Sam Mikulak hopes he’s closing gap on Kohei Uchimura

Sam Mikulak

Sam Mikulak entered the sixth and last rotation of the 2013 World Championships all-around final in third place, looking to win the first U.S. men’s all-around medal since 2010.

Mikulak, at his first Worlds, would finish his night on high bar, arguably his strongest event. If every gymnast repeated his qualifying score from his last event in the all-around final, Mikulak would win the silver medal.

No U.S. man had won an Olympic or World all-around silver or gold medal since Paul Hamm‘s Olympic title at Athens 2004.

Mikulak likely wasn’t thinking of such feats — he said he felt no nerves — but he erred on high bar and plummeted to sixth place. Mikulak had made the 2012 Olympic team as a rising University of Michigan junior and won his first P&G Championships all-around title the following year.

He was second to Japan’s Kohei Uchimura in 2013 Worlds all-around qualifying and was set to be the closest man to Uchimura again before that last rotation in the final in Antwerp, Belgium. Uchimura won his record fourth straight World all-around title, earning more of an argument for greatest-ever status.

Even if he hit high bar, Mikulak would have finished more than one full point behind Uchimura, continuing the great divide in men’s gymnastics. Mikulak was asked that night what he lacked to be competitive with Uchimura.

“Start value,” he told reporters in Antwerp. “I think that’s all I’m missing.”

Mikulak gets his second chance to win an all-around medal and challenge Uchimura at the World Championships in Nanning, China, over the next week. The U.S. men go through qualifying Saturday. The all-around final is Thursday (full broadcast schedule here).

Start value, or difficulty score, is one of two parts that make up a gymnast’s total score on each apparatus. The other is the execution score, based out of 10 per event.

In Antwerp, Uchimura had a combined start value total of 38.2 points over all six events. Mikulak’s start value was 36.4 (36.9 in qualifying). Mikulak went into the sixth and last rotation 1.675 points behind Uchimura and finished 3.442 behind after that high bar mistake.

Mikulak averaged a combined start value of 37.35 at the 2013 P&G Championships, before 2013 Worlds. At this year’s P&G Championships, Mikulak had a combined start value of 38 on the second day, when he came from fourth place back to win.

On top of that, Mikulak promised additional difficulty for Worlds after the P&G Championships in Pittsburgh last month. He showed that in training in Nanning this week, performing a vault with four tenths more difficulty than he did at P&Gs or in 2013.

In other words, Mikulak appears to be closing the gap in difficulty, the caveat being it’s not known exactly what Uchimura plans to unleash in Nanning.

“[Mikulak] probably could have finished in the all-around second in the world [in 2013],” Mikulak’s coach, Kurt Golder, said at the P&G Championships. “That’s right about where he stands right now.

“This guy from Japan, Uchimura, he’s fantastic. That’s the target. That’s the one we’re chasing.”

Mikulak is seen as one of the biggest threats to Uchimura’s dominance. The Japanese won silver at the 2008 Olympics and has won every annual global title since. He is the only gymnast, male or female, to win four World all-around titles.

The other top all-around gymnasts in Nanning include Japan’s Ryohei Kato, Great Britain’s Max Whitlock and Germany’s Fabian Hambuechen. Mikulak trained with the three-time Olympian Hambuechen earlier this year.

“I’m chipping away at it, making sure my start values are getting higher and higher as the years go on,” Mikulak, who is four years younger than Uchimura, said at the P&G Championships. “Hopefully, when it comes Rio time, I’ll be up there with his start values.”

Aliya Mustafina: I would be happy if Russia finishes top 3

Canada wins men’s hockey world title; Latvia wins first medal

IIHF Hockey World Championship

TAMPERE, Finland — Samuel Blais scored two goals to rally Canada to a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the world men’s hockey championship on Sunday.

It’s a record 28th world title for Canada, and its second in three years. Russia has 27 while Germany has never won the trophy.

Blais netted with a backhand 4:51 into the final period for a 3-2 lead for Canada, which was playing in its fourth straight final.

“It feels really good,” Blais said. “We’ve been in Europe for a month and we’ve all waited for that moment to play for the gold medal game. And we’re lucky enough to have won it.”

Lawson Crouse, Tyler Toffoli and Scott Laughton also scored for Canada, Peyton Krebs had two assists and goaltender Samuel Montembeault stopped 21 shots.

Toffoli stretched the lead to 4-2 from the left circle with 8:09 remaining and Laughton made it 5-2 with an empty net goal.

Adam Fantilli became only the second Canadian player after Jonathan Toews to win gold at the world juniors and world championship the same year.

Canada had to come back twice in the final.

John Peterka wristed a shot past Montembeault from the left circle 7:44 into the game. It was the sixth goal for the Buffalo Sabres forward at the tournament.

Blais was fed by Krebs to beat goaltender Mathias Niederberger and tie it 1-1 at 10:47.

Daniel Fischbuch put the Germans ahead again with a one-timer with 6:13 to go in the middle period.

Crouse equalized on a power play with 2:32 remaining in the frame.

It was the first medal for Germany since 1953 when it was second behind Sweden.

The two previously met just once in the final with Canada winning 6-1 in 1930.


Defenseman Kristian Rubins scored his second goal 1:22 into overtime to lead Latvia to a 4-3 victory over the United States and earn a bronze medal earlier Sunday.

It’s the first top-three finish for Latvia at the tournament. Its previous best was a seventh place it managed three times.

The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game for the second straight year. The U.S. team was cruising through the tournament with eight straight wins until it was defeated by Germany in the semifinal 4-3 in overtime.

Rubins rallied Latvia with his first with 5:39 to go in the final period to tie the game at 3 to force overtime.

Roberts Bukarts and Janis Jaks also scored for Latvia.

Rocco Grimaldi scored twice for the U.S. in the opening period to negate Latvia’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

Matt Coronato had put the U.S. 3-2 ahead 6:19 into the final period.

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

Main draw play began Sunday, live on Peacock.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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