Noah Lyles talks world record goal as Michael Johnson drops into interview

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Noah Lyles said he planned to run 19.10 seconds in the 200m final at July’s world championships, which would have broken Usain Bolt‘s world record. He was plenty satisfied with clocking a personal-best 19.31 seconds to break Michael Johnson‘s American record, though.

Lyles reflected on worlds in Eugene, Oregon, in an interview for the monthly Olympic and Paralympic show “Chasing Gold: Paris 2024,” which debuts on NBC on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET (and will be available on Peacock starting Monday).

“I was planning to run 19.10,” Lyles said of a time that is nine hundredths faster than Bolt’s world record from the 2009 World Championships. “That’s what me and my therapist had in our hearts. I was very much on the idea of I want to give myself a goal to chase that’s so out there. Even if I don’t get to that goal, I’ll have obliterated whatever is behind me.”

Lyles won by a distant .46 of a second in an American medals sweep. He picked off Johnson’s American record, his famous 1996 Olympic gold-medal run in golden shoes, by one hundredth.

Johnson was a surprise drop-in to the “Chasing Gold” interview.

“I knew when he came off the curve that this was going to be special,” said Johnson, who was at Hayward Field that night commentating for the BBC. “When you think about Noah, you’re not thinking necessarily about American records, you think about world records. … I was thinking, is he on world record pace?”

In addition to Bolt’s record, Lyles had something else on his mind in the day leading up to the final: his celebration. In his room in Eugene, he practiced putting on a team USA jersey and tearing it from the chest.

“I didn’t want to rip it and get half-ripped, and here I am with a half-ripped jersey looking all weak on TV,” he joked.

Lyles finished his season by winning the Diamond League Final in Zurich, Switzerland, last week, completing an undefeated 200m campaign. In all, Lyles ran 19.67 or faster a total of seven times in 2022, and 19.52 or faster a total of three times, both the most for any sprinter in one year in history.

Next up: a bye into the August 2023 World Championships in Budapest.

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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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