Analyzing the U.S. gymnastics men’s World Championships team

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INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. men’s team for the World Gymnastics Championships includes two Olympians, and five of six members have World Championships experience.

Sam Mikulak, who captured his third straight U.S. all-around title Sunday, leads the team. He’s joined by Donnell WhittenburgAlex NaddourDanell LeyvaPaul Ruggeri III and Brandon Wynn. The alternates are Chris Brooks and Marvin Kimble.

The World Championships are the last week of October in Glasgow, Scotland.

The U.S. took bronze medals at the last two World Championships with team competitions in 2011 and 2014. It has never earned team medals at three straight World Championships.

China has won every Olympic/Worlds gold medal since 2007. Japan has won every Olympic/Worlds silver medal since 2007. The U.S. could contend with host Great Britain for at least a bronze in Glasgow, should the Americans clean up mistakes from an error-filled Sunday at the P&G Championships.

Japan’s Kohei Uchimura has dominated the individual all-around competition, winning every Olympic and World title since 2009. Mikulak was a medal threat in 2013 before a mistake on his last routine on high bar dropped him to sixth. He was 12th behind Uchimura in 2014.

The last American man to earn a Worlds all-around medal was Jonathan Horton, who captured bronze in 2010. Horton, 29, competed at the P&G Championships in Indianapolis, but he placed ninth in the all-around and did not make the Worlds team.

Neither did Olympian Jacob Dalton, a four-time Worlds veteran who withdrew before the P&G Championships with a small shoulder labrum tear but hoped for a spot on the Worlds team.

Here’s a look at the men who did make the Worlds team with each gymnast’s credentials:

Sam Mikulak: 2012 Olympian, 2013/2014 Worlds veteran. Mikulak is the three-time reigning U.S. all-around champion, but his résumé is missing an individual Olympic or Worlds medal. He finished fourth in the 2013 Worlds high bar final, fifth in the 2012 Olympic vault final and sixth in the 2013 Worlds all-around.

Donnell Whittenburg: 2014 Worlds veteran. Whittenburg qualified fourth into the Worlds all-around final in his debut last year but struggled under the bright lights of the final and finished 17th. He was seventh in the parallel bars final and is also strong on floor exercise, still rings and vault.

Danell Leyva: 2012 Olympian, 2009/2010/2011/2014 Worlds veteran. The Olympic all-around bronze medalist is a two-time Worlds medalist on parallel bars. He was also used on pommel horse and high bar in the 2012 Olympic and 2014 Worlds team finals.

Alex Naddour: 2011/2013/2014 Worlds veteran. Naddour has finished first or second on pommel horse at the U.S. Championships each of the last five years. He could also be used on still rings, as he was at the 2014 Worlds.

Brandon Wynn: 2010/2013 Worlds veteran. Wynn took bronze on still rings and seventh on parallel bars in his last Worlds appearance. He was second on rings at the P&G Championships and no better than ninth in the other five events.

Paul Ruggeri III: Ruggeri was an alternate for the 2010, 2013 and 2014 Worlds teams. He is the lone Worlds rookie this year. Ruggeri was second on high bar and vault and fifth on floor exercise at the P&G Championships.

Larry Bird, Kim Zmeskal remember Olympic bus meeting

J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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