Martha Karolyi: ‘It will be very hard’ if McKayla Maroney wants to return for Olympics

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INDIANAPOLIS — McKayla Maroney has recently been “in and out of the gym” for health reasons, and if she hopes to make a second Olympic team in 2016, it will be very tough, U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said Wednesday.

Maroney hasn’t competed since the 2013 World Championships and is not competing at the P&G Championships that start here Thursday. The Olympic vault silver medalist’s health issues are documented here.

On Wednesday, Karolyi was asked if she had any updates on Maroney’s status and if Maroney was still training for the Rio Olympics.

“I don’t think so,” Karolyi said. “I just talked to [one of Maroney’s coaches] Galina [Marinova at the Secret Classic the week of July 25]. … She said [Maroney] still looks like [she] has some heart problems, so she was in and out of the gym. So I feel like it will be very hard at this moment if she is not included in a very regimented training because it mostly will be like it happened in the last cycle with some of the girls.”

In the last Olympic cycle, 2008 Olympians Nastia LiukinShawn JohnsonAlicia Sacramone and Chellsie Memmel tried to return after breaks of various lengths to make the 2012 Olympic team. None made it.

When asked to confirm Karolyi’s comment later Wednesday, an official from Maroney’s longtime California gym repeated that Maroney has been in and out of the gym due to injury.

Maroney was adamant in an August 2014 interview that she’s determined to make the 2016 Olympic team.

“For people who don’t think I’m, like, really serious about this, you’re wrong,” Maroney said in a USA Gymnastics interview while attending the 2014 Secret Classic. “I want this so bad. I’m not just messing around, chilling, acting. I’ll do that later.”

A recent history of U.S. gymnastics comebacks

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

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Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
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Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

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NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)