U.S. Olympic men's gymnastics team
Getty Images

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

Leave a comment

Every member of the U.S. Olympic men’s gymnastics team for Rio was at the London Games.

Sam MikulakJacob Dalton and John Orozco competed at the 2012 Games; Chris Brooks and Alex Naddour watched as unused alternates.

Together in Brazil, they will be tasked with putting the U.S. back on the Olympic team final podium.

That won’t be easy, considering the U.S. was a disappointing fifth at both the London Games and at the 2015 World Championships.

China and Japan are the world powers in men’s gymnastics. The U.S. is at best in the next tier with Great Britain (which actually outscored China at 2015 Worlds) and Russia.

However, the U.S. team at the 2015 Worlds was without then-injured Mikulak, Dalton and Orozco. Brooks and Naddour have stepped up since just missing the 2012 team.

Here’s a look at the five-man U.S. Olympic team and each gymnast’s credentials:

Sam Mikulak
2012 Olympian
2013/2014 World Championships team member
Four-time U.S. all-around champion

Mikulak won every national-level all-around title this Olympic cycle, but his best world championships all-around finish was sixth in 2013. He has zero individual Olympic or world medals. He missed the 2015 Worlds due to a partial left Achilles tear, but bounced back by sweeping the P&G Championships and Olympic Trials in dominating fashion in June. He’ll be counted on a majority of the events in the Rio team competition.

John Orozco
2012 Olympian
2011/2013/2014 Worlds Championships team member
2012 U.S. all-around champion

Orozco came back from a tragic 2015, the death of his mother that February and tearing his right Achilles for the second time that June. A doctor told him he would be out one year, but Orozco cut that timetable in half. His best events are parallel bars and high bar, but it looks like he’ll be needed on pommel horse. That event was his Waterloo at the London Games.

Jacob Dalton
2012 Olympian
2011/2013/2014 World Championships team member
Two-time individual world medalist (floor silver, vault bronze)

Dalton sat out the 2015 P&G Championships due to a small shoulder labrum tear that required surgery and kept him off the world championships team. Dalton is a strong contributor on floor exercise, where he made the eight-man Olympic final and his last three worlds finals, and on vault and still rings.

Chris Brooks
2010/2015 World Championships team member

Brooks makes his Olympic debut at age 29. He only made the 2015 World Championship team as Mikulak’s replacement. He was second to Mikulak in the all-around at the P&G Championships and Olympic Trials this month, topping the high bar and parallel bars standings. He may also be valuable on vault.

Alex Naddour
2011/2013/2014/2015 World Championships team member

Naddour, who got a London 2012 tattoo to motivate him for Rio, made the eight-man pommel horse final at the last two world championships. His strength on that apparatus, historically the U.S.’ weakest event, will be an asset in Rio. He will likely also be needed on still rings and floor exercise.

MORE: Mikulak wins Olympic Trials; Leyva left off Olympic team

Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Conseslus Kipruto tests positive for coronavirus, canceling world-record bid

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Conseslus Kipruto, the Olympic and world 3000m steeplechase champion, tested positive for the coronavirus without symptoms, which will keep him from a world-record chase on Friday, according to his social media.

The Kenyan was to race in the first in-person Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco on Friday.

“Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities,” was posted. “Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League.

“I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well.”

Kipruto, 25, is the 14th-fastest steepler in history with a personal best of 8:00.12. The world record is 7:53.63, set by Kenyan-born Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 2004.

Last year, Kipruto won the world title by .01, extending a streak of a Kenyan or Kenyan-born man winning every Olympic or world title in the event since the 1988 Seoul Games. He was sidelined by a stress fracture in his left foot until opening his season extremely late on Aug. 24.

MORE: Trayvon Bromell’s road back through destruction, death

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

View this post on Instagram

Our World is going through a challenging period and we all have to take our responsibilities. Unfortunately my covid-19 test, as part of the Monaco-protocol, came back positive and therefore I can’t be part of the Monaco Diamond League on August 14th. I don’t have any symptoms and I was actually in great shape. I was planning to go for the WR: it has stayed too long outside Kenya. As the World & Olympic Champion I feel strongly its something I should go for as well. Wish to thank Monaco for all the work they have done and I wish them and my colleagues a wonderful competition. Athletics is back and I will be back as well. Anyone willing to organise a steeple once I can be cleared? @diamondleaguemonaco #nike #quarantine #WR #Kenya

A post shared by conseslus kipruto Athlete🥇🥇🥈🥈 (@consesluskip) on