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

Canadian ice dancers overcome hair-raising wardrobe malfunction

Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier
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Ice dancer Piper Gilles‘ hair got caught in partner Paul Poirier‘s costume during the Canadian Championships rhythm dance, but the couple still posted the top score in Mississauga, Ontario, on Friday.

As they spun together, Gilles’ hair appeared to catch on one of Poirier’s shirt buttons. It stayed that way for about five seconds as the couple nearly came to a stop before Poirier untangled it. What was Gilles thinking?

“Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap,” she said later. “It’s probably more swear words to that, but crap at that moment.

“It was like one of those pure panic moments, like, what do I do? Do we stop? Do we keep going? Paul’s like, just keep moving.”

Gilles and Poirier scored 88.86 points, taking an 11.6-point lead into the free dance.

The couple eyes their first national title after finishing second or third seven times in the last eight years behind Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

Gilles and Poirier rank fifth in the world this season.

The panicky moment Friday was reminiscent of the PyeongChang Olympics, where French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis‘ dress strap broke, exposing her breast. Papadakis and partner Guillaume Cizeron took silver and have been undefeated since.

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Allison Schmitt opens 2020 in fast form, bidding to join U.S. Olympic legends

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Allison Schmitt, after failing to qualify for world championships teams, revealing a battle with depression and taking nearly two years off competition post-Rio, has a chance to swim at her fourth Olympics this summer. And to do it in an individual event for the first time since 2012.

Schmitt won the 200m freestyle in 1:56.01 at the Tyr Pro Swim Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Friday night.

The time would have ranked second among Americans in 2019 behind Katie Ledecky. Ledecky is not swimming in Knoxville, but the 2012 Olympic champion and American record holder Schmitt beat Simone Manuel by 1.24 seconds.

“Wish I could say I was tapered, would make it feel a lot easier,” Schmitt said on NBCSN. “Getting better every time I jump in the water and swim in finals.”

Schmitt’s time marked her fastest outside of a major summer meet since the 2012 London Games. She’s bidding to become the third U.S. woman in her 30s to swim an individual event at an Olympics, joining 12-time medalists Dara Torres (who swam in her 40s) and Jenny Thompson.

Full Knoxville results are here. Broadcast coverage of the meet continues Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Swimmers are preparing for June’s Olympic trials, where the top two per individual event qualify for the Tokyo Games, plus extra 100m and 200m free swimmers for relays.

In other events Friday, 18-year-old Carson Foster took the men’s 200m free in 1:47.74, beating the U.S.’ top 400m freestyler, Zane Grothe, by 1.33 seconds.

Foster, younger than any U.S. Olympic male swimmer since a group including Michael Phelps in 2000, is better known for his individual medleys. But the 200m free offers up to six Olympic spots when including the 4x200m free relay.

“Any event where there’s more spots on the line this summer is an event I want to train for,” said Foster, who ranked outside the top 10 in the U.S. in the 200m free in 2019 and beat a field Friday that included none of the six fastest.

Annie Lazor won the 100m breaststroke in 1:06.68, a time congruent with her No. 2 ranking in the U.S. last year behind Olympic champion and world-record holder Lilly King. King, who trains with Lazor, is not competing in Knoxville.

In the 100m butterfly, 29-year-old Amanda Kendall upset top-ranked American Kelsi Dahlia in 57.65 seconds. Regan Smith, the fastest backstroker in history, was second in a personal-best 57.86, followed by Dahlia.

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