Gabby Douglas

Bond between Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles

Leave a comment

PITTSBURGH — When Gabby Douglas returned to a U.S. National Team training camp in June for the first time since before the London Olympics, she had a roommate selected, at random they say, at the Karolyi ranch in Texas.

That roommate was Simone Biles.

Douglas, the 2012 Olympic all-around champion, and Biles, the 2013 World all-around champion, bonded over five days. They stayed up late and laughed so loudly over things like pizza that the other gymnasts banged on the walls.

“Be quiet guys,” they yelled. “We’re trying to sleep.”

Douglas is seeing Biles again this week, attending the P&G Championships as a spectator. Biles took a whopping 3.15-point all-around lead after the first day of competition Thursday and will look to wrap up her second straight title Saturday.

Douglas hopes to return to competition next year for the first time since London.

Much has changed in women’s gymnastics since the Olympics. Biles is unquestionably the best in the world, a title Douglas held when it mattered most and would like to regain in Rio de Janeiro.

Douglas, who said she first met Biles at the 2013 American Cup, watched the World Championships last fall from afar. What impressed her the most?

“I would have to say Simone,” Douglas said (How could she not? Biles won four medals.). “I love watching her floor [exercise routine]. Her double layout half is just beautiful.”

Biles likens Douglas to an older sister. When they were roommates, Biles asked Douglas for advice on choosing her college. Biles announced she picked UCLA over Alabama two months later.

That friendship will stay intact when Douglas returns, even if they are vying for the same prestigious titles, Biles said.

“I don’t think we’re competing against each other,” she said.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage of the P&G Championships on Saturday (8-11 p.m. ET) and Sunday (2:30-4).

U.S. coach aids Solomon Islands triathlete in Youth Olympic sportsmanship

Yulia Stepanova, doping whistleblower, appeals her Olympic ban

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 06:  Yuliya Stepanova looks on after finishing last in the Womens 800m heats during day one of the 23rd European Athletics Championships at Olympic Stadium on July 6, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for European Athletics )
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Russian doping whistleblower Yulia Stepanova is appealing her ban from the Olympics, saying it was based on incorrect information and dubious legal grounds.

Stepanova sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee contending she never said she wouldn’t compete for the Russian team, as the IOC stated. The IOC would not make any exception for her to compete under a neutral flag.

She says the IOC’s ban of any Russian athlete who has previously served a doping ban is not permitted – a ruling the Court of Arbitration for Sport made in 2011.

Stepanova was an 800-meter runner who got caught for doping, but later came forward to expose the Russian doping system. She served a two-year doping ban before turning whistleblower, and is now living and training in the United States at an undisclosed location.

The IOC said Stepanova did not meet the criteria for running under the IOC flag and, because she had committed doping violations, did not satisfy the “ethical requirements” to compete in the games. However, the IOC added that it would invite her and her husband, Vitaly Stepanov, to attend the games.

Both the World Anti-Doping Agency and track’s governing body, the IAAF, recommended she be allowed in the Olympics.

MORE: Russian whistleblower denied bid to compete in Rio Olympics

Gabby Douglas ‘a very strong possibility’ for all-around, Martha Karolyi says

Gabby Douglas
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gabby Douglas has “a very strong possibility” to get a chance to defend her Olympic all-around title in Rio, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Monday.

“Gabby’s preparation is in a very, very good direction, and I foresee that she can be in the all-around, but we’re not taking this decision as of now yet,” Karolyi said.

The U.S. will put no more than three women from its five-woman team in the all-around in qualifying. The top two Americans in qualifying will advance to the all-around final, the most prestigious individual competition in the sport.

“We have a tentative lineup, but that’s absolutely tentative and we would not reveal that lineup at the moment yet, because most likely there will be changes as time goes,” said Karolyi, adding that the lineup won’t be finalized until next week.

Simone Biles is considered a lock to be one of the all-arounders in qualifying. Who joins her is unclear.

Douglas and Aly Raisman were tapped at the 2015 World Championships, with Biles and Douglas topping Raisman in qualifying and then going one-two in the all-around final.

However, both Raisman and first-year senior Laurie Hernandez finished higher than Douglas in the all-around at the P&G Championships and the Olympic Trials in the last month.

Karolyi said that Douglas, who fell off the balance beam on both nights at the Olympic Trials, has improved at a pre-Olympic training camp. Karolyi also said that Douglas would not perform the difficult Amanar vault in Rio, which carries five tenths more in start value than the vault Douglas used at the Olympic Trials.

Biles and Raisman both perform the Amanar. If Biles, Douglas and Raisman do the all-around in qualifying, Douglas will go in with a start-value disadvantage in the chase to grab two available final spots.

In 2012, Douglas, Raisman and Jordyn Wieber all did the all-around in qualifying, with the 2011 World all-around champion Wieber finishing third out of the Americans (and fourth overall), missing the all-around final.

MORE: USA Gymnastics agrees to buy Karolyi Ranch