Yin Alvarez: U.S. gymnastics makes ‘big mistake’ not choosing Danell Leyva

Danell Leyva, Yin Alvarez
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Danell Leyva‘s stepfather and coach, the excitable Yin Alvarez, was none too pleased that his son was not chosen for the five-man Olympic team Saturday night.

“We don’t know the reason, and we’re a little sad, but they are making a big mistake,” Alvarez said, according to the Miami Herald. “Dani is obviously the only guy who can bring them a medal under pressure. Without him, how are they going to win a team or all-around medal?”

Leyva was the only man competing at the Olympic Trials who owned an Olympic medal, a bronze from the London 2012 all-around.

He was also the only man with a world championships gold medal, from the parallel bars in 2011.

But Leyva struggled mightily at the P&G Championships in Hartford three weeks before Trials, a meet that could weigh just as heavily as Trials in the selection committee’s decision-making process. He placed 16th in the all-around there before improving at Trials to finish 10th overall.

“Danell did his job here [at Trials]; the problem for him was how he did in Hartford,” U.S. men’s gymnastics program vice president Dennis McIntyre said, according to the report.

Leyva competed at P&Gs with his left leg wrapped, about one month after one of his family’s American bulldogs bit him three times.

Leyva’s all-around finish wasn’t as crucial as his performance versus other Americans on his best events — parallel bars and high bar. Chris Brooks, an alternate for the 2012 Olympic team, topped the standings on both to make his first Olympic team at age 29.

“It’s something we have to accept in this sport,” Alvarez said, according to the report. “We wish the best for our team. I told Dani he’s already a world champion and Olympic medalist.”

MORE: Analyzing the U.S. Olympic men’s gymnastics team

Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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