Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross

Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross eliminated in first beach volleyball tournament together

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Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross‘ partnership got off to a strong start in their debut event, but it came to a screeching halt Friday.

Walsh Jennings and Ross were eliminated before the quarterfinals at an FIVB tour stop in Gstaad, Switzerland, by Brazilians Maria Antonelli and Agatha Bednarczuk 21-17, 22-20.

It marked Walsh Jennings’ first tournament since 2012. She had her third child in April, daughter Scout, and appeared in ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue this week.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion, and Ross, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, went 3-0 in pool play before losing their first elimination-round match.

“I’m disappointed in how we did,” Ross said in an FIVB press release. “I thought we played better each match in pool play and then I feel we went back a step in this match. Kerri hurt her abs a little bit and I didn’t contribute at all; I wasn’t digging balls and couldn’t get my serve in the court.”

Also notable in the release was this line …

Towards the end of 2013 Ross and Walsh will go fulltime, though the pair are remaining tight-lipped on the subject and offered only a coy, “by the end of the year,” when pressed on the subject.

Walsh Jennings and Ross will not play together at the Long Beach Grand Slam from July 22-27. Walsh Jennings will play with Whitney Pavlik, and Ross will go with silver-medal teammate Jennifer Kessy.

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Teddy Riner, dominant judoka, to skip 2018, 2019 Worlds

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French judoka Teddy Riner, arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, will reportedly skip the next two world championships before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

French coach Franck Chambily said Riner will compete a light international schedule the next two years ahead of what would be his fourth Olympics, according to Agence France-Presse.

Riner, a 29-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch native of Guadeloupe, is undefeated since 2010 with a reported 144-match winning streak. That includes Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 and world titles in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Before the streak, Riner also earned world titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, plus an Olympic bronze at age 19 in 2008.

He could compete through the 2024 Paris Games.

“When I am invincible, I will stop,” Riner said in 2013, according to The Associated Press.

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Maggie Nichols wins NCAA all-around title with perfect 10

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Even after a perfect 10 in the last rotation, Maggie Nichols didn’t know that she had won the NCAA all-around title. Her coach at Oklahoma, K.J. Kindler, had to tell her.

The reaction?

“Excitement,” Nichols said Friday night on ESPNU. “I just wanted to go out there and feel out the equipment, staying calm and doing my routines that I have been doing in training.”

Nichols, a 2015 World team champion who retired from elite gymnastics after missing the 2016 Olympic team (set back by a torn meniscus that year), became the first Sooner to win the NCAA all-around in 30 years.

The sophomore tallied 39.8125 points and topped Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner of Utah by .0875 for the title in St. Louis. It came one year after Nichols was 29th in the all-around with a balance beam fall.

Oklahoma and Utah will be joined in Saturday night’s Super Six team finals by UCLA, LSU, Florida and Nebraska. The Sooners eye their third straight national title.

Nichols capped her night with one of two perfect scores between the two semifinal sessions, matching 2012 Olympic alternate Elizabeth Price‘s 10 on uneven bars. It gave Nichols a second career gym slam, a perfect score on every apparatus for the season.

On Jan. 9, Nichols came forward as “Athlete A,” who first reported to USA Gymnastics that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar in summer 2015.

“She has had a really unique year probably like no one else, and her strength showed through,” Kindler said Friday, according to the University of Oklahoma. “It was tough, and to come out on this side this year is really special.”

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