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Simone Biles handles nerves, mom handles excitement of comeback

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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.

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MORE: Laurie Hernandez plans on competing in 2019

Hayato Sakamoto, Japanese baseball MVP, tests positive for coronavirus

Hayato Sakamoto
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Hayato Sakamoto, an MVP of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, is one of two players from the Yomiuri Giants to test positive for the coronavirus, according to several Japanese media reports.

Sakamoto, a 31-year-old shortstop, and catcher Takumi Oshiro tested positive ahead of the NPB’s planned June 19 start to the season that had been delayed to the coronavirus.

The tests showed traces of the coronavirus, according to Kyodo News.

The Giants canceled Wednesday’s practice game with the Seibu Lions to limit the spread of the virus.

Sakamoto is the reigning Central League MVP. He has been called the Derek Jeter of Japan for playing the same position as the Yankee great and being the veteran captain of Japan’s equivalent club, the Giants, which own a record 22 Japan Series titles.

Sakamoto, who played in the last two World Baseball Classics, has been considered a lock for Japan’s baseball team at the Tokyo Games in 2021 as the most well known active player who hasn’t left for Major League Baseball. MLB is not expected to allow its top players to participate in the Olympics, which would keep the likes of Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka off the Olympic roster.

The sport returns to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008, though it is not on the 2024 Olympic program nor guaranteed a place at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Japan reached the semifinals of all five Olympic baseball tournaments when the sport was previously on the medal program but never took gold.

In a 2018 survey, Sakamoto was ranked as Japan’s eighth-most popular athlete across all sports, foreign or domestic, active or retired.

Sky Brown, 11-year-old Olympic skateboard hopeful, suffers serious injuries in fall

Sky Brown Skateboard Fall
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Sky Brown, an 11-year-old British Olympic skateboarding hopeful, recently suffered her worst fall, requiring surgery, she said in a video posted from a hospital bed.

Brown suffered skull fractures and broke her left wrist and hand and was at first unresponsive upon arrival to a hospital, according to the BBC, which quoted her father.

Video of the fall from a skateboarding ramp was posted on her social media. She appeared to be wearing a helmet in the video.

“I don’t usually post my falls or talk about them because I want people to see the fun in what I do,” Brown said. “But this was my worst fall, and I just want everyone to know that, it’s OK, don’t worry. I’m OK. It’s OK to fall sometimes. I’m just going to get back up and push even harder. I know there’s a lot of things going on in the world right now. I want everyone to know that whatever we do, we’ve just go to do it with love and happiness.”

Brown is the 2019 World bronze medalist in the new Olympic sport’s park discipline.

Later Tuesday, Brown reposted an Instagram post from what appeared to be her father’s account. The caption of that post said Brown fell 15 feet to flat concrete.

“I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital,” the caption read. “We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive.

“4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks.”

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Last week the worst thing I could ever ever imagined happened to @skybrown . She fell about 15ft off the side of a vert ramp to flat concrete. I held her in my arms and she bled helplessly moaning in and out of consciousness waiting for the helicopter to take her to the Hospital. We spent the night sick and terrified not knowing if Sky was going to make it through the night, as the ICU team tried to get her conscious and kept her alive. We prayed and begged God to give Sky another chance. Word came back while she was still unconscious, multiple fractures to her skull, a broken left arm, which she broke into pieces because she used it to break her fall, broken right fingers and lacerations to her heart and lungs. 4 days later Sky sits across from me with her full memory back, smiling, watching TikTok while Eating her favorite bad snacks. More importantly her Doctors and the trauma team say it’s a miracle how well she is dealing with the pain and recovering incredibly fast. They said it’s shocking and believe it’s because of her grit, positivity and attitude. Skys brother @oceanbrown has been so brave. He saw his sister fall to the ground lying in a pool of blood and was screaming in tears that night outside of the hospital. He has still not allowed into the hospital to see her. They miss each-other dearly, but no siblings are allowed to enter the hospital because of coronavirus. They’ve been spending hours a day on FaceTime with each other making funny faces to one another in fits of giggles and laughter. Sky promises Ocean daily that she will make a fast recovery so they can be together again. Sky is constantly joking and smiling and it’s hurts my heart to even imagine for a second a world without Sky; extremely thankful that I don’t have to. Thank you to the heroes that are the doctors, nurses and hospital staff that have tirelessly worked on her and helped her get to this point.

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