U.S. gymnasts sweep American Cup titles

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U.S. gymnasts Morgan Hurd and Yul Moldauer swept the American Cup, the biggest annual international meet held in the United States.

Hurd, 16, had the highest scores on balance beam, floor exercise and uneven bars in her first competition since winning the world all-around title Oct. 6.

“I went home from worlds, and I didn’t stop training,” Hurd, who was sixth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, told Andrea Joyce on NBC.

She totaled 56.599 points against an international field highlighted by Japanese Mai Murakami, who was fourth in the world all-around final with a balance beam fall.

Moldauer became the first repeat men’s American Cup champion since double 2008 Olympic medalist Jonathan Horton in 2006 and 2007.

Moldauer, the 2017 U.S. all-around champion who was seventh at 2017 Worlds, upset Japanese Kenzo Shirai. Shirai, the floor exercise and vault world champion, fell off the pommel horse twice and high bar once. He ended up sixth in the nine-man field.

Moldauer had the highest score on still rings and won with his trademark consistency and clean routines. He was top three on all six events.

The other U.S. woman in the field, national junior all-around champ Maile O’Keefe, finished third in her senior debut.

O’Keefe fell off the balance beam, and on uneven bars her feet landed on a bar on a release move.

The 16-year-old O’Keefe won the 2017 U.S. junior title with a score that would have placed second in the senior event behind Ragan Smith.

The next major domestic event is the U.S. Classic in Columbus, Ohio in late July. Simone Biles said in the fall that she targeted the U.S. Classic for her first competition since she won five medals at the Rio Olympics.

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Watch Danell Leyva splash out of American Ninja Warrior

Danell Leyva
NBC
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Triple Olympic medalist Danell Leyva became the latest gymnast to appear on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” splashing out of the “Leaps of Faith” in the latter portion of the course in the Los Angeles City Finals that aired Monday.

Leyva’s full run can be seen at the 44-minute mark here.

Leyva, a 27-year-old who took all-around bronze at the 2012 London Games and then retired with parallel bars and high bar silver in Rio, was cheered on by 2012 Olympic teammates Jonathan Horton and John Orozco. He previously completed the course at the Los Angeles City qualifier.

Horton has tackled ANW five times, according to the broadcast. Other gymnasts to appear on the show included Olympic all-around champions Nastia Liukin and Paul Hamm and, perhaps the show’s most famous competitor, former Towson University athlete Kacy Catanzaro.

Leyva could still make the Las Vegas finals, according to the broadcast.

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MORE: Japan’s gymnastics team for worlds lacks its superstars

Chinese 13-year-olds go 1-2 at diving worlds; U.S. medal drought ends

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Reminiscent of one of its legendary divers, Chinese 13-year-olds took gold and silver in the women’s platform at the world diving championships on Wednesday. Delaney Schnell rallied for bronze, ending a 14-year U.S. medal drought.

Chen Yuxi and Lu Wei, both born in 2005, tallied 439 and 377.8 points, respectively, in Gwangju, South Korea. China is nine for nine in gold medals with four finals left this week. Schnell, who was in fifth place and 1.2 points back of third going into the last dive, ended up with 364.2.

No U.S. woman had earned an individual world platform medal since Laura Wilkinson‘s gold in 2005. Schnell, 20, was sixth at the 2016 Olympic trials and second at the 2017 World trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

Back in 1991, Chinese 12-year-old Fu Mingxia captured the world title on the platform. A year later, Fu took platform gold in Barcelona and remains the youngest Summer Olympic champion since 1960. Fu went on to win a Chinese record four individual Olympic diving titles.

Lu and Chen represent the next generation of Chinese female divers following the post-Rio retirements of their role model, Chen Ruolin, and Wu Minxia.

China is such a diving factory that it took gold and silver without the Rio Olympic platform champion, Ren Qian, who is not on this year’s world team. Ren, then 15 in Rio, became the youngest Olympic diving gold medalist since Fu.

China, two years after its least successful diving worlds since 2005, is moving closer to sweeping every gold medal at these worlds. They last accomplished the feat in 2011.

Earlier Wednesday, Chinese Xie Siyi (reigning world champion) and Cao Yuan (reigning Olympic champion) qualified first and second into Thursday’s men’s springboard final.

David Boudia, the 2012 U.S. Olympic platform champion, was a strong fourth in his first major international meet since Rio and switching to the springboard. Rio Olympian Michael Hixon also advanced in the 12th and last spot.

NBC Olympic Researcher Alex Azzi contributed to this report from Gwangju.

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