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Polina Edmunds takes season off, plans figure skating return

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Sochi Olympian Polina Edmunds has been off the ice for nearly nine months with a long-term right foot injury and will not compete this season. Her goal is to return to competitive figure skating next season.

Edmunds, the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports in Sochi, has suffered from a bone bruise for more than two and a half years, missing the entire 2016-17 season. She withdrew after a seventh-place short program at last season’s U.S. Championships in January in her hometown of San Jose, citing the injury.

“I had a lot of MRIs done in the past three years,” Edmunds said by phone Thursday. “The bone bruise that I had was very deep and very serious for such a small bone in my foot. It required a lot of time off the ice, off really physical activity impact on my foot to really heal it properly. I never really allowed myself to have that time just with the craziness of Olympic season last year. Ever since my last nationals and me taking the time off the ice, I’ve actually allowed myself the proper healing time and the proper way to go about it. Even if I wasn’t skating, I wouldn’t be running or doing other things that would harm it.”

Edmunds is focused this fall on her junior year at Santa Clara University, where she is a communication major.

As a skater, Edmunds was the revelation of the 2014 U.S. Championships, taking silver behind Gracie Gold in her first senior competition to earn her way onto the Sochi Olympic team at age 15. Edmunds, on skates since age 2 when her Russian-born mother, Nina, began coaching her, had been profiled by The New York Times at the 2010 U.S. Championships and won the U.S. junior title in 2013.

She then placed ninth at the Sochi Winter Games and eighth at that season’s world championships.

Edmunds notched her biggest win at the 2015 Four Continents Championships, then took another U.S. silver medal in 2016 in her last competition before the injury struck.

“I haven’t lived up to my competitive potential,” Edmunds said Thursday. “My career internationally has been so short. I really feel like there’s more that I can do, more that I can bring. This time I’ve had off, this physical and mental growth, coming back I can be even better than I was before.”

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Asbel Kiprop, Olympic 1500m champ, banned 4 years

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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.

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

Maggie Nichols
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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.

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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)