Stephanie Gilmore outduels Carissa Moore for record world surfing title

Stephanie Gilmore
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Australian Stephanie Gilmore beat Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore of Hawaii to win a record-breaking eighth world surfing title at the World Surf League Finals in San Clemente, California.

Gilmore, a 34-year-old who was stunned in the quarterfinals of surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, rebounded to break her tie with retired countrywoman Layne Beachley for the most women’s world titles. Only American Kelly Slater, with 11, has more among men and women.

While Moore had a bye into the title match as the top-ranked surfer this season, the fifth-seeded Gilmore had to defeat the second-through-fourth seeds on Thursday just to get to Moore: Brisa Hennessy of Costa Rica, Tatiana Weston-Webb of Brazil and Johanne Defay of France.

Gilmore then swept the five-time world champ Moore in the best-of-three title series.

“Come from the bottom, come from fifth and win a world title, that’s freakin’ cool,” Gilmore said in an interview while still in the water. “But Carissa is the world champ to me this year. She had the best season ever.

“[Moore] really is the greatest of all time in my opinion.

“I’ve won a lot of titles in different ways, and this, to be honest, was the best win I’ve had. To come all the way from fifth and just grind it out all the way to the final.”

Brazilian Filipe Toledo won the men’s title over countryman and Olympic champion Italo Ferreira. Toledo is the third different Brazilian man to win the world title in the last three seasons.

Most of the 2024 Olympic spots will be determined by next season’s World Surf League standings. A primary storyline will be if the 50-year-old Slater competes over the full season and puts himself in position to earn one of up to three U.S. men’s Olympic spots. Slater was third in U.S. Olympic qualifying for Tokyo, where a maximum of two surfers per gender per nation qualified.

He won the season-opening Pipe Masters in February and finished the season fifth among Americans in the standings.

ON HER TURF: Gilmore reflects on world title, looks ahead to Olympics

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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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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