Lolo Jones, Anthony Davis - Lifestyle

Lolo Jones inspired by Gail Devers, ‘absolutely’ not done with bobsled

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When Lolo Jones failed to win an Olympic 100m hurdles medal in 2008 and 2012, the greatest woman never to make an Olympic podium in the event called her each time.

“It’s not like she’s my best friend and hitting me up on a daily basis,” Jones said, “but she’s there when it counts.”

The voice on the other end was that of Gail Devers, who made five straight U.S. Olympic teams from 1988 through 2004 and captured three gold medals — all for running 100 meters without hurdles.

Like Jones, Devers stumbled by hitting a late hurdle with her right lead foot while ahead in an Olympic final, and then four years later finished fourth in the same race.

Jones knocked over the ninth of 10th hurdles in Beijing in 2008. Devers the 10th in Barcelona in 1992.

After the 2012 Olympics, Devers noted to Jones that she was 37 years old when she won her last medal, presumably referring to her World Indoor title in the 60m (again, no hurdles) in 2004.

Jones will turn 34 on the day of the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony. If Jones qualifies for the 2016 Olympics — a big if considering the U.S. hurdles depth — she’s in line to become the oldest U.S. Olympian in the event since Devers in 2004.

In fact, Devers is the only American to race the Olympic 100m hurdles at an age older than Jones will be in 2016, according to sports-reference.com. The event debuted at the Games in 1972.

“It can be done,” Jones said while at a Red Bull event with New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis in Midtown Manhattan last week. “I know the odds get a little more stacked against you.”

Jones proved last year she’s not to be overlooked. She dropped more than 20 bobsled pounds after the Sochi Olympics and ended the season as the fourth-fastest U.S. hurdler.

She said she would have returned to bobsledding for the 2014-15 season if not for tearing her labrum in her right shoulder in the U.S. Championships semifinals in June.

She didn’t know the injury was that severe at the time, not until her shoulder still hurt during “Dancing with the Stars” training in September, she got it checked out, diagnosed and underwent November surgery.

Jones isn’t racing indoors this winter, but she is focused on track for at least the next 18 months. She’s also “absolutely” not done with bobsled.

“It helped refresh me,” Jones said. “I miss it.”

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Simone Biles routing field, edging note card at U.S. Gymnastics Championships

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BOSTON — Simone Biles leads the field by a whopping 3.1 points halfway through the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. She beat the number at the bottom of the note card in her locker at the World Champions Centre in Texas by a much smaller margin.

No matter the perspective, Biles was more dominant on Friday night than during most of the Rio Olympic cycle. In just her second meet in two years. Nine months after returning to training after a 14-month break.

Biles tallied the highest score on every apparatus in the field and the world’s highest all-around score since Rio — 60.1 points. The second-highest score since Rio? Biles’ 58.7 from her comeback meet at the U.S. Classic three weeks ago.

“At Classics, I was still easing back into everything and kind of feeling the surroundings and getting used to competing again,” Biles, 21, said on the fifth anniversary of her first U.S. all-around title. “I feel like today I really embraced it.”

NATIONALS: Scores | TV/Stream Schedule

In the last Olympic cycle, Biles averaged a 1.94-point lead after the first day of nationals.

She rolls into the final day of competition Sunday, looking to become the first woman to win five U.S. all-around titles and the first non-teen to win since 1971. And send another message ahead of October’s world championships.

Morgan Hurd, who won the 2017 World all-around title in Biles’ absence, is in a distant second after four clean routines. The margin between Biles and Hurd is greater than the margin between Hurd and the eighth-place gymnast.

Asked to put her 60-pointer in perspective, Biles brought up the note card.

“I think it says 60 at the bottom,” said Biles, who hit 62.366 in Rio under a different scoring system.

Biles hit 60 points in a practice meet at her gym right before she left for the U.S. Classic. Her new coaches, Cecile and Laurent Landi, encouraged Biles to keep the visual reminder placed in her locker leading up to nationals.

“I wanted to show her that she could reach that score,” Laurent Landi said. “It’s not a big deal. If she does normal, she can be there.”

But nobody else can. Biles had 25.4 total points in difficulty on Friday. The next-highest gymnast (Hurd) had 22.7.

Biles essentially began the meet with a 2.7-point head start. She then was judged to have better overall execution than everybody else, even though she had the disadvantage of performing harder routines.

“She’s just mentally there,” said Riley McCusker, who led Biles going into the last rotation at the U.S. Classic and is in third place here. “She can take that time off and [be] physically there, too.”

BILES ROUTINES: Balance Beam | Floor Exercise | Uneven Bars | Vault 1 | Vault 2

Biles’ flaw in her comeback meet three weeks ago was the uneven bars. She fell trying a more difficult routine than in Rio.

On Friday, Biles nailed her bars set, receiving applause from Laurent Landi, who coached Madison Kocian to a bars silver in Rio.

Biles has never won a national title on bars. At the Olympics, she had the highest scores in the all-around on beam, floor and vault and the seventh-highest score on bars.

“She needs to go through more mental belief that she [belongs] at this level on the bars,” said Laurent Landi, a 40-year-old former French gymnast.

Landi insisted Biles was not at her best Friday. He noted her two overcooked tumbling passes on floor that cost her six tenths for going out of bounds. Imperfect landings on other events. He dismissed Biles’ lead and said he already has plans for upgraded routines before worlds, next year and possibly in the Olympic year.

“Sometimes when it’s difficult in the gym, we, my wife and I, try just to remind her who she’s trying to beat,” he said. “It’s herself.”

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GYM NATIONALS: TV/Stream Schedule | Where Are The Final Five?

Laurie Hernandez faces big decisions before comeback

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BOSTON — Laurie Hernandez still hopes to compete in 2019, but she must find a coach and a gym first. And transition from conditioning to regular gymnastics training.

“Kind of dipping my toe in the water,” she said Friday at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, where she is strictly a spectator.

Hernandez hasn’t competed since earning team gold and balance beam silver in Rio. Other than Simone Biles, she is the only member of the Final Five openly expressing a desire to return to elite competition next year.

“Because I’m still passionate about it,” she said. “Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always loved it, and I still do. It’s still really important to me.”

Hernandez said she has been on gymnastics equipment every so often but not consistently. She has said hello to new U.S. high-performance team coordinator Tom Forster.

She hopes to pick Aly Raisman‘s brain about coming back. Raisman took almost a year off after the 2012 London Games, then trained for a full year before returning to competition in March 2015.

Unlike Raisman, Hernandez said there is no unfinished business from the Olympics that motivates her.

“I know what I’m getting myself into,” Hernandez said. “It’s kind of like curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back. Being 16, being so curious, not really knowing what I’m walking into, that was such an interesting experience [in Rio].”

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