Larisa Iordache

AP

Gymnastics world all-around favorite withdraws in warm-up

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MONTREAL — Romanian Larisa Iordache, an all-around medal favorite, withdrew from the world gymnastics championships with a torn Achilles suffered during qualification warm-ups Wednesday.

Iordache was carried off the competition floor before her first event, floor exercise (video here). She was later seen being wheeled out in a chair.

Iordache, a world all-around medalist behind Simone Biles in 2014 and 2015, was set to be the primary competition for U.S. champion Ragan Smith in Friday’s all-around final.

Smith, a Rio Olympic alternate, is seeking to extend a U.S. streak of Olympic and world all-around titles dating to 2011 (Jordyn WieberGabby Douglas, Biles).

It’s yet another setback for Iordache, who was left out of the Rio Olympics following a broken finger.

Romania, which earned team medals at every Olympics from 1976 through 2012, failed to qualify a full team for Rio.

The nation was allowed one gymnast at the Games. The federation chose triple 2004 Olympic champion Catalina Ponor over Iordache.

Iordache finished fourth, second and third in the three world championships all-arounds won by Biles in the last Olympic cycle.

She came back in August to win the World University Games all-around over a field that included Rio fifth-place finisher Ellie Black.

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Five female gymnasts to watch at world championships

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Female gymnasts to watch at the world championships, which begin with qualifying Tuesday, followed by the all-around final Friday and apparatus finals on Saturday and Sunday in Montreal (no team event) … 

Ragan Smith, U.S.
P&G Championships All-Around Champion
AT&T American Cup Champion

Leader of the U.S. team of four that includes zero Olympians, a first at worlds since 2007. Hopes rest on the 17-year-old coached by 1991 World all-around champion Kim Zmeskal Burdette to extend a U.S. streak of six straight all-around golds (Jordyn WieberGabby Douglas and Simone Biles four times).

With none of the Olympic all-around medalists returning, it would be no surprise if Smith does take gold. She won the U.S. all-around title by a whopping 3.4 points (greater than Biles’ average winning margin). Her title at the American Cup came despite a fall. Could challenge for beam and floor exercise medals, too.

Larisa Iordache, Romania
2014 World All-Around Silver Medalist
2015 World All-Around Bronze Medalist

The best gymnast to not compete in the Olympics last year. Romania, which earned team medals at every Olympics from 1976 through 2012, failed to qualify a full team for Rio. The nation was allowed one gymnast, and the federation chose triple 2004 Olympic champion Catalina Ponor over Iordache, who was coming off a broken finger.

Iordache finished fourth, second and third in the three world championships all-arounds won by Biles in the last Olympic cycle. She came back last month to win the World University Games all-around over a field that included Rio fifth-place finisher Ellie Black. She is Smith’s biggest competition Friday.

MORE: World Champs broadcast schedule | Male gymnasts to watch

Sanne Wevers, Netherlands
Olympic Balance Beam Champion
World Balance Beam Silver Medalist

The only woman to win gold over Biles in Rio. Wevers, a 25-year-old twin, became the oldest female Olympic gymnastics champion since 1968 with her surprise beam title. As the only returning Rio medalist, Wevers would seem a medal favorite, but she was fifth at the European Championships in April.

Maria Paseka, Russia
Two Olympic Vault Medals: Silver in Rio, Bronze in London
World Vault Champion

The only woman at worlds who earned medals at each of the last two Olympics. Paseka is a vault specialist. It’s the only apparatus Russia used her for at the Rio Games, where she was coming off a back injury. Though Biles and vault star Hong Un-Jong of North Korea won’t be at worlds, Paseka’s medal hopes are uncertain. She was fourth at the European Championships and third at the World University Games.

Oksana Chusovitina, Uzbekistan
Two Olympic Medals: 1992, 2008
Oldest Female Olympic Gymnast Ever — 41 in Rio

The great Chusovitina debuted at worlds in 1991, winning gold with the Soviet Union team. She has since competed at a record seven Olympics with three different teams — Unified Team, Germany and Uzbekistan — and an eighth is not out of the question. Chusovitina has long focused on vault, where she won 10 Olympic or world medals, the most recent in 2011. However, Chusovitina last qualified for the eight-woman vault final at worlds in 2013.

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MORE: U.S. names women’s gymnastics team for world champs

Penev, Whittenburg finish 1-2 on floor exercise at World Challenge Cup

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Eddie Penev and Donnell Whittenburg put up a one-two finish for U.S. men’s gymnasts on the floor exercise at the 2017 World Challenge Cup in Koper, Slovenia on Saturday.

Penev tallied 14.400 points, outscoring Whittenburg by a tenth of a point. Later on Saturday, Whittenburg, the 2016 Olympic team alternate, finished fourth on still rings with his score of 14.200 points. Arthur Zanetti of Brazil won rings with 14.850 points.

No U.S. men competed in the pommel horse final, won by Slovenia’s Saso Bertoncelj with 14.900 points.

The third U.S. man competing in Slovenia, Donothan Bailey, finished 12th and 13th on the pommel horse and parallel bars, respectively. Only the top eight men on each apparatus advanced to the final.

Whittenburg and Penev will compete Sunday on the vault, and Whittenburg will also compete on parallel bars. Sunday’s event also features men’s high bar and women’s balance beam and floor exercise. Coverage begins Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports App.  http://www.nbcsports.com/live

No American women competed in the field. Larisa Iordache, two-time world championship all-around medalist from Romania, won the uneven bars with 13.800 points. Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade won the floor exercise with 14.600 points.

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