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Simone Biles clarifies timeline for gymnastics break


Don’t expect to see Simone Biles compete at all in 2017.

“I won’t be competing for at least a year and a half,” Biles said Thursday during a media tour promoting her book, “Courage to Soar,” at the 15-minute mark here. “I’m going to take some time off from the gym, just so that I can go out, have fun and really just embrace the moment that we have. Especially vacation, because I couldn’t do that before with how much I trained. I was always in the gym.

“I think my body needs a rest,” Biles added, smiling. “It’s breaking down on me for a little bit.”

Biles last competed at the Rio Olympics in August, which would mean a break of at least 18 months would go into 2018.

Biles previously said she would take at least one year off from competing, while leaving the door open to possibly make a late run for the October 2017 World Championships in Montreal. Biles said she plans to return at some point to make a run for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Biles’ absence in 2017 means she will pass the baton of world all-around champion to a different gymnast. Biles won three straight world all-around titles from 2013 through 2015, before taking four golds and a bronze in Rio.

An American has taken the last six combined Olympic and world all-around titles, starting in 2011.

The last non-American to win, Aliya Mustafina of Russia in 2010, could compete at 2017 Worlds. Mustafina took bronze behind Biles and Aly Raisman at the Rio Games.

Raisman, like Biles, said she’s taking 2017 off from competition. Gabby Douglas, the 2012 Olympic champion and 2015 World silver medalist, hasn’t said if or when she’ll return to competition.

Biles could follow the trend set by Raisman and Douglas in the last Olympic cycle. That duo took all of 2013 and 2014 off from competition before returning.

Next year’s all-around favorite may well be Laurie Hernandez, who finished second to Biles at the Olympic Trials but did not compete in the all-around in Rio.

VIDEO: Biles shows Stephen Colbert how to stick the landing

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 in the wake of the 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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