Leanne Smith leads U.S. with seven golds at world para swimming championships

Leanne Smith

Leanne Smith won a meet-leading seven gold medals at the world para swimming championships, sparking a U.S. team that finished second in the standings with 24 gold medals overall.

Smith, who earned one silver medal in her Paralympic debut in Tokyo, had the best medal haul for a U.S. swimmer at a world championships since Jessica Long took seven golds and two silvers in 2010, according to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Full meet results are here.

Smith, 34, took four months off swimming after the Paralympics last year, according to TeamUSA.org.

“To really reevaluate where I was in the sport,” she said, according to the report. “I wasn’t the happiest with how I swam in Tokyo, so it was important for me to really take the time to reevaluate mentally, emotionally how I felt about the sport.”

Smith, diagnosed with a rare neurological muscle disease called dystonia in January 2012, began swimming in 2013. On the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira this week, she won golds in all of her events spanning the backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, individual medley and a relay.

Other top American performers included Robert Griswold, who took three golds and six medals total. In Tokyo, Griswold won two golds.

McKenzie Coan, a six-time Paralympic medalist between Rio and Tokyo, added five more medals this week, including three golds.

Long, who ranks second in U.S. history with 29 Paralympic medals, didn’t compete this week, missing a worlds for the first time since 2002.

“I have had to remind myself that sometimes we all need a break,” Long, 30, posted on social media last week. “I haven’t taken a break since I made my first Paralympic team in 2004. I needed to take my break now. I can’t wait to take on this rest time and rejuvenate as I try to book my ticket to Paris in 2024.”

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi

Diana Taurasi’s USA Basketball career isn’t done just yet.

The five-time Olympic gold medalist will take part in a national team training camp in Minnesota next month. Taurasi told The Associated Press last summer that she would consider playing with USA Basketball if she was healthy enough. She injured her quad shortly after and didn’t participate in the FIBA World Cup that the Americans won in Australia.

While Taurasi will be at the camp, Brittney Griner won’t. She is still part of the pool that the 2024 Olympic team will be chosen from, but Griner hasn’t been out in public much since a prisoner swap in December brought her home from Russia after a 10-month ordeal that captivated world attention. Griner said she plans on playing in the WNBA this year.

Taurasi is a free agent right now, but is expected to return to the Phoenix Mercury — the only team she’s played for in her WNBA career. She turns 41 in June and would be 42 at the time of the Paris Olympics in 2024. The WNBA’s all-time leading scorer and her good friend Sue Bird hold the record with five Olympic gold medals. The pair helped the U.S. win a seventh consecutive gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Bird retired from playing at the end of last season.

Other players expected at the training camp that will run from Feb. 7-9 include former Olympic or World Cup gold medalists: Ariel Atkins and Elena Delle Donne of Washington; Napheesa Collier of Minnesota; Allisha Gray of Dallas; Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney of New York; Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young of Las Vegas; Kahleah Copper of Chicago and free agent Angel McCoughtry.

Natasha Howard, Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale of Dallas will also be at the camp as well as Phoenix’s Brianna Turner.

National team head coach Cheryl Reeve will run the three-day camp with Curt Miller of Los Angeles, Mike Thibault of Washington and James Wade of Chicago helping out.

Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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