Simone Biles, Aly Raisman
AP

‘Grandma’ Aly Raisman and ‘baby’ Simone Biles

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Aly Raisman and Simone Biles have a unique relationship on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team.

“She’s like our sleeping little grandma,” Biles said of Raisman.

“She always says that I sleep a lot,” Raisman said. “She looks at me like I’m the crazy one, but I think she’s the crazy one, because it’s normal to be tired when you work out a lot, but she’s just never tired.”

They’re likely to spend a lot of time together over the next seven months, maybe even the rest of the year, at national team camps, competitions, perhaps even the Olympics and a post-Olympic tour.

Biles, the 18-year-old, three-time reigning World all-around champion, felt inspired watching Raisman’s gold medal-winning floor exercise routine at the London 2012 Olympics.

“I wanted to be just like her, and floor was like my specialty also,” said Biles, who also won floor exercise gold at the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Worlds.

Raisman, 21, can become the oldest U.S. Olympic women’s artistic gymnast since 2004 this year. She and Gabby Douglas are in line to become the first women to make back-to-back Olympic gymnastics teams since 2000.

If there’s anything keeping the consummate leader Raisman up at night, it’s the energetic Biles.

“We’re kind of pretty much similar in the gym, but outside of the gym, I’m passed out sleeping, and she’s eating candy and jumping up and down on the beds,” Raisman said in November.

“There’s sometimes when I see her eating candy, and I literally just like snatch it from her, because that’s the last thing that she needs. She was eating these energy things the other day and I was just like, she’s not gonna sleep for like a month. She’s just crazy all the time. So I don’t know. Simone reminds me of that little kid that just doesn’t sit still. … I watch how much sugar she has. She was drinking tea, and she put seven packets of sugar in her tea. It was a small cup of tea, and I was like, ‘That is the last thing that you need, and that’s disgusting.’

“I mean, one packet of sugar is sweet enough. She put seven in a small cup. … So I took it away from her, and she was mad at me. I was like, ‘Sorry, I’m your mom.'”

What about Raisman, what kind of grandmotherly advice does she dole out?

“Go to bed early,” Biles joked.

Raisman, though, sees a little bit of herself in Biles. Never sitting still, except when she’s napping of course.

“If I were to stop doing gymnastics, I would probably be bouncing off the walls all the time,” Raisman said. “Worse than Simone.”

MORE GYMNASTICS: Sam Mikulak looks to ceiling in return from injury

 

Coco Gauff eliminated from Australian Open by Sofia Kenin

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Coco Gauff‘s run at the Australian Open ended in the round of 16, foiled by fellow American Sofia Kenin on Sunday.

Kenin ousted the 15-year-old phenom 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-0 to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Gauff, too, was bidding for her first major quarterfinal after a sterling seven months ignited by her march to the Wimbledon fourth round.

Gauff, ranked No. 684 this time last year, will near the top 50 after the Australian Open. She beat Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon and the Australian Open and took out defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka in the third round on Friday.

Gauff’s play catapulted her to fifth in U.S. Olympic singles qualifying, but she has half the points as fourth-place Madison Keys, and a country can’t qualify more than four players in singles. The Olympic field will be determined by the WTA rankings after the French Open in June.

The 14th seed Kenin, who beat Serena Williams in the 2019 French Open third round, ranks second behind Williams in U.S. Olympic qualifying. She will face No. 27 Wang Qiang or Ons Jabeur in the quarterfinals.

Kenin and Alison Riske are the two remaining U.S. women in the draw.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

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Jessica Calalang, Brian Johnson produce the pairs’ moment of figure skating nationals

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – This fall season, Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson ranked fifth among American pairs but finished with silver medals at the U.S. Championships on Saturday night.

After a fifth-place nationals finish last year, their goal was just to be on the podium in Greensboro.

In their second year together, Calalang and Johnson won the free skate with 146.01 points for a total score of 213.57. It was good enough for second place, as the eventual winners, Alexa Knierim and Chris Knierim, held a 10-point lead over their training partners from the short program.

“While Brian and Chris are working on cars, Jess and I are having lattes petting cats,” Alexa said in a press conference. “We have a great dynamic and I couldn’t be prouder of them for the way they skated. I watched them backstage just because I genuinely care for them.”

Calalang and Johnson vaulted to second from fourth place after short, when Johnson fell on the side-by-side triple Salchows.

In the free skate, however, they received positive grades of execution on every element. The crowd inside the Greensboro Coliseum was on their feet before the music (“You are the Reason” by Calum Scott and Leona Lewis) even finished.

“I don’t think either of us have had that kind of performance at a U.S. Championships,” Calalang said.

“I definitely haven’t,” Johnson added. “The amount of audience support that I felt at the very end of that program was overwhelming. It was the most amazing thing I’ve felt on the ice. I don’t have words to describe it.”

Now, they could join the Knierims at the world championships in March. The U.S. has two berths to worlds, up from one last year. U.S. Figure Skating chooses the teams, not necessarily (but usually) following nationals standings.

Calalang and Johnson have no world championships experience, either together or with former partners, although they have had plenty of experience this season.

They kicked it off with a sixth-place finish at a lower-level event, followed by their Grand Prix debut at Skate America. They finished just off the podium in fourth. The following week, they were sixth at Skate Canada. They handily won the Warsaw Cup, another lower-level event this fall.

“Repetition always helps,” Johnson said. “The more experience you can get, hopefully the better you’re gonna be doing. It was great doing the Grand Prixes because we had an amazing audience at Skate America and Skate Canada. The whole place was sold-out. I think that really resembles here as well with everybody loving what you’re doing and the whole support base.”

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NATIONALS: TV/Live Stream Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.