Louis Smith retires from gymnastics, cites ‘minuscule’ 2020 chances

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Louis Smith, who ushered Great Britain’s recent surge in 2008 with its first Olympic gymnastics medal in 80 years, retired after earning four medals among three Games.

Smith last competed on the top level at the Rio Olympics, where he earned his third straight pommel horse medal, a silver after a bronze in 2008 and a silver in 2012. Smith also helped Great Britain to team bronze at London 2012.

Smith shared the top score in the 2012 Olympic pommel horse final but was relegated to silver behind Hungarian Krisztian Berki via tiebreaker with Kate Middleton in attendance. He came out of retirement to make his third Olympic team for Rio.

“I’m a baby in the grand scheme of things, yeah, but, sporting world, I’m getting on a little bit,” the 29-year-old said on British TV on Thursday. “Last year, I had the mindset that given the time around now I was going to get back into training and try and push towards 2020. But then certain situations arised. The whole qualification process has changed. There’s a very minuscule chance I’ll even qualify. I thought, give it a chance, but then new opportunities come up.”

Revamped Olympic gymnastics qualification places a greater emphasis on all-around gymnasts for the team event, dropping rosters from five men to four.

Athletes can also qualify for individual spots via the apparatus World Cup series, but only one spot is available per apparatus, and it could require a busy competition schedule over the 16 months.

“I guess there’s a day that every sportsman or woman knows is going to arrive in their career,” Smith said in a social media video. “For me, that day is today. … It’s been a very hard point to get to this decision, but it has been made. But I’ve had an incredible career.”

Smith, also a five-time world championships medalist, won “Strictly Come Dancing” in 2012 and will star in the musical “Rip it Up” on London’s West End in February.

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MORE: Simone Biles’ place in sports, more thoughts off gymnastics worlds

Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
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The 2024 Olympic marathon route will take runners from Paris to Versailles and back.

The route announcement was made on the 233rd anniversary of one of the early, significant events of the French Revolution: the Women’s March on Versailles — “to pay tribute to the thousands of women who started their march at city hall to Versailles to take up their grievances to the king and ask for bread,” Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet said.

Last December, organizers announced the marathons will start at Hôtel de Ville (city hall, opposite Notre-Dame off the Seine River) and end at Les Invalides, a complex of museums and monuments one mile southeast of the Eiffel Tower.

On Wednesday, the rest of the route was unveiled — traversing the banks of the Seine west to the Palace of Versailles and then back east, passing the Eiffel Tower before the finish.

The men’s and women’s marathons will be on the last two days of the Games at 8 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET). It will be the first time that the women’s marathon is held on the last day of the Games after the men’s marathon traditionally occupied that slot.

A mass public marathon will also be held on the Olympic marathon route. The date has not been announced.

The full list of highlights among the marathon course:

• Hôtel de ville de Paris (start)
• Bourse de commerce
• Palais Brongniart
• Opéra Garnier
• Place Vendôme
• Jardin des Tuileries
• The Louvre
• Place de la Concorde
• The bridges of Paris
(Pont de l’Alma; Alexandre III;
Iéna; and more)
• Grand Palais
• Palais de Tokyo
• Jardins du Trocadéro
• Maison de la Radio
• Manufacture et Musées
nationaux de Sèvres
• Forêt domaniale
des Fausses-Reposes
• Monuments Pershing –
Lafayette
• Château de Versailles
• Forêt domaniale de Meudon
• Parc André Citroën
• Eiffel Tower
• Musée Rodin
• Esplanade des Invalides (finish)

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International Boxing Association lifts ban on Russia, Belarus

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The International Boxing Association (IBA) lifted its ban on amateur boxers from Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine that had been in place since early March.

“The IBA strongly believes that politics shouldn’t have any influence on sports,” the federation said in a press release. “Hence, all athletes should be given equal conditions.”

Most international sports federations banned athletes from Russia and Belarus indefinitely seven months ago, acting after an IOC recommendation. It is believed that the IBA is the first international federation in an Olympic sport to lift its ban.

The IOC has not officially changed its recommendation from last winter to exclude Russia and Belarus athletes “to protect the integrity of the events and the safety of the other participants.”

Last week, IOC President Thomas Bach said in an interview with an Italian newspaper that Russian athletes who do not endorse their country’s war in Ukraine could at some point be accepted back into international sports, competing under a neutral flag.

IBA, in lifting its ban, will also allow Russia and Belarus flags and national anthems.

“The time has now come to allow all the rest of the athletes of Russia and Belarus to participate in all the official competitions of their sports representing their countries,” IBA President Umar Kremlev, a Russian, said in a press release last week. “Both the IOC and the International Federations must protect all athletes, and there should be no discrimination based on nationality. It is the duty of all of us to keep sports and athletes away from politics.”

In 2019, the IOC stripped the IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition following an inquiry committee report into finance, governance, refereeing and judging. The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

The IBA will not run qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Games, but it does still hold world championships, the next being a men’s event in Uzbekistan next year.

Boxing, introduced on the Olympic program in 1904, was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games but can still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” Bach said last December.

On Sept. 23, the IBA suspended Ukraine’s boxing federation, citing “government interference.” Ukraine boxers are still allowed to compete with their flag and anthem.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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