Sports Digest: Mike Thibault, WNBA’s Top Coach, Promoted to GM

BASKETBALL

Mike Thibault is resigning from his position as coach of the Washington Mystics.

The team announced on Tuesday that Thibault will continue as general manager and his son Eric – who has been an assistant at the Mystics for a decade – will take over as head coach.

Thibault is the most successful coach in WNBA history by 379-289. He was named coach and general manager of the Mystics in December 2012 and led the team to its first WNBA title in 2019. Washington led 22-14 that season, losing to Seattle in the first round of the playoffs.

Before joining the Mystics, Thibault coached the Connecticut Sun and led them to two WNBA Finals. He also led Washington to the finals twice. He played 16 playoff games with Sun and Mystics, the most by any coach in league history.

Eric Thibault has spent the last four seasons as assistant head coach.

FOOTBALL

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: Americans will wager $1.8 billion on the World Cup this year, the first to be held, while legal sports betting is rife in the US, according to the casino industry’s national trade group.

About 20.5 million American adults plan to wager on the world’s biggest football tournament, whether legal or not, the American Gaming Association estimates. The majority plan to place bets online, with a bookmaker or with a physical sportsbook.

Thirty-one states plus Washington, DC currently offer legal sports betting, with five more markets scheduled to begin soon.

• Senegalese striker Sadio Mane will miss his team’s “first games” at the World Cup with a leg injury, a board member of the Senegalese Football Association said.

Abdoulaye Sow said Senegal will have to do without their best player early in the tournament and “not whine too much”.

“We have to rely on playing the first few games without Sadio and winning without Sadio because we have 25 players besides Sadio,” Sow said. “Nobody would have wanted it, but that’s what happened to us.”

Sow has not specified how many games Mane is likely to miss and there has been no official word from Senegal or Bayern Munich.

WOLVERHAMPTON: Striker Raul Jimenez will play his first game since August when Mexico take on Sweden in the final warm-up for the World Cup in Qatar on Wednesday.

Jimenez has been out with a groin injury since Wolves faced Bournemouth in the Premier League on August 31 but is hoping to regain full World Cup fitness after being included in Mexico’s 26-man squad despite concerns from his club manager Julian Lopetegui.

MANCHESTER UNITED: Co-owner Joel Glazer will make the final decision on Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club following the striker’s inflammatory TV interview, a person with knowledge of the situation has told The Associated Press.

Ronaldo’s position at United is seen as untenable after he said he felt “betrayed” by the club in an interview due to be broadcast in the UK this week, where he also said he didn’t respect manager Erik ten Hag.

The interview was widely seen as an attempt by Ronaldo to force a move from United after the World Cup. But Glazer will have the final say in any decision to sell the forward and it will be up to Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes to present potential clubs willing to buy him, the person with knowledge of the situation said.

GOLF

SOLHEIM CUP: The Netherlands will host the Solheim Cup for the first time after being chosen to host the biggest team event in women’s golf in 2026.

Bernardus Golf will host the event, organizers said. Located in Cromvoirt, a village in the south of the Netherlands near the historic cathedral city of Den Bosch, the course opened in 2018 and has already hosted the Dutch Open on the men’s European tour in 2021 and 2022 and will do so again next year.

Europe will defend the trophy against the United States at Spain’s Finca Cortesin next September.

TENNIS

ATP FINALS: Top seed Rafael Nadal lost 3-6, 4-6 to tournament debutant Felix Auger-Aliassime, leaving him with back-to-back defeats in Turin, Italy.

That result, coupled with a win by third-placed Casper Ruud over Taylor Fritz in a later match, meant a quick exit for Nadal.

Nadal, 36, has lost four straight games for the second time in his career after losses at the US Open and Paris.

Nadal was beaten in eighth place by Fritz of the United States in their opening match on Sunday.

MOTOR RACE

NASCAR: Ty Gibbs was promoted to NASCAR’s Top Cup series in an expected announcement that included no celebrations as Joe Gibbs Racing continues to mourn the loss of Gibbs’ father.

Coy Gibbs died in his sleeping hours after his 20-year-old son won the Xfinity Series championship on November 5 at Phoenix Raceway. He was 49 years old, the same age as his older brother JD, when he passed away in 2019.

NASCAR and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs lost his two sons a month before their 50th birthday. Coy Gibbs was vice chairman of his father’s NASCAR team at the time of his death.

OLYMPIA

GYMNASTICS: Sunisa Lee will make another run to Olympic glory.

The 2020 women’s all-around gymnastics champion announced she will return to elite-level training next spring after completing her second season in Auburn.

19-year-old Lee became the fifth straight American to win the Olympic title when she defeated Rebeca Andrade of Brazil in a thrilling final at the Ariake Gymnastics Center, a victory Lee never imagined until her US teammate and 2016 Olympic champion Simone Biles pulled out of the competition to focus on her mental health.

“I have my sights set on Paris in 2024 and I know what I need to do to get there,” Lee said. “I’m excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”


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