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Meet the USA gymnasts competing to team with Simone Biles in Tokyo

Jordan Chiles competing at the 2021 GK U.S. Classic gymnastics competition (Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Simone Biles will be the only returner from the “Final Five” who won gold in Rio four years ago. If selecting a five-person roster was hard in 2016, four is going to be tortuous in 2021. But that is what head coach Tom Forster and the selection committee will be forced to do since the International Gymnastics Federation reduced Olympic team rosters from five to four ahead of Tokyo (before quickly backpedaling and announcing that it will return to five for Paris 2024). 

Here’s how the roster is structured this go round.

Olympic Team (4 gymnasts):

First and second place all-around finishers at U.S. Olympic Trials, plus two spots that are selected by committee.

Individual Olympic Spots (2 gymnasts):

Jade Carey already clinched one of these places through an FIG World Cup qualification system. The last remaining individual spot will be selected by committee. These athletes can compete in individual all-around and individual event competitions but not the team competition unless a team member gets injured. 

With Biles a seeming lock for spot number one, and spot two earned at trials, the big decisions will be on team spots three and four, along with the one unfilled individual spot. Eighteen women have been invited to St. Louis to compete at the Olympic Trials June 24-27 for a chance at a ticket to Tokyo. While a few names have pulled away from the pack, the final spots are nowhere near decided.

The Frontrunners:

Two women are almost considered locks for the team roster: Sunisa “Suni” Lee and Jordan Chiles. Lee is an 18 year old from St. Paul who could be the first Hmong American gymnast on the Olympic team. Having recovered from an ankle injury in time to be at almost full force for U.S. Nationals a few weeks ago, Lee made an assertive claim on a roster spot by finishing in second place all-around behind Biles and taking first in the uneven bars and second on beam. It was a special night for the close-knit family, as Lee’s father was cheering in person for the first time since an accident left him paralyzed from the chest down two years ago.

Whereas Lee is an individual medal contender in a few events and then falls farther down the line in others, Jordan Chiles’ success comes from being solid across the board. The 20 year old from Washington now trains in Texas alongside Biles and has been on the senior circuit since 2017. The youngest of five siblings, Chiles has taken the long road to believing she deserves a spot on this elitist of elite rosters. Having Biles in her corner (and breathing down her neck in training) appears to be paying dividends as she recently earned silver all-around at U.S. Classics and bronze all-around at U.S. Nationals.

In The Mix:

After Lee and Chiles, the list bubbles out to a large number of athletes who are all still in the mix for a team spot. This includes 18-year-old Emma Malabuyo from California, who had a disappointing U.S. Classics showing but an incredible U.S. Nationals. Then there is Leanne Wong, who has solid potential to medal individually on floor and beam, and MyKayla Skinner, an alternate from Rio whose strengths nicely compliment the frontrunners for team medal consideration. 

Another contender is Grace McCallum, who helped Team USA earn two World Championship titles in 2018 and 2019 and is making her way back from hand surgery earlier this year. Youngster Skye Blakely, who turned 16 in February and is now eligible for the Olympics thanks to the postponement, kept her name in the conversation by tying McCallum for 7th overall at U.S. Nationals. And 2019’s junior national champion Kayla DiCello is still in the running, though her name dropped much further down the list with an 11th overall finish at nationals.

Individual Contenders:

With Jade Carey having already earned one of the two individual spots, the other one is likely to go to either Riley McCusker or MyKayla Skinner (if she’s not given a team spot). McCusker is an uneven bars specialist and Skinner is phenomenal on vault.

Whoever’s Olympic dreams come true when the selection announcement is made, the expectation that accompanies this achievement is indisputable: win team gold in Tokyo.

Tune in: The Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Trials will air on NBC on June 25 at 8pm ET and June 27 at 8:30pm ET.

PWHL Draft Spurs Controversy for League Champs Minnesota

pwhl draft first pick Sarah Fillier
PWHL New York kicked off the 2024 PWHL Draft by selecting Princeton's Sarah Fillier No. 1 overall. (PWHL)

The 2024 PWHL Draft took place on Tuesday, with Princeton and Canadian national team forward Sarah Fillier going first overall to PWHL New York. 

New York also added two defenders and a goaltender, as well as three forwards to make seven solid additions to next season's roster. 

But it was first-ever PWHL champions Minnesota that created the most buzz, with the draft happening just three days after they announced the abrupt departure of general manager Natalie Darwitz following a league review. 

With the 10th overall pick, PWHL Minnesota took Team USA forward Britta Curl. Fans immediately took to the internet to voice their concerns, citing Curl's social media activity. In the past, Curl had "liked" posts on X that targeted the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly transgender individuals. Her activity also showed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Wisconsin man who fatally shot three unarmed people, two fatally, during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.

When asked about the pick — and whether or not he had consulted with any members of the LGBTQIA+ community prior to making the pick — PWHL Minnesota coach Ken Klee opted to defend Curl.

"Did I speak to anyone from the community? I talk with players, with coaches. That’s tough to answer for me," Klee said. "I spoke with a lot of different people. I mean, at the end of the day, I was told she’s a great teammate, a great person. She’s obviously a great player."

The team also had PWHL Minnesota assistant coach Mira Jalosuo, who is married to a woman, announce the pick.

"We have people in that community and obviously Mira making that selection for us, I think that speaks volumes for us," Klee added. "We were just trying to pick the best players available. I wouldn’t want anything to take away from any of those players' experience. It’s unfortunate a little bit at the beginning, but again, it’s okay. People are entitled to their opinion."

Washington Mystics Snap 12-Game Losing Streak

Brittney Sykes #20 of the Washington Mystics shoots the ball during the game against the Atlanta Dream during the 2024 WNBA Commissioner's Cup game on June 11, 2024
Washington guard Brittney Sykes returned from injury Tuesday night to post a game-high 18 points. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Washington Mystics snapped a team-record 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, taking home their first win of the season over the Atlanta Dream. 

Brittney Sykes returned from injury and made an immediate impact with game-high 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. As a team, Washington shot over 50% from behind the arc.

"The feel is it's been coming," coach Eric Thibault said after the game. "I said the other night that we're turning into a good basketball team and we just haven't had the wins to show for it yet. We've been playing better basketball now for a while.

"We're obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we're getting is really good."

Still, the team’s slow start isn't exactly in the rearview mirror. With star forward Elena Delle Donne sitting this season out, the Mystics were always predicted to face an uphill climb in what has been described as a rebuilding year. 

But with a franchise-worst 0-12 record to kick off the 2024 season, the Mystics are likely on track for a lottery pick. However, Washington can point to positive performances from star draft pick Aaliyah Edwards and league newcomer Julie Vanloo.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces continued their skid with a surprising 100-86 upset courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx. The reigning WNBA champions were shorthanded this week, falling to 5-5 on the season despite MVP-level play from A'ja Wilson, who scored 28 points in Tuesday's loss.

Minnesota shot over 55% as a team, with Alanna Smith leading the team with 18 points. The game marked the Aces' first three-game losing streak since 2019.

"This is a long, long, long season," Wilson said in her postgame remarks. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

Aces stalwart Chelsea Gray has been out with injury since last year's WNBA Finals run. And while she told reporters on Tuesday that she's set to return before the Olympic break, the team can’t get her back soon enough as they continue to struggle with depth. 

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis," coach Becky Hammon said. "We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ball club."

USA Women’s Basketball Releases Olympic Roster, Explains Clark’s Omission

USA Women's Basketball's Diana Taurasi #12, Brittney Griner #15 and Sabrina Ionescu #6 at April's National Team Training Camp
All the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

USA Women's Basketball announced its official Olympic roster on Tuesday, with officials noting that Caitlin Clark’s lack of national team experience played a key role in her omission.

Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti said that the committee evaluated players according to a set of on-court criteria they were given.

"When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes," she told reporters on Tuesday. "Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote."

Three first-time Olympians made the squad: Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu, and Kahleah Copper. Additionally, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum will make the switch to the national 5-on-5 team after winning gold in the inaugural 3×3 competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Age, Rizzotti said, was "never brought up" in player selection discussions. It’s the first time in Olympic history that a USA Women’s Basketball 5-on-5 team will travel to the Games without a single player under 26 years old.

Rizzotti commented that all the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience, something that Clark does not have.

"She's certainly going to continue to get better and better," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley added. "Really hope that she's a big part of our future going forward."

Rizzotti said it would have been "irresponsible" to base roster decisions on anything outside of a basketball context. Marketing and popularity were not on the selection committee’s list of criteria. 

"It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team," Rizzotti said. "Because it wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the US. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl."

Clark expressed that she'll be using what some consider a snub as fuel for a run at the 2028 Olympic team. 

"I think it just gives you something to work for," Clark told media after practice Sunday. "It's a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it's just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there."

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" on Expert Adjacent

Arsenal Women Confirm US Tour, Preseason Friendlies

Arsenal's Lotte Wubben-Moy battles with Mayra Ramirez of Chelsea at the 2023/24 FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup Final
The last time Chelsea and Arsenal faced off, the Gunners took home the FA Women's League Cup. (Copa/Getty Images)

Arsenal announced on Monday that it will join Chelsea for a series of preseason friendlies in the US in August. 

Arsenal will be based in Washington, DC from August 15th through August 26th. The Gunners are scheduled to play the Washington Spirit on August 18th, followed by a match with fellow WSL team Chelsea on August 25th. It’s the first time that the two London clubs will meet each other on this side of the Atlantic. 

Chelsea had previously announced their game against Gotham FC, confirming reports from ESPN that surfaced last month.

"We always want to create the best conditions for our teams to prepare and perform at their best in pre-season," said Arsenal sporting director Edu Gaspar in a statement. "This gives our players an opportunity to play and train in a new environment, in front of our supporters around the world."

Both Arsenal and Chelsea tout rosters full of international talent — formidable opponents for two equally stacked NWSL teams gearing up for postseason action. Arsenal is home to accomplished England nationals Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, and backheel goal-scorer Alessia Russo alongside Ireland captain Katie McCabe and USWNT defender Emily Fox.

The games are set to be streamed live for free on DAZN.

Arsenal's US tour builds off of a trip to Melbourne, Australia at the tail end of the 2023/24 season, where they beat A-League All Stars women 1-0 in front of 42,120 fans.

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