Brody Malone repeats as U.S. all-around gymnastics champion, leads world team

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TAMPA — Brody Malone confirmed that he is the leader of a new era of U.S. men’s gymnastics. Donnell Whittenburg showed that his time at the top of the sport isn’t near finished.

Malone repeated as U.S. all-around champion, consolidating his breakout from 2021, when he won his senior nationals debut, then won the Olympic Trials, placed 10th in the Tokyo Olympic all-around and earned a world championships bronze medal on high bar.

The 22-year-old Stanford standout totaled 176.590 points over two nights of competition this week, distancing Whittenburg by 5.019 points. Both Malone and Whittenburg clinched spots on the five-man team for this fall’s world championships. The other three members will be finalized after an October selection camp.

It’s the second-largest margin of victory since the perfect 10 was replaced by an open-ended scoring system in 2006.

Only Sam Mikulak won by a larger amount — 5.55 points for his sixth and final all-around title in 2019. Malone ended Mikulak’s reign last year, and Mikulak retired following his third Olympics. The throne is Malone’s.

“It was never my intention to come in and take over Sam’s spot,” said Malone, a former rodeo competitor and frog gigger from a four-square-mile Georgia hometown. “It just kind of happened. I don’t want that to affect how I approach my gymnastics. I don’t even think about it.”

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In contrast, Whittenburg missed two Olympic teams, changed coaches and moved from Colorado to Wisconsin since the previous time he was runner-up at nationals in 2015. At 28, he can become the oldest U.S. man to win a world championships medal since Blaine Wilson in 2003.

Whittenburg, a world medalist in 2014 and 2015, thinks he would have retired had he made the Tokyo Olympic team and earned a medal there. Without him, the U.S. men earned zero Olympic medals for the first time since 2000.

“I still feel like I’m missing something,” Whittenburg, one of the world’s best on vault, said before nationals. “I’ve done just about everything you could possibly do in this sport except going to the Olympic Games. … I’m still missing that one goal.

“My mom says, as long as you can keep going, you might as well because as soon as you’re done, you’re done.”

Who will join Malone and Whittenburg on the world championships team? A committee will decide after October’s camp competitions, but 18-year-old Asher Hong made a strong case in his senior nationals debut.

Hong, who got his gymnastics start by climbing door frames like Spider-Man at age 3, was in second place going into his 12th and last routine of the meet. He had a shot to outscore Malone, his future Stanford teammate, over the second half of the competition but struggled on high bar and fell behind Whittenburg.

Still, Hong can become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009.

If Hong does make it, that will mean one of three accomplished veterans will not: Olympians Yul Moldauer and Shane Wiskus finished fifth and seventh, respectively, though Moldauer stands much higher if excluding difficulty bonus points awarded at nationals that will not go into scores at worlds.

Stephen Nedoroscik is the only active U.S. gymnast who owns an individual world championships gold medal. Nedoroscik competes solely on pommel horse and last October became the first American to win a world title on the event. But he said he was not at his best in Tampa and will have to hope the selection committee values his single score enough to choose him over an all-arounder for worlds.

There’s also Paul Juda, who beat Malone for the NCAA all-around title in April but missed nationals due to a bone contusion. Juda can petition for a spot in the selection camp.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three.

That’s obviously much more desirable than having to wait until 2023 Worlds, where the rest of the nine Olympic team berths are at stake (not that the U.S. is in jeopardy of not qualifying).

Though the U.S. has not made the team podium at an Olympics or worlds since 2014, it is boosted this year by the absence of Olympic champion Russia, whose athletes are banned indefinitely due to the war in Ukraine. In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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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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