Is there room for a world gymnastics champion on the world championships team?

Stephen Nedoroscik
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TAMPA — Stephen Nedoroscik is the lone entrant at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships who already owns an individual world title, yet he might not make the five-man team for the world championships in two months.

Last October, Nedoroscik rebounded from missing the Tokyo Olympics to become the first American to win a world title on pommel horse (unbeknownst, he competed with a broken bone in his left hand that later put him in a cast for 10 weeks.)

Nedoroscik is a specialist, focusing on just that one apparatus out of the six in men’s gymnastics. He will compete for a total of 90 seconds at nationals this week, bypassing floor exercise, high bar, parallel bars, still rings and vault.

That was fine in the last Olympic cycle, when the format allowed for some gymnasts to qualify for the Games via international results on one event. And at last year’s worlds, where there was no team event and less incentive to pack rosters with all-around gymnasts.

But this year, and this Olympic cycle, is different. The 2024 Paris Games revert to the five-man and five-woman team formats from the Olympics in 2012 and 2016. The world championships the next two years also have five-person teams, with no extra spots for American gymnasts to compete strictly in individual events.

So Nedoroscik, who on Thursday solved a Rubik’s cube while waiting for his pommel horse score (15.693 points), must find a way to fit in the U.S. men’s team puzzle.

“My [Olympic] path is going to be a little bit trickier,” said Nedoroscik, a Penn State electrical engineering grad who competes in Rec Specs out of comfort and superstition rather than prescription (but forgot to bring them to last year’s worlds). “I have quite a good understanding of how well I need to do at competitions to make the meets I want to make.”

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After a selection camp this October, a committee will finalize the five-man world championships team. The onus is on producing the highest score in the team final at worlds, where three different gymnasts out of the five perform on each of the six events.

Nedoroscik’s pommel horse score would of course help the U.S. bid to win a men’s team medal for the first time since 2014. But it is only one score out of 18 in the team final.

“I’ve always had that thought of potentially picking up parallel bars or rings,” he said, noting it has been about six years since he competed on another event. “But with the years that pass of me just being a specialist, it’s becoming less and less likely that I’ll be able to do that. So probably not.”

Nedoroscik’s value would be tied to the ability of the other four gymnasts to hold their own for the other 17 routines. He needs teammates who can perform at an all-around level, contributing on several events to complement his specialty.

“To make it as a single event person, it’s always been a big challenge,” NBC Sports analyst Tim Daggett said. “It absolutely depends on who else is on the team.”

Fortunately for Nedoroscik, the U.S. took a specialist to each of the last two world championships with a team event.

Alec Yoder performed solely on pommel horse in the 2018 team final, when Sam Mikulak picked up the slack by becoming the first U.S. man to do all six events in an Olympic or world team final since the format switched to three-up, three-count after the 2000 Olympics.

Mikulak did all six again in 2019, when Trevor Howard was used strictly on rings. Mikulak retired after Tokyo, but Brody Malone emerged as a candidate to compete on everything in a team final. The question is who else can carry a heavy load.

If the world team was chosen solely off Thursday’s first night of nationals, Nedoroscik would not be on the highest-scoring five-man lineup.

He hopes to score higher on Saturday night, then excel again at the October camp. Selectors also have discretion to consider a gymnast’s ability to earn a medal in an individual event, even though the primary focus is on the team.

“Stephen is definitely capable of having such a big swing on that single event to take care of his opportunity to be on the world team,” said U.S. men’s high performance director Brett McClure, one of six people on the selection committee. “World champ definitely is a feather that you can’t ignore.”

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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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