Jade Carey mathematically clinches first U.S. Olympic gymnastics berth

Jade Carey
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While sports are halted, Jade Carey sewed up her spot on the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team.

Carey was 99 percent of the way there before the coronavirus pandemic. It became a mathematical certainty following an International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) decision last week.

Last Thursday, the FIG announced that an Olympic qualifier in March in Baku, Azerbaijan, that was halted between qualifying and finals due to the global virus concerns would still count in the standings. The qualifying round results will count as final results.

Carey didn’t compete in Baku, but the results combined with her already substantial standings lead meant she mathematically clinched her own Olympic spot with one qualifying competition left.

FIG officials confirmed Tuesday that this qualification process — one of multiple ways gymnasts can qualify — will otherwise remain the same. No more qualifying competitions will be added outside of the one left to be rescheduled.

In earlier Olympic qualifying competitions, Carey earned the maximum points on floor exercise, where one Olympic spot was available. Now, nobody can catch her.

She was surprised the FIG decided to count Baku qualifying results as final results, given top gymnasts often perform easier routines in qualifying. This avoids the risk of a major error to rule them out of finals, but also means they may not place as high in qualifying, where scores don’t carry over to finals.

“I’ve done a lot of these meets, and I’ve worked really hard to get my points,” said Carey, who since 2018 competed in Germany, Azerbaijan, Qatar and Australia in qualifying. “But I don’t know. I guess it just won’t feel totally real until it’s all over and I know for sure.”

That end date is unknown. The last World Cup, originally scheduled for Doha, Qatar, in late March and rescheduled for early June is now postponed indefinitely.

Nonetheless, Carey mathematically clinched a chance to compete in all of the individual events at the Olympics — all-around, balance beam, floor exercise, uneven bars and vault. She did so via the only route where a U.S. gymnast can qualify without needing to be chosen by a USA Gymnastics selection committee.

The one downside to accepting an Olympic spot this way: Carey would not be able to compete in the team competition at the Olympics. Those four U.S. Olympic team spots are expected to be determined at and after an Olympic Trials in 2021, with Simone Biles likely grabbing one of them.

Carey’s father and coach, Brian, said she still plans to compete at trials “to show that she’s ready if need be” for the team event. If Carey declines the Olympic spot earned individually in pursuit of a team spot, the U.S. could lose the individual spot altogether and be limited to one individual gymnast at the Olympics rather than two. This all depends on how overall Olympic qualification — and their remaining competitions — are amended for 2021.

Carey is a world medalist on vault and floor, but nobody other than Biles can feel safe trying to make the Olympic team-event roster of four. Carey made a late move to the elite level — at age 17 in 2017 — and is committed to compete for Oregon State after the Tokyo Games.

Olympic team event roster sizes were cut from five to four for Tokyo, putting a greater onus on all-around prowess given a team must put three gymnasts on each apparatus in the Olympic final.

NBC Olympic researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

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MORE: Who is qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

U.S. women win record 27th consecutive FIBA World Cup game

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SYDNEY — There’s been a long legacy of success for the U.S. women’s basketball team at the World Cup.

The names change over time, but the results don’t seem to.

Kelsey Plum scored 20 points, Chelsea Gray added 16 and the United States routed Bosnia and Herzegovina 121-59 on Tuesday to break the team record for consecutive wins at the World Cup.

The victory was the 27th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals against Russia. The U.S. won 26 in a row from 1994-2006 leading up to that game. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-86.

“It’s kind of amazing,” said Breanna Stewart, who has been part of the last three World Cup teams. “Obviously, been here for some of it, but you understand the legends before that who really kind of started the streak. It goes to show that no matter who is playing on USA Basketball, we’re always trying to chase excellence.

“This streak doesn’t mean much right now because we’re going into the quarterfinals and focusing on winning a gold medal, but it’s something to kind of hang your hat on later.”

What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Stewart and A’ja Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t appear it will end anytime soon.

“The players change and, you know, there was a lot of concern about who’s next,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It was a concern when Dawn Staley and Lisa Leslie were playing and who was going to be next. Then it was Sue and (Taurasi) and then other great players, too. Now with this group they are saying, hey, we’re pretty good, too.”

MORE: FIBA World Cup Schedule, Results

The U.S. last lost a group play game in 1975, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.

“We know the responsibility when you put on this jersey. There’s a lot more than yourself,” Plum said. “Everyone puts pride to the side. We have a common goal. We have some amazing players on this team.”

The Americans (5-0) won their pool games by an average of 46.2 points and never trailed in any of them. Now they play Serbia in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. was coming off a record rout of South Korea in which the team broke the World Cup record for points with 145. While the Americans didn’t match that number, they put the game out of reach in the first 10 minutes, going up 33-15.

The lead ballooned to 63-31 at halftime. Bosnia and Herzegovina put together a small run to start the third quarter, but the U.S. scored the final 19 points of the period.

Once again they used a dominant inside performance, outscoring Bosnia and Herzegovina 84-28 in the paint led by Wilson, Stewart and Brionna Jones.

“It’s a huge part of our identity,” Reeve said. “Ninety-whatever we had yesterday and 84 today, we just know what we’re good at and we have players that are really understanding their opportunities for that.”

The U.S. was missing Jewell Loyd, whom the team said was resting. Kahleah Copper started in her place and finished with 11 points.

Nikolina Elez scored 19 points to lead the Bosniaks (0-5), who were playing in their first World Cup.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium 85, Bosnia and Herzegovina 55 Group A
11:30 p.m. Serbia 81, Mali 68 Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA 145, South Korea 69 Group A
2 a.m. France 67, Japan 53 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 95, Puerto Rico 60 Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia 75, Canada 72 Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 92, South Korea 73 Group A
11:30 p.m. China 81, Belgium 55 Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA 121, Bosnia and Herzegovina 59 Group A
2 a.m. Canada 88, Mali 65 Group B
3:30 a.m. Serbia 68, France 62 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 71, Japan 54 Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. USA vs. Serbia
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Canada vs. Puerto Rico
4 a.m. China vs. France
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Belgium
Fri., Sept. 30 3 a.m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final