U.S. women’s gymnastics team faces familiar dilemma at World Championships

Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman
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Three U.S. women are vying for two spots in the World Gymnastics Championships all-around final in Glasgow, Scotland, which brings to mind a tearful episode from the London Olympics.

Rules dictate a maximum of two women per nation can compete in the all-around final at a Worlds or Olympics, so one of these three women will not be in the all-around final at Worlds in Glasgow on Thursday:

World champion Simone Biles
Olympic champion Gabby Douglas
Olympic fourth-place finisher Aly Raisman

The two highest scorers out of Biles, Douglas and Raisman in Saturday’s qualifying will advance to the all-around final.

Biles has won nine straight all-around competitions dating to 2013 and is favored to become the first woman to win three straight World all-around titles.

In three all-around competitions this year, Raisman holds a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Douglas after both gymnasts took 2013 and 2014 off.

Another American, Maggie Nichols, beat Douglas and Raisman in the P&G Championships all-around in August but is not on the qualifying start list for the U.S. on uneven bars. If that holds, she won’t be eligible for the Worlds all-around final.

At the London Olympics, three U.S. women competed on every apparatus in qualifying — Douglas, Raisman and 2011 World all-around champion Jordyn Wieber. Wieber placed fourth overall in all-around qualifying in 2012, competing while injured and missing the all-around final because she was the No. 3 American in qualifying.

This will mark the fifth straight World Championships where the U.S. has had more than two women do the all-around in qualifying, so it’s an expected problem.

In 2011, Douglas was the third-ranked American in all-around qualifying — behind Wieber and Raisman — and missed the all-around final.

In 2013, McKayla Maroney was the third-ranked American in all-around qualifying — behind Biles and Kyla Ross — and missed the all-around final.

In 2014, MyKayla Skinner was the third-ranked American in all-around qualifying — behind Biles and Ross — and missed the all-around final.

This year’s U.S. team is so deep that Skinner, who finished in the top four in two events at the 2014 World Championships, was designated an alternate at this year’s Worlds and is not expected to compete in Glasgow.

Biles, Douglas, Raisman, Nichols, Brenna Dowell and Madison Kocian are slated to compete for the U.S. in qualifying on Saturday and the team final Tuesday. The U.S. seeks a third straight World team title and is a heavy favorite given it dominated in 2014, prevailing by 6.693 points without Douglas, Raisman and Nichols.

The U.S. women who qualify for the all-around final will be medal favorites, likely along with Romania’s Larisa Iordache. Iordache took silver behind Biles last year but did not perform well in qualifying Friday.

MORE GYMNASTICS: World Championships broadcast schedule

Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and reportedly said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together.”

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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