First gymnasts named to U.S. Olympic team

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The first eight members of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team were named Sunday night, including the first rhythmic group to qualify for a Games.

Individual rhythmic gymnast Laura Zeng, trampoline gymnasts Logan Dooley and Nicole Ahsinger and five rhythmic group gymnasts from Illinois are going to Rio.

The U.S. Olympic artistic gymnastics teams will be named in the next month.

The list of U.S. athletes qualified for the Rio Games is now at 181.

Zeng, who was born Oct. 14, 1999, is the youngest U.S. woman to qualify for the Rio Olympic team and three months shy of becoming the second American born in the 2000s to qualify for Rio (Kanak Jha, table tennis).

Zeng finished eighth in the rhythmic individual all-around at the 2015 World Championships, the best-ever finish for an American. In May, she became the first U.S. gymnast to earn a medal at a World Cup event.

Russia dominates rhythmic gymnastics, having won every Olympic title since 2000 and sweeping every individual gold and silver medal at the 2015 Worlds.

The U.S. qualified a rhythmic team for the Olympic group competition for the first time. Its only previous appearance was as the automatically qualified host nation at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The five-woman U.S. group includes Kiana EideAlisa KanoNatalie McGiffertMonica Rokhman and Kristen Shaldybin. Three were born in 1997 and one in 1998. Rokhman’s identical twin, Jenny, was named the alternate.

The six gymnasts knew for months that five of them would be chosen for Rio, with a sixth being the alternate. They qualified for Rio by finishing 13th at the 2015 Worlds and being the highest non-Asian or European country.

In trampoline, Ahsinger earned the single Olympic berth after the top U.S. trampolinist, Charlotte Drury, suffered a broken talus on her right foot in training Friday.

Dooley, 28, will be the oldest first-time U.S. Olympic gymnastics competitor since 1972, according to sports-reference.com. Dooley was an Olympic alternate in 2008 and 2012.

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12-year-old skateboarders earn medals at world championships

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At the world skateboarding championships, 12-year-olds Chloe Covell from Australia and Onodera Ginwoo from Japan earned silver and bronze medals, respectively, in Sunday’s street finals.

In the women’s event, Covell took silver behind Brazilian 15-year-old Rayssa Leal, who was a silver medalist herself at the Tokyo Games.

Frenchman Aurélien Giraud, a 25-year-old who was sixth in skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, won the men’s final in the United Arab Emirates. Ginwoo was third behind Portugal’s Gustavo Ribeiro.

The top Americans were Olympic men’s bronze medalist Jagger Eaton in sixth and 15-year-old Paige Heyn in seventh in the women’s event.

Nyjah Huston, a six-time world champion who placed seventh in Tokyo, missed worlds after August surgery for an ACL tear.

Up to three men and three women per nation can qualify per event (street and park) for the 2024 Paris Games. World rankings come June 2024 determine which Americans qualify.

In Tokyo, four of the 12 skateboarding medalists were ages 12 or 13.

Japan’s Kokona Hiraki, then 12, won silver in women’s park to become the youngest Olympic medalist since 1936, according to Olympedia.org. Japan’s Momiji Nishiya, then 13, won women’s street and became the youngest gold medalist in an individual event since 1936.

Worlds conclude this week with the men’s and women’s park events. The finals are Saturday.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It marked Great Britain’s first world championships men’s bobsled medal since 1966.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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