Grace McCallum

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U.S.’ Moldauer three-peats; Wong wins first international senior title at American Cup

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With the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games roughly 16 months away, U.S. gymnasts Yul Moldauer and Leanne Wong won the American Cup, the annual one-day all-round gathering of international talent in the U.S.

It was a back-and-forth battle between Moldauer and his friend and five-time U.S. all-around champion, Sam Mikulak, but in the end Moldauer got the win by just one-thousandth of a point posting a final score of 85.932 to Mikulak’s 85.931.

Moldauer’s landings and dismounts on the day were some of the stickiest. After Mikulak sidestepped his landing on vault, NBC Sports mics overheard Mikulak say to Moldauer, “I wanted that stick like you!”

Typically dominant on parallel bars, Mikulak made an uncharacteristic error when his hands slipped as he attempted to launch himself the full length of the bars with one skill

It came down to the high bar between Moldauer and Mikulak, with Mikulak holding the edge on paper as the 2018 World bronze medalist in the discipline. But, Mikulak, like on parallel bars, made a costly mistake when he rotated around the bar in the wrong direction midway through his routine.

Moldauer is the first gymnast to win three years in a row since U.S. gymnast Blaine Wilson completed his own hat trick at three-straight American Cup events back in 1999.

“It was just so fun going out there with Sam again,” Moldauer told NBC Sports’ Andrea Joyce after his win.  “The last time we truly competed together for the U.S. was at Worlds. It was just a great feeling having him out there. I can’t describe how I’m feeling right now.”

Moldauer posted the highest scores of the day in the vault and parallel bars, and finished second in rings and the floor.

Full men’s results are here.

In the women’s competition the 15-year-old Wong, making her senior international debut, posted the highest scores of the day on vault and balance beam and had the second best floor routine score, to walk away with the win.

Wong and the U.S.’ Grace McCallum were tied at the halfway point, but Wong’s balance beam routine pushed the rookie ahead of the 2018 World Team Champion. McCallum finished her day in second.

Full women’s results are here.

“It’s so incredible and I’m really excited and it was really fun,” Wong said. “I tried to treat it the same as any other meet, and that’s pretty much what it was.

“I was just afraid about the part that each gymnast goes one-by-one, but I think I handled it really well.”

The next major gymnastics event will be a World Cup stop in Stuttgart, Germany from March 16-17, where the U.S.’ reigning world Champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles is expected to compete.

Simone Biles, U.S. gymnastics team win world title by record margin

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The U.S. women’s gymnastics team is as dominant as ever. All the more impressive considering everything that’s happened off the competition floor since we last saw it at the Rio Olympics.

The Simone Biles-anchored five-woman team won the world championship in Doha on Tuesday by the largest margin under the 12-year-old scoring system. Biles, Morgan HurdRiley McCuskerGrace McCallum and Kara Eaker combined for 171.629 points with zero falls.

The Americans routed silver medalist Russia by 8.766 points, crushing the previous record margin of victory of 6.693 set in 2014. It also beat the Olympic record of 8.209 set by the U.S. in Rio. China rallied past Brazil for bronze on the last rotation.

The records are under the Code of Points, which replaced the perfect-10 judging system in 2006.

The U.S. has won six straight Olympic or world titles dating to 2011, the longest dynasty in the event since the Soviet Union teams of the 1970s. In 72 routines, they’ve counted zero falls.

This was the first title since the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse crimes became public, with hundreds of survivors coming forward (including Biles and eight more Olympians), and three USA Gymnastics CEOs stepping down amid the fallout. Plus the end of the Karolyi era, revamping the national-team program.

GYM WORLDS: Results | TV Schedule

The rout was inevitable after the U.S. women distanced Russia by nearly nine points in qualifying over the weekend.

Biles, competing with a kidney stone she named the “Doha Pearl,” tied Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman for the U.S. record of four Olympic/world team titles. She is the only U.S. Olympian who has returned to elite competition since Rio.

“I’m really proud. It’s been a long year to get here,” said Biles, who resumed training last Nov. 1 after a year off following her four golds in Rio. “I’m really proud of the rookies we have on the team, and of course the veteran coming back.”

She had the highest scores on vault, uneven bars and floor exercise. Biles lost a half-point on balance beam for putting her hand on the beam to keep from falling off after a piked front somersault.

“I get a little jittery every time I go into that skill because it’s near the end, and I know what I’m capable of,” Biles said, according to the International Gymnastics Federation. “I don’t know why I get so shy on that skill.”

Hurd, McCusker, McCallum and Eaker earned their first team golds. Hurd is the only one from that group who previously competed at worlds, winning the all-around during Biles’ break last year in Montreal, where there was no team event.

“It’s what I’ve been working for my entire life,” the 17-year-old McCusker said in a USA Gymnastics interview.

Next up? Individual finals, beginning with the men’s and women’s all-around the next two days.

Biles goes for a record-breaking fourth women’s world all-around gold on Thursday, where her closest rival from qualifying was Hurd (a distant 4.5 points behind).

Then on Friday and Saturday, Biles will likely try to become the first woman to earn six medals at a single worlds since Soviet Yelena Shushunova in 1987. The last woman to do it at the Olympics was Romanian Daniela Silivaș in 1988.

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GYM WORLDS: Full women’s finals qualifiers

Simone Biles, with kidney stone, dominates gymnastics worlds qualifying

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Simone Biles was in the emergency room past 1 a.m. on Saturday in Qatar. Didn’t look like it in world championships qualifying 17 hours later.

The four-time Rio Olympic champion endured a large kidney stone she named the “Doha Pearl,” coming back with the top all-around qualifying score thus far and all but guaranteeing a place in all four apparatus finals. The last gymnast to run the table like that in qualifying? Biles in 2013.

“I heard roller coasters may help kidney stones,” Biles said, according to the International Gymnastics Federation, “and I am basically my own little roller coaster out there.”

She totaled 60.965 points, a whopping 4.5 points clear of second-place Morgan Hurd with half the gymnasts to go in qualifying.

She has the highest score on balance beam, floor exercise and vault and the second-highest on uneven bars. She also got a vault named after her after becoming the first woman to perform it in a major international meet (video here).

Biles said she felt stomach pain on her right side for two days before getting it checked out. She thought it was her appendix before tests showed the stone that was too large to pass.

“Even when I’m walking and doing some stretches, I’m in a bit of pain,” she said. “The adrenaline definitely helped.”

GYM WORLDS: Results | TV/Stream Schedule

Biles, Hurd and Riley McCusker had an internal competition Saturday for two available spots in the all-around. Hurd won last year’s world all-around title in Biles’ break from gymnastics.

McCusker all but took herself out of the running on the first two rotations, bending her knees on her bars landing with a big step forward and falling off the beam.

Biles hasn’t lost an all-around in more than five years. With a gold Thursday, she will break a tie with Russian Svetlana Khorkina for the most world all-around titles for a woman.

The incomparable Biles can break more records in apparatus finals Friday and Saturday. She is currently two gold medals shy of Vitaly Scherbo‘s career record of 12 at worlds. She can also fill the biggest hole on her résumé with a first uneven bars medal.

Women’s qualifying ends Sunday, highlighted by China and Russia.

Biles and the Americans next compete in Tuesday’s team final, where they are massive favorites for a sixth straight Olympic or world title.

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MORE: Sam Mikulak has best U.S. results in qualifying in 39 years