John Orozco

John Orozco deems gymnastics return a success

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Reigning U.S. all-around champion John Orozco was pleased with his first gymnastics meet in 11 months at a national qualifier Saturday.

Orozco, who tore his left ACL and suffered meniscus damage at a post-Olympics tour stop in October, didn’t make a full return to competition. He performed on four of six apparatus — excluding floor exercise and vault.

The Bronx native tied for the highest score out of 45 men on still rings (15.1), tied for fifth on high bar (14.85), took sixth on the pommel horse (14.15) and tied for 13th on parallel bars (13.65).

Olympic all-around bronze medalist Danell Leyva won with a six-event total of 87, including the highest scores on high bar (15.85) and parallel bars (15.5).

Leyva and Orozco are expected to lead the field at the U.S. Championships in Hartford, Conn., in August. The world championships are in Antwerp, Belgium, from Sept. 30-Oct. 6, where there is no team event.

It’s tough to discern much from Saturday’s scores, but perhaps looking at the level of difficulty offers a clue at just how close Orozco is to his 2012 self.

His highest difficulty scores from the London Olympics qualification and all-around final for pommel horse, still rings, parallel bars and high bar were 6.4, 6.3, 6.6 and 6.7.

On Saturday, those difficulty scores were 6.6, 6.4, 6.8 and 6.0. A net difference of -.2. Take from that what you will, but Orozco appears to have left the gym in good spirits.

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Adam Nelson’s comeback to continue at Olympic Trials

Adam Nelson
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Adam Nelson, the 2004 Olympic shot put champion, plans to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials six days shy of his 41st birthday.

Nelson, who has worked for NBC Sports, confirmed an ESPN.com report Tuesday that he has entered the trials.

In 2012, Nelson failed to qualify for the Olympic Trials final and retired.

“I just hope that when people think about me and my career, they see, one, that you can do this for a long time, there is a right way to do it,” an emotional Nelson told reporters then. “That when you do it the right way and you do it every single day, the hard work pays off time and time again. You’re going to have bad days, you’re going to have good days. But on balance you’re going to have more good days than bad days. I hope people that see that. The bottom line is, at the end of the day, if you don’t love it, don’t do it.”

Nelson’s comeback was first reported last summer.

He competed for the first time since missing the London Olympic team on April 30, throwing 20.48 meters, according to Tilastopaja.org. That ranks him outside the top 25 in the world this year and ninth among Americans.

It is just shy of the USA Track and Field automatic qualifying standard of 20.50 for the Olympic Trials, but athletes below the standard can be invited based on performance rank to compete at trials.

In May 2013, Nelson was elevated from 2004 Olympic silver to gold by the International Olympic Committee after Ukraine’s Yuriy Bilonog was stripped of it for doping. The Athens Olympic shot put competition was memorable given it was held at the Ancient Olympic site of Olympia.

In June 2013, Nelson was given a victory ceremony at the USA Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. A wreath was placed on his head, as every medalist at the 2004 Olympics received. He listened to the national anthem play. He took a victory lap with an American flag around the track.

The next month, Nelson received his gold medal at an Atlanta airport food court, reportedly at a table in front of a Chinese restaurant.

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Race walker holds his own medal ceremony after Russia doping (video)

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Australian race walker Jared Tallent wasted no time after Tuesday’s report listing eight Russian Olympic track and field medalists suspected of doping during the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Tallent starred in a do-it-yourself medal ceremony, receiving the Daegu 2011 World Championships gold medal for the 50km race walk. There was no announcer, there was no national anthem and the medal wasn’t the official Daegu version, but the motivation was clear.

Tallent originally finished third in the 2011 Worlds 50km race walk. One of the Russians named Tuesday — Denis Nizhegorodov — finished second. Another Russian, Sergey Bakulin, finished first, but his result was previously disqualified for doping.

That would leave Tallent the champion, which could be made official later this year pending Nizhegorodov’s B sample from 2008 and more processes.

Tallent is already in line to be upgraded from silver to gold in the 2012 Olympic 50km race walk due to Russian doping. There will be a more formal ceremony for Tallent to receive his Olympic gold, on June 17 in Melbourne.

MORE: Russia track and field federation says no past dopers on Rio Olympic team