Simone Biles

Simone Biles, U.S. close World Gymnastics Championships with most medals (video)

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Simone Biles won two more gold medals to wrap the most successful Olympics or World Championships by an American woman ever Sunday. Biles also led the U.S. to top the overall medal standings in Nanning, China.

Biles, 17, won the vault and floor exercise finals Sunday. She finished her second Worlds with four gold medals and one silver medal. Biles is the first U.S. woman to win five medals or four gold medals at a single Worlds.

She now has nine career Worlds medals in two appearances, one behind the U.S. record of 10 by Alicia Sacramone, who competed in five World Championships. Biles should be expected to break Sacramone’s record at the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

Also Sunday, Americans Danell Leyva and Jacob Dalton added parallel bars silver and vault bronze medals, respectively.

The U.S. totaled 10 medals in Nanning and won the overall Worlds medal count for a second straight year. It bagged 12 medals in 2013. Its high before that was nine at the 2005 World Championships, where all of the medals were won by the women.

China led the medal count at every Worlds and Olympics (artistic gymnastics only) from 2006 through 2012.

In her first event Sunday, Biles won a balance beam final littered with falls and major errors with a contrastingly clean 15.1 routine. Biles upgraded her beam bronze medal from 2013. China’s Bai Yaiwen took silver this year with 15.033, followed by Russian Aliya Mustafina. U.S. Olympic team champion Kyla Ross was sixth.

Mustafina, whose routine lacked a required element that cost her a half-point, earned 14.166, the lowest score to win an Olympics or World Championships medal since the new code of points was implemented in 2006.

Biles came back to win floor exercise about 90 minutes later, repeating as World champion on the event. Romania’s Larisa Iordache took silver behind Biles, just as she did in the all-around Friday. Mustafina earned bronze, relegating American MyKayla Skinner to fourth.

Epke Zonderland earned a standing ovation with a high-flying high bar routine to repeat as World champion after winning 2012 Olympic gold as well. Japan’s Kohei Uchimura won silver, his third medal of the meet and 16th career Worlds medal.

Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev prevailed on parallel bars, ahead of Leyva, who won the World title on the event in 2011. Another American, Donnell Whittenburg, was seventh.

North Korea’s Ri Se Gwang won the men’s vault, dethroning reigning Olympic and World champion Yang Hak Seon of South Korea.

Dalton captured bronze, adding to his team bronze from Tuesday. Dalton also won team bronze at the 2011 World Championships and floor exercise silver in 2013.

Balance Beam
Gold: Simone Biles (USA) — 15.1 — 2013 World bronze medalist
Silver: Bai Yawen (CHN) — 15.033
Bronze: Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 14.166 — 2013 World champion
4. Asuke Teramoto (JPN) — 14.1
5. Larisa Iordache (ROU) — 14.066
6. Kyla Ross (USA) — 13.866
7. Ellie Black (CAN) — 13.7
8. Yao Jinnan (CHN) — 13.366 — 2011 World silver medalist

Women’s Floor Exercise
Gold: Simone Biles (USA) — 15.333 — 2013 World champion
Silver: Larisa Iordache (ROU) — 14.8 — 2013 World bronze medalist
Bronze: Aliya Mustafina (RUS) — 14.733 — 2012 Olympic bronze medalist; 2010 World silver medalist
4. MyKayla Skinner (USA) — 14.7
5. Vanessa Ferrari (ITA) — 14.666 — 2013 World silver medalist; 2006 World bronze medalist
6. Larrissa Miller (AUS) — 14.233
7. Erika Fasana (ITA) — 13.9
8. Claudia Fragapane (GBR) — 13.1

Parallel Bars
Gold: Oleg Verniaiev (UKR) — 16.125
Silver: Danell Leyva (USA) — 15.933 — 2011 World champion
Bronze: Ryohei Kato (JPN) — 15.666
4. Deng Shudi (CHN) — 15.633
5. Yusuke Tanaka (JPN) — 15.041
6. Cheng Ran (CHN) — 14.866
7. Donnell Whittenburg (USA) — 14.366
8. Nikolai Kuksenkov (RUS) — 13.666

Men’s Vault
Gold: Ri Se Gwang (PRK) — 15.416 — 2007 World bronze medalist
Silver: Igor Radivilov (UKR) — 15.333
Bronze: Jacob Dalton (USA) — 15.199
4. Kenzo Shirai (JPN) — 15.062
5. Sergio Sasaki Junior (BRA) — 15.016
6. Shek Wai Hung (HKG) — 14.999
7. Yang Hak Seon (KOR) — 14.416 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2011, 2013 World champion
8. Denis Abliazin (RUS) — 14.116 — 2012 Olympic silver medalist

High Bar
Gold: Epke Zonderland (NED) — 16.225 — 2012 Olympic champion; 2013 World champion; 2009, 2010 World silver medalist
Silver: Kohei Uchimura (JPN) — 15.725 — 2011, 2013 World bronze medalist
Bronze: Marijo Moznik (CRO) — 15
4. Nile Wilson (GBR) — 14.766
5. David Belyavskiy (RUS) — 14.733
6. Nikolai Kuksenkov (RUS) — 14.533
7. Zhang Chenglong (CHN) — 14.366 — 2010 World champion; 2011 World silver medalist
8. Jossimar Calvo Moreno (COL) — 13.3

Rafael Nadal wins Australian Open first round; Maria Sharapova exits

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal says he’s thinking about his next opponent … and his next practice session … and trying to recreate the superb tennis he played in his straight-set victory in the Australian Open’s first round.

What he insists is not on his mind is the number 20 — as in Roger Federer’s record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, which Nadal would equal by claiming the trophy at Melbourne Park.

“I don’t care about 20 or 15 or 16. I just care about (trying) to keep going, keep enjoying my tennis career. It’s not like 20 is the number that I need to reach. If I reach 20, fantastic,” Nadal said Tuesday, raising his hands in the air. “If I reach 21, better. If I (stay at) 19? Super happy about all the things that I did in my tennis career, no?”

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He must have been pleased with the way his 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 win over Hugo Dellien went.

That was built with a 38-15 edge in winners and breaks in eight of Dellien’s 11 service games.

Nadal, at age 33 the oldest No. 1 in ATP history, owns 19 major championships, but only one came in Australia, 11 years ago.

Twelve, of course, were collected at the French Open, four at the U.S. Open and two at Wimbledon.

“I won the U.S. Open a few months ago, and I was super happy in that moment. But today I’m happier than if I didn’t win the U.S. Open? Probably not,” Nadal said with a hearty laugh. “The only thing I can do is put all my efforts on (trying) to keep going the best way possible. The rest of the things, the future will see.”

Wednesday’s second-round slate includes Serena WilliamsCoco GauffAsh BartyRoger Federer and Novak Djokovic in action.

In other Tuesday matches, former No. 1-ranked Maria Sharapova’s run of first-round exits at the majors continued with a 6-3, 6-4 loss to 19th-seeded Donna Vekic.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam title winner, was given a wild card for the main draw at Melbourne Park after her year-end ranking slipped to 136 in 2019 after a season interrupted by injuries. Her ranking falls outside the top 300 now.

The 2008 Australian Open winner reached the fourth round here last year, missed the French Open and then lost in the first rounds at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

A few young Americans were also eliminated Tuesday.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, seeded fourth after his U.S. Open runner-up, took out 2019 Australian Open quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Fast-rising teenager Amanda Anisimova played her first Grand Slam match since her father, who also coached her, died last year. His sudden passing came just before the U.S. Open, so she withdrew from that tournament.

Anisimova reached the semifinals of the French Open in 2019 at age 17, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to get that far at a major. She was ranked 51st at the time and unseeded.

Now 18, she was seeded 21st at Melbourne Park, but was beaten 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 by Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

Credit Fabio Fognini with a career Grand Slam of comebacks: His 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (5) rain-interrupted victory across two days against Reilly Opelka of the U.S. gave the 12th-seeded Italian a total of eight wins in matches after dropping the opening two sets.

And now that he’s done it at the Australian Open, Fognini has a full collection, with at least one such reversal at each of the four major tournaments. According to the International Tennis Federation, only 11 other men have done it at each Slam, a group that includes Federer, Rod Laver and Boris Becker, but not Nadal or Novak Djokovic.

The most famous example of an 0-2 comeback by Fognini came against Nadal at the 2015 U.S. Open. Fognini said he doesn’t recall all of his turnaround victories, but he sure does remember that one.

So does Opelka, who rued the fact that play was halted against Fognini because of showers Monday after the initial game of the third set.

Opelka said that Nadal match wasn’t really on his mind, but “if anything, it was just more to have me prep to expect (Fognini) to want to win and believe in himself that he can win. Clearly, he did.”

Felix Auger-Aliassime is considered a future star of men’s tennis, a 19-year-old from Canada who was seeded 20th at the Australian Open — and is already out after a first-round loss against Ernests Gulbis, who once was a young up-and-comer himself.

Back when he was in his 20s, Gulbis reached the French Open semifinals and earned a spot in the top 10 of the ATP rankings. A series of injuries waylaid his career, including a back problem in 2019; he entered Tuesday ranked only 256th and needed to go through qualifying just to get into the main draw.

Made the most of it, though, beating Auger-Aliassime 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4.

“We saw the good Gulbis today,” Auger-Aliassime said.

The 31-year-old Gulbis, who is from Latvia, described himself as “emotional when I was walking back to the locker room, because it’s not easy. Its not easy to come back. It’s not easy to play Challengers. But these moments are really worth it.”

MORE: Top U.S. male tennis player to skip Tokyo Olympics

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40 years ago today: Jimmy Carter lays plan for Olympic boycott

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On Jan. 20, 1980, U.S. President Jimmy Carter said he would not support sending a U.S. team to the Moscow Olympics later that summer if the Soviet Union did not withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Carter detailed his stance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” airing that Sunday. A transcript:

Bill Monroe: Assuming the Soviets do not pull out of Afghanistan any time soon, do you favor the U.S. participating in the Moscow Olympics, and if not, what are the alternatives?

Carter: No. Neither I nor the American people would support the sending of an American team to Moscow with Soviet invasion troops in Afghanistan. I’ve sent a message today to the United States Olympic Committee spelling out my own position that unless the Soviets withdraw their troops within a month from Afghanistan that the Olympic Games be moved from Moscow to alternate site or multiple sites or postponed or canceled. If the Soviets do not withdraw their troops immediately from Afghanistan — within a month — I would not support the sending of an American team to the Olympics. It’s very important for the world to realize how serious a threat the Soviets’ invasion of Afghanistan is. I do not want to inject politics into the Olympics, and I would personally favor the establishment of a permanent Olympic site for both the Summer and the Winter Games. In my opinion, the most appropriate permanent site for the Summer Games would be Greece. This will be my own position, and I have asked the U.S. Olympic Committee to take this position to the International Olympic Committee, and I would hope that as many nations as possible would support this basic position. One hundred and four nations voted against the Soviet invasion and called for their immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan in the United Nations, and I would hope as many of those as possible would support the position I’ve just outlined to you.

Monroe: Mr. President, if a substantial number of nations does not support the U.S. position, would not that just put the U.S. in an isolated position without doing much damage to the Soviet Union?

Carter: Regardless of what other nations might do, I would not favor the sending of an American Olympic team to Moscow while the Soviet invasion troops are in Afghanistan.

Three days later, Carter said in his State of the Union address, “I have notified the Olympic Committee that with Soviet invading forces in Afghanistan, neither the American people nor I will support sending an Olympic team to Moscow.”

The Soviets did not withdraw troops.

Though Carter did not have the authority to order a boycott, the U.S. Olympic Committee did decide on April 12 not to send a team.

The U.S. was among more than 60 nations that were invited to the Moscow Games and did not participate (for various reasons). Other notable absences included Canada, West Germany, Japan and China.

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