Simone Biles

U.S. gymnastics wraps up most successful World Championships ever

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The U.S. gymnastics team dominated the World Championships like never before, winning 12 medals (three gold), including five on the final day of competition Sunday.

Simone Biles, 16, was the standout again, winning the floor exercise final. She finished her first international meet with four medals. She also won bronze on balance beam Sunday to give her two golds, one silver and one bronze for the meet.

Kyla Ross, the youngest member of the Olympic team, won her third silver medal in four days in Antwerp, Belgium, this time on beam behind Russian Aliya Mustafina.

On the men’s side, Steven Legendre (silver, vault) and John Orozco (bronze parallel bars) also won medals.

The U.S. won the overall medal count at a worlds or Olympics for the first time since 2005. Its previous medal high was nine at the 2005 World Championships, where all of the medals were won by the women.

China led the medal count at every worlds and Olympics (artistic gymnastics only) from 2006 to 2012.

The Chinese will look to regain the top spot at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China, which will include a team competition, unlike this past week’s event.

Here are full results, recaps and videos from Sunday’s event finals:

Women’s Floor Exercise

Gold: Simone Biles (USA) 15
Silver: Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) 14.633
Bronze: Larisa Iordache (ROU) 14.6
4. Mai Murakami (JPN) 14.466
5. Giulia Steingruber (SUI) 14.333
5. Kyla Ross (USA) 14.333
7. Sandra Izbasa (ROU) 13.733
8. Elsabeth Black (CAN) 13.566

Biles wrapped up one of the most successful World Championships by a single athlete ever. She won medals on every event except one, uneven bars, where she finished fourth.

The only other U.S. female gymnasts to win four medals at a single World Championships were Rebecca Bross in 2010 and Nastia Liukin in 2005.

Women’s Balance Beam

Gold: Aliya Mustafina (RUS) 14.9
Silver: Kyla Ross (USA) 14.833
Bronze: Simone Biles (USA) 14.333
4. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) 14.3
5. Carlotta Ferlito (ITA) 14.283
6. Chunsong Shang (CHN) 14.133
7. Larisa Ioradache (ROU) 13.933
8. Anna Rodionova (RUS) 13.1

Mustafina won the only event she didn’t win a medal in at the 2010 World Championships. She picked up her third medal of worlds, adding to her bronze in the all-around and the uneven bars.

All of the medalists submitted scoring inquiries, disputing their original scores. Ross’ and Biles’ were upheld, moving Ross from 14.733 to 14.833 and Biles from 14.133 to 14.333. That lifted Biles into bronze-medal position.

Ross won her third silver medal of the meet (all-around, uneven bars). Biles added the bronze to her all-around gold and vault silver.

Men’s Vault

Gold: Yang Hak-Seon (KOR) 15.533
Silver: Steven Legendre (USA) 15.249
Bronze: Kristian Thomas (GBR) 15.233
4. Kenzo Shirai (JPN) 15.133
5. Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA) 15.099
6. Diego Hypolito (BRA) 15.049
7. Marius Daniel Berbecar (ROU) 14.850
8. Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) 14.449

Yang entered as the reigning world and Olympic champion and the favorite. He performed last out of the eight men and posted a 15.733 on the first of his two vaults. That marked the highest score of the competition and pretty much wrapped up the gold.

Legendre ended the longest drought in event finals in U.S. gymnastics, men or women. An American had not won a medal in men’s vault at the Olympics or World Championship since Mitch Gaylord’s silver at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Men’s Parallel Bars

Gold: Kohei Uchimura (JPN) 15.666
Gold: Lin Chaopan (CHN) 15.666
Bronze: John Orozco (USA) 15.333
4. Epke Zonderland (NED) 15.3
5. Marius Daniel Berbecar (ROU) 15
6. Brandon Wynn (USA) 14.266
7. Vasileios Tsolakidis (GRE) 13.433
8. Anton Fokin (UZB) 12.466

Unlike the Olympics, there are no medal tiebreakers at the World Championships. Uchimura and Lin’s tie marked the first double gold at a worlds event since the men’s parallel bars final in 2007.

Uchimura won his third medal of the meet and 12th career worlds medal. Orozco won his first career individual worlds or Olympic medal after blowing out his left knee at a post-Olympics tour stop in October. Only one of the finalists from the 2012 Olympics was in this final (Tsolakidis). The 2011 world champion on parallel bars, American Danell Leyva, withdrew from the U.S. team with a shoulder injury.

Men’s High Bar

Gold: Epke Zonderland (NED) 16
Silver: Fabian Hambuechen (GER) 15.933
Bronze: Kohei Uchimura (JPN) 15.633
4. Sam Mikulak (USA) 15.566
5. Jossimar Orlando Calvo Moreno (COL) 15.466
6. Andreas Bretschneider (GER) 15.158
7. Ryohei Kato (JPN) 15.025
8. Lin Chaopan (CHN) 14.9

The high-flying Dutchman Zonderland followed up his Olympic gold medal on the most exciting event in gymnastics. Hambuechen was the 2007 world champion on high bar. Uchimura won his fourth medal of the meet and 13th of his career.

Mikulak, the U.S. all-around champion, was trying to win his first medal at worlds after stumbling on his final event in the all-around to finish sixth.

Impressed? McKayla Maroney wins vault world title (video)

Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi lead U.S. Olympic marathon team

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Galen Rupp and Meb Keflezighi shared nothing in marathon running before the U.S. Olympic trials on Saturday, but the two men from vastly different backgrounds were together, alone, leading the race with five miles left.

Rupp, 29, pulled away to win in 2:11:12 on the streets of Los Angeles. The former Oregon Catholic high school prodigy became the first American to make an Olympic marathon team in his 26.2-mile debut since 1968.

Keflezighi, a 40-year-old born in war-torn Eritrea who moved to the U.S. in 1987, crossed the finish line 68 seconds later in second place. He will become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time in Rio in August.

Rupp and Keflezighi, the only U.S. men to make an Olympic podium in distances longer than 1500m since 1984, were so close to each other in their three-mile leading stretch that their Olympic silver medals could have clanked against each other had they been wearing them.

Keflezighi, in his 23rd marathon and in front of Rupp at the time, didn’t take kindly to the six-inches-taller marathon rookie breathing on him. He let Rupp know about it on the streets of LA.

“It’s not a track, the road is open,” Keflezighi recalled in a press conference, shortly before exchanging a laughter-inducing glance with Rupp, who fittingly walked in to sit on a stool to Keflezighi’s immediate right mid-answer. “It was not a very friendly conversation.”

Now Rupp and Keflezighi are U.S. Olympic marathon teammates. Along with Jared Ward, who finished third Saturday, 1:47 behind Rupp, to make his first Olympics.

Full results are here.

In the women’s race, Amy CraggDesi Linden and Shalane Flanagan were the top three, all returning to the Olympics, with Flanagan collapsing at the finish line. Full recap here.

Rupp and Keflezighi broke away on their own around the 20th mile. Rupp then dropped Keflezighi in the 23rd mile. The reigning Olympic 10,000m silver medalist fist pumped crossing the finish line.

“It was a bit of a change running the marathon, but there’s no bigger honor than being able to represent your country at the Olympics,” Rupp then told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Dathan Ritzenhein, a three-time Olympian and a pre-race favorite with Keflezighi and Rupp, dropped out of the race around mile 20 in the hottest U.S. Olympic marathon trials of all time. The temperature at the men’s start at 10:06 a.m. local time was 66 degrees.

The Rio Olympic men’s marathon will be on Aug. 21, the final day of the Games. Keflezighi’s 2004 silver is the only U.S. men’s marathon medal since Frank Shorter took gold in 1972 and silver in 1976.

Rupp has said he prefers the 10,000m and might not race the marathon at the Olympics. If he doesn’t, the fourth-place trials finisher, Luke Puskedra, will move onto the team.

“I think [Rupp] is a 2:05 [marathon] guy, someday,” Rupp’s coach, three-time New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, told media after Saturday’s race. (The fastest American marathoner of all time, Ryan Hall, clocked a best of 2:04:58 at the 2011 Boston Marathon.)

Rupp could contest two races in Rio, the 10,000m (Aug. 13 final) and the marathon, or the 10,000m and the 5000m (Aug. 20). Rupp finished seventh in the 5000m in London.

“I would say that the 10k is still my primary focus,” said Rupp, who would have to make the Olympic track team at those trials in Eugene, Ore., from July 1-10, in a USATF interview published Jan. 28. “Really, it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether that’s the 5k or the marathon.”

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Amy Cragg wins marathon trials; Shalane Flanagan collapses at finish

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No doubt Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan bonded as training partners en route to the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, escaping a black bear the clearest example.

They couldn’t have been closer after finishing first and third to make the Olympic team Saturday.

Flanagan collapsed in Cragg’s arms two strides after the finish line at the hottest U.S. Olympic marathon trials ever in Los Angeles. She was then helped into a wheelchair.

Cragg won the race in 2:28:20, redeeming after she finished fourth to miss the team by one spot at the 2012 trials. Flanagan came in third Saturday to make her fourth Olympic team, 25 seconds behind second-place Desi Linden and 58 seconds behind Cragg.

Full results are here.

Cragg, 32, waited for Flanagan at the finish line, holding an American flag, hugging Flanagan and then, suddenly, keeping the 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist from falling onto the pavement.

Flanagan, the 2012 trials winner and a pre-race favorite, said there was a point in the 26.2 miles where she thought she was “done.”

Cragg talked her through it. They spent most of the final half of the race alone in the lead.

“Sweet baby Jesus, I’m so thankful for [Cragg],” Flanagan, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner ever, said minutes after finishing, with an ice pack over her shoulders, clutching a water bottle in her right hand and holding onto Cragg’s right shoulder with her left hand.

Cragg held up Flanagan during the interview and then helped her back into the wheelchair.

The temperature at the start of the men’s race at 10:06 a.m. local time was 66 degrees, hottest ever at a marathon trials (the first trials were in 1968). The women began 16 minutes later.

Cragg finished fourth at the 2012 marathon trials, then made that Olympic team in the 10,000m on the track and finished 11th in London in her Olympic debut. She moved from Providence, R.I., to Portland, Ore., in the fall to join Flanagan’s training group.

“Finishing fourth, looking back on it now, was so good for me,” Cragg told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “It made me more determined than ever as an athlete. I’ve worked really hard the last four years, basically, to move up one spot.

“I just knew, training with Shalane, would give me all the confidence I need.”

Cragg dropped Flanagan in the final two miles. Before that, she said she asked Flanagan if she was OK. Flanagan replied, no, I’m not.

“She seemed like she was even struggling a little bit just to say that,” Cragg said. “Before the last water stop, I kind of looked at her, and she was turning bright red. I knew the heat was getting to her. I told her, I’m going to get you a water bottle, dump the whole thing on your head.”

Linden, arguably the pre-race co-favorite with Flanagan, repeated her 2012 trials finish of second place, surging in the final mile past Flanagan.

At the London Olympics, Linden pulled out 2.2 miles into the race with right hip pain, what would later be diagnosed as a femoral stress fracture.

“It’s been this Sisyphean task where I get to the top, and then the rock crumbles down,” Linden said Saturday. “I want to do it better this time.”

Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher finished fourth. She plans to compete at the track trials in July in Eugene, Ore., to go for Rio.

Goucher finished 65 seconds behind Flanagan, her former training partner, and said she missed workouts last week while sick. The 37-year-old said she may have picked up an illness from her 5-year-old son, Colt.

“I kept asking myself if I was doing all that I could, and I was,” Goucher told media, in tears. “They were just better. … I didn’t fight this hard to just fold right now, so yeah, I’ll be trying to make the 10k team [at track trials in July].”

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