Simone Biles: I’ll be taking a year off, I think

Simone Biles
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Simone Biles said Thursday that she expects to take at least one year off after winning four gold medals, and five overall, at the Rio Olympics.

“I will be taking a year off, I think, just ’til everything settles down, because now we have photo shoots and other opportunities that will come our way,” Biles said in a Sports Illustrated video interview. “It will be really hard for us to be in and out of the gym and train very serious during this time period. So afterwards, then we’ll see.”

Biles, 19, said in August that she would take an indefinite break, though she will participate in a USA Gymnastics tour of shows from Sept. 15-Nov. 13. Retiring U.S. national team coordinator Martha Karolyi said in Rio that Biles told her she wanted to take one year off.

Technically, Biles could go one year between competitions and not miss the biggest meets of 2017. The P&G Championships are Aug. 17-20, and the world championships in Montreal are in late September and early October next year.

None of the four previous U.S. Olympic women’s all-around champions competed in the world championships the year after their Olympic triumphs. Nastia Liukin came the closest, placing fourth on the balance beam at the 2009 U.S. Championships after a break, but withdrawing from world championships consideration before the team was named, citing not being in ideal physical shape.

If Biles sits out all of 2017, it will open the door for a new world all-around champion. Biles three-peated from 2013 through 2015.

The top contenders start with the three Americans who finished runner-up to Biles at major competitions in the last year — Olympic silver medalist Aly Raisman, world silver medalist Gabby Douglas and Olympic Trials second-place finisher Laurie Hernandez.

It’s unknown if any of the three will compete next year, but Hernandez figures to be the most probable, since she is 16 and Raisman and Douglas are in their 20s and coming off their second Olympics.

Internationally, 2014 World all-around silver medalist Larisa Iordache of Romania could challenge if she returns to form following an injury-plagued year. Russian Aliya Mustafina took all-around bronze at the last two Olympics, but it’s unknown if she will compete in 2017.

MORE: Biles’ longtime coach takes new job

Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”