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Simone Biles secures third trip to the Olympics after breezing to victory at U.S. trials

Simone Biles secures third trip to the Olympics after breezing to victory at U.S. trials

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Simone Biles secures third trip to the Olympics after breezing to victory at U.S. trials

Simone Biles is heading back to the Olympics. So are some of her friends.

The gymnastics superstar earned a third trip to her sport’s biggest stage by cruising to victory at the U.S. Olympic trials on Sunday night, posting a two-day all-around total of 117.225 to clinch the lone automatic spot on the five-woman team.

Three years removed from the Tokyo Olympics — where she pulled out of multiple finals to prioritize her safety and becoming a touchstone on the importance of mental health in the process — Biles returns to the games looking perhaps as good as ever at 27.
“Trusting the process and (my coaches), I knew I’d be back,” Biles said.

Biles isn’t going alone.

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Reigning Olympic champion Sunisa Lee, 2020 Olympic floor exercise champion Jade Carey, 2020 Olympic silver medalist Jordan Chiles and 16-year-old Hezly Rivera were named to the five-woman team later Sunday night. Joscelyn Roberson and Leanne Wong are the alternates.

A trip to France has never really been in doubt for Biles since she returned from a two-year break last summer. All she’s done over the last 12 months is win a sixth world all-around title and her eighth and ninth national championship — both records — while further cementing her status as the best-ever in her sport.

Biles will be a prohibitive favorite to bookend the Olympic gold she won in 2016, though there is plenty to work on before women’s qualifying on July 28.

She backpedaled after landing her Yurchenko double pike vault, a testament to both the vault’s difficulty and the immense power she generates during a skill few male gymnasts try and even fewer land as cleanly.

Biles hopped off the beam after failing to land her side aerial, though she wasn’t quite as frustrated as she was during a sloppy performance on Friday that left her uttering an expletive for all the world to see.

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Biles finished with a flourish on floor exercise, her signature event. Though there was a small step out of bounds, there was also the unmatched world-class tumbling that recently drew a shoutout from pop star Taylor Swift, whose song “Ready For It” opens Biles’ routine.

She stepped off the podium to a standing ovation, then sat down atop the steps to take in the moment in what could be her last competitive round on American soil for quite a while.

Next stop, Paris, where the Americans try to return to the top of the podium after finishing second to Russia three years ago.
Yet the Biles that will step onto the floor at Bercy Arena in four weeks isn’t the same one that left Tokyo.

She’s taken intentional steps to make sure her life is no longer defined by her gymnastics. Biles married Chicago Bears safety Jonathan Owens in the spring of 2023 and the two are building a house in the northern Houston suburbs they hope to move into shortly after Biles returns from Paris.

Biles heads to France as perhaps the face of the U.S. Olympic movement, though she’s well aware that more than a few of the millions that will tune in to watch next month will be checking to see if the demons that derailed her in Tokyo resurface.

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And while there are still moments of anxiety — including at last year’s world championships — she has put safeguards in place to protect herself. She meets with a therapist weekly, even during competition season, something she didn’t do in preparation for the 2020 games.

Biles and the other four women who join her in France will be considered heavy favorites, particularly with defending Olympic champion Russia unable to compete as part of the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

The Americans will take their oldest women’s team ever to the games, as Biles’ unrivaled longevity — she hasn’t lost a meet she’s started and finished since 2013 — and the easing of rules around name, image and likeness rules at the NCAA level allowed Carey (24), Chiles (23) and Lee (21) to continue to compete while cashing in on their newfound fame at the same time.

They have relied on that experience to get back to this moment during a sometimes harrowing meet that saw leading contenders Shilese Jones, Skye Blakely and Kayla DiCello exit with leg injuries that took them out of the mix weeks before opening ceremonies.

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Former Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic is joining Hajduk Split after Saudi Pro League club Al-Shabab terminated his contract by mutual consent following a six-month spell.

The 36-year-old scored once in eight games after joining Al-Shabab in January 2024 as they finished eighth on 52 points.

“The club management agreed with the Croatian player Ivan Rakitic to terminate the contractual relationship between the two parties by mutual consent,” the Saudi club posted on the X social media platform.

Hajduk Split on Sunday announced the signing of the former Barcelona and Sevilla midfielder for one season with the option of an extra year in what will be his first campaign in Croatia.

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Rakitic, who was born in Switzerland, played 106 games for Croatia, scoring 15 goals, and helped the country reach the World Cup final in 2018. 

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Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

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Croatia's Vida retires from international football

Croatia defender Domagoj Vida has retired from international soccer after 14 years in the national team, the Croatian Football Federation said on Sunday.

Vida, 35, made his international debut in May 2010 and has played 105 matches for Croatia. He was part of the Croatia side that reached the final of World Cup 2018 and finished third in World Cup 2022.

“It is an honour to wear the most beautiful jersey in the world once in your career,” Vida said in a statement.

“And when you do it 105 times, you play in seven major competitions … then you can just be infinitely grateful for such a privilege.”

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Former Bayer Leverkusen and Besiktas player Vida currently plays for Greek top-flight club AEK Athens. 

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Sydney Collins will miss the Paris 2024 women’s soccer tournament after fracturing her left leg during a training game in her first match back after suffering a similar injury to her right leg earlier this year, Team Canada said on Saturday.

Gabrielle Carle will replace Collins in Canada’s Olympic squad, while Desiree Scott will take Carle’s spot as an alternate for the Tokyo 2020 gold medallists, it said.

Collins sustained the injury on Thursday during a closed-door training match against Nigeria, her first since fracturing her right leg in February.

“Our hearts go out to Sydney during this difficult time. She has worked incredibly hard to return in time for Paris 2024, and while this is a setback, we know she will come back stronger,” said women’s national team head coach Bev Priestman.

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“She will be with us in spirit every step of the way.

“With the depth and resilience of our roster, it’s a next-player-up mentality, and both Gabby and Desiree’s experience will be invaluable to our team’s success.”

Canada will begin the defence of their Olympic title on July 25 against Group A opponents New Zealand. 

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