Olympic, world champ Biles cruises in 2019 debut

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STUTTGART, Germany — Simone Biles started off 2019 the same way she ended 2018: atop the podium.

The reigning world and Olympic all-around gymnastics champion easily won her 2019 debut at the DTB Pokal World Cup on Sunday. The 22-year-old posted an all-around score of 58.800, more than 3.5 points clear of runner-up Ana Padurariu of Canada and third-place finisher Elisabeth Seitz of Germany.

Biles hardly looked rusty in her first competition since winning six medals – four gold – at the 2018 world championships last fall. She put up the top scores in the nine-woman field on vault, uneven bars and floor exercise and placed second on balance beam. Her lone missteps came on floor exercise, where the world champion stepped out at the end of a tumbling pass, and on beam, where she wobbled briefly.

Biles extended a winning streak that dates to the 2013 US Championships.

The meet is a warm-up of sorts for Biles. The 2019 world championships will be held in Stuttgart in October. Biles has 20 career world championship medals, tied with Svetlana Khorkina of Russia for the most ever by a female gymnast.

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 discusses anxiety medicine, therapy in up-and-down year

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Simone Biles sees a therapist regularly and takes medication for anxiety, acknowledging mental-health struggles.

Biles was asked on “Good Morning America” how she has processed standing up as a Larry Nassar survivor on Jan. 15.

“I’m on anxiety medicine now because I had a lot of ups and downs throughout the year, trying to figure out what was wrong,” Biles said. “So I go to therapy pretty regularly. It’s not easy, but the people surrounding me are some of the best.”

Biles is an experienced mental-health advocate.

Last year, she partnered with the #BeUnderstood campaign for Learning Disabilities and ADHD Awareness Month in October. She spoke with two sisters who have ADHD about her own experience with ADHD since age 9.

Biles appeared on Tuesday’s morning show to reveal her ESPN the Magazine cover for being named the most dominant athlete of 2018.

Biles, after taking 14 months off from training, swept all five titles at the U.S. Championships, then became the first gymnast to earn medals on every event at a world championships in 31 years.

She is not expected to compete again before March.

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