Kanak Jha

Kanak Jha is first U.S. athlete born in 2000s to qualify for Olympics

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Table tennis player Kanak Jha will go down in history as the first American born in the 2000s to make an Olympic team.

Jha, born on June 19, 2000, qualified for the Rio Games by reaching the finals on the third and last day of a North American Olympic qualifying tournament in Markham, Ontario, on Sunday.

Jha will face 2012 Olympian Timothy Wang in the finals, but both have clinched Olympic berths. They join the already-qualified Yijun Feng to make up the three-man U.S. Olympic table tennis team.

A U.S. table tennis player has never advanced past the quarterfinals of an Olympic tournament.

Jha, of San Jose, Calif., is one of more than 80 athletes who have qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. The complete list of qualifiers is updated regularly here.

Other Americans born in the 2000s who could make the Rio Olympic team include gymnasts Laurie Hernandez and Ragan Smith and swimmer Reece Whitley.

At Sochi 2014, the youngest U.S. Olympic qualifier was slopestyle skier Maggie Voisin, who was born Dec. 14, 1998, but did not compete in Russia due to injury.

At London 2012, the youngest U.S. Olympic competitor was swimmer Katie Ledecky, who was born March 17, 1997.

Before Sunday, the youngest American to qualify for Rio was boxer Charles Conwell, born Nov. 2, 1997.

MORE: Lily Zhang makes second Olympic table tennis team

Laurie Hernandez plans on competing in 2019, agent says

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Olympic gymnastics champion Laurie Hernandez plans on competing in 2019, her agent said.

Hernandez has not competed since taking team gold and vault silver at the Rio Olympics, followed by winning “Dancing with the Stars” later that fall.

She said in October that she hoped to compete in 2018 but would not rush a comeback. Hernandez since decided not to compete at the U.S. Championships this August.

No member of the Final Five has competed at the elite level since Rio, though Madison Kocian is in her sophomore season at UCLA and Simone Biles plans to return this summer.

Aly Raisman said in September 2016 that she planned to take one year off, then return to training for a Tokyo 2020 run. But her focus shifted in the last year to something more important — taking on USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee after Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes.

The last member of the Final Five, 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas, has not said in widely reported comments if or when she will return to competition.

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Sonja Henie record at stake; figure skating worlds pairs preview

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When Aljona Savchenko won her first gold medal at her fifth Olympics with her third different partner in PyeongChang, she said she “wrote history.”

She can write some more this week.

Savchenko, who at 34 became the oldest female figure skating champion in Winter Olympic history, and partner Bruno Massot are the only pairs medalists from PyeongChang who are back for the world championships in Milan.

The Germans headline the field for the short program Wednesday and free skate Friday.

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Savchenko can tie Norwegian Sonja Henie for the female record of 11 world championships medals. She can grab a share of second on the all-time pairs list with a sixth world title, four shy of Soviet Irina Rodnina‘s record.

Savchenko, who won four crowns with now-retired Robin Szolkowy, goes for her first world title with Massot. They’re clear favorites.

Olympic silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong withdrew from worlds due to Sui’s foot injury. Olympic bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford retired.

It’s arguably a surprise that Savchenko and Massot chose to compete in Milan. They’re the first Olympic pairs champions to compete at a post-Olympic worlds since 1992.

Their top challengers are Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who outscored Savchenko and Massot in the Olympic short program but dropped off the podium in the free skate with a fall on their throw.

U.S. champions Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, 15th at the Olympics, made the top 10 in all of their four world championships appearances with a best finish of seventh. The last U.S. pairs medal came in 2002, the nation’s longest drought in any figure skating discipline.

The Knierims were the only U.S. pair in PyeongChang, but in Milan they’re joined by Deanna Stellato and Nathan Bartholomay.

Stellato earned singles silver at the 2000 World Junior Championships, then retired at age 17 due to hip injuries. She came back at age 32 in 2016 in pairs and, with the Sochi Olympian Bartholomay, took bronze at this year’s nationals.

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