Who makes the U.S. women’s gymnastics team for world championships?

Shilese Jones
John and Allison Cheng/USA Gymnastics
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Over the previous decade, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team was the hardest roster to make in the sport. It may still be. But those who earn spots at this year’s world championships will have seized an opportunity.

Not only are Olympic all-around champions Simone Biles and Suni Lee on indefinite breaks from elite competition, but Konnor McClain, crowned U.S. all-around champion two months ago, is also absent for the rest of 2022, out with a back injury.

Eleven other women compete at a selection camp streaming on USA Gymnastics’ subscription service on Friday (7 p.m. ET) and Saturday (5:50 p.m.). The all-around winner on the first day qualifies automatically for the six-woman traveling team. A committee selects the rest on Saturday night. One will at some point be designated an alternate.

“The beauty of this women’s team is that they might not have a Simone that is in a different stratosphere from the world, but they’ve got a high floor,” said NBC Sports’ John Roethlisberger, a three-time Olympian.

The conversation starts with Shilese Jones, who had the all-around title until falling on her last skill at the two-day national championships in August.

Jones thought she was done with elite gymnastics after placing 10th at last year’s Olympic Trials. She changed her mind after talks with loved ones, including her father, who later died in December after a long kidney disease battle. Sylvester Jones Jr. drove his daughter to and from practices on days he had dialysis.

Jones wrote that it was her dad’s “dream to see me on the Olympic stage one day.” The 20-year-old deferred enrollment to the University of Florida, planning to wait until after the 2024 Paris Olympics.

If Jones is a near-lock to make the team, then Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles, the two Tokyo Olympians who returned to elite competition this year, may already be written in pencil, too.

Chiles, an Olympic team silver medalist, followed her UCLA season by placing third in the all-around at nationals behind McClain and Jones.

Carey, the Olympic floor exercise champion, competed at Oregon State last winter, then was fifth at nationals. Kayla DiCello, who was fourth at nationals, withdrew from world championships team consideration to focus on her collegiate career at Florida.

The selection committee will be putting together a puzzle to round out the five-woman team.

McClain’s absence will be most felt on the balance beam. A possible fourth or fifth member of the world team, perhaps both, will likely go on beam in the three-up, three-count team final at worlds.

“Beam is still wide open,” Roethlisberger said. “Who is going to go into there, knowing worlds are on the line, and they’re going to hit beam routine after beam routine throughout the world selection camp, and get a spot that they might not have gotten because Konnor McClain is no longer going to be in that beam lineup.”

None of the top three women on beam at nationals will be at the world team selection camp, though Carey did impress at an international competition in Paris last month, placing second.

Another woman has a stronger international pedigree on the apparatus — Leanne Wong, a Tokyo Olympic alternate who placed fourth on beam at last October’s world championships. Wong tied for fifth at nationals on beam, competing on an injured ankle. She also tied for the national title on the uneven bars, another event where there’s an opening in the team final lineup.

Katelyn Jong, a 16-year-old who won last year’s U.S. junior all-around title, tied with Wong for fifth on beam at nationals in August. It was Jong’s best event at her first senior U.S. Championships, but she withdrew from the selection camp due to injury, according to USA Gymnastics on Wednesday.

If the committee wants another all-arounder, then Skye Blakely is in the driver’s seat. She was sixth at nationals, but fourth if excluding McClain and DiCello. She also had a sizable 2.8-point cushion to the gymnast right behind her in the all-around, Lexi Zeiss.

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Chloe Kim, Elana Meyers Taylor among Olympians to join presidential sports council

Elana Meyers Taylor, President Joe Biden

Chloe Kim and Elana Meyers Taylor are among the Olympic and Paralympic medalists set to join the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, & Nutrition.

President Joe Biden intends to appoint the snowboarder Kim, bobsledder Meyers Taylor, retired Olympic medalists Chaunté Lowe (track and field) and Tamika Catchings (basketball) and Paralympic medalist Melissa Stockwell (triathlon) to the council, among other athletes and people in the health and fitness fields, it was announced Friday.

Stephen and Ayesha Curry are also on the list.

The council “aims to promote healthy, accessible eating and physical activity for all Americans, regardless of background or ability.”

Last year, Biden appointed basketball gold medalist Elena Delle Donne a co-chair of the council.

Kim, the two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, sat out this past season but is expected to return to competition for a third Olympic run in 2026.

Meyers Taylor, the most decorated U.S. Olympic bobsledder in history with medals in all five of her Olympic events, sat out this past season due to pregnancy. She took her first bobsled run in 13 months this past week in Lake Placid, New York.

There is a long history of Olympians and Paralympians serving on the council, which was created in 1956.

In 2017, Barack Obama appointed medalists including gymnast Gabby Douglas, soccer player Carli Lloyd and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

Others to previously be on the council include sprinter Allyson Felix, figure skater Michelle Kwan and swimmer and triathlete Brad Snyder.

Members serve for two years and can be reappointed.

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Kaori Sakamoto wins figure skating worlds; top American places fourth


Kaori Sakamoto overcame a late error in her free skate to become the first Japanese figure skater to win back-to-back world titles and the oldest women’s world champion since 2014.

Sakamoto, 22, totaled 224.61 points on home ice in Saitama to prevail by 3.67 over Lee Hae-In of South Korea in the closest women’s finish at worlds since 2011.

Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx took bronze, edging 16-year-old American Isabeau Levito for a medal by 2.77 points.

Sakamoto is the oldest women’s singles world champion since Mao Asada (2014), who is now the only Japanese skater with more world titles than Sakamoto.

She appeared en route to an easier victory until singling a planned triple flip late in her free skate, which put the gold in doubt. She can be thankful for pulling off the second jump of that planned combination — a triple toe loop — and her 5.62-point lead from Wednesday’s short program.

“I feel so pathetic and thought, what was all that hard work I put into my training?” Sakamoto said of her mistake, according to the International Skating Union (ISU). “But I was able to refocus and do my best till the end.

“Because I have this feeling of regret at the biggest event of the season, I want to make sure I don’t have this feeling next season. So I want to practice even harder, and I want to make sure to do clean, perfect performances at every competition.”

Lee, who had the top free skate, became the second South Korean to win a world medal in any discipline after six-time medalist Yuna Kim.

Hendrickx followed her silver from last year, when she became the first Belgian women’s singles skater to win a world medal.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Levito, last year’s world junior champion, had a chance to become the youngest senior world medalist since 2014.

After a solid short program, she fell on her opening triple Lutz in the free skate and left points on the table by performing two jump combinations rather than three. The Lutz was planned to be the first half of a combination with a triple loop.

“I am severely disappointed because I’ve been nailing my Lutz-loop for a really long time, and this is the first time I’ve messed it up in a while, and of course it had to be when it actually counted,” Levito said, according to the ISU. “But I’m pretty happy with myself for just trying to move past it and focusing on making the most out of the rest of the program.”

Levito entered worlds ranked fourth in the field by best score this season. She matched the best finish for a U.S. woman in her senior global championships debut (Olympics and worlds) since Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan took silver and bronze at the 1991 Worlds. Sasha Cohen, to whom Levito is often compared, also placed fourth in her Olympic and world debuts in 2002.

“I feel very proud for myself and grateful for my coaching team for helping me get this far so far in my skating career, and I’m just very proud to be where I am,” Levito said on USA Network.

American Amber Glenn was 12th in her world debut. Two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell was 15th. They had been 10th and eighth, respectively, in the short program.

The U.S. qualified two women’s spots for next year’s worlds rather than the maximum three because the top two Americans’ results added up to more than 13 (Levito’s fourth plus Glenn’s 12th equaled 16). The U.S. was in position to qualify three spots after the short program.

Glenn said after the short program that she had a very difficult two weeks before worlds, including “out-of-nowhere accidents and coincidences that could have prevented me from being here,” and boot problems that affected her triple Axel. She attempted a triple Axel in the free skate, spinning out of an under-rotated, two-footed landing.

Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022, had several jumping errors in the free skate.

“This season has been like one thing after another,” said the 25-year-old Tennell, who plans to compete through the 2026 Winter Games. “I’m really excited to get back and work on some stuff for the new season.”

Earlier, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates topped the rhythm dance, starting their bid for a first world title in their 12th season together and after three prior world silver or bronze medals.

“We skated as best we possibly could today,” Bates said, according to the ISU, after they tallied the world’s top score this season.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the lone U.S. ice dancers to win a world title, doing so in 2011 and 2013.

Worlds continue Friday night (U.S. time) with the free dance, followed Saturday morning with the men’s free skate, live on Peacock and USA Network.

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