Wladimir Klitschko
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Wladimir Klitschko’s Olympic eligibility unclear

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In February, boxing’s international governing body (AIBA) said that world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko “is not eligible for any of the qualifying paths” for the Rio Olympics, but that is no longer AIBA’s stance.

Last week, AIBA’s communications department was asked if Klitschko is eligible for Rio given reports this month that he was in discussions with AIBA about competing in the 2016 Olympics.

“Whilst it is proof of appeal of AIBA boxing, we have no comment at this stage concerning particular boxer presence at Rio 2016,” AIBA’s communications department said in an email Wednesday. “The eligibility will be determined by December 4th 2015 and will be communicated accordingly by each National Olympic Committee.”

Klitschko and retired brother Vitaly Klitschko attended the AIBA World Championships in Doha last week and reportedly discussed with AIBA Wladimir potentially competing in the Rio Olympics. Since London 2012, AIBA has moved to start allowing some professional boxers the chance to compete in the Olympics.

A Klitschko representative said in an email Wednesday that Wladimir’s Rio 2016 status “depends on AIBA.”

The Dec. 4 date is the deadline for National Olympic Committees to confirm that they will fill Olympic boxing berths. However, Ukraine has not yet qualified a spot in Klitschko’s super heavyweight category.

Ukraine’s next chance to do so is at a European qualifier from April 20-May 1 in Istanbul.

Klitschko is next scheduled to fight Tyson Fury on Nov. 28. In 2014 and 2015, Klitschko has had two fights each year — one in April and one in November.

Klitschko has repeatedly said he would like to compete in the 2016 Olympics, 20 years after he won gold in his lone Olympic appearance, as an amateur, in Atlanta.

“If there is a chance, I would love to participate,” Klitschko said in February, calling it “a dream.” “Any other sport, they can play professionally [and play in the Olympics]. It’s a shame for boxing that professional boxers cannot perform in the Olympics.

“I hope things will be cleared up in the next half-year, and then we’ll go from there.”

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Simone Biles returns to the gym, going from mental drain to physical pain

Simone Biles
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For Simone Biles, this was supposed to be the stretch run of a legendary career.

Instead, she returned to her gym on May 18 with long-term thoughts of waiting 14 months until the Tokyo Olympics. And the immediate aches of a world-class gymnast who just missed nearly two months of regular training.

“After that amount of time off, it kind of sucks because your body hurts and then you get really sore,” Biles said in a pre-recorded ESPNW interview that aired Thursday. “So you just have to get back into the swing of things. But it felt nice to see my coaches, my teammates, and just to be back on the equipment and in the environment.”

In that same Texas gym three months ago, Biles had a far different outlook. One that would have put fear into any gymnast who still harbored ambition of ending her near-seven-year win streak.

“I never felt more ready this early in the season,” she said. “I was so ready for the Olympics to be this year.”

Biles repeated in interviews the last two months that the Olympic postponement to 2021 was devastating. Thoughts zig-zagged: How do I go on another year, at age 23, in a sport recently dominated by (but not limited to) teenagers?

“I’m getting pretty old,” she said in the interview published Thursday. “Will I be at the top of my game?”

Biles proved the last two years — after a year off — that she can win — and comfortably — while not at her best. She grabbed the 2018 World all-around title by a record margin — with two falls. Last year, she became the most decorated gymnast in world championships history. In Tokyo, she can become the first woman to repeat as Olympic all-around champion, and the only one older than 20, in more than 50 years.

This for a gymnast whose early goal was to earn a college scholarship. Biles did, to UCLA, but had to give it up by turning professional.

“So I’ve exceeded that,” Biles said. “And then I wanted to go to world championships and Olympics, and I’ve been to five worlds and one Olympic Games. So, I’d be more than happy [to walk away].”

After gymnastics, Biles has another goal — to be a voice for foster kids. She was in foster care multiple times before being adopted at age 6 by grandparents Ron and Nellie.

Those plans, along with so much else for Biles and so many others, have been pushed back a full year.

“I was already being mentally drained and almost, not done with the sport, but just going into the gym and feeling tired and being like, OK, I’m going to get my stuff [done], get out,” she said. “We have this one end goal, and now that it’s postponed another [year], it’s just like, how are we going to deal with that? We’re already being drained, and so it’s to keep the fire in the sport within yourself alive.”

MORE: Top U.S. gymnasts disagree with Tokyo Olympic age rule

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2022 Pan Pacific Championships canceled as swimming calendar shifts

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The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, a quadrennial major international meet, will not be held in 2022 “out of respect for the recent changes to the international sporting calendar,” according to a press release.

The Pan Pacs’ charter nations — the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan — agreed to the move. The 2026 event will be held in Canada, which was supposed to be the 2022 host.

The decision came after the 2021 World Championships were moved to May 2022, following the Tokyo Olympics moving from 2020 to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The quadrennial multi-sport Commonwealth Games — which includes Australia and Canada, but not the U.S. or Japan — are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 7, 2022.

“Organizing a third major championships in that window presented several challenges,” according to the Pan Pacs release.

Pan Pacs mark the third-biggest major international meet for U.S. swimmers, held in non-Olympic, non-world championships years.

MORE: Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming.

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