Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas set to vie for World all-around title

Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles
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When Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas take to the floor in Glasgow on Thursday, it will mark the first time since 1980 that a reigning World all-around champion will face a reigning Olympic all-around champion in major women’s international competition.

Biles, the 4-foot-8 dynamo from Spring, Texas, is an overwhelming favorite to become the first woman to win three straight World all-around titles.

She qualified into the final over second-place Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland by 3.958 points, which was greater than the margin separating Steingruber from 41st place in qualifying.

Douglas, a few inches taller and one year older at 19, qualified third and is a medal favorite after taking two years off following her London 2012 triumph.

At Rio 2016, she could become the first Olympic all-around champion to compete in the following Games since Nadia Comaneci in 1980.

Douglas outlasted Fierce Five teammate Aly Raisman in qualifying Saturday to join Biles in this final (2:45 p.m. ET,

In June 2014, when Douglas returned to the U.S. gymnastics program following a nearly two-year break, she received an up-close look at her successor. Biles was her roommate at her first national team camp since the London Olympics.

In the five-day camp, they stayed up late and laughed so loudly over things like pizza that the other gymnasts banged on the walls.

“Be quiet guys,” they yelled. “We’re trying to sleep.”

Biles has likened Douglas to an older sister. When they were roommates, Biles said she asked Douglas for advice on choosing her college. Biles announced she picked UCLA over Alabama two months later. Douglas had spent time after London 2012 living in Los Angeles.

“I don’t think we’re competing against each other,” Biles said in 2014.

The top gymnasts traditionally start on vault in an all-around final, and Biles will gain a huge lead on the field if routines from qualifying or Tuesday’s team final are repeated.

Biles’ vault includes a half-twist more than Douglas’, which translates to a half-point more in start value. Biles outscored Douglas by seven tenths of a point on Saturday and Tuesday. At London 2012, Douglas performed the tougher vault that Biles can stick cold, but Douglas said she’s not ready to go for the extra half-twist at this point in her comeback.

“We’re cleaning up more details and more routines,” Douglas said after the U.S. comfortably won the team final Tuesday.

Biles, who hasn’t lost an all-around since 2013, was at least 1.9 points better than Douglas in their three competitions so far this year.

Asked of her goals for the all-around final, Douglas did not mention winning or a specific medal.

“I just need to be really confident and go out there and trust myself and have fun,” said Douglas, who borrowed gold nail polish from Biles before this meet, according to The Associated Press. “Competing on a big Worlds stage, you have to enjoy it.”

NBC Olympics researcher Amanda Doyle contributed to this report from Glasgow.

MORE GYMNASTICS: World Championships broadcast schedule

Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

Olympic Council of Asia

Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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


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 said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to

“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.”