Kenzo Shirai

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Japan’s gymnastics worlds team: no Kohei Uchimura, Kenzo Shirai

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Not only is Kohei Uchimura going to miss the world championships, but so is 11-time world medalist Kenzo Shirai.

Japan finalized its five-man team for October’s worlds in Stuttgart, Germany, following a national-level meet this past weekend. Uchimura, arguably the greatest gymnast in history, was already out of the running, sidelined with his latest round of injuries.

Shirai, reportedly slowed by a left ankle injury this season, did compete this weekend. But he finished fifth on floor exercise and third on vault, his two best events, and did not earn one of the last two spots on the world team.

Uchimura, a two-time Olympic all-around champion with six world all-around titles, misses worlds for the first time since 2007. Shirai, a 22-year-old with four world titles between floor and vault, had competed in every worlds since debuting in 2013, just after his 17th birthday.

Without their two stars, Japan sends a relatively inexperienced team. Kazuma Kaya and Wataru Tanigawa, both 22, are the only men who have been to a worlds (and were part of the 2018 silver-medal team). The youngest member is 17-year-old Daiki Hashimoto.

Japan has earned a team medal at every Olympics and world championships since 2003, a streak bettered only by the U.S. women.

MORE: Olympic gymnastics team sizes return to five for Paris 2024

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U.S. gymnasts sweep American Cup titles

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U.S. gymnasts Morgan Hurd and Yul Moldauer swept the American Cup, the biggest annual international meet held in the United States.

Hurd, 16, had the highest scores on balance beam, floor exercise and uneven bars in her first competition since winning the world all-around title Oct. 6.

“I went home from worlds, and I didn’t stop training,” Hurd, who was sixth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, told Andrea Joyce on NBC.

She totaled 56.599 points against an international field highlighted by Japanese Mai Murakami, who was fourth in the world all-around final with a balance beam fall.

Moldauer became the first repeat men’s American Cup champion since double 2008 Olympic medalist Jonathan Horton in 2006 and 2007.

Moldauer, the 2017 U.S. all-around champion who was seventh at 2017 Worlds, upset Japanese Kenzo Shirai. Shirai, the floor exercise and vault world champion, fell off the pommel horse twice and high bar once. He ended up sixth in the nine-man field.

Moldauer had the highest score on still rings and won with his trademark consistency and clean routines. He was top three on all six events.

The other U.S. woman in the field, national junior all-around champ Maile O’Keefe, finished third in her senior debut.

O’Keefe fell off the balance beam, and on uneven bars her feet landed on a bar on a release move.

The 16-year-old O’Keefe won the 2017 U.S. junior title with a score that would have placed second in the senior event behind Ragan Smith.

The next major domestic event is the U.S. Classic in Columbus, Ohio in late July. Simone Biles said in the fall that she targeted the U.S. Classic for her first competition since she won five medals at the Rio Olympics.

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MORE: Simone Biles forecasts retirement date

Morgan Hurd adds silver medal to resume at World Gymnastics Championships

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Surprise women’s all-around world champion Morgan Hurd heard congratulations from many admirers since accepting her gold medal. But a tweet from J. K. Rowling – author of the bespectacled boy wizard series Harry Potter – surprised her the most.

Rowling called her a “real life hero in glasses.”

On Sunday, she added another medal to her Montreal haul; she captured a silver on beam despite being penalized a tenth of a point for a time violation. Regardless, it would not have been enough to overtake German gold medalist Pauline Schaefer’s score. Her gold medal was the first gymnastics world title for Germany since 1981. Her countrywoman Tabea Alt earned the bronze.

The three women from the Rio podium – the Netherlands’ Sanne Wevers, Laurie Hernandez, and Simone Biles – were not in the field.

Mai Murakami finished fourth in the beam final and the all-around final. She finally broke through in Montreal winning floor gold on Sunday. Previously, Japan’s only women’s floor world medal was a bronze, earned back in 1954.

The U.S.’ Jade Carey earned her second world silver medal in as many days behind Murakami, separated by 0.033 points. Carey, whose father is her coach, performed the best routine 2008 Olympic all-around gold medalist and commentator Nastia Liukin had ever seen from her to earn the medal. Great Britain’s Claudia Fragapane was third.

Ragan Smith had also qualified into the floor final, but her right ankle ligament injury sustained just before the all-around final took her out of apparatus finals as well. Benefiting from Smith’s withdrawal was Canada’s home favorite, and all-around silver medalist, Ellie Black. She couldn’t capitalize on it – Black was eighth in the vault final and seventh in floor finals on Sunday.

Italy’s Vanessa Ferrari, the 2006 all-around champion, crashed and grabbed her ankle at the end of her second floor pass. She did not complete her routine after being carried off the floor by medical staff.

Similarly, the Rio floor medalists – Biles, Aly Raisman, and Amy Tinkler – were not in the field.

On the men’s side, Japan’s Kenzo Shirai brought his medal tally to two golds and a bronze, after winning the fault final over Ukraine’s Igor Radivilov by 0.001.

“In my book, that’s basically a tie,” Liukin commented on the broadcast.

Hansol Kim of South Korea earned the bronze medal.

Shirai took home the vault bronze from Rio, though the gold and silver medalists from the Olympics were not in the field in Montreal.

Rio parallel bars gold medalist Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine answered Zou Jingyuan’s score of 15.900 with a “money” routine of his own.

“That is the most perfect I have ever seen Oleg look, right there,” gold medalist and commentator Tim Daggett said after Verniaiev’s routine. But it wasn’t enough. Verniaiev earned the silver behind China’s Zou by 0.67 points.

David Belyavskiy, who earlier this week won all-around silver, captured the bronze with a score of 15.266 points.

Croatia’s Tin Srbic captured high bar gold on Sunday with a score of 14.433 points. Srbic’s clean routine was rewarded after an apparatus finals filled with several falls from athletes with more difficulty in their routines. Croatia had never before won a high bar gold at worlds; their previous best finish was a bronze from 2014.

The Netherlands’ Epke Zonderland won high bar gold at the London 2012 Olympics, but a disastrous fall in Rio landed him in seventh place. In Montreal, he nearly repeated the mistake on the same skill, but held on with one hand to avoid the fall. His score of 14.233 earned him the silver, while countryman Bart Deurloo earned the bronze.

MORE: Saturday’s apparatus finals sees 2 more U.S. medals