John Orozco looks to 2016 after tearing Achilles

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NEW YORK — John Orozco smiled often during his TODAY show appearance Wednesday to celebrate the one-year countdown to the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The 2012 Olympic gymnast laughed as he participated in a “Culinary Olympics” with fellow Olympians retired swimmer Janet Evans and soccer player Christie Rampone.

Orozco hardly looked like a man who on June 18 posted on social media, “my family life, my career, and my spirit seem to be falling apart and crumbling into pieces.”

“There is nothing life can throw at me that will keep me down,” Orozco said Wednesday at Rockefeller Plaza. “I have been through so much already.”

Orozco’s recent adversity started in February, when his mother, Damaris, died. Growing up, Damaris regularly drove her son more than an hour to gymnastics practice, despite battling lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Orozco still does not feel comfortable discussing his mother’s death publicly, other than to say, “with the support of my family, we can get through anything.”

After his mother’s death, Orozco focused his remaining energy on training for the summer’s Pan American Games. But he soon encountered even more challenges.

While performing a double twisting back on a floor exercise pass on a Monday in June, Orozco felt a sudden pain in his right leg. He matter-of-factly told his coach that he tore an Achilles tendon. His coach was skeptical, assuming that somebody who had suffered such a traumatic injury would be screaming in pain. But Orozco turned out to be right.

“I have never been the type to really freak out when I get injured,” Orozco said. “I do that on my own afterwards.”

He did not shed his first tear until after undergoing surgery later that week. Orozco, who refers to himself as a “veteran at being injured,” also suffered a torn Achilles in August 2010. He recovered in time to compete at the Japan Cup less than 11 months later. He then suffered a torn left ACL in October 2012 and returned to win a bronze medal on parallel bars at the 2013 World Championships.

His most recent Achilles injury will prevent Orozco from going to the World Championships in October, but he never considered quitting the sport.

“Absolutely not,” Orozco said. “I have had this injury before, so I know I can come back from it. I know what to do this time around.”

He is targeting a return in 2016 and will focus on events that require upper-body strength, such as the pommel horse, rather than leg-intensive events.

“The good thing about it is my key events for the Olympic and World teams for the U.S. are not floor involved,” Orozco said. “I can start training for those already before I even start running.”

Refusing to let his injury slow him down, the 22-year-old even performed a handstand on the TODAY set while wearing a protective boot over his right foot.

“I realize that I am getting a little older in gymnastics,” Orozco said. “I now know I need to be smarter and treat my body right.”

In the same June 18 social media post, Orozco wrote that he kept asking himself, “why is this happening right now? Where’s the lesson in this?”

He found a lesson in the recent weeks of reflection.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Orozco said. “This is just another battle to win.”

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U.S. women win record 27th consecutive FIBA World Cup game

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SYDNEY — There’s been a long legacy of success for the U.S. women’s basketball team at the World Cup.

The names change over time, but the results don’t seem to.

Kelsey Plum scored 20 points, Chelsea Gray added 16 and the United States routed Bosnia and Herzegovina 121-59 on Tuesday to break the team record for consecutive wins at the World Cup.

The victory was the 27th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals against Russia. The U.S. won 26 in a row from 1994-2006 leading up to that game. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-86.

“It’s kind of amazing,” said Breanna Stewart, who has been part of the last three World Cup teams. “Obviously, been here for some of it, but you understand the legends before that who really kind of started the streak. It goes to show that no matter who is playing on USA Basketball, we’re always trying to chase excellence.

“This streak doesn’t mean much right now because we’re going into the quarterfinals and focusing on winning a gold medal, but it’s something to kind of hang your hat on later.”

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Stewart and A’ja Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t appear it will end anytime soon.

“The players change and, you know, there was a lot of concern about who’s next,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It was a concern when Dawn Staley and Lisa Leslie were playing and who was going to be next. Then it was Sue and (Taurasi) and then other great players, too. Now with this group they are saying, hey, we’re pretty good, too.”

MORE: FIBA World Cup Schedule, Results

The U.S. last lost a group play game in 1975, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.

“We know the responsibility when you put on this jersey. There’s a lot more than yourself,” Plum said. “Everyone puts pride to the side. We have a common goal. We have some amazing players on this team.”

The Americans (5-0) won their pool games by an average of 46.2 points and never trailed in any of them. Now they play Serbia in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. was coming off a record rout of South Korea in which the team broke the World Cup record for points with 145. While the Americans didn’t match that number, they put the game out of reach in the first 10 minutes, going up 33-15.

The lead ballooned to 63-31 at halftime. Bosnia and Herzegovina put together a small run to start the third quarter, but the U.S. scored the final 19 points of the period.

Once again they used a dominant inside performance, outscoring Bosnia and Herzegovina 84-28 in the paint led by Wilson, Stewart and Brionna Jones.

“It’s a huge part of our identity,” Reeve said. “Ninety-whatever we had yesterday and 84 today, we just know what we’re good at and we have players that are really understanding their opportunities for that.”

The U.S. was missing Jewell Loyd, whom the team said was resting. Kahleah Copper started in her place and finished with 11 points.

Nikolina Elez scored 19 points to lead the Bosniaks (0-5), who were playing in their first World Cup.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA vs. Serbia
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada vs. Puerto Rico
4 a.m. China vs. France
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Belgium
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final