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Simone Biles clinches world team spot, set to tie Kerri Strug record

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Simone Biles won a closer-than-expected all-around at the U.S. selection camp for the world championships, clinching a spot on her fifth straight world team next month in Stuttgart, Germany.

Biles, undefeated in official all-around competition for six years, will tie Kerri Strug as the only U.S. women to compete at worlds in five different years. It could be Biles’ last worlds, as whether she continues beyond the Tokyo Olympics is unknown.

Biles tallied 58.55 points to prevail by .35 over Sunisa Lee. Biles had the top score on floor exercise and vault among 15 gymnasts competing at Evo Athletics in Sarasota, Fla. Her major visible error was falling on her uneven bars dismount. She opened on floor with the triple-double tumbling pass, which she debuted at the national championships in August.

Biles claimed the lone automatic world team spot by winning the all-around. The rest will be chosen via committee. Five more women will be named to the world championships team after another day of non-all-around competition on Monday. One will later be designated alternate.

Whoever the U.S. sends will be favored to extend a streak of six straight Olympic or world team titles dating to 2011, the longest reign by one nation since the Soviets in the 1970s.

The other four members of the 2018 team were invited to the selection camp: 2017 World all-around champion Morgan HurdRiley McCuskerGrace McCallum and Kara Eaker. As was Lee, the distant runner-up to Biles at nationals in August, who eyes her first worlds. McCusker withdrew Saturday due to injury.

Lee and Eaker starred out of that group on Sunday. Lee again finished second to Biles, this time by a margin closer than any of Biles’ last five U.S. all-around titles.

Eaker scored 57.1 points, including a leading 15.2 on balance beam. Her total would have placed second to Biles on both days of competition at the U.S. Championships, where Eaker placed 10th with a 54.65 and a 53.45.

Biles is up to 20 world championships medals after earning six last year, including four golds. She is three shy of the total medals record held by retired Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo.

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Bernard Lagat commits to Olympic marathon trials, eyes age record

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Bernard Lagat, a 44-year-old, five-time Olympian, reportedly said he will race the Olympic marathon trials on Feb. 29 in a bid to break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner.

“I feel like I can still improve,” Lagat said, according to Runner’s World. “I’m going to give it my best.”

Lagat, a two-time Olympic 1500m medalist, moved to the marathon after becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history at the Rio Games, placing fifth in the 5000m.

He clocked 2:17:20 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2018 New York City Marathon. He lowered it to 2:12:10 at the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia on July 7 but did not previously commit to entering the trials.

If Lagat finishes in the top three at the marathon trials, he is in line to become the third-oldest U.S. Olympic track and field athlete in history. The oldest are race walker John Deni (49 years old in 1952) and hammer thrower Matt McGrath (48 years old in 1924), according to the OlyMADMen.

Lagat ranks outside the top 20 among U.S. marathoners in this Olympic cycle. The fastest are Galen Rupp (2:06:07), Leonard Korir (2:07:56, from Sunday’s Amsterdam Marathon) and Scott Fauble (2:09:09).

No American has competed in six Olympics in track and field. Lagat’s first two Olympic appearances were for Kenya.

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MORE: Olympic marathon moved from Tokyo to another Olympic host city

Natalie Geisenberger, Olympic luge champion, will not race this season

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For the first time in eight years, there will be a new World Cup women’s luge champion.

Germany’s Natalie Geisenberger — the seven-time defending champion and two-time defending Olympic singles gold medalist — announced that she isn’t sliding this season because she and her husband are expecting their first child in April.

“Our happiness is on the way,” Geisenberger said on her Facebook page.

Geisenberger plans to return next season and still has hopes to compete at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, where she could match fellow German great Georg Hackl’s feat of winning three consecutive singles golds.

With Geisenberger not sliding this season, the top returning women from last year’s World Cup standings now are Julia Taubitz of Germany and Summer Britcher of the U.S. — second and third, respectively, in 2018-19.

Geisenberger has a luge record-tying four Olympic golds in all, being part of Germany’s victories in the team relays in Sochi in 2014 and Pyeongchang in 2018 as well.

Her 49 World Cup singles wins are another record, and she’s one of two sliders to win seven consecutive World Cup titles — Austria’s Markus Prock took the men’s championships each year from 1990-91 through 1996-97.

Geisenberger’s break from sliding only adds to how the World Cup standings — and the German roster — will look very different this season. Dajana Eitberger, who was fourth in last season’s World Cup standings, is also pregnant and expecting a baby in February. And Tatjana Huefner, who was sixth overall last season, has retired.

Huefner won five consecutive World Cup titles before Geisenberger took over and began her seven-year streak of championships. Geisenberger earned medals 11 times in 12 singles races last year — six golds, four silvers and one bronze.

“We are so happy for you even though we will miss you this season!” two-time Olympic singles gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany wrote in a message to Geisenberger on Instagram.

Geisenberger has been in the top three of the World Cup standings in 12 consecutive seasons. She was third in 2007-08, finished second in each of the next four seasons, and then began her title streak in 2012-13.

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MORE: U.S. luge star adds doubles after Olympic singles medal