Brazil gymnasts’ hope for historic world championships medal clouded by pain

Flavia Saraiva
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Rebeca AndradeFlavia Saraiva and the Brazil women’s gymnastics team were supposed to be the feel-good story of this week’s world championships. They still may be, but some of that promise was replaced by pain in qualifying.

Saraiva, whose Tokyo Olympics were beset by ankle problems, suffered another ankle injury in Liverpool, England, on Sunday, getting assistance after a vault. She finished qualification with a watered-down uneven bars dismount, then was in a boot in the media mixed zone, according to Olympics.com.

She was in medical care Monday afternoon in Liverpool, according to the Brazilian gymnastics federation. Her status for Tuesday evening’s team final (Peacock, 2:30 p.m. ET) is unknown, though she is listed to compete on all four apparatuses.

Brazil qualified in third place into the team final behind the U.S. and Great Britain, the silver and bronze medalists from the Tokyo Games. Scores are reset for the final. Russian gymnasts who took Olympic gold are banned from these worlds due to the war in Ukraine.

More than 300 teams of gymnasts have won Olympic or world championships medals all-time. But in the nearly 120 years of global competitions, the United States is the lone Western Hemisphere nation to make a men’s or women’s team podium.

Brazil’s women, who had not won an Olympic gymnastics medal in any event until last year and failed to qualify a full team for the Tokyo Games, can change that. They have been a revelation since the program nadir of missing the Olympic team event.

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In July, Brazil beat a U.S. B team at the Pan American Championships in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil’s roster was the same as its quintet at this week’s worlds. It leaned heavily on Andrade and Saraiva (for seven of its 12 routines in the final). The U.S. team at Pan Ams included one woman who went on to make its world championships team (Skye Blakely), but none of its top all-arounders who are at worlds (Shilese JonesJade CareyJordan Chiles). Still, Brazil’s decisive victory (by 1.999 points) reverberated.

“The Pan Am title validated their work,” said Marcos Guerra, a producer for Brazilian broadcaster Globo. “The girls saw that they have a real shot at winning a team medal [at worlds] for the first time.”

Andrade, the Olympic all-around silver medalist, and Saraiva, precocious talents hardened by past injury setbacks, were expected to again carry the five-woman squad in Tuesday’s team final.

In qualifying, four gymnasts from each team of five were chosen for each of the four apparatuses, with the best three scores counting for 12 total. Andrade and Saraiva were used on each apparatus. All eight of their scores counted. Andrade is well-known for her individual Olympic success, and she is favored to win Brazil’s first world all-around title on Thursday.

If Andrade is the team’s Marta, then Saraiva is Cristiane. If Saraiva’s scores were replaced by the fourth Brazilian on each apparatus, Brazil would not have qualified for the eight-team final.

Andrade and Saraiva, born four months apart in 1999, have trained together in Rio for much of the last decade, said Gabriel Gentile, a Brazilian sports journalist.

“We have been a family since childhood,” Saraiva said this summer about not just Andrade, but a larger group of national team gymnasts, according to the International Gymnastics Federation, citing Olympics.com. “I live with them. I spend more time with them than with my own family.”

Andrade is originally from outside Sao Paulo, where she and seven siblings were raised by their mom, a house cleaner, before she left home for gymnastics at age 8.

A junior Pan American all-around champ at 13, she was then plagued by injuries. A broken big toe kept her out of the 2014 Youth Olympics. Three separate right ACL tears ruled her out of the world championships in 2015, 2017 and 2019. She still managed to compete at the 2016 Rio Games and became known as Rebeyoncé back home after performing to Beyoncé music on floor exercise.

Healthy in Tokyo, Andrade became the first Brazilian female gymnast to win an Olympic medal with her all-around silver behind Suni Lee. It would have been gold had she not gone out of bounds twice in her closing floor routine. Three days later, Andrade won Brazil’s first Olympic women’s gymnastics gold medal, doing so on vault.

“This medal is not just mine, it’s one for everyone that knows my story, everything I have been through,” Andrade, who has four million followers between Instagram and TikTok, reportedly said in Tokyo.

Saraiva was listed at 4 feet, 5 inches when she made her Olympic debut in Rio at age 16 as a medal contender on the balance beam (she finished fifth). A Carioca, she developed at one of Rio’s government-sponsored sport programs for low-income children.

“Flavinha,” or little Flavia, missed the 2017 World Championships after injuring her spine. She had individual finishes of fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth at worlds between 2018 and 2019, setting her up to go for Brazil’s first Olympic women’s gymnastics medal in Tokyo.

But an ankle injury in qualifying at the Olympics ruled her out of the all-around. She celebrated Andrade’s silver instead. She returned on the last day of competition and was seventh on beam, then had surgery later that month.

“We keep fighting,” Saraiva posted in Portuguese on Instagram after last year’s ankle injury.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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Ukraine Olympic champion auctions gold medals to support his country

Yuriy Cheban
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Sprint canoeist Yuriy Cheban, Ukraine’s most decorated male Olympian, is auctioning his two gold medals and one bronze medal to support his country’s defense and recovery efforts amid the war with Russia.

“It was one of the best moments of my life that can be compared only with the birth of my child,” Cheban posted specifically about his repeat 200m gold at his last Olympics in Rio in 2016. “This Olympic finish left a great memory forever in the world history and in the hearts of Ukraine.

“Time to move on, I would like these medals to benefit Ukrainians once again.”

Cheban, a 36-year-old who coached Ukraine canoeists at the Tokyo Games, took 500m bronze in 2008 before his 200m golds in 2012 and 2016, all in individual races.

He and boxer Vasyl Lomachenko are the only men to win two Olympic gold medals for Ukraine, which began competing independently in 1994. Cheban is the only man to win three total Olympic medals for Ukraine, according to Olympedia.org.

All proceeds from the sales will go to Ukraine’s Olympic Circle charity, according to SCP Auctions.

Olympic Circle was created by sportsmen to help Mykolaiv, a city in southern Ukraine, fight Russian occupants, according to SCP.

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Alpine skiing TV, live stream schedule for 2022-23 World Cup season

Mikaela Shiffrin, Marco Odermatt
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NBC Sports and Peacock combine to air live coverage of the 2022-23 Alpine skiing season, including races on the World Cup, which starts this weekend.

Coverage begins with the traditional season-opening giant slaloms in Soelden, Austria, this Saturday and Sunday, streaming live on Peacock.

The first of four stops in the U.S. — the most in 26 years — is Thanksgiving weekend with a women’s giant slalom and slalom in Killington, Vermont. The men’s tour visits Beaver Creek, Colorado the following week, as well as Palisades Tahoe, California, and Aspen, Colorado after worlds in Courchevel and Meribel, France.

NBC Sports platforms will broadcast all four U.S. stops in the Alpine World Cup season, plus four more World Cups in other ski and snowboard disciplines. All Alpine World Cups in Austria will stream live on Peacock.

Mikaela Shiffrin, who last year won her fourth World Cup overall title, is the headliner. Shiffrin, who has 74 career World Cup race victories, will try to close the gap on the only Alpine skiers with more: Lindsey Vonn (82) and Ingemar Stenmark (86). Shiffrin won an average of five times per season the last three years and is hopeful of racing more often this season.

On the men’s side, 25-year-old Swiss Marco Odermatt returns after becoming the youngest man to win the overall, the biggest annual prize in ski racing, since Marcel Hirscher won the second of his record eight in a row in 2013.

2022-23 Alpine Skiing World Cup Broadcast Schedule
Schedule will be added to as the season progresses. All NBC Sports TV coverage also streams live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Date Coverage Network/Platform Time (ET)
Sat., Oct. 22 Women’s GS (Run 1) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Women’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden (PPD) Peacock 7:05 a.m.
Sun., Oct. 23 Men’s GS (Run 1) — Soelden Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s GS (Run 2) – Soelden Peacock 7 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 12 Women’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 6 a.m.
Women’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 12 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 13 Men’s Parallel (Qualifying) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 4 a.m.
Men’s Parallel (Finals) — Lech (PPD) Peacock 10 a.m.
Sat., Nov. 19 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7 a.m.
Sun., Nov. 20 Women’s SL (Run 1) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 4:15 a.m.
Women’s SL (Run 2) — Levi Skiandsnowboard.live 7:15 a.m.
Fri., Nov. 25 Men’s DH — Lake Louise (PPD) Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sat., Nov. 26 Women’s GS (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 27 Women’s SL (Run 2) — Killington NBC, Peacock 12:30 p.m.
Men’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:15 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 2 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 3 Women’s DH — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 2:30 p.m.
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek CNBC, Peacock 4 p.m.*
Men’s DH — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*
Sun., Dec. 4 Women’s SG — Lake Louise Skiandsnowboard.live 1 p.m.
Men’s SG — Beaver Creek NBC, Peacock 5 p.m.*

*Delayed broadcast.

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