Gymnastics worlds: China wins men’s team title, rallying from disaster; U.S. misses medal


China rebounded from an awful qualifying day to win the men’s team title at the world gymnastics championships by the largest margin in 15 years. The U.S. placed fifth, extending its medal drought since earning bronze in 2014.

In qualifying, China, which owns a record 13 men’s team titles, had eight falls among its 18 routines that it would use in the final. But the Chinese were in no danger of missing the eight-team final, making it in fourth place. Then scores reset after qualifying.

China totaled 257.858 points in the final, distancing longtime rival Japan by 4.463 to win its first global title since 2018. It marked the largest margin of victory in the event since the 2007 Worlds. Before Wednesday, the four most recent world men’s team titles, plus the Tokyo Olympics, were decided by less than a point.

The Chinese prevailed among an error-filled field in Liverpool, England, led by Zhang Boheng, who goes for a repeat world all-around title on Friday.

“Chinese men’s team gymnastics is rising again,” Zhang said, according to the International Gymnastics Federation. “In qualification, we faced some difficulties in adapting to the weather and apparatus. We obviously had mistakes, but after two days of reviews, we put out some good performances today.”

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The absence of Russian gymnasts who won the Olympic title — and are now banned due to the war in Ukraine — opened up a podium spot behind China and Japan.

Great Britain emerged from the rubble of fall-heavy teams to earn bronze over Italy, despite not having its biggest star over the last decade, Max Whitlock. The two-time Olympic pommel horse gold medalist has been on a break since Tokyo.

The U.S., which qualified third into the final, had major errors on pommel horse, high bar and floor exercise. The Americans, who also finished fifth at the Tokyo Olympics, are in their longest medal drought since missing the podium at every Olympics and worlds between 1985 and 2000.

“We just weren’t able to get it done,” U.S. high performance director Brett McClure told GymCastic. “I honestly don’t need to say too much [to them]. They know what they need to do. I’m sure they’re motivated to get back out there.”

Worlds continue Thursday with the women’s all-around final (2:50 p.m. ET, Peacock). Rebeca Andrade is favored to become the first Brazilian to win a world all-around title. Americans Shilese Jones and Jade Carey are also medal contenders.

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Rosie MacLennan, Olympic trampoline legend, retires

Rosie MacLennan

Canadian Rosie MacLennan, the lone person to win two Olympic trampoline gold medals, announced her retirement at age 34.

“After 10 World Championships and 4 Olympic Games, it is time for me to hang up my shiny spandex,” she posted on social media. “Trampoline has been such an integral part of my life and sport will continue to be, even if my role in sport is changing. My experience as an athlete has exceeded even my wildest childhood dreams.”

MacLennan won Olympic titles in 2012 and 2016 in an event that debuted at the 2000 Sydney Games. She was fourth at her last Olympics in Tokyo. MacLennan, Canada’s flag bearer at the 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremony, also earned world titles in 2013 and 2018 among seven world medals overall.

MacLennan came back from two concussions in 2015 — over-rotating a jump in training and later when she was accidentally hit on the head by a car trunk — to win her second Olympic title. She came back from an April 2019 broken ankle to reach her fourth Olympics.

MacLennan, who qualified for her first world age group competition at age 11, spent more than 26 years in the sport.

NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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Jessie Diggins ties U.S. record for World Cup cross-country skiing wins


Jessie Diggins tied Kikkan Randall‘s U.S. record with her 13th career individual cross-country skiing World Cup victory, taking a 10km freestyle in Lillehammer, Norway, on Friday.

Diggins, the most decorated U.S. Olympic cross-country skier with a medal of every color, prevailed by 3.8 seconds over German Katharina Hennig in the interval start event. Diggins trailed Hennig by one second at the 8.2-kilometer split, then made up 4.8 seconds over the final four minutes of the course.

“My fitness and brain were in a really good place,” Diggins said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard. “When I asked my body to go deep into the pain cave, it responded.”

Diggins tied the record of Randall, who in 2007 became the first U.S. woman to win a World Cup cross-country skiing race and ended her career by teaming with Diggins to win the first U.S. Olympic cross-country skiing title at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. (Another skier, Alison Owen-Spencer, won a race in 1978 that U.S. Ski and Snowboard counts as a World Cup, but the International Ski Federation does not.)

Diggins opened this World Cup season last weekend in Ruka, Finland, with a best finish of 10th among three races. She trended up each day, finishing that stop with the second-fastest time in last Sunday’s individual pursuit (where she started 19th).

Diggins, 31, has spread out her goals this season. One of the biggest is helping the U.S. win a relay medal for the first time at the world championships in three months. Diggins has been a part of relays that finished fourth at four different worlds.

She also eyes the World Cup overall title, the biggest annual prize in the sport that goes to the best all-around skier for the season. In 2020-21, Diggins became the second American — and first American woman — to win the overall in a season where Norway’s top skiers, including superstar Therese Johaug, skipped early season races and chances to gain points for the overall title.

Johaug retired after winning three individual golds at last February’s Olympics. Diggins is the top returning skier given the absence of reigning overall champ Natalya Nepryayeva, who cannot compete due to the ban on Russian athletes for the war in Ukraine.

The World Cup season continues with a freestyle sprint on Saturday and a classic 20km mass start on Sunday in Lillehammer.

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