Getty Images

Simone Biles is back, but what about the rest of the Final Five?

Leave a comment

Though Simone Biles returns to gymnastics meets this summer, her 2016 Olympic champion teammates have not competed on the elite level since Rio.

That could change next year.

None of Gabby DouglasAly RaismanLaurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian have announced a retirement from the sport.

If any is to return for a Tokyo 2020 run, Douglas and Raisman showed in the last Olympic cycle that it helps to come back at least a year before the Games.

That in mind, a look at where each gymnast stands:

GYM NATIONALS: TV/stream schedule | Biles eyes history

Gabby Douglas
2012 Olympic all-around champion
2012, 2016 Olympic team champion

Douglas has been largely silent on any possible comeback plans the last two years. She said last summer that she was still getting drug tested — an indicator that a top-level Olympic sports athlete has not retired — and that a decision on returning was “up in the air.”

In the last Olympic cycle, Douglas returned to training less than a year after the 2012 London Games and bounced around the country before landing in Ohio and returning to competition in March 2015.

“This time is different because I’ve been to two Olympics, and I always wanted to go to two Olympics,” Douglas said last summer. “But right now since I’ve been doing gymnastics for 14 years, I am taking this time off, especially growing into my own person.”

Aly Raisman
2016 Olympic all-around silver medalist
2012, 2016 Olympic team champion
2012 Olympic floor exercise champion

In the last year, Raisman shifted focus from a possible comeback to raising awareness following the revelations of Larry Nassar‘s sexual-abuse crimes. Raisman, Douglas, Biles and Kocian said in the last year that they are Nassar survivors.

In June, In Style magazine reported after an interview with Raisman that she “probably won’t compete at the 2020 Olympics.”

Back in September 2016, Raisman said on “Ellen” that she planned to take a year off after the Rio Games and then return, as she did after the 2012 Olympics. But so much has changed since then.

Laurie Hernandez
2016 Olympic balance beam silver medalist
2016 Olympic team champion

Of the four on this list, Hernandez appears the most likely to come back. Not just because she’s the youngest by three years at 18.

Hernandez’s agent said in March that the gymnast planned to return to training in 2019, five months after Hernandez said she hoped to compete in 2018.

Hernandez and Biles would try to join Douglas and Raisman as the only U.S. women to make multiple Olympic gymnastics teams since 2000, when Amy Chow and Dominique Dawes did so.

Madison Kocian
2016 Olympic uneven bars silver medalist
2016 Olympic team champion

Kocian has competed often since Rio, but all at the college level rather than on the elite stage. She has no plans to return to elite competition, according to The Associated Press.

The Texan did a full freshman season for UCLA in 2017 with a torn labrum and partially torn rotator cuff in her shoulder that required surgery before her recently completed sophomore year.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Biles details lip tattoo

David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

Getty Images
Leave a comment

David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Diving Worlds TV Schedule

Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Wayde van Niekerk has setback in return from injury