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Katelyn Ohashi reigns in Worcester; wins first senior event

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If any conclusions could be drawn from Saturday’s AT&T American Cup as we start the run up to Rio, it’s this: We’re in for a lot more hot pink leotards. And a lot more WOGA champions.

In her much anticipated senior debut, Katelyn Ohashi did as expected: She won. Ohashi now joins Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, and Rebecca Bross as the latest WOGA gymnasts to claim the American Cup Title. Patterson and Liukin went on the become Olympic all-around champions, so no pressure or anything, Katelyn. Her American teammate Simone Biles, also in her first senior competition, finished in second.

“It was amazing just to be here,” Ohashi said after a strong performance on the beam helped her to victory. “It was my first senior event, so that’s a big confidence-builder for me.”

Victoria Moors proved herself as one of Canada’s best gymnasts in decades by placing third behind the Americans after capping her day with a phenomenal performance on the floor. It might be too early to paint her as a favorite in that discipline when worlds comes around, but just barely.

On the men’s side, 2012 Olympian Jake Dalton put together one of the most consistent performances of his career to win in a deep field, while defending American Cup champ Danell Leyva struggled with consistency to finish in 6th. Leyva, who was also reportedly suffering from flu like symptoms, opted to continue in the competition after completely balking a tumbling pass on floor – an utterly bizarre error for senior competition. He picked up momentum going in to the final rotation, but fell off the high bar.

Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev – a favorite among gymnastics enthusiasts – finished second, and should be a name to watch in the coming three years leading to Rio. Marcel Nguyen of Germany, the fan favorite and reigning Olympic all-around silver medalist, finished third.

The American Cup marks the opening of the gymnastics season for many competitors, and errors can be common place for the athletes as they try out new routines and more difficult skills to adapt to the newly revised code of points. Saturday proved that many of the gymnasts are still working out the kinks in preparation for October’s 2013 world championships in Belgium.

Tommie Smith, John Carlos set to join Team USA at White House

FILe - In this Oct. 16, 1968, file photo, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos stare downward while extending gloved hands skyward during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200 meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman is at left. Smith and Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama. Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Olympics after raising their black-gloved fists in a symbolic protest during the U.S. national anthem. They called it a ``human rights salute.''
The USOC asked them to serve as ambassadors as it tries to make its own leadership more diverse. (AP Photo/File)
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the American sprinters whose raised-fist salutes at the 1968 Olympics are an ageless sign of race-inspired protest, will join the U.S. Olympic team at the White House next week for its meeting with President Barack Obama.

Smith and Carlos were sent home from the Olympics after raising their black-gloved fists in a symbolic protest during the U.S. national anthem. They called it a “human rights salute.”

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun asked them to serve as ambassadors as the federation tries to bring more diversity to its own ranks. They will join the team at the White House next Wednesday, then later that evening at an awards celebration in Washington.

The sprinters have been referenced frequently in the recent protests, spurred by Colin Kaepernick, during national anthems at NFL games. One player, Marcus Peters of the Chiefs, raised his own black-gloved fist before Kansas City’s season opener.

“I think Tommie and John have played an important and positive role in the evolution of our attitudes about diversity and inclusion, not only in the United States but around the world,” Blackmun said Friday night at a dinner to celebrate the U.S. performance in Brazil this summer.

MORE: Usain Bolt says he received offers to play wide receiver in the NFL (video)

Wilson Kipsang: I am very focused on the marathon world record

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The men’s marathon world record has been broken five of the last nine years at the Berlin Marathon.

Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang, who broke the world record at the 2013 Berlin Marathon, believes that he can do it again on Sunday, when the race will stream live on the NBC Sports app beginning at 2:30 a.m. ET.

“I’ve trained well and, three years down the line from my world record here, I feel good and believe I have the potential to attempt the world record once more,” he said at today’s press conference, according to the IAAF. “Running at the top level, there is a lot of wear and tear on the body, especially when you are running for a time, but I am very focused on the world record.”

Kipsang clocked 2 hours, 3 minutes, 23 seconds when he broke the world record in 2013. A year later, fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto lowered it to 2:02:57 on the same course. Kimetto will not race in Berlin this year.

Kipsang will be challenged by Kenyan compatriot Emmanuel Mutai, who has the fastest time (2:03:13) in the field, and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.

Bekele is a three-time Olympic track champion and the 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder, but acknowledged that his marathon personal best of 2:05:04 places him a distant fourth in the field.

“I consider my personal best of 2:05 to be slow compared to the best runners,” he said. “I want to run as fast as I can on Sunday and beat my best.”

MORE: Berlin Marathon to live stream on NBC Sports app