McKayla Maroney
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USA Gymnastics names women’s team for World Championships

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As expected, U.S. all-around champion Simone Biles and 2012 Olympic champions McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross will lead the U.S. women’s gymnastics team at the World Championships beginning Oct. 1 in Antwerp, Belgium.

The only question before the official team announcement Sunday was the identity of the team’s fourth and final member.

Enter Brenna Dowell, 17, who placed third in the all-around at the U.S. Championships last month, behind Biles and Ross.

Dowell beat out the likes of Elizabeth Price (2012 Olympic team alternate), Peyton Ernst (fourth, U.S. all-around) and MyKayla Skinner (third, vault, floor exercise) for the final spot. A selection committee chose the team following a selection camp in Texas this weekend.

Price was named the non-traveling alternate.

Maroney is expected to at least try to defend her world title on the vault, where she also won Olympic silver. She’s also a medal threat on floor. Maroney could do just those two events, freeing up Dowell for uneven bars and/or balance beam.

Or, all three of Biles, Maroney and Ross could compete in the all-around. If that happens, Dowell would not compete.

The U.S. has excelled at the last two year-after-the-Olympics World Championships. Chellsie Memmel and Nastia Liukin went one-two in the all-around in 2005, and Bridget Sloan and Rebecca Bross did the same in 2009.

No members of the 2009 World Championships team went on to make the 2012 Olympic team. No U.S. woman has made back-to-back Olympic teams since 1996 and 2000.

There is no team event at this year’s World Championships. The top international threat in the all-around is 2012 Olympic bronze medalist and 2010 world champion Aliya Mustafina of Russia, who won the 2013 European all-around title and the World University Games.

U.S. men’s team for World Championships

Leanne Smith leads U.S. gold medalists at para swim worlds

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Leanne Smith has never competed at a Paralympics. Came into this week’s world championships with zero world medals. But she leaves London with three individual golds, most for any American, one year before the Tokyo Games.

Smith, 21, won the 150m individual medley, 50m breaststroke and 100m freestyle in her classification, all in American record times. The last two titles came on the final day of the seven-day meet on Sunday.

Smith, diagnosed with a rare neurological muscle disease called dystonia in January 2012, began swimming in 2013. By 2017, she broke a world record and then debuted at the world championships with a best individual finish of sixth.

The U.S. finished with 35 total medals and 14 golds, ranking sixth in the overall standings. Ukraine, usually strong at the Paralympics, led the way with 55 medals. Full results are here.

Jessica Long, the second-most-decorated U.S. Paralympian in history with 23 medals, earned six this week — five silvers and a bronze — to give her 52 career world championships medals.

Two-time Paralympian Mallory Weggemann earned two golds this week, giving her 15 world titles in three appearances (her others being in 2009 and 2010).

She won 50m titles in the butterfly and freestyle. Weggemann won a 2012 Paralympic 50m free title but was fortunate just to make it back for Rio after a 2014 accident that she said was harder to come back from than her teenage paralysis. She left Rio with no medals but a resolve to return for a third Games in Tokyo.

“I’m two seconds away from bursting into tears,” Weggemann said after winning the first of her two golds in the 50m fly, according to U.S. Paralympics. “I had a really rough go these past three years since Rio, so to finally be back after busting my butt to be here, and to be here in London of all places, is absolutely incredible.”

Fellow Rio Paralympians McKenzie Coan and Robert Griswold added two golds a piece.

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Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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