Aliya Mustafina, a former World all-around champion and challenger to Simone Biles, will miss next month’s World Gymnastics Championships primarily due to a back injury, according to Russian reports quoting Mustafina and the Russian team coach.
Mustafina, 20, won all-around medals at the 2010 World Championships (gold), 2012 Olympics (bronze) and 2013 World Championships (bronze) and was fourth in 2014 while dealing with health problems.
Mustafina has been a stalwart in the Russian program. With her, the Russian team took silver behind the U.S. at the 2012 Olympics and bronze at the 2014 World Championships.
Biles and the U.S. will have clearer paths to gold at Worlds in Glasgow next month not only because Mustafina is out but also because China’s Yao Jinnan has also been sidelined following a reported shoulder surgery.
Yao finished fifth in the all-around at the 2013 and 2014 Worlds, tops among Chinese, and led China to silver behind the U.S. in the team event in 2014.
Then there’s Russian Olympic all-around silver medalist Viktoria Komova, who missed the 2014 Worlds due to health problems and is attempting to come back this year. Komova, though, fell twice on an uneven bars routine at an event in Russia this week.
The biggest threats to Biles becoming the first woman to win three straight World all-around titles next month could be whichever countrywoman joins her in the all-around final (perhaps Olympic champion Gabby Douglas or Aly Raisman) and Romanian Larisa Iordache, who won silver behind Biles at the 2014 World Championships but has dealt with an ankle injury since.
The U.S. team for Worlds is expected to be announced in early October.
MORE GYMNASTICS: Simone Biles routs Douglas, Raisman for third straight U.S. title
*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Larisa Iordache as Russian.
World medalists Jade Carey and Riley McCusker headlined gymnastics action over the weekend as the World Cup circuit continued with an all-around competition in Birmingham, England, and an apparatus event in Doha, Qatar.
Carey won both the vault and floor events in Doha, pushing her to the top of the standings on both apparatus (she also won the vault and floor competitions the previous weekend at the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan).
Doha marked the halfway point of apparatus World Cups, putting Carey in a promising position to qualify for the Tokyo Games heading into the next four events. The apparatus World Cup series includes a total of eight competitions spread over two seasons, and one gymnast per apparatus will qualify for the Olympics based on his or her top three results across the eight events.
Carey, 18, was the 2017 world silver medalist on vault and floor. But she opted not to try for a spot on the 2018 World Championships team due to the International Gymnastics Federation’s rules that active team members who help their countries qualify team spots for Tokyo (as the U.S. women did in November) cannot earn individual spots. Carey, an apparatus specialist rather than an all-around gymnast, chose the World Cup route to keep open her options of qualifying individually.
McCusker, who was part of the U.S. team that won the world title last year, finished second at the all-around World Cup in Birmingham, posting the top scores on the uneven bars and floor. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist, won the event. Mustafina bounced back from a shaky showing last weekend at the World Cup in Stuttgart, where she finished fifth in an event won by Simone Biles. Mustafina, 24, is trying to qualify for her third Olympics after giving birth to daughter Alisa in June 2017.
The all-around World Cup circuit continues on April 7 in Tokyo, Japan, where two-time world all-around medalist Morgan Hurd and two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak are expected to compete.
MOSCOW — Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.
Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.
Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.
Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.
Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.