Simone Biles’ first day of dance training leaves her in pain

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Laurie Hernandez gave Simone Biles one key piece of advice for “Dancing with the Stars.”

Take care of your feet.

Biles won’t forget that after leaving with blisters following her first practice with partner Sasha Farber on Thursday.

“My feet are like torn up,” the four-time 2016 Olympic gymnastics champion said Friday from Texas, where she was participating in Kellogg’s Buckets for Breakfast Challenge to raise money and awareness to end child hunger.

Biles is rehearsing for “Dancing with the Stars” near her Texas home for now, but plans to shift to Los Angeles soon. Hopefully, by then, the foot problems will be behind her.

For Biles’ first session, Farber said he would re-teach her “how to walk like a baby.”

“I was like, yeah, right, but that’s literally what we did,” Biles said. “We spent 15 minutes walking across the dance room. I was like, is this for real? Like, real life? But it’s a different technique and different style, so it’s a little bit harder.”

Biles’ feet started hurting before the practice ended, but she chose not to tell Farber.

“Tell Sasha,” Biles said Hernandez advised her, “and then wear tennis shoes the rest of the practice. If not, your feet will hurt the next day, and it’s just going to get worse.”

It marked a rare misstep for Biles, who is on a break from gymnastics this year after training in that sport since age 6. All four of the previous gymnasts on “Dancing with the Stars” finished in the top four, including winners Shawn Johnson and Hernandez.

Biles said she was invited to compete on the show last summer but had already committed to a nationwide USA Gymnastics post-Olympic tour. Unlike Hernandez, Biles said she couldn’t juggle both sets of shows.

Biles knew that after the gymnastics tour ended, she would tuck away her skills for all of 2017. She needed a rest, and that thought was reinforced by what happened with about eight or nine shows left.

At one tour stop, Biles felt her midsection crack while performing her eponymous skill on floor exercise, the Biles, or a double layout with a half-twist.

“I couldn’t breathe for a second. It knocked the wind out of me,” Biles said. “I was like, oh my god, it really hurt, but we were in the ending number. It’s like a five-minute number. So I had to keep going because I had like three more tumbling passes left. … But I knew something was really wrong.”

Biles said she visited medical personnel after the routine and was told she might have popped a rib out of place. She could barely walk or talk without it hurting. Still, she decided to finish out the tour without watering down her routines.

Biles said she “could barely move” after shows. After the tour ended, she remembered telling her mom in an airport, “I’m not being dramatic, but I think my rib is broken.”

Once home, she saw a doctor who confirmed the suspicion. It was healing fine, as Biles saw the doctor 2 1/2 weeks after she broke it. But she was told not do gymnastics while it finished healing.

Not a problem, as Biles had already said she wouldn’t compete in a meet in 2017.

She has shifted focus to the dance floor. The pain has moved, too, with the rib healed but the feet feeling on fire. Biles, who was home-schooled, has never danced with a guy before.

“I was actually weirded out how I wasn’t as nervous for the first rehearsal as I thought I would be,” Biles said. “I’m sure there will be some awkward moments … But we’re used to performing. So I don’t think that will change too much. It’s a different kind of performance. And we know how to handle our nerves, so that should be OK, too.”

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U.S. women’s basketball team, statistically greatest ever, rolls to FIBA World Cup title

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The revamped U.S. women’s basketball team may have been the greatest of all time.

The Americans completed, statistically, their most dominant global championship ever by routing China 83-61 in the FIBA World Cup final on Saturday in Sydney — giving them 60 consecutive wins between the Olympics and worlds dating to 2006.

It marked the largest margin of victory in a World Cup final since the event converted from a fully round-robin format in 1983.

For the tournament, the U.S. drubbed its opponents by an average of 40.75 points per game, beating its previous record between the Olympics and worlds of 37.625 points from the 2008 Beijing Games. It was just off the 1992 U.S. Olympic men’s Dream Team’s legendary margin 43.8 points per game. This U.S. team scored 98.75 points per game, its largest at worlds since 1994.

“We came here on a mission, a business trip,” tournament MVP A’ja Wilson said in a post-game press conference before turning to coach Cheryl Reeve. “We played pretty good, I think, coach.”

Since the U.S. won a seventh consecutive Olympic title in Tokyo, Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles retired. Tina Charles ceded her national team spot to younger players. Brittney Griner was detained in Russia (and still is). Diana Taurasi suffered a WNBA season-ending quad injury that ruled her out of World Cup participation (who knows if the 40-year-old Taurasi will play for the U.S. again).

Not only that, but Cheryl Reeve of the Minnesota Lynx succeeded Dawn Staley as head coach, implementing a new uptempo system.

“There was probably great concern, and maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey, now is the time to get the USA,'” Reeve said Saturday.

The U.S. response was encapsulated by power forward Alyssa Thomas, the oldest player on the roster at age 30 who made the U.S. team for the first time in her career, started every game and was called the team’s glue and MVP going into the final.

Wilson and Tokyo Olympic MVP Breanna Stewart were the leaders. Guard Kelsey Plum, a Tokyo Olympic 3×3 player, blossomed this past WNBA season and was third in the league’s MVP voting. She averaged the most minutes on the team, scored 15.8 points per game and had 17 in the final.

“The depth of talent that we have was on display,” Reeve said. “What I am most pleased about was the trust and buy-in.”

For the first time since 1994, no player on the U.S. roster was over the age of 30, creating a scary thought for the 2024 Paris Olympics: the Americans could get even better.

“When you say best-ever, I’m always really cautious with that, because, obviously, there are great teams,” Reeve said when asked specifically about the team’s defense. “This group was really hard to play against.”

Earlier Saturday, 41-year-old Australian legend Lauren Jackson turned back the clock with a 30-point performance off the bench in her final game as an Opal, a 95-65 victory over Canada for the bronze. Jackson, who came out of a six-year retirement and played her first major tournament since the 2012 Olympics, had her best scoring performance since the 2008 Olympics.

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IOC looks for ways Russian athletes ‘who do not support war’ could compete as neutrals

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GENEVA (AP) — Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag, IOC president Thomas Bach said in an interview published Friday.

“It’s about having athletes with a Russian passport who do not support the war back in competition,” Bach told Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding, “We have to think about the future.”

Most sports followed IOC advice in February and banned Russian teams and athletes from their events within days of the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.

With Russians starting to miss events that feed into qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics, an exile extending into next year could effectively become a wider ban from those Games.

In an interview in Rome, Bach hinted at IOC thinking after recent rounds of calls with Olympic stakeholders asked for views on Russia’s pathway back from pariah status.

“To be clear, it is not about necessarily having Russia back,” he said. “On the other hand — and here comes our dilemma — this war has not been started by the Russian athletes.”

Bach did not suggest how athletes could express opposition to the war when dissent and criticism of the Russian military risks jail sentences of several years.

Some Russian athletes publicly supported the war in March and are serving bans imposed by their sport’s governing body.

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Yevgeny Rylov appeared at a pro-war rally attended by Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Gymnast Ivan Kuliak displayed a pro-military “Z” symbol on his uniform at an international event.

Russian former international athletes are being called up for military service in the current mobilization, according to media reports. They include former heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuev and soccer player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

Russians have continued to compete during the war as individuals in tennis and cycling, without national symbols such as flags and anthems, even when teams have been banned.

Bach told Corriere della Sera it was the IOC’s mission to be politically neutral and “to have the Olympic Games, and to have sport in general, as something that still unifies people and humanity.”

“For all these reasons, we are in a real dilemma at this moment with regard to the Russian invasion in Ukraine,” he suggested. “We also have to see, and to study, to monitor, how and when we can come back to accomplish our mission to have everybody back again, under which format whatsoever.”

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