Martha Karolyi, Gabby Douglas

Martha Karolyi gives updates on Gabby Douglas, more after training camp

Leave a comment

Gabby Douglas is gradually picking up her old skills, said USA Gymnastics National Team coordinator Martha Karolyi, who would like to see the Olympic all-around champion compete twice to be considered for October’s World Championships team.

Douglas attended a U.S. camp last week at the Karolyi ranch for the first time since winning two gold medals at the London Games.

Karolyi said at the end of the five-day camp that she was pleasantly surprised with Douglas’ fitness and the gymnast had a reasonable chance to get back into full shape before the World Championships in China that begin Oct. 3.

“I didn’t know what to expect because I did not see Gabby for two years,” Karolyi said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Every camp we start with verification of physical abilities, and I just saw her doing everything just like she did before.”

That doesn’t mean Douglas is in competition shape, though. Karolyi said Douglas’ intention is to prepare to compete in August. The National Team coordinator wants to see Douglas at the next National Team camp in three weeks and in competition at the Secret U.S. Classic on Aug. 2 in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and the P&G Championships from Aug. 21-24 in Pittsburgh.

“It was pretty nice to see that most of her skills are back, not connected in her routines, but separately,” Karolyi said. “Everything will depend on how much she will be focusing in her training, just like she trained before the Olympics, if she will be able to get ready and compete successfully.”

Douglas must compete at the P&G Championships to be eligible for the World Championships, but since she has not competed since the Olympics, she is not automatically eligible for the P&G Championships yet. Competing at the Secret U.S. Classic could qualify her into the U.S. Championships, or she skip it and petition her way to Pittsburgh.

Karolyi also provided updates on other U.S. gymnasts who have been away from action.

World all-around champion Simone Biles withdrew from April’s Pacific Rim Championships with a shoulder injury. She participated at last week’s camp.

“This training camp, her training on bars was a little bit behind, but the other events, they were looking very good,” Karolyi said. “So she’s on her way to get back in shape just in the right time to compete in [the Secret U.S.] Classic and [P&G] Championships.”

World vault champion McKayla Maroney had knee surgery in March and did not attend last week’s camp.

“I know that she was just released from her therapy, after the surgery,” Karolyi said. “She did strong recuperation. I think she will resume her training, in my opinion, in a very short time.”

Olympic floor exercise champion Aly Raisman is still in training. Raisman, who hasn’t competed since the London Games, has said she wants to return for her first National Team camp after the World Championships in October.

“She is working hard and getting also back her skills,” Karolyi said. “She definitely has aspirations to come back. She even wanted me to listen to some music for her new floor routine. I’m hoping that definitely next year it will be happening.”

Another Olympian, Jordyn Wieber, finishes her freshman year at UCLA this week, but she, too, has not competed since the Olympics.

“I really don’t know anything about Jordyn,” Karolyi said. “I don’t know absolutely anything about her training.”

Karolyi mentioned two other gymnasts when asked to name strong performers at last week’s camp.

“[Olympian] Kyla Ross has always [been] a great role model of very consistent work, and she is doing great, and she is an absolutely beautiful gymnast. I’m very much basing on her contribution to the World team,” Karolyi said. “Another name, which probably nobody has this name in their mind, is MyKayla Skinner. She is one of the gymnasts who came to our camps for several years but never was strong enough to be considered, but at this time her skill level is very high, and she improved her execution, which is also very important, her presentation and execution. That improved a lot. She has an excellent shot to be important at this World Championship.”

One more gymnast gaining attention is McKenna Kelley, the 17-year-old daughter of 1984 Olympic all-around champion Mary Lou Retton.

Kelley is in the process of moving into the U.S. elite program from the lower Junior Olympic program, but likely won’t improve quickly enough to be considered for this year’s World Championships, Karolyi said.

“She certainly is almost as bouncy as Mary Lou was,” said Karolyi, who coached Retton with her husband, Bela, three decades ago. “She would need a little bit more time, but she shows great potential. … She will be in the elite program, but it’s just the beginning, and it takes time to move up to a higher level.”

Olympic silver medalist signs with Chicago White Sox

Alysa Liu rallies to win Junior Grand Prix with another quadruple jump

Getty Images
Leave a comment

U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu landed a quadruple Lutz for a second straight Junior Grand Prix, rallying from fourth after the short program to win an event in Poland on Friday.

Liu, who in January became the youngest U.S. champion in history at age 13, won both of her starts in her first season on the Junior Grand Prix to become the first U.S. woman to qualify for the six-skater Junior Grand Prix Final since 2013 (Polina Edmunds and Karen Chen). The Final is held with the senior Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, in December.

She won Friday by 6.63 points by surpassing a pair of Russians, a rarity in this era. Her free skate is here.

Liu trailed by 4.03 points after doubling a planned triple loop in the short program. She was the lone skater in the field to attempt a triple Axel (landing three of them, including two in combination and one with a negative grade of execution) or a quad.

Liu tallied 138.99 points in the free skate and 203.10 overall. She ranks sixth in the world this season by best total scores among junior and senior skaters, though some top skaters have yet to compete.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 2019 Senior Grand Prix assignments

Rafaela Silva, first Brazilian gold medalist at Rio Olympics, claims innocence after positive drug test

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rafaela Silva, the judoka who grew up in Rio’s most famously violent favela to become Brazil’s first gold medalist at the Rio Olympics, reportedly tested positive for a banned substance last month.

Silva tested positive for fenoterol, a substance that can be legal to treat asthma if an athlete has a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Silva did not have a TUE before testing positive at the Pan American Games in August, according to Brazilian media.

A possible punishment has not been announced.

Silva claimed innocence at a news conference Friday afternoon, saying that a young child with whom she had bodily contact at her training location used the substance, and she plans to compete at a domestic event this weekend, according to O Globo.

Silva, 27, backed up her Rio Olympic 57kg title by taking bronze at the world championships later in August. If she is punished for the positive test, Silva could lose that bronze medal, though she said Friday that she had a clean drug test at worlds, according to O Globo.

Silva, from Rio’s Ciadade de Deus favela, has the Olympic rings tattooed on her right bicep with the inscription “God knows how much I’ve suffered and what I’ve done to get here.”

Brazil’s top female swimmer, Etiene Medeiros, reportedly tested positive for fenoterol in May 2016 but was cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics.

In PyeongChang, Slovenian hockey player Ziga Jeglic tested positive for fenoterol and was scratched before his nation’s last game before it was announced. Jeglic was suspended from the Games and, later, was suspended eight months.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Iran banned from judo for Israel policy