Laurie Hernandez hopeful to return to gymnastics national team camp

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Laurie Hernandez, who still plans to return to gymnastics competition in early 2020, is hopeful to start that process in November by attending her first national team camp in three years.

Hernandez, a Rio Olympic team champion and balance beam silver medalist, returned to training 10 months ago at a new gym with new coaches after two years off.

“I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made,” Hernandez said Saturday while attending the U.S. Championships as a spectator, noting she’s training five hours per day and six days per week. “I do think it’s realistic to be able to compete next year and do well. … Making the Olympic team, that’s definitely why I’m coming back.”

Hernandez is not guaranteed to be part of the November national team camp even if she wants to. Hernandez has not spoken with U.S. high-performance coordinator Tom Forster, but said her coaches have.

Gymnasts not on the national team must request an invite to a camp, usually through a process that involves submitting training videos of routines for review.

Hernandez’s Olympic bid would be an Everest-like climb. She would be returning a year later than Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas did in the last Olympic cycle, when they successfully returned from breaks to become the first U.S. female gymnasts to make multiple Olympic teams since 2000.

Moreover, the Olympic team-event size drops from five gymnasts in 2012 and 2016 to four in 2020, putting a greater emphasis on gymnasts who can perform well on all four apparatuses.

VIDEO: Gymnast saves high bar routine with one-handed catch

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Gregorio Paltrinieri swims second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history

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Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri swam the second-fastest 1500m freestyle in history, clocking 14:33.10 in his native Italy on Thursday.

Paltrinieri, 25, missed Chinese Sun Yang‘s world record from the 2012 Olympics by 2.08 seconds.

The Italian now owns the second- and third-fastest times in history, including his 14:34.10 from the 2016 European Championships, also held at the 2012 Olympic pool in London.

Paltrinieri is a versatile distance swimmer. At last year’s world championships, he finished sixth in the open-water 10km to qualify for the Olympics, then won the 800m free in the pool in a European record time and finished with 1500m bronze, just missing a third straight world title in that event.

German Florian Wellbrock won the 1500m in 14:36.54 at worlds, with Paltrinieri finishing 2.21 seconds back.

Sun, 28, was in February banned eight years stemming from destroying a drug-test sample with a hammer in September 2018. Sun, who focused more on the 200m and 400m frees in recent years, did not race the 1500m at the 2017 or 2019 Worlds.

Top-level swim meets in the U.S. are scheduled to resume in November with the Tyr Pro Series.

MORE: Michael Phelps qualifies for first Olympics at age 15

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Bianca Andreescu to miss U.S. Open

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Bianca Andreescu withdrew from the U.S. Open, citing “unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic” compromising her ability to prepare to defend her Grand Slam title.

“I have taken this step in order to focus on my match fitness and ensure that I return ready to play at my highest level,” Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, posted on social media. “The US Open victory last year has been the high point of my career thus far and I will miss not being there. However, I realize that the unforeseen challenges, including the Covid pandemic, have compromised my ability to prepare and compete to the degree necessary to play at my highest level.”

Andreescu’s absence means the U.S. Open, the first Grand Slam tournament since tennis resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic, will be without both 2019 male and female singles champions.

Rafael Nadal previously announced he would not defend his title, saying he would rather not travel given the global situation. Roger Federer is also out after knee surgery. Women’s No. 1 Ash Barty didn’t enter, either, citing travel concerns.

Last year, Andreescu made her U.S. Open title run as the 15th seed, sweeping Serena Williams in the final. Ranked 208th a year earlier, she became the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam and the first teen Slam winner since Maria Sharapova at the 2006 U.S. Open.

Andreescu then missed the Australian Open in January due to rehab from a knee injury that forced her to retire during a match at the WTA Finals on Oct. 30. She also missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2019 following a rotator cuff tear.

MORE: Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis competition

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