The International Gymnastics Federation announced on Thursday that female gymnasts born in 2005 will be eligible to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo — postponed to July 2021 — even though they would not have been allowed to if the Games were held this summer.
That means some athletes who would have made the team if the Olympics were held as scheduled this summer, now may have their spot taken by a younger athlete.
Konnor McClain, one of the top junior athletes, had her sights set on making the team in 2024. She will turn 16 next February, which now makes her eligible to compete for a spot on the U.S. team next summer.
Her training plan had been designed to have her peak at just the right time for the 2024 Olympics. McClain said her coach had been cautious not to push her too early to try to prevent her from getting injured. She has been practicing more difficult skills, but was not planning on competing them yet.
“I think it’s a little more scary because she’s been on a path where she had four years to do everything,” her mother Lorinda McClain said in a phone interview last month. “She’s on a great path. Her and her coach have a schedule going. It’s going to be a lot different for her and her coach.”
Many in the gymnastics community do not like the new rules, including Cecile Landi, who coaches Simone Biles.
“I have nothing against the 2005 generation, but I don’t agree with this decision,” Landi said in a tweet. “It will be the 2020 Olympics so the rules should remain the same as this year.”
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The federation also announced that there were no plans to move the 2021 World Championships, which are scheduled for Oct. 18-24, 2021, in Denmark.
The Mets, Featuring Mom
On Thursday we told you what the Yankees were up to. Now let’s observe the equal-time rule.
Mets’ catcher Wilson Ramos has a few new teammates: his children. His daughter and son got some practice off a tee on Thursday, with Ramos proudly watching behind them. Ramos also got a workout in, taking some swings and doing some catching.
Infielder Wilmer Flores, a former Met, got an assist from family too, with his mother tossing him balls during his workout.
With no access to fields, pitcher Marcus Stroman improvised and made his own bullpen on a dock. Last week, a barefoot Dominic Smith stood in as Stroman’s catcher as he practiced in a parking lot. The two also stayed competitive, participating in a virtual beer pong tournament.
They aren’t the only Mets practicing together. Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo have been working out together in Nimmo’s garage. McNeil has also been spending lots of time with his dog Willow, who he adopted at a Mets game last season.
Horse Racing Is Still Running (in Some Places)
Horse racing is about the only American sport that is still underway. And a little track in Nebraska that railbirds mostly ignore in normal times is suddenly getting outsize attention.
Fonner Park stopped racing on March 16 because of the coronavirus but started up again a week later, without fans.
In March, betting on races at Fonner Park was up 272.2 percent over the previous year, even though there were 21 fewer races, according to figures compiled by Horse Racing Nation. The meet has been extended to April 29.
“It exceeded our expectations because we did not expect as many other tracks to cancel racing,” Chris Kotulak, the track’s chief executive, told The Grand Island Independent. “So the limelight that we believed we were moving into just got a lot brighter than we expected.”
Bettors nationwide are suddenly desperately interested in Nebraska racing. “We got a call from some guy in Ohio who wants to buy a Fonner Park T-shirt,” Kotulak said. The focus on Tuesday was on the Pick 5, which requires selecting the winners of five straight races. The total bet by players trying to hit that jackpot on Tuesday was $3.6 million, plus another $500,000 or so bet earlier.
In the end, 203 gamblers — in Nebraska, Ohio, New York, who knows? — picked five winners, earning $16,888.40 for a $1 bet. It’s a pretty sure thing that many of them have never been anywhere near Grand Island, Neb.
But it wouldn’t be a day at the races without some disgruntled fans. In the first leg of the Pick 5 there was controversy, the horse racing site Paulick Report said. Finisher Where’s Rufus crossed the line first but was disqualified for interfering with the second-place finisher Taylor’s Prince, a decision that seemed to be marginal. This could not have pleased those who chose Where’s Rufus in the Pick 5, and then hit the next four winners, missing out on the jackpot.
Even as the world changes, horseplayers stay the same. VICTOR MATHER
Is This It for the XFL?
While the pandemic has caused a steep economic blow to many sports leagues, no major ones have yet gone out of business.
But there was disquieting news for fans of the XFL, the football league that launched this season and made it through five games before being stopped by the virus. At the time, it vowed to return in 2021, but on Friday the league decided to suspend its operations and lay off most employees.
It was not immediately clear if the league would be back next season, but certainly the signs were ominous. An email to a communications executive at the company on Friday afternoon was returned as undeliverable. VICTOR MATHER