Kyla Ross
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Kyla Ross retires from international gymnastics

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Kyla Ross, the youngest member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic champion team, has retired from elite gymnastics.

Ross reportedly mulled the decision for months and came to a conclusion after a January national team camp.

“Pretty much the past year has been a little bit difficult,” Ross said, according to the Orange County (Calif.) Register. “I know I’ve been thinking about it and just trying to understand and decide what I was going to do, so I thought coming into the new year I’d see how my feelings were and if I still had the drive and passion to pursue the Olympics. I went to the first training camp of the year and I just didn’t feel like my mind was in the right spot and I know that I didn’t want to go for the Olympics and put myself through all of it if my heart just wasn’t really there.”

Ross, then 15, made the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in her first year as a senior gymnast. She was the youngest U.S. Olympic gymnast since 1996.

She was the only U.S. woman to make all of the 2012 Olympic, 2013 Worlds and 2014 Worlds teams. She won silver and bronze in the all-around at the 2013 and 2014 Worlds behind gold medalist Simone Biles.

In 2015, Ross placed 10th in the all-around at the P&G Championships and removed herself from consideration for the six-woman World Championships team.

No U.S. woman has made back-to-back Olympic gymnastics teams since 2000.

“I’ve been competing for a really long time,” Ross said, according to the newspaper. “I know in 2012 I was really new and I was excited to be a senior and I think that’s why I had a lot of success, but recently it’s just been a little bit more difficult and I just feel like my drive and motivation is not the same as it was before.”

Ross, who is expected to compete collegiately for UCLA, is the second member of the five-woman 2012 U.S. Olympic champion team to retire from elite gymnastics, joining Jordyn Wieber.

Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas and floor exercise gold medalist Aly Raisman returned to competition last year and made the World Championships team.

McKayla Maroney, the Olympic vault silver medalist, has not competed since 2013.

MORE: ‘Grandma’ Aly Raisman and ‘baby’ Simone Biles

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Dear friends, Today I am officially announcing my retirement from elite gymnastics. This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have made in my life but I feel that my time as an elite gymnast has come to an end. I truly love the sport of gymnastics and I am so fortunate to have been able to accomplish my dreams with the help of my coaches, family, friends, and of course my amazing fans. Having the opportunity to represent the U.S. through gymnastics has been a great honor and experience I will cherish. I would like to thank everyone for all the amazing support I have received over my entire elite career. As I make this transition to collegiate gymnastics and this next chapter in my life, I hope to still inspire people to reach for their dreams! Sincerely, Kyla Ross

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Top prospects, WNBA rookies make statement in World Beach Games 3×3 hoops

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Before No. 1 high school basketball prospect Paige Bueckers starts her career at Connecticut — or before she even graduates from high school — she is taking some time to help the U.S. women’s 3×3 team make a late charge in the world rankings before next year’s Olympics.

On the beachside court at Qatar’s Katara Beach, the 19th-ranked U.S. women opened the World Beach Games with a couple of routs over the Dominican Republic (22-5) and Jordan (22-4), clinching a spot in the knockout rounds.

Top-ranked Russia should have provided tougher competition Tuesday, with the group win and a better seed in the playoffs at stake, but the U.S. rolled to a 22-3 win.

The U.S. women are currently ranked 19th, but check back as the rankings change daily. The rankings require a bit of calculus, but in general, they reward not just results but participation, a disadvantage for North American teams that don’t have as many international events within easy traveling distance.

Their effort in Qatar won’t be enough to climb into the top three to take one of the automatic Olympic qualifying spots by the Nov. 1 deadline, but they should easily have enough points to reach the qualifying tournament in March.

In last year’s 3×3 World Cup, the U.S. women also defeated Russia 21-13 in pool play but dropped a 17-14 decision to Italy in the quarterfinals. Ruthy Hebard, a University of Oregon forward from Alaska who is projected as a top pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, is the sole carry-over from that team to this year’s World Beach Games team. Hebard and Oregon teammate Sabrina Ionescu, who is not playing in Qatar, were on the U.S. team that took gold at the Pan Am Games this summer.

Two of Hebard’s teammates in Qatar, Jackie Young and Napheesa Collier, have just finished their rookie seasons in the WNBA. Collier, the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year with the Minnesota Lynx, has plenty of international experience, including a win in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Young, who is making her international debut, was the top pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft and led the Las Vegas Aces with 4.5 assists per game in her rookier year.

Bueckers, who will turn 18 next week, has already helped U.S. teams win three gold medals in youth full-court tournaments 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup, the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship plus 3×3 gold at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. She was MVP of the U19 World Cup earlier this year.

The team had a balanced attack in its first two games, with Hebard and Collier each averaging 6 points per game under 3×3’s unique scoring system 1 point for a field goal inside the arc, 2 points for a shot beyond the arc, and 1 point for a free throw. Bueckers hit 4 of 8 2-pointers in the first two games and averaged 5.5 points, and Young chipped in 4.5 per game.

Young took charge against Russia, hitting 7-of-14 1-point shots and two free throws for 9 points. Collier had 6 points, including a 2-pointer. Bueckers hit two shots from beyond the arc for 4 points, and Hebard added 3 on 1-point shots. The team’s defense held Russia to 14% shooting.

The U.S. did not enter the men’s 3×3 competition in Qatar. The men are already guaranteed a spot in next year’s Olympic qualifying event.

Elsewhere at the World Beach Games:

  • Daniela Moroz won the women’s kitefoil racing event, Guenther Oka and Jamie Lopina each took bronze in wakeboarding, and Gakuji Tozaki earned bronze in the karate kata event, which is now an Olympic event.
  • The U.S. women’s beach soccer team, which just completed its first-ever training camp, finished 1-2 in pool play.
  • In 4×4 beach volleyball, the U.S. women have advanced to the final, while the U.S. men will play in the semifinals.

STREAMING: World Beach Games on OlympicChannel.com

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Chinese swimmer Sun Yang gets rare open hearing in doping case

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said Monday it will hear the World Anti-Doping Agency’s case against three-time Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang on Nov. 15 in front of reporters — possibly even live-streamed — at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Montreux, Switzerland.

The hearing won’t be completely open. Registration will be required, and photographers and videographers “will be invited to leave the hearing room after the opening,” CAS said in a statement. But those outside the room may still get a glimpse of the proceedings.

“With the agreement of all parties, it is intended to live stream all or parts of the hearing on the CAS website,” CAS said.

CAS noted that it has only held one prior hearing that wasn’t in a private setting — the 1999 case involving Irish swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin, who won three gold medals in the 1996 Olympics but was banned for four years for tampering with a urine sample, a case that still prompts soul-searching in the Irish media. De Bruin lost the appeal.

Sun is accused of smashing a vial of blood at a drug test last fall. FINA allowed him to continue to compete, but the WADA has appealed, seeking a substantial suspension.

The Chinese swimmer won two gold medals at the world championships this summer and snubbed by some rivals at each medal ceremony, leading to a confrontation with British swimmer Duncan Scott.

RECAP AND VIDEO: Sun taunts Scott after medal ceremony

Sun has won 11 world individual titles in several freestyle distances but also has a long history of controversies ranging from a prior positive drug test and confrontations with other swimmers.

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