Brody Malone leads U.S. Gymnastics Championships by record margin

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TAMPA — Brody Malone wasn’t satisfied after gapping the U.S. men’s gymnastics field by a record margin on the first night of the U.S. Championships.

Mad about his opening still rings routine, Malone still tallied 88.942 points on the first of two nights of competition on Thursday. He leads by 3.462 points — shattering the record lead for one day in U.S. men’s history — over Asher Hong going into Saturday, when national champions will be crowned.

Malone, a 22-year-old Stanford standout, should cruise to a repeat U.S. all-around title.

But he believes his overall performance Thursday would not be enough to break into the all-around medals at the world championships in two and a half months. His score was boosted by around two points due to bonuses awarded for attempting difficult skills. That bonus system is not in effect in international competition.

“That [88.942] is kind of what I need to be scoring without bonuses to be competitive internationally,” Malone said. “So we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

GYMNASTICS NATIONALS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Last year, Malone won his senior nationals debut, displacing six-time U.S. all-around champion Sam Mikulak.

Malone, a former rodeo competitor and frog gigger from a four-square-mile Georgia hometown, then placed 10th in the Tokyo Olympic all-around and missed a high bar medal by one spot.

The Americans finished fifth in the Olympic team event and went medal-less across all the men’s events at the Games for the first time since 2000.

Collectively, the U.S. men are now focused on performing more difficult routines to increase their start values. The reserved Malone is thrust into a leadership role with Mikulak retired.

“I kind of wanted to step up and lead USA Gymnastics,” he said. “Not just me. [Olympic teammates] Yul [Moldauer] and Shane [Wiskus] also. Lead us to start pushing difficulty and push for a medal next Olympics.”

The goal by the 2024 Paris Games, if not before, is to be competitive with world powers China, Japan and Russia (which is banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine).

The men are incentivized with bonus points at nationals to throw harder skills — sometimes more than a full point per routine. Since last season, Malone upgraded rings, parallel bars and pommel horse, plus put in new floor exercise passes. He wants to be one of the world’s top five gymnasts and a high bar medalist come 2024.

Saturday’s all-around winner clinches a spot on the five-man team for the world championships in Liverpool, Great Britain. That roster will be finalized after an October selection camp. The U.S. is a medal contender given Olympic champion Russia’s absence. The last U.S. men’s team medal at an Olympics or worlds came in 2014.

Hong, an 18-year-old in his senior nationals debut, boosted his chances Thursday with the top scores on floor and vault. Donnell Whittenburg, a 2016 Olympic alternate who turned 28 on Thursday, was third for his best single-day finish in a U.S. all-around since 2017.

Wiskus and Moldauer were fourth and fifth.

Nationals continue Friday with the first of two nights of women’s competition.

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Paris 2024 Olympic marathon route unveiled

Paris 2024 Olympic Marathon
Paris 2024
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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

Boxing gloves
Getty
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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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