Elana Meyers Taylor gets first bobsled win as a mom

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Three-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor notched her first international bobsled victory since becoming a mom, winning the new Olympic event of monobob on the first weekend of the World Cup season in Igls, Austria.

Meyers Taylor, who took silver or bronze in two-woman bobsled at the last three Olympics, prevailed by .13 of a second over world champion Kaillie Humphries combining times from two runs on Saturday. German Laura Nolte took bronze.

“For me, monobob is still a learning process,” Meyers Taylor said of her first victory in the event that is driver-only with no brakewoman. “All of our brakemen helped with sled preparations so that we are prepared for both monobob and two-man, so it’s a team effort.”

Meyers Taylor, 37, had son Nico in her native Georgia while her peers were between the third and fourth heats of the 2020 World Championships in Germany. Meyers Taylor, who took the entire 2019-20 season off, was in labor for two days, induced three weeks early, before undergoing an emergency C-section.

On Nico’s birthday, Feb. 22, doctors told the Taylors they suspected he had Down syndrome. Two days later, Meyers Taylor was in the neonatal intensive care unit — Nico spent his first eight days there — when it was confirmed. Nico also had profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and has since worn hearing aids.

“From the moment we laid eyes on him, of course we fell in love with him,” Meyers Taylor said last winter. “It didn’t even matter what diagnosis he had.”

She returned to competition last January. She returned to the podium in her third race back and finished second or third in five consecutive monobob or two-woman races to finish the World Cup season, holding Nico on the awards stand.

Meyers Taylor had lobbied for four-woman bobsled to be added to the Olympic program for 2022, but officials preferred monobob, choosing the latter in July 2018.

“To be fair, this is historic in that it adds another discipline for women’s bobsled and that should be celebrated,” Meyers Taylor wrote to fans and friends in a Facebook message in 2018. “Personally it’s a discipline that weighs heavily in my favor as I am one of the fastest pushing pilots in the world. However, I would be remiss if I did not express my disappointment as myself and many others have been laying the groundwork for 4woman. We will keep fighting.”

While the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation lobbied for four-woman, IOC sports director Kit McConnell said in 2018 that the IBSF was “very supportive” of monobob, in part because it was already on the Youth Olympic program.

“Woman’s four-man bob costs three or four times of monobob,” McConnell said when monobob was added. “We felt there would be more universality in the women’s monobob. We really didn’t see more than a handful of countries really developing women’s four-man programs because of the costs involved.”

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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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