Rebeca Andrade wins gymnastics worlds all-around, completes grueling climb to the top


Rebeca Andrade is the first all-around gold medalist for Brazil and South America, crowned the top female gymnast at the world championships in Liverpool, England, on Thursday.

Andrade, the 23-year-old favorite, won with 56.899 points, distancing the silver medalist, American Shilese Jones, by 1.5 points. Jones was 10th at last year’s Olympic Trials and was ready to quit elite gymnastics. Now she’s the world’s second-best gymnast.

Jessica Gadirova earned bronze for Great Britain’s first world women’s all-around medal. Last year, Gadirova had Great Britain’s best Olympic women’s all-around finish in history — 10th.

Jade Carey, the other American in the final, was sixth, two places better than her result in Tokyo.

Andrade, the Olympic all-around silver medalist, had the highest score in qualifying by 1.566 points. With scores reset Thursday, she had no falls, though she had errors on uneven bars and the balance beam.

GYMNASTICS WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule | Results

Andrade completed Brazil’s rise since 2000 from non-existent in medal-level gymnastics to the top of the sport. Brazil had no active Olympic gymnasts when Andrade was born in 1999, one of eight siblings raised by her mom, a house cleaner.

Brazil’s emergence began with Daniele Hypolito, who won the nation’s first world championships medal in 2001 (floor silver). Daiane dos Santos, the 4-foot-9 firecracker, followed with gold on floor at the 2003 Worlds (and later appeared before Steve Prefontaine in a Nike commercial). In 2007, Jade Barbosa landed bronze in the world championships all-around. In 2012, Arthur Zanetti won Olympic still rings gold.

Andrade won Brazil’s second Olympic title in Tokyo, doing so on vault three days after taking silver in the all-around behind American Suni Lee. Andrade would have been Olympic all-around champion if not for landing out of bounds twice on her closing floor routine.

Andrade’s growing medal collection is the product of perseverance. Three separate right ACL tears ruled her out of the world championships in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

“I have had a lot of moments, not just in my sporting life but in my personal life too: my injuries, the things I needed to do to be here now,” she said, according to the International Gymnastics Federation. “There have been a lot of things that have helped me make adjustments when I need to. I don’t feel pressure doing gymnastics, because that’s my job.”

Andrade, who has four million followers between Instagram and TikTok, is the oldest woman to win a world all-around title since Russian Svetlana Khorkina in 2003. Khorkina’s back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2003 marked the last time the U.S. went consecutive worlds without winning the women’s all-around until now.

The U.S. won every Olympic and world all-around title from 2011 through the Tokyo Games, with Simone Biles taking six of those. Biles and Lee are on indefinite, perhaps permanent breaks from elite gymnastics.

Angelina Melnikova, who won last October’s world title with Biles, Lee and Andrade not in the field, missed these worlds due to the ban on Russian gymnasts for the war in Ukraine.

China’s Tang Xijing, the 2019 World silver medalist, withdrew before the start of Thursday’s final after struggling in Tuesday’s team final.

Konnor McClain, who won the U.S. all-around title in August, missed worlds due to a back injury.

That made Jones the top American all-arounder, one year after she was 10th at Olympic Trials. The top nine went to Tokyo — five on the team, four as alternates — and Jones was ready to end her elite gymnastics career and matriculate at the University of Florida.

After conversations with loved ones, notably her father, Jones changed her mind. She deferred enrollment until 2024 because she had designs on the Paris Games.

“I knew that wasn’t the ending,” Jones said Thursday. “I knew I was capable of more.”

In December, Jones’ father, Sylvester, died after a long kidney disease battle. In a GoFundMe to help with funeral and travel expenses, Jones wrote that it was her dad’s “dream to see me on the Olympic stage one day and he devoted anything and everything to my gymnastics. Beat tired after a long day of dialysis to drive and pick me up from practices. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to support my gymnastics.”

Worlds continue Friday with the men’s all-around final, live on Peacock at 2:05 p.m. ET.

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Ukraine officials say athletes should not compete in Olympic qualifiers with Russians

Ukraine Russia Fencing

The Ukraine government decided that its athletes should not compete in 2024 Olympic qualifying events if Russians are present, according to several media reports in Ukraine.

“At a meeting of the government, a protocol decision was made on the proposal of colleague (sports minister Vadym) Guttsait that we take part in qualifying competitions only where there are no Russians,” government minister Oleh Nemchinov said Thursday, according to a Reuters translation of a Ukraine public broadcaster report. “Accordingly, participation outside these criteria may be grounds for depriving federations of their national status.”

A decision has not been published on the Ukraine government website.

Guttsait is also the president of Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee. A message was sent to the committee late Thursday seeking comment.

On Tuesday, the IOC updated its recommendations for the possible participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in international competition. Previously, the IOC recommended no Russians or Belarusians be allowed to compete.

Tuesday’s update called for strict measures should international sports federations decide to readmit Russians and Belarusians who do not actively support the war as neutral athletes in individual events.

“I want to tell our fellow athletes who are worried that due to the IOC measures and the admission of Russians or Belarusians to competitions, and accordingly Ukrainians will not be able to participate, that their careers will be broken,” Nemchinov said, according to the Reuters translation of the public broadcaster report. “But your life and that of your children will remain.”

The International Fencing Federation (FIE) decided earlier in March that it planned to readmit Russians and Belarusians starting in the second half of April, which is also when the 2024 Olympic qualifying period begins in that sport.

Most other international federations for Olympic sports are so far still barring Russians and Belarusians. Some have said they are considering the IOC’s updated recommendations as they monitor their positions.

After Nemchinov’s reported comments, the Ukraine fencing federation press secretary said late Thursday that its fencers will not compete against Russians.

“Ukrainian fencers will not only refuse to compete against Russian and Belarusian athletes but will not participate in events of any level where Russian or Belarusian athletes will be competing,” the press secretary said in an email.

Ukraine won at least one fencing medal at each of the last five Olympics.

“We are all professionals, and if I will fence, which can be or cannot, I think I will be professional,” Ukrainian fencer Olga Kharlan, a four-time Olympic medalist and a four-time individual world champion, said Wednesday regarding a possible boycott. “As a Ukrainian citizen, it’s tough to even imagine how to stand next to [Russians], to know that they’re supporting or they’re in silence and we haven’t heard any word from them or we know that they represent army that’s shelling Ukraine every day.”

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Wimbledon reverses ban on Russia, Belarus tennis players

Wimbledon Russia

Russian and Belarusian players will be able to compete at Wimbledon as neutral athletes after the All England Club on Friday reversed its ban from last year.

The players must sign declarations of neutrality and comply with “appropriate conditions,” including not expressing support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision, not taken lightly or without a great deal of consideration for those who will be impacted,” All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.

The players cannot receive funding from the Russian or Belarusian states, including sponsorship from companies operated or controlled by the states.

Those impacted include Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus and Russian players Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.

Other tennis tournaments have allowed Russian and Belarusian players to compete as neutral athletes.

“We also consider alignment between the Grand Slams to be increasingly important in the current tennis environment,” the club said.

The same conditions will apply for Lawn Tennis Association tournaments used by players as grass-court warmups for the sport’s oldest Grand Slam tournament.

The women’s and men’s professional tennis tours last year imposed heavy fines on the LTA and threatened to pull its tournaments. The ATP and WTA had also responded to last year’s ban by not awarding ranking points for Wimbledon — an unprecedented move against the prestigious event.

“There was a strong and very disappointing reaction from some governing bodies in tennis to the position taken by the All England Club and the LTA last year with consequences which, if continued, would be damaging to the interests of players, fans, The Championships and British tennis,” the club said.

This year’s Wimbledon tournament will start on July 3. The women’s final is scheduled for July 15 and the men’s final on July 16.

The All England Club said the conditions were developed through talks with the British government, the LTA and “international stakeholder bodies in tennis.”

The club’s statement described “personal player declarations” but didn’t provide details. The LTA said the players and support staff “will be required to sign neutrality declarations” similar to those used in other sports.

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