has known for months that some players might face a tight transition from the playoffs to the Olympics. It has planned for the scenario. The players who committed have, too.

Colangelo noted Booker, who called him a month ago and said he would be on a plane the day after the NBA Finals if need be. Holiday and Middleton feel the same way, Colangelo said.

“We’re going to have enough players to make it all work,” Colangelo said.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
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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.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

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.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

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.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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