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

J’den Cox repeats as world wrestling champion; Kyle Snyder stunned

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If he wasn’t crowned already, it’s clear U.S. wrestling has a new king.

On a day when Rio Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was upset and London Olympic champ Jordan Burroughs rallied for another bronze medal, J’den Cox repeated as world champion in Kazakhstan.

Cox, the Rio Olympic 86kg bronze medalist, completed a perfect run through the 92kg division — not giving up a point in four matches — by dominating Iranian Alireza Karimi 4-0 in the final. He became the second U.S. man to win an Olympic or world title without surrendering a point in more than 30 years (joining Kyle Dake from last year).

“I don’t know why, but it feels like a ton better [than 2018],” said Cox, whose tattoos include one that reads in Latin, “If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.” “I made more sacrifices … I wanted to do it better.”

Earlier Saturday, Snyder was shocked by Azerbaijan’s Sharif Sharifov 5-2 in the 97kg semifinals, denying a third straight world final between Snyder and Russian Tank Abdulrashid Sadulayev. Sharifov, the 2012 Olympic 84kg champ, clinched his first world medal in eight years.

Snyder, who in Rio became the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion at age 20, failed to make an Olympic or world final for the first time in his career. He will wrestle for bronze on Sunday, while Sharifov meets Sadulayev for gold.

Burroughs earned his seventh straight world championships medal and second straight bronze. Burroughs, the 2012 Olympic 74kg champion, rebounded from losing to Russian Zaurbeck Sidakov on Friday with a 10-0 technical fall over Japanese Mao Okui.

Burroughs gave up a lead on Sidakov with 1.3 seconds left in the semifinals, a year after Sidakov overtook him as time expired in the quarterfinals.

“A lot of people in 2016 called me a quitter,” said Burroughs, who tearfully missed the medals in Rio, “and I think that after watching the amount of devastation and heartbreak that I’ve taken over the last two years and still being able to come back and take third place is a testament.”

Burroughs, 31, shares third with Adeline Gray on the U.S. list of career world wrestling championships medals, trailing only Bruce Baumgartner and Kristie Davis, who each earned nine.

Burroughs’ bronze ensured he gets a bye into the 74kg final of the Olympic trials in April. But this will be the first time he goes into an Olympic year as anything other than a reigning world champion.

“At this juncture of my career, I feel I’m running out of time,” said Burroughs, who next year will be older than any previous U.S. Olympic wrestling champion. “That can be really scary.”

Dake marched to Sunday’s final in defense of his 2018 World title at 79kg (a non-Olympic weight) by going 23-4 over three matches. Dake, who at Cornell became the only wrestler to win NCAA titles at four weight classes or without a redshirt, gets Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov in the final, a rematch of the 2018 gold-medal match.

Next year, Dake must move up to 86kg, where Cox will likely reside, or down to 74kg, where Burroughs has won every U.S. Olympic or world trials dating to 2011. There’s also David Taylor to reckon with. Taylor won the 86kg world title last year but missed this season due to injury.

“We’ve got a guy at 79 kilos that’s going to win a world championship tomorrow,” Burroughs said, smiling, of Dake, “I’m hopefully going to be waiting for [Dake at Olympic trials], healthy and prepared.”

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Alexandra Trusova, 15, becomes first woman to land three quadruple jumps

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Alexandra Trusova established herself as the world’s leading female figure skater … in her first senior international competition.

Trusova, the 15-year-old, two-time world junior champion from Russia, became the first woman to land three quadruple jumps in one international competition program, posting the world’s highest free skate and total scores on the early season.

Trusova previously landed three quads in the free skate at the Russian Federation’s test skates in early September.

She opened Saturday’s free skate with a quadruple Lutz, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe combination and another quad toe to run away from Japanese Olympian Kaori Sakamoto by 44.27 points. Video is here.

She won a lower-level event in Slovakia with 238.69 points, which would have beaten Japan’s top skater, Rika Kihira, and Olympic bronze medalist Yevgenia Medvedeva by more than 14 points at an event last week in Canada. However, judging panels can be more or less forgiving from event to event.

Still, Trusova established herself as a force going into next month’s Grand Prix season. She will face Kihira and Medvedeva at Skate Canada the last week of October.

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