Simone Biles

Simone Biles repeats as World all-around champion (video)

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Simone Biles became the first woman in 11 years to repeat as World all-around champion, scoring a wire-to-wire victory in Nanning, China, on Friday.

Biles, 17, scored 60.231 points over four apparatuses to win gold by .466 over Romania’s Larisa Iordache. Biles led Iordache by .133 going into the final rotation, floor exercise, but is superior to the Romanian on the event and proved it again under pressure. Biles posted the top floor score of the night among 24 gymnasts by .333 — 15.066.

“It actually blows my mind,” Biles said in a USA Gymnastics interview. “If I think about it right now, I’m just like, what? … It’s just really weird.”

U.S. Olympic team champion Kyla Ross won bronze after taking silver in 2013. Ross, who suffered a hip injury before Worlds, moved up after Russian Aliya Mustafina fell on her floor exercise.

“I was really proud to be able to come out and push through some of the small injuries,” Ross said in a USA Gymnastics interview.

Mustafina had won the World all-around title in 2010, missed 2011 Worlds with an injury and won bronze at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships.

I did not expect anything,” she said. “I put too much of myself into the team competition [Russia won bronze behind the U.S. and China], and there was no stamina left in me for my own thing in the women’s individual final.”

Biles had a funny moment during the medal ceremony, jumping off the podium because a bee was on her bouquet (video here).

“There was a bee on my flowers and then Larisa told me, so I tried to get the bee off and then the bee chased me, and then it got on Kyla,” she said. “I just don’t do bugs.”

Before Biles, the last woman to repeat as World all-around champion was Russian Svetlana Khorkina. Biles joined Shannon Miller as the only American women to win multiple Olympic or World all-around golds. Mary Lou RettonCarly PattersonNastia Liukin and Gabby Douglas all won one Olympic all-around title and zero World Championships.

Biles also ended this streak for U.S. women’s gymnasts: in the 10 previous years, 10 different women were the top American all-around finishers at the year’s biggest competition — Worlds or the Olympics.

That speaks to the high turnover in women’s gymnastics, leading the sport’s followers to ask if Biles could possibly sustain this level of excellence for another two years to the Rio Olympics.

In terms of the Olympics, keep this in mind: four members of the Fierce Five were competing in the junior division two years before the London Games. And the top U.S. woman at the year’s biggest all-around competition in 2002, 2006 and 2010 did not make the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Biles was asked if she aspires to be like Japan’s Kohei Uchimura, who won his fifth straight World all-around title Thursday.

“I don’t think so,” she said. “I think he’s crazy and I have no idea, but I don’t think so because he’s a legend.”

The World Gymnastics Championships continue with event finals Saturday and Sunday. Biles has chances at three more medals (full schedule here).

Kohei Uchimura, greatest ever after 5th World Championship?

Chicago Marathon canceled; one major marathon left in 2020

Chicago Marathon
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The Chicago Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 11, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the fourth World Marathon Major called off this year.

Organizers cited the challenge of staging the 45,000-runner event “out of concern for the safety of event participants, volunteers, event staff and spectators.”

Previously, major marathons were canceled in Berlin (originally scheduled for Sept. 27), Boston (April 20, then Sept. 14) and New York City (Nov. 1). The London Marathon, originally scheduled for April 26 and postponed to Oct. 4, remains scheduled.

The other World Marathon Major, Tokyo, took place on its scheduled date of March 1 but with elite runners only.

Last year, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei won Chicago by taking 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record. Kosgei clocked 2:14:04.

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results

Figure skating Grand Prix events in China remain scheduled

Grand Prix Final
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Figure skating Grand Prix events in China in November and December remain scheduled, the International Skating Union announced Monday, four days after reports about international sporting events in China being canceled through the end of 2020.

A notice about sports events, issued Thursday by the General Administration of Sport of China, made an exception for Beijing Winter Olympic test events and other preparations for the first Winter Games in China in February 2022.

The Grand Prix Final, the second-most prestigious annual figure skating competition, is still scheduled for December in Beijing because it is an Olympic test event.

Furthermore, the Cup of China, one of six events across the globe that determines Grand Prix Final qualifiers, remains scheduled for November in Chongqing because it is related to the Final.

“Like for all other five ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events in the different countries, this is of course subject to finding the necessary logistical, medical and safety solutions to hold the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events as planned,” according to the ISU.

The ISU previously announced it set a deadline to decide on possible event cancellations: 12 weeks before an event starts. For the first Grand Prix Series competition, Skate America in Las Vegas, the decision deadline is Aug. 1.

The ISU council will meet virtually on Aug. 3 to decide on further action for upcoming competitions.

MORE: Tai Babilonia, a Winter Olympic original, credits skating trailblazer

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