Simone Biles details comeback, new campaign

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Simone Biles has a new coach, will return to full-time gymnastics training on Nov. 1 and plans to compete in 2018.

“Probably Classics [a pre-nationals tune-up in July], but not doing all events, probably two [of four apparatuses]” Biles said in a phone interview Thursday. “I would still be training all four events at Classics, but only competing two, just to get back into that competition mode. Then the goal is P&Gs [Championships in August] to compete all [events], obviously, and then continue from there.”

Biles’ other announcement Thursday was her partnership with the #BeUnderstood campaign for Learning Disabilities and ADHD Awareness Month in October.

She recently spoke with two sisters (video here) who have ADHD about her own experience with ADHD since age 9.

Biles’ globetrotting will stop in November as she focus on training, but she will still be spreading this message.

“I think I’ll be speaking a little bit more about it, just because a lot of kids have it,” she said. “I think that they think of it as a disability, and I want them to learn that it’s not. … I told [the sisters] to think of it more as a super power. It’s OK to be different because many smart and talented people have it, and they still succeed in life to the fullest.”

Biles hasn’t competed since winning four gold medals in Rio but announced in August that she was doing light work in the gym. Her longtime coach, Aimee Boorman, moved from Texas to Florida. Biles will announce her coach later this month.

She laughed when asked Thursday if she will feel pain or soreness ramping up to regular training.

“It’s going to be rough,” she said. “But the muscle memory is there because I’ve come and I’ve played in the gym. All of my skills are basically still there. There are a couple of skills, like on [balance] beam, that I haven’t done yet, like a dismount, because why would I just chuck that? There’s no way. And I haven’t vaulted since the Olympics.”

But she has done every single one of her floor exercise passes, including her signature move, the Biles, on soft landing surfaces. And most of her skills on beam and uneven bars.

“But that’s going in and playing,” Biles said. “So, really tinkering down and being serious about it, mentality will have to change, but I’m excited.”

Biles will “probably” participate in a U.S. national team camp in January.

“Just to get back in the swing of things, even though I won’t be testing like other girls,” she said. “At least I’ll be back in the rhythm to just go in there and do whatever I need to do. And be with the national team coaches so they can get me up to date on all the new rules and everything.”

Biles does not want to rush a comeback for early 2018 competitions like the AT&T American Cup in March or the Jesolo Trophy in April.

Still, her plan to compete fewer than two years after the Olympics is a quicker return than previous U.S. stars.

Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman both went 2 1/2 years after the London Olympics before their competitive returns.

Nastia Liukin, the 2008 Olympic all-around champion, went nearly three years between competitions for her 2012 comeback. Shawn Johnson, the Beijing Games balance beam champion, returned in 2011.

Biles would return to the P&G Championships to face a field that includes a new U.S. champion — Olympic alternate Ragan Smith — and a new world all-around champion — 16-year-old Morgan Hurd.

Biles was not able to watch much of last week’s world championships live. She was traveling on the West Coast. But she received updates.

There are similarities between Biles and Hurd, both gymnasts to rise up in the post-Olympic year to claim the world crown. Biles did so in 2013, wearing braces, as Hurd did in Montreal last week.

“[Hurd] is still fairly young, and she handled the pressure because she’s never been on a stage like that,” Biles said.

Raisman and Rio beam silver medalist Laurie Hernandez both said they would return to training for a Tokyo 2020 run, too. But it’s unknown when they’ll be back in the gym.

For Biles, this timeline was always the goal.

“I never said, oh, take a year and then we’ll see, or maybe I need two years,” she said. “It was always just, I’m going to take one year, rest the body, physically, mentally from gymnastics and then get back into it.”

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VIDEO: Simone Biles explains returning to the gym

Svetlana Romashina, seven-time Olympic champion artistic swimmer, retires

Svetlana Romashina
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Russian Svetlana Romashina, the most decorated artistic swimmer in Olympic history with seven gold medals, announced her retirement at age 33.

Romashina entered seven Olympic artistic swimming events and won all of them, starting in 2008. She won four Olympic titles in the team event and three in the duet (two with Nataliya Ishchenko and one with Svetlana Kolesnichenko).

The Tokyo Games marked her last major competition.

Romashina is the only woman to go undefeated in her Olympic career while entering seven or more events. The only man to do so was American track and field athlete Ray Ewry, who won all eight of his Olympic starts from 1900-08, according to Olympedia.org.

Romashina also won 21 world championships medals — all gold, second in aquatics history behind Michael Phelps‘ 26.

She took nearly two years off after giving birth to daughter Alexandra in November 2017, then came back to win three golds at her last world championships in 2019 and two golds at her last Olympics in 2021.

Romashina is now an artistic swimming coach, according to Russian media.

Russian swimmers swept the Olympic duet and team titles at each of the last six Olympics.

Russians have been banned from international competition since March due to the war in Ukraine.

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Mikaela Shiffrin, three gates from gold, skis out of world championships combined

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Mikaela Shiffrin was three gates from a record-tying seventh world championships gold medal when she lost her balance and straddled a gate, skiing out of the first race of worlds on Monday.

Italian Federica Brignone won the women’s combined instead, prevailing by 1.62 seconds over Swiss Wendy Holdener, the largest Olympic or world championships men’s or women’s margin of victory in the event since it switched from three runs to two in 2007.

Austrian Ricarda Haaser took bronze in an event that is one run of super-G followed by one run of slalom.

At 32, Brignone, the 2020 World Cup overall champion, won her first global title and became the oldest female world champion in any event.

“What was missing in my career was a gold medal,” she said. “So I’m old. No, I’m just kidding.”

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Shiffrin was sixth fastest in the opening super-G run, 96 hundredths behind Brignone. She skied aggressively in the slalom in a bid to beat Brignone. Shiffrin cut the gap to eight hundredths by the last intermediate split with about 10 seconds left on the course in Meribel, France.

Shiffrin looked set to overtake Brignone until tripping up slightly with five gates left. It compounded, and Shiffrin couldn’t save the run, losing control, straddling the third-to-last gate and skiing out. The timing system still registered her finish — 34 hundredths faster than Brignone — but it was quickly corrected to the obvious disqualification.

Asked on French TV if she lost focus, Shiffrin said, “People are going to say that no matter what.”

“The surface changed a little bit on these last gates, so [on pre-race] inspection I saw it’s a bit more unstable on the snow,” she added. “I tried to be aware of that, but I knew that if I had a chance to make up nine tenths on Federica, or more than that, like one second, I had to push like crazy. So I did, and I had a very good run. I’m really happy with my skiing.”

It marked Shiffrin’s first time skiing out since she did so in three races at last February’s Olympics, where her best individual finish was ninth in five races. At the Olympics, she skied out within the first 13 seconds in each instance. On Monday, she was more than 40 seconds into her run.

“I was thinking, now I’m going to go through the mixed zone. and everyone’s going to ask, ‘Oh, is this Beijing again?'” Shiffrin said. “I didn’t really think about that for myself, but more for the people asking. But I also said before, coming into this world champs multiple times, I’m not afraid if it happens again. What if I don’t finish every run? What happened last year, and I survived. And then I’ve had some pretty amazing races this season. So I would take the season that I’ve had with no medals at the world championships. If it’s either/or, then I would take that. I’m happy with it. But I’m going to be pushing for medals, because that’s what you do at world champs. You wear your heart on your sleeve, and you go for it. I’m not afraid of the consequences, as long as I have that mentality, which I had today.”

NBC Sports analyst Steve Porino said what happened Monday was “completely different” from the Olympics, calling it “an error of aggression.”

“It certainly wasn’t nerves that sent her out,” Porino said on the Peacock broadcast. “This was Shiffrin knowing that she had to have a huge run to get the gold medal.

“The way she went out this time, I think she can brush that one off.”

Shiffrin was bidding to tie the modern-era records for individual world championships gold medals (seven) and total medals (12). Coming into Monday, she earned a medal in her last 10 world championships races dating to 2015.

Her next chance to match those records comes in Wednesday’s super-G, where she is a medal contender. Norway’s Ragnhild Mowinckel is the world’s top-ranked super-G skier through five races on the World Cup this season, though she was 71 hundredths behind Brignone in Monday’s super-G run.

Shiffrin has raced two super-Gs this season with a win and a seventh place.

She is expected to race three more times over the two-week worlds, which is separate from the World Cup circuit that she has torn up this season.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts across all disciplines since November, moving her one shy of the career victories record of 86 accumulated by Swede Ingemar Stenmark in the 1970s and ’80s. Again, world championships races do not count toward the World Cup, which picks back up after worlds end in late February.

Worlds continue Tuesday with the men’s combined.

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