Russia kiss

Russian sprinters deny kiss on podium was out of protest

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Two members of the Russian women’s 4×400-meter relay team who gained attention for kissing at the World Track and Field Championships denied it was out of protest of Russia’s anti-gay law.

One of the 4×400 team members called one of the published images a photographer’s “sick fantasy,” according to R-Sport.

The photograph to the right is of Ksenia Ryzhova and Yulia Guschina kissing, according to R-Sport. It was reported previously that it was of Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova.

“The storm of emotions going through us was incredible,” Ryzhova said, according to The Associated Press. “And if we, accidentally, while congratulating each other, touched lips, excuse me. We think the whole fuss is more of a sick fantasy not grounded in anything.”

All four members of the 4×400-meter final team exchanged kisses on the podium after receiving their gold medals (video here).

“Yesterday I got calls from probably 20 different media outlets and instead of congratulating us for the gold medal, they decided to insult me and Julia (Guschina) and the entire federation,” Ryzhova said at a Moscow press conference Tuesday, according to R-Sport.

Ryzhova said she and Guschina have no personal relationship and are both married.

Video: Entire Russian 4×400 team kisses on podium

Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas headline Secret Classic; Maggie Nichols out

Maggie Nichols
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World all-around champion Simone Biles and Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas are expected to compete at the Secret U.S. Classic on June 4, while World Championships teammate Maggie Nichols remains out after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery several weeks ago.

USA Gymnastics announced the field Thursday for the tune-up meet for the P&G Championships later in June and U.S. Olympic Trials in July.

Nichols is the only member of the seven-woman World Championships team who isn’t scheduled to compete at the Secret Classic in Hartford, Conn.

She is expected to be ready for the P&G Championships in St. Louis from June 23-26, an official from her gym said Thursday.

In early April, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Nichols was expected to be out four to six weeks, putting her in line to be ready in late May. Participation in the Secret Classic is not mandatory to be eligible for the Olympic team.

Nichols suffered the injury, a meniscus tear, on an Amanar vault landing in training, according to multiple reports.

The five-woman U.S. Olympic team will be named after the trials from July 8-10. The all-around champion at trials will clinch one of those five berths.

Nichols, an 18-year-old from Little Canada, Minn., is a favorite to make the Olympic team if healthy.

She was the only U.S. gymnast who competed in all four events in the World Championships team final Oct. 27. She earned a floor exercise bronze medal five days later.

Nichols opened her Olympic year by finishing second in the AT&T American Cup all-around behind Gabby Douglas on March 5.

Nichols was on the roster to compete at the Pacific Rim Championships from April 8-10 but was removed before the meet due to a slight knee injury, USA Gymnastics said.

She previously dislocated her left kneecap in summer 2014.

The men’s P&G Championships will also be held in Hartford, Conn., next week, with every major U.S. Olympic hopeful in the expected field. That includes London Olympians Danell LeyvaJohn OrozcoSam Mikulak and Jacob Dalton.

MORE: Gabby Douglas, mom had concerns before agreeing to TV series

Manny Pacquiao will not pursue Rio Olympics, reports say

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Manny Pacquiao has decided not to pursue boxing at the Rio Olympics, according to multiple reports.

Pacquiao chose to “prioritize his legislative duties,” the Philippines boxing federation’s executive director reportedly said Thursday. Pacquiao won a Philippine Senate seat earlier this month.

Pacquiao, the 37-year-old who may have fought for the last time April 9, reportedly previously said he was “thinking about” boxing in the Rio Games, that it would be “my honor” to do so and that he needed to ask the Filipino people about it.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) could create a path for professional boxers to compete in the Olympics starting in Rio.

Pacquiao never boxed in previous Olympics, but he did carry the Philippines’ flag into the Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony.

The Philippines has won nine Olympic medals, none gold.

MORE: Mike Tyson slams idea of pro boxers in Olympics