AP

Simone Biles handles nerves, mom handles excitement of comeback

Leave a comment

Sounds like Simone Biles‘ mom is more excited about her comeback than the Olympic all-around champion.

“She told me last night at dinner, I can’t wait for the competition, I’m so excited,” Biles said Friday, in a fuss, imitating her mom, Nellie. “I’m like, oh God, I feel like I’m going to pass out or something.”

Biles competes on Saturday for the first time since earning four golds at the Rio Games.

She headlines the U.S. Classic, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers at 8 p.m. ET. NBC airs coverage Sunday at 2 p.m.

Biles is not setting expectations, but at the same time she has repeated in interviews this spring and summer that she feels like a better gymnast than in Rio despite taking more than a year off of training.

“I’d probably beat [2016 Biles],” she told media in Columbus, Ohio, at training. “I feel like I have a stronger mindset, and I’m not as nervous. For this particular competition, I still have a lot of nerves that I have to get out.”

Biles’ new coach, Laurent Landi, said her overall difficulty is higher than it was in Rio.

“Now I feel like some of the skills I’m doing I couldn’t do before,” Biles said, noting she feels leaner now than the strong “bulldog” who dominated in Brazil. “I’m really excited to showcase [uneven] bars.”

Biles used to despise bars, the only apparatus where she did not earn a medal in Rio (or any world championships). In the last Olympic cycle, Biles joked about wanting to take a chainsaw to the bars.

She returns to a completely different U.S. gymnastics landscape.

“I don’t have to be so nervous about walking on egg shells and what we do because we already achieved what we did in Rio,” she said. “We’re already Olympians at this point, whereas before you were kind of nervous. Everything you did could mess up what you wanted to do.

“Now it’s a lot better because I’m coming back and doing what I want to do and not doing it for anyone else.”

But it’s hard to forget about mom, who it seems like has been anticipating Saturday’s return since the Olympic Closing Ceremony.

“I didn’t really write down anything because I didn’t want my mom to pressure me, but I remember my mom last year during the summer, we were in Hawaii or something, and she’s like, when are you going to compete again, I miss going to competitions,” Biles said. “I’m like, whoa, slow the brakes.

The time for pause is over. Biles’ next two meets are the U.S. Championships in three weeks and the world championships in October. Saturday is just the beginning.

“Just go out there and lay it all on the table,” she said.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Laurie Hernandez plans on competing in 2019

Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and a three-time world champ, was banned four years after testing positive for EPO in November 2017, according to track and field’s doping watchdog organization.

The ban is backdated to Feb. 3, 2018, when the 29-year-old was provisionally suspended after the failed test.

Kiprop repeatedly denied doping since last May, when he first acknowledged the positive test. Most recently, a 3,000-word defense from his lawyer was posted on Kiprop’s Facebook page.

Kiprop’s defenses included saying he was a victim of extortion and that he was offered “a reward” of becoming an anti-doping ambassador if he admitted guilt. The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), the IAAF’s independent organization to monitor doping and corruption, denied the latter last May.

A disciplinary panel dismissed six defenses from exonerating him, including the possibility his sample was spiked, in handing out the four-year ban.

Kiprop, the pre-eminent 1500m runner of the last decade, can appeal the ban.

At 19, he finished second in the Beijing Olympic 1500m but was upgraded to gold a year later after Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi failed a drug test. He is the youngest Olympic 1500m medalist of all time, according to the OlyMADMen.

Kiprop went on to earn three straight world titles in the 1500m in 2011, 2013 and 2015, matching the feats of retired legends Noureddine Morceli and Hicham El Guerrouj.

He struggled in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, finishing last in the London final with a hamstring injury and sixth in the Rio final won by American rival Matthew Centrowitz.

Kiprop has targeted El Guerrouj’s world record of 3:26:00, missing the mark by .69 of a second in 2015.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Maggie Nichols is second woman in 20 years to repeat as NCAA all-around champ

Maggie Nichols
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Oklahoma junior and world champion gymnast Maggie Nichols became the first woman to repeat as NCAA all-around champion in 12 years, returning from a heel injury to compete on all four events for the first time since January on Friday.

Nichols, a Rio Olympic hopeful before being beset by a torn meniscus in 2016, joined 2004 Olympic silver medalist Courtney Kupets as the only women to win back-to-back NCAA all-arounds in the 2000s.

A junior, Nichols can next year join Jenny Hansen as the only women to three-peat in NCAA history.

Oklahoma goes for a third team title in four years on Saturday night against UCLA (featuring Olympic champions Madison Kocian and Kyla Ross), LSU and Denver.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships Individual Results
All-Around
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma) — 39.7125
2. Lexy Ramler (Minnesota) — 39.6625
2. Kyla Ross (UCLA) — 39.6625
4. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 39.65
5. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 39.6

Vault
1. Kennedi Edney (LSU) — 9.95
1. Derrian Gobourne (Auburn)
1. Maggie Nichols (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)

Uneven Bars
1. Sarah Finnegan (LSU) — 9.95

Balance Beam
1. Natalie Wojcik (Michigan) — 9.95

Floor Exercise
1. Alicia Boren (Florida) — 9.95
1. Lynnzee Brown (Denver)
1. Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma)
1. Kyla Ross (UCLA)