Simone Biles

Simone Biles, U.S. women better Russia in World Gymnastics Championships qualifying

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Reigning World all-around champion Simone Biles paced the U.S. to the early lead in World Gymnastics Championships qualifying in Nanning, China, on Sunday.

Biles, Olympic team champion Kyla Ross and World Championships rookies MyKayla SkinnerAlyssa BaumannMadison Kocian and Ashton Locklear combined for 235.038 points, a whopping 6.903 points better than Russia totaled earlier Sunday.

Russia won the team event at the 2010 World Championships and finished second to the U.S. in 2011 and at the 2012 Olympics. There was no team event at the 2013 World Championships.

Biles, looking to become the first woman to win back-to-back World all-around titles since Svetlana Khorkina in 2001 and 2003, posted 59.599 points to take the individual all-around qualifying lead. Biles had the top provisional scores on vault, balance beam and floor exercise but struggled on her weak event, uneven bars (scoring 13.3).

“It went OK,” Biles said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “I’m really disappointed with bars, but other than that I was pretty happy.”

She’s safely into the all-around final Friday, along with Ross, who came from behind Skinner on the last apparatus, uneven bars, to lock up the second and final U.S. spot with 57.941 points. Ross suffered a hip injury before Worlds and has trained and competed with her thigh and hip taped. She said she wasn’t sure last week she would be able to perform her standard vault given the injury.

“Ever since podium [training], my hamstring and my hip has been getting better,” Ross said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “I was happy to be able to have a little bit more power.”

Russian Olympic and World all-around bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina scored 58.874 points earlier Sunday to make the all-around final.

Team medal contenders China, Great Britain and Romania go through qualifying Monday.

Team Qualifying
1. USA — 235.038
2. Russia — 228.135

All-Around Qualifying
1. Simone Biles (USA) — 59.599
2. Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 58.874
3. Kyla Ross (USA) — 57.941

The U.S. women in position to qualify for individual event finals (top eight, maximum two per country) with one day of qualifying to go:

Vault
1. Simone Biles — 15.45 (Biles is the 2013 World silver medalist on vault)
2. MyKayla Skinner — 15.349

Uneven Bars
1. Ashton Locklear — 15.233
4. Kyla Ross — 14.65 (2013 World silver medalist)

Balance Beam
1. Simone Biles — 15.133 (2013 World bronze medalist)
3. Kyla Ross — 14.391 (2013 World silver medalist)

Floor Exercise
1. Simone Biles — 15.366 (2013 World champion)
2. MyKayla Skinner — 14.7

World Gymnastics Championships broadcast schedule

Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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