Simone Biles, Aly Raisman
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U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team will prove sport’s unpredictability

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In 2012, a 15-year-old Simone Biles finished third in the junior all-around at the U.S. Championships.

She was too young to be eligible for the London Olympics, not that she would have been considered for the U.S. team. At the time, Biles wasn’t one of the first two names mentioned in early predictions for the Rio squad.

Biles has gone undefeated in seven U.S. and world championships competitions since and is now one of the biggest favorites for gold across all sports at the Games.

She can clinch her Rio spot by winning the Olympic Trials all-around in San Jose, Calif., this weekend (broadcast schedule here). The all-around winner plus four team members chosen by a committee will be announced shortly after the meet ends Sunday night.

Of the 14 women competing for five Olympic berths, Biles is the only one who finished in the top five of the 2012 U.S. Championships junior all-around.

Junior results are one of the best harbingers for senior, Olympic division success. But this year’s Olympic team will throw that out the window. (So did the 2012 team, as Jordyn Wieber was the only gymnast who made the 2008 U.S. junior all-around top 10 and competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials)

By the end of the weekend, Biles will likely be joined on the Olympic team by Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, who turned senior in 2010 and 2011, respectively, and are set to become the first female gymnasts to make back-to-back Olympic teams since 2000.

The other contenders include Maggie Nichols and Laurie Hernandez, who finished 11th and 21st, respectively, in the 2012 U.S. junior all-around. Nichols was runner-up to Biles at last year’s P&G Championships.

Hernandez went on to finish second in the U.S. junior all-around at age 13 in 2013 and won it in 2015. She was third in her U.S. senior all-around debut two weeks ago, behind Biles and Raisman.

Madison Kocian and Ashton Locklear, who count uneven bars as their best event, may be vying for one spot on the Olympic team. Neither competed at the 2012 U.S. Championships.

Kocian actually tied for sixth in the 2009 U.S. Championships junior all-around at age 12 (Kyla Ross won, Raisman was third and McKayla Maroney was 27th). She tied for fifth the following year but missed the 2012 Nationals due to a wrist injury.

Locklear didn’t make her national-level debut until she was already a senior gymnast in 2014. She finished fourth on the uneven bears at the world championships later that year.

VIDEO: Simone Biles throws acrobatic first pitch at Astros game

Hayato Sakamoto, Japanese baseball MVP, tests positive for coronavirus

Hayato Sakamoto
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Hayato Sakamoto, an MVP of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is one of two players from the Yomiuri Giants to test positive for the coronavirus, according to several Japanese media reports.

Sakamoto, a 31-year-old shortstop, and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive ahead of the NPB’s planned June 19 start to the season that had been delayed to the coronavirus.

The tests showed traces of the coronavirus, according to Kyodo News.

The Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game with the Seibu Lions to limit the spread of the virus.

Sakamoto is the reigning Central League MVP. He has been called the Derek Jeter of Japan for playing the same position as the Yankee great and being the veteran captain of Japan’s equivalent club, the Giants, which own a record 22 Japan Series titles.

Sakamoto, who played in the last two World Baseball Classics, has been considered a lock for Japan’s baseball team at the Tokyo Games in 2021 as the most well known active player who hasn’t left for Major League Baseball. MLB is not expected to allow its top players to participate in the Olympics, which would keep the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka off the Olympic roster.

The sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, though it is not on the 2024 Olympic program nor guaranteed a place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Japan reached the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments when the sport was previously on the medal program but never took gold.

In a 2018 survey, Sakamoto was ranked as Japan’s eighth-most popular athlete across all sports, foreign or domestic, active or retired.

Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall

Sky Brown Skateboard Fall
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Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.

Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.

Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.

“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”

Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.

Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.

“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”

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Last week the worst thing I could ever ever imagined happened to @skybrown . She fell about 15ft off the side of a vert ramp to flat concrete. I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital. We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive. We prayed and begged God to give Sky another chance. Word came back while she was still unconscious, multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm, which she broke into pieces because she used it to break her fall, broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs. 4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks. More importantly her Doctors and the trauma team say it’s a miracle how well she is dealing with the pain and recovering incredibly fast. They said it’s shocking and believe it’s because of her grit, positivity and attitude. Skys brother @oceanbrown has been so brave. He saw his sister fall to the ground lying in a pool of blood and was screaming in tears that night outside of the hospital. He has still not allowed into the hospital to see her. They miss each-other dearly, but no siblings are allowed to enter the hospital because of coronavirus. They’ve been spending hours a day on FaceTime with each other making funny faces to one another in fits of giggles and laughter. Sky promises Ocean daily that she will make a fast recovery so they can be together again. Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it’s hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to. Thank you to the heroes that are the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that have tirelessly worked on her and helped her get to this point.

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