Scoreboard roundup — 7/18/21

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(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Sunday’s sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL 
 
INTERLEAGUE
Final  Tampa Bay   7  Atlanta   5

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Final  Toronto             5  Texas         0
Final  Detroit             7  Minnesota     0
Final  Chicago White Sox   4  Houston       0
Final  Baltimore           5  Kansas City   0
Final  Toronto            10  Texas         0
Final  Cleveland           4  Oakland       2
Final  Seattle             7  L.A. Angels   4
Final  N.Y. Yankees        9  Boston        1

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Final  Milwaukee      8  Cincinnati      0
Final  Philadelphia   4  Miami           2
Final  San Diego     10  Washington      4
Final  N.Y. Mets      7  Pittsburgh      6
Final  St. Louis      2  San Francisco   1
Final  Philadelphia   7  Miami           4
Final  Colorado       6  L.A. Dodgers    5
Final  Washington     8  San Diego       7
Final  Arizona        6  Chicago Cubs    4
  
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Final  Minnesota   1  Seattle   0

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Simone Biles’ signature stunts to look for at the Tokyo Olympics

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(NEW YORK) — Simone Biles is an unstoppable force in the world of gymnastics. The 24-year-old Olympic champion, one of the greatest female gymnasts of all time, is the most decorated U.S. gymnast ever, according to Team USA.

She’s proven her unmatched skills time and time again by nailing challenging moves never done before. Biles had four signature moves named after her in three different events: on the floor, on vault, and on the balance beam.

“The demand on the body is extraordinary, and the physical conditioning that has to take place in order to be able to withstand that kind of pressure is, frankly, off the charts,” said Don Spencer, gymnastic coach and USA Gymnastics Power TeamGym Technical Committee chairman.

Here’s a look at Biles’ signature moves and what makes them so challenging:

Floor exercises

The “Biles on the floor” was first successfully completed by Biles on the world stage in 2013 at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. This move is a double layout with a half-twist, which means that her body remains straight and elongated as she flips twice. While in the air, she completes a half-twist.

What makes this move so challenging is the “blind landing,” according to Courtney Johnson, a USA Gymnastics-accredited judge. This means that Biles can’t see the floor where she will land when she comes down from the flip.

Not only does she have to be extremely high in the air to do two full, stretched-out flips, but the half-twist makes this move more difficult, Johnson said.

Her second signature move on the floor, “Biles II,” was first successfully completed on the world stage in October 2019 at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. For this move — a triple-double — Biles flips twice while twisting three times before hitting the ground.

“The timing has to be good enough for you to still get that height in the air but also move your arms to start this spin-rotation part,” Johnson told ABC News.

Biles is the first female gymnast to ever complete a triple-double.

On vault

The “Biles on the vault,” a Yurchenko half-on with two twists, was first successfully completed on the world stage at the 2018 World Championships. Yurchenko is a type of move named after Soviet gymnast Natalie Yurchenko that involves a round-off onto the spring board, followed by a back handspring on the vault.

So, Biles does a round-off, into a back hand-spring with a half turn, and completes the move by twisting twice in a somersault.

It was assigned a difficulty score of 6.4 — which makes it one of the most difficult vaults in women’s artistic gymnastics.

However, if Biles lands a Yurchenko double pike at the Tokyo Olympics — a roundoff, a back handspring and two straight-legged backflips — she will likely have a fifth move named after her. She’s already performed and successfully landed the move in competition.

On the balance beam

The “Biles on the balance beam,” which was first completed on the international stage at the 2019 World Championships, features a double-double dismount. Biles is the first gymnast to ever complete this skill, according to Team USA.

“If you’re listing the level of difficulty amongst all those skills, I would say the balance beam dismount is probably at the top of the list,” said former UCLA gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field.

The move is a double-twisting double backflip, completed on a 4-inch wide beam.

“The one that is just mind boggling to me is the dismount of balance,” Spencer said. “It’s hard enough just to get to a dismount, with multiple skills in front of it going down a straight line. To be able to execute a skill that twists twice and flips twice from a balance beam … that is just absolutely phenomenal.”

Coaches say that Biles’ genetics likely has a lot to do with her success. Johnson said her 4-foot-8-inch height and small stature gives her more time in the air to do high-difficulty skills, and it makes her unstoppable when combined with her strong, muscular build.

“She’s using her body and her muscles as efficiently as possible and it makes her that much more powerful,” Johnson said.

Her strength allows her to push her smaller body higher up into the air, Johnson said. And since she’s shorter and takes up less space — she can manage more twists, turns, and stunts than her competitors.

However, experts also say Biles’ mental strength and drive have likely played a big role in her gymnastics prowess.

“Your stress levels from the mental strain can really affect and manifest physically, so to be able to overcome those things and compete at the level that she’s competing is amazing and it just sets her apart,” Johnson said.

The pressure is on, with coaches, gymnasts and judges alike praising her focus.

“The focus has to be just razor blades sharp,” Spencer said. “The margin of error is so small, that one minor mishap — if it happens early, it can multiply and exacerbate the end, and even if it happens late, it can mess it up the landing, and so on.”

Biles is heading to her second Olympics, following a stunning set of wins in the 2016 Olympic games. Biles won the individual gold medals in all-around, vault, and floor — and now she’s ready to take on Tokyo.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Replacement athlete on US Olympic gymnastics team tests positive for COVID-19

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(TOKYO) — A replacement athlete on the U.S. women’s artistic gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19, according to USA Gymnastics.

The gymnast tested positive on Sunday, USA Gymnastics said. She hasn’t been named but is a teenager, according to the Japanese city of Inzai, where the American women’s gymnastics team was training.

The infected gymnast and one other replacement athlete are following additional quarantine restrictions, USA Gymnastics said.

The Olympians moved Monday to different sleeping and training facilities as previously planned to continue their preparations, according to USA Gymnastics.

“The entire delegation continues to be vigilant and will maintain strict protocols while they are in Tokyo,” USA Gymnastics added.

ABC News’ Kate Hodgson contributed to this report.
 

 

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3 US tennis stars share message of support for Coco Guaff sidelined by COVID-19

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(TOKYO) — U.S. tennis star Cori “Coco” Gauff has been sidelined from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19, leaving the women’s singles squad to just three first-time Olympians for the red, white and blue.

Alison Riske, Jen Brady and Jessica Pegula spoke with “Good Morning America” moments after learning they would represent Team USA without Gauff before heading to the Summer games.

“Obviously she’s going to be disappointed. She’ll be sad. But, you know, she has so much potential to do great things in this sport. And I know she will,” Brady said. “Hopefully she recovers well and we’ll see her back out on the court soon. Back here in the States.”

Just days ahead of opening ceremonies and before traveling to Japan, the 17-year-old phenom who was meant to lead a 12-member squad tweeted, “It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future.”

Riske, 31, added to her teammate’s sentiment saying she wants Guaff to know “she’ll be missed” and to “keep her head up. Focus on your health and make sure you’re feeling OK — We’ll see you on the court soon.”

The United States Tennis Association tweeted a statement in response to her announcement.

“We were saddened to learn that Coco Gauff has tested positive for COVID-19 and will therefore be unable to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” USTA’s statement read. “The entire USA Tennis Olympic contingent is heartbroken for Coco. We wish her the best as she deals with this unfortunate situation and hope to see her back on the courts very soon.”

It is unclear if Gauff was fully vaccinated before testing positive for COVID.

All three Tokyo-bound singles competitors expect “nothing but good vibes,” Brady said. And Riske said she is “most excited about Opening Ceremonies.”

“We all earned our way onto the team. We all deserve to be here in the end. We’re just going to embrace I think,” Pegula said.

Brady added: “It’s going to be something that I’m going to remember the rest of my life. Proud of each and every one of us … let’s go represent the U.S.”

For the first time in 25 years, the tennis roster for the U.S. will be missing another set of marquee names with both Serena and Venus Williams sitting out.

“These are the girls we compete against every single week of the year — and doing it against exact same people we are doing it against at the Olympics. And I think that’s an advantage for us,” Riske said.

While Americans have racked up 24 Olympic medals in tennis since 1988, Riske said “just to bring medals back would be amazing.”

While Guaff is the highest-profile athlete to test positive from Team USA, others from around the world including two South African soccer players, as well as a rugby coach have also come into contact with COVID-19. A group of eight British gymnasts are isolating after a case was detected on their flight.

The threat of coming into contact with or testing positive for the virus has loomed large over the Olympic athletes.

If a test is confirmed, the athlete faces immediate quarantine for up to 14 days and forfeit any chance of competing in the games.

To ensure Team USA gymnastics has enough replacements, the athletes have all been separated for safety reasons.

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Collin Morikawa shoots bogey free 66, wins The Open

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(LONDON) — Collin Morikawa won The Open in Sandwich, England Sunday afternoon to win his second major. 

The 24-year old shot a bogey-free 66 to beat Jordan Spieth by two shots. 

Just like when he won the PGA Championship last year, this was Morikawa’s first appearance at The Open, becoming the first player to win two different majors on the first attempt. 

“This is by far one of the best moments of my life,” said Morikawa after his round. 

According to ESPN, Morikawa became the first player to win two majors in eight or fewer attempts since Bobby Jone in 1926.

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Hijab-wearing basketball referee out to blaze trail at Tokyo Olympics

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(NEW YORK) — For Sarah Gamal, the significance of being the first hijab-wearing basketball referee to take part in the Olympic Games goes well beyond the court.

The Egyptian referee and 3-on-3 basketball will both make their Olympic debuts in Tokyo next week after the International Olympic Committee approved the addition of the fast-paced version of the popular sport four years ago.

Gamal will be making some history of her own though. When she takes the court in Tokyo, she will be the first Olympic basketball referee to do so wearing a hijab.

She made her breakthrough into the sport’s top level when the International Basketball Federation changed its rules on headgear in 2017, effectively lifting a ban on the Islamic headscarf.

The 32-year-old has officiated at several international tournaments since then, but making her Olympic bow has an added significance as she seeks to blaze a trail for other veiled referees to follow.

“Thankfully, many hijab-wearing referees who had doubts over whether to continue their careers are now reassured,” Gamal told ABC News. “In the past, many thought they would never be able to take charge of international games, and that they would only be restricted to local matches.”

“But now I’m happy to have played a part in making the difference,” she continued. “Veiled referees now have every reason to believe that they can take their careers to the international level. Many have called me to say they were encouraged to follow suit.”

Gamal takes charge of men’s and women’s games, moving up and down the court wearing a black veil to go with the traditional basketball refereeing uniform. She will be the only African and Arab referee at the 3-on-3 basketball contest in Tokyo.

Her first overseas venture after FIBA changed the headgear rules was in July 2017 when she took part in the Francophone Games in the Ivory Coast. She has not looked back, continuing to referee games at the highest level.

“I was worried at the time that I could receive any negative feedback, but all the comments I got were positive and supportive. There were no difficulties at all,” Gamal said. “My target at the Olympics is the same of the other 12 referees at 3-on-3; we are all looking forward to projecting a good image for referees on the tournament’s first Olympic appearance.”

“On the personal level, I’m representing the Arab world and Africa to I want to appear in the best possible shape,” she added.

The 3-on-3 version of basketball is played on a half-court with one basket. The first team to reach 21 points wins the game, but if neither reaches that mark after 10 minutes, the team that is ahead is declared the winner.

The men’s and women’s tournaments are comprised of eight teams each and is played in a round-robin format.

Gamal, who was born in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, started playing basketball at the age of 5 before becoming a referee when she turned 15.

She works a day job as a civil engineer in Egypt’s second-largest city, but Gamal described basketball as an essential part of her life.

“Featuring in the Olympics is a dream, but it will not end there. I want to take part in more Olympic Games and world championships,” she said.

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NFL has ‘steep hill to climb to make amends’ for race-norming in concussion settlement program: Senator

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(NEW YORK) — A powerful lawmaker says efforts by the NFL to address alleged racial bias in its concussion settlement program are falling short of what is owed to Black former players.

In comments sent to the office of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on June 28, league officials outlined their plan to reevaluate claims for compensation that may have been affected by a race-based formula sometimes used to measure cognitive impairment, which critics say has skewed payouts along racial lines.

Wyden told ABC News that while the league’s current stance appears to represent “an improvement” from its previous position, much more transparency is needed.

“The NFL has a steep hill to climb to make amends for its racist policies that denied Black former players benefits they were owed and to give some straight answers about how the policy was implemented in the first place,” Wyden said in a statement. “It is unacceptable that the league refuses to reveal how many players were denied benefits as a result of its race-based formula.”

The NFL is currently locked in confidential negotiations with attorneys for former players, after the federal judge overseeing the program ordered them into mediation to “address the concerns” about its use of race-norming, a controversial practice used in medicine and some other fields that’s coming under increased scrutiny following an ABC News investigation earlier this year.

On Friday night, as an NFL spokesperson was preparing a response to questions from ABC News, the magistrate judge overseeing the mediation ordered that “the parties and counsel are not to discuss with persons not authorized to participate in the mediation either proposed settlement terms or the status of negotiations while the mediation discussions are ongoing.”

On Saturday morning, the league’s spokesperson issued a brief statement referring to that order.

“The Judge overseeing the mediation has directed the parties not to discuss the mediation process, and the NFL is abiding by that Order,” said Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s vice president of communications. “While the NFL did not create race norms, it is committed to prohibiting their use in Settlement Program evaluations and ensuring that any claimant whose claim was denied as a result of race norms will have their testing re-scored.”

“As to the assertion that the NFL has employed racist policies, race norms were administered by independent clinicians in the Settlement Program — not the NFL — and were widely accepted and used in standard clinical neuropsychological practice at the time that the Settlement Agreement was implemented,” McCarthy added.

In February, ABC News uncovered emails between clinicians who evaluated former NFL players for compensation through the program, in which they contended they were all but required to apply race-based adjustments to players’ cognitive test scores and expressed concerns that the league’s protocols discriminate against Black players.

And a data analysis from a law firm representing several players, also obtained by ABC News, suggests that the impact of the practice on payouts could be significant, making it much more difficult for Black players to qualify.

A new deal has yet to be reached, but both parties have signaled that they will seek to eliminate race as a factor in future evaluations. Significant questions remain, however, about how to address past claims — from former players for whom race was a factor in their denials, as well as from former players who never submitted claims because they were told they were not impaired enough to qualify.

NFL officials told Wyden’s office that re-scoring of previously submitted claims would be left to the discretion of the claims administrator.

“The Parties anticipate that the ultimate implementation of a revised methodology will not require much, if any, action by Retired Players,” wrote Brendon Plack, the league’s senior vice president for public policy and government affairs. “The neutral Claims Administrator will re-review Claim Packages submitted through the Monetary Award Fund (‘MAF’) program or Baseline Assessment (‘BAP’) program to determine whether any claim needs to be re-scored under the new methodology, and will notify affected Retired Players about its findings, their rights and next steps.”

Players who have been previously tested but never submitted a claim, league officials said, would have to be re-tested under the new protocols and then seek a “backdated diagnosis.”

“All Retired Players, including those who have been previously evaluated through the MAF program but have not yet submitted a claim, may be re-examined by a Qualified MAF Physician or undergo a BAP evaluation (if eligible) at any time for a neurocognitive impairment assessment,” Plack wrote. “If a Qualifying Diagnosis is rendered, the Retired Player may submit a Claim Package based on that assessment. … If it is determined that a Retired Player underwent a prior evaluation and met the criteria for a Qualifying Diagnosis earlier than the date of the new evaluation, the Retired Player is eligible to receive a Monetary Award calculated as of the earlier date.”

Christopher Seeger, the attorney representing former NFL players in the mediation, however, disputed any notion that “the parties” had resolved their differences on that issue.

“The NFL does not speak for me or the retired NFL player class, and their response to Senator Wyden does not reflect our position,” Seeger said in a statement issued prior to the judge’s order. “At this point, the only agreement we have with the NFL is to eliminate the use of ‘race norms’ in the claims process going forward. No agreement has been reached on rescoring previously submitted claims, and the NFL’s response to Senator Wyden misrepresents our position. We believe all claims should be rescored if a neuropsychologist applied ‘race norms’, and if this is not achieved as part of the mediation, we will seek relief from the court.”

The league’s position would appear to fall short of Seeger’s previous demands for a more exhaustive reevaluation of claims submitted under the program. In an exclusive interview with ABC News, which was featured in a special edition of “Nightline” in June, he said that he will not sign off on a new agreement unless it includes two specific provisions.

“For me, the only two outcomes here, without a massive war, is elimination of race norms and the ability to go back and look at every claim, every single claim, to determine where it’s been applied,” Seeger said. “And if it has to be rescored and then compensated, so be it.”

Attorney Cy Smith, who represents Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, the Black former players who petitioned to intervene in the mediation, also said the NFL’s discussion of the potential terms of a new agreement is premature.

“All parties to the ongoing mediation agreed to keep those discussions confidential, pursuant to instructions from the Court and at the NFL’s insistence,” Smith said in a statement that was also issued prior to the judge’s order. “Because no agreement has been reached, and those negotiations are continuing under Court supervision, it is surprising and frankly inappropriate for the NFL to suggest that an agreement has been struck, or what the terms might be. Accordingly, we will have no comment at this time.”

Sen. Wyden, meanwhile, will be waiting to review the terms of the final agreement.

“Regardless of the NFL’s public statements,” Wyden said, “the proof will be in the ultimate results of the mediation process.”

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1st COVID-19 case confirmed in Tokyo Olympic Village

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(TOKYO) — The first COVID-19 case inside the Olympic Village was confirmed, officials said Saturday, as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are set to kick off in less than a week.

The case was reported after a screening test conducted Friday, according to Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto.

The person is not an athlete competing in the games, which open July 23, but has been identified as “games-concerned personnel” who is a non-resident of Japan. The person is under a 14-day quarantine period.

Muto said the organizing committee expected that there could be positive COVID-19 cases in the village.

“As such we will take proper measures so that athletes who are staying there can feel safe,” Muto said during a press briefing Saturday, according to APTN.

Athletes and those in close proximity are required to undergo daily testing. Additionally, temperature checks are conducted upon entry to the Olympic and Paralympic Village or an Olympic venue.

Those traveling to Japan for the games are also required to get tested before their flight and upon arrival and then quarantine for three days.

Between July 1 and 16, out of around 15,000 athletes, officials, journalists and others who arrived in Tokyo for the games, 15 tested positive on their arrival or during a screening test, according to the International Olympic Committee.

Organizers have confirmed 44 positive cases since July 1, including the resident of the Olympic Village. The people were mostly identified as contractors, though also included games-concerned personnel, employees, three members of the media and one athlete.

On Thursday, IOC President Thomas Bach said there was “zero” risk that people participating in the Olympics would infect Japanese residents due to detection and isolation measures, Reuters reported.

The Olympic Village will house about 11,000 athletes during the games, along with thousands of staff.

Last week, local officials declared a state of emergency in Tokyo amid rising COVID-19 cases, barring spectators from the Olympic venues.

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Scoreboard roundup — 7/16

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(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Friday’s sports events:

INTERLEAGUE
Final  Tampa Bay   7  Atlanta   6

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Final  Toronto      10  Texas               2
Final  Boston        4  N.Y. Yankees        0
Final  Kansas City   9  Baltimore           2
Final  Houston       7  Chicago White Sox   1
Final  Oakland       5  Cleveland           4
Final  Seattle       6  L.A. Angels         5
Minnesota  at  Detroit  1:10 p.m.  (Postponed)
Minnesota  at  Detroit  2:10 p.m.  (Postponed)

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Final  Philadelphia    5  Miami          2
Final  Miami           7  Philadelphia   0
Final  Pittsburgh      4  N.Y. Mets      1
Final  Milwaukee      11  Cincinnati     6
Final  San Diego      24  Washington     8
Final  San Francisco   7  St. Louis      2
Final  L.A. Dodgers   10  Colorado       4
Final  Chicago Cubs    5  Arizona        1

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Nats rookie surprises his dad with good news

Biola University Eagles

(WASHINGTON) — RobertAnthony Cruz has dreamed about being a professional baseball player his whole life.

This week, when he got the call to join the Major League Baseball Washington Nationals as a rookie player, he decided to surprise his biggest supporter: his father.

“My dad would often throw me batting practice. Typically it would be after work or on his days off and I can’t remember a single time that he said ‘no,’” Cruz told “World News Tonight.”

In a video that has since gone viral, Cruz surprises his father Ron Cruz at his job in a local auto repair shop to hand him a Washington Nationals official baseball cap. Cruz and his father then shared an emotional moment.

“Your kids — your sons, daughters — out there have dreams and as far as our kids, I didn’t want to be the one to tell them that, ‘No, that cannot be done,’” said Ron Cruz.

“My son’s had a dream of being a professional baseball player from the time he was little and it’s very special for us, [and] for him to get his life started and going,” he added.

RobertAnthony Cruz said that having his father spend time with him made all the difference.

“He was just ready to be there for me. However, I needed him,” said RobertAnthony Cruz. “And growing up, I needed him to throw me batting practice and that’s what he did.”

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