John Orozco

John Orozco added to U.S. gymnastics team for World Championships

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John Orozco was named as the replacement for Danell Leyva on the U.S. gymnastics team going to the World Championships next month, USA Gymnastics announced.

Orozco, the 2012 U.S. all-around champion, was one of three alternates considered for the opening on the six-man team after Leyva withdrew Monday, citing a lingering shoulder injury.

“I am honored to be representing USA at World Championships this year and I wish Danell Johan Leyva a speedy recovery,” was posted on Orozco’s social media accounts.

Orozco finished fourth in the all-around at last weekend’s National Championships in Hartford, Conn., in his first full, six-event competition since tearing an ACL and a meniscus in his left knee in October.

USA Gymnastics picked six men after nationals for the World Championships team. Orozco was the highest-ranked all-around finisher of the men who were not picked. Leyva, the 2012 Olympic all-around bronze medalist, was seventh in the all-around at nationals.

Orozco, 20, joins a U.S. team led by fellow Olympian Sam Mikulak, who ran away with the all-around title in Hartford. Also on the team is Olympian Jake Dalton and previous World Championships team members Alex Naddour, Brandon Wynn and Steven Legendre.

There is no team event at the World Championships, which begin Sept. 30. Orozco is a candidate for medals on high bar and parallel bars. It remains to be seen if Orozco will be one of two U.S. competitors in the all-around. It would be a surprise if Mikulak is not one of the two. Orozco placed fifth in the all-around at the 2011 World Championships and eighth at the 2012 Olympics.

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Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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