Jordan Chiles, Jade Carey return, make history at U.S. Gymnastics Championships

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TAMPA — After Jordan Chiles finished her last routine of her first day of elite gymnastics competition since the Olympics, she started tearing up.

“Oh my gosh,” she said later, remembering what was spinning through her head. “I’m back.”

Chiles and fellow Tokyo medalist Jade Carey were pleased with their simultaneous returns to the sport’s highest level at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships on Friday night.

Chiles placed third in the all-around behind Shilese Jones and Konnor McClain. Carey is fifth going into Sunday’s final day of the meet. Both came off busy college seasons. They competed weekly from January into April, then shifted into full-time elite training.

“[Friday] honestly went really better than I thought it was going to go,” said UCLA’s Chiles, part of the Olympic silver medal team in Tokyo. “I just wanted to come into this competition hitting four for four [routines], honestly, and that’s what I did.”

GYMNASTICS NATIONALS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

They are in solid (and very early) position to make the five-woman team for this fall’s world championships, especially since fourth-place Kayla DiCello is not expected to vie for a roster spot as she matriculates at the University of Florida. A committee will finalize the world team following an October selection camp.

Just by stepping on the floor, Chiles and Carey made history. They became the first U.S. Olympic female gymnasts to return to elite competition following an NCAA season, showing that college gymnastics does not always signal retirement from Olympic-level gymnastics.

Chiles placed in the top five on all four events, competing with micro tears in a shoulder labrum and bicep, alleviated by pain-killing shots in the spring. Carey had the highest score on vault and second-highest on floor.

“This was a very good first step back here on the elite stage,” said Oregon State’s Carey, the Olympic floor exercise champion. “Wasn’t a perfect day, but I’m proud of the routines that I put together.”

Carey and Chiles both have 2024 Olympic ambitions. Only one U.S. female gymnast has gone from the Olympics to college gymnastics and back to the Olympics, and that was before the NCAA era began 40 years ago.

They are faces of a changing landscape in the sport. In Tokyo, there were more non-teens than teens competing in Olympic women’s gymnastics for the first time in more than 50 years. Also in the last 50 years, Simone Biles is the only woman in her 20s to win a U.S. all-around title. Jones is 20. Chiles is 21. Carey is 22.

Chiles and Carey ascended into leadership roles in the absences of Biles, who texted Chiles that she would watch the competition from her cruise, and Tokyo all-around gold medalist Suni Lee, who was in the arena as a spectator. Biles and Lee have not ruled out returns to elite gymnastics for a 2024 Olympic run.

Before Friday’s competition, Chiles said she and Carey told the other gymnasts that they would bring a hyped-up, loud-cheering NCAA atmosphere to the event.

Chiles took notice of her younger competitors. Notably Jones, whose leading 14.85 on uneven bars motivated Chiles to “step it up.”

“I’m happy that they’re looking up to us in a way, but then also I can look up to them knowing that they are younger, and they are experiencing something different,” Chiles said. “I’m coming into this as Jordan Chiles, the Olympian, but they’re still being able to fulfill their journey.”

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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

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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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