Getty Images

Simone Biles worried about burnout at gymnastics nationals

Leave a comment

BOSTON — Is Simone Biles‘ comeback saving gymnastics? She received plenty of feedback to that effect since her return last month.

“It’s both exciting but kind of scary because I don’t want them to be completely dependent on me for the sport to continue,” Biles said Wednesday at training for this week’s U.S. Championships (TV/stream schedule here). “It’s not fair to me, because I can’t carry the whole gymnastics world.”

Biles just about picked up where she left off at the U.S. Classic on July 28, winning her first meet since Rio with the world’s best score of this Olympic cycle. Despite a fall off the uneven bars.

She goes into nationals a clear favorite, looking to become the first woman to win five U.S. all-around titles.

“I feel so honored to compete with such a legend,” said Morgan Hurd, who was crowned the world’s best gymnast of 2017 by winning the world championships all-around in October in Biles’ absence. “I would hope that maybe one of us can come close to catching her.”

No question that Biles’ return is a shot in the arm for the sport. While she was away, Larry Nassar‘s decades of sexual abuse crimes were revealed, followed by changes in USA Gymnastics leadership.

Biles keeps focus on the gymnastics, at least for this week. That carries its own challenges.

“I felt a little bit more confident at Classics,” she said of the July 28 comeback meet. “I’m worried about the two-day competition [this week], not to burn out.”

The four-time Rio gold medalist said she’s competing on one toe that’s shattered in five pieces and another (on the other foot) that is cracked. That limited her floor exercise and vault training.

And then there’s what she said on social media about bronchitis. Just yesterday she returned to feeling normal for the first time in two weeks. She saw a doctor Tuesday and was prescribed medicine.

Biles could feel bogged down by the pressure or the health setbacks. But she remembers a mantra at her gym taken from Yoda.

“We don’t say try,” she said. “It’s do.”

Biles doesn’t plan to upgrade any of her routines from the U.S. Classic three weeks ago. Other podium favorites may look different.

Defending national all-around champion Ragan Smith will compete on all four events after doing three at the U.S. Classic. Hurd, who won the world all-around title after the favored Smith withdrew with an ankle injury, said she and others are closer to peak form.

Everybody is competing for places on the five-woman team for the world championships in Doha. But that team will not be chosen until after an October selection camp. That lightens the pressure, even if Biles might feel the weight of the sport’s world now and possibly through what she plans to be her final Olympics in two years.

“Say I make Tokyo, and I don’t walk away with as many medals, you know, I tried,” she said. “That’s all I can ask for from myself.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Morgan Hurd’s path to gymnastics gold began with 6-hour bus ride

Athletes, anti-doping leaders issues statement on RUSADA status

RUSADA
Getty Images
Leave a comment

More Olympic athletes and anti-doping leaders have come out in protest of the possible reinstatement of Russia’s anti-doping agency.

Members of the athletes committees from the World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Olympic Committee, along with a group of international anti-doping leaders and a key supporter of a Russian whistleblower, released statements Tuesday urging WADA’s executive committee not to reinstate RUSADA when it meets later this week.

Jim Swartz, a supporter of former Moscow anti-doping lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, said “WADA has undermined its own moral and regulatory authority” by proposing a weakened version of the roadmap to bring RUSADA back into compliance.

The agency has been suspended for nearly three years in the wake of what investigators said was a state-sponsored doping scandal designed to win Olympic medals.

The WADA athletes’ group is led by Beckie Scott, who resigned her position on WADA’s compliance review committee after it recommended RUSADA’s reinstatement last week.

Italy’s focus for 2026 bid now on Milan, Cortina d’Ampezzo

Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) — Italy’s three-pronged bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics has been reduced to a two-city candidacy featuring Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Following Turin’s exclusion, the Italian Olympic Committee is sending a delegation featuring Milan and Cortina representatives to meet with IOC leaders on Wednesday.

The move comes after government undersecretary and sports delegate Giancarlo Giorgetti told the Senate on Tuesday that the three-city proposal “is dead.”

Turin’s exclusion follows infighting between Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala and Turin counterpart Chiara Appendino, who had been arguing over the bid’s leadership and naming rights.

Peliminary bids are due to be presented at IOC meetings in Buenos Aires next month.

“The candidacy needs to be saved, so we’re open to moving forward together,” Veneto region president Luca Zaia and Lombardy region president Attilio Fontana said in a joint statement.

“If Turin is withdrawing, which upsets us, at this point two realities remain, and they are called Veneto and Lombardy. So we are moving forward with the Lombardy-Veneto Olympics.”

Under the revised plan, hockey and speedskating — which had been slotted for venues built for the 2006 Turin Games — would be held in Milan. Alpine skiing would be held in 1956 host Cortina, while biathlon would be slated for nearby Anterselva — a regular stop on the biathlon World Cup circuit.

Three other bids remain in contention for 2026: Stockholm, Sweden; Calgary, Canada; and Erzurum, Turkey.

The Japanese city of Sapporo dropped its bid on Monday following a recent earthquake.

International Olympic Committee members will pick the host in Milan in October 2019. While IOC rules have long prevented bids from the host country of an IOC session, new rules have created more leeway.

Italy is anxious to bring a bid through the entire process after two Rome candidacies were withdrawn.

Two years ago, Italy was forced to end Rome’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics because of staunch opposition from the city’s mayor. And in 2012, then-premier Mario Monti scrapped the city’s bid for the 2020 Olympics because of financial concerns.