Five For Friday: Aug. 1, 2014

By Paul D. Bowker | Aug. 01, 2014, 11:26 a.m. (ET)

Kyla Ross competes in the women's balance beam final at the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships at the Antwerp Sports Palace on Oct. 6, 2013 in Antwerp, Belgium.

Some of the country’s top women’s gymnasts, including Olympic team gold medalist Kyla Ross and reigning all-around world champion Simone Biles, will compete in the Chicagoland area this weekend while the USA Basketball Men’s National Team meets in Las Vegas to prepare for the upcoming FIBA World Cup. Those are just two of the big events coming up this weekend for top U.S. athletes.

1) Gymnastics

Two members of the Olympic gold medal-winning “Fierce Five” squad and the defending world all-around champion will be at the Secret U.S. Classic Saturday.

While 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kyla Ross competes for a U.S. Classic title at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, 2012 Olympic teammate McKayla Maroney will be on hand to sign autographs. Simone Biles, who won the all-around and floor exercise at the 2013 FIG World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, will compete as well.

The event is the final qualifying event for women artistic gymnasts for the 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships. The men’s field is already filled. The national championships will be held Aug. 21-24 in Pittsburgh.

Among those joining Ross and Biles in the field at the Secret U.S. Classic is 2013 world team member Brenna Dowell. Dowell earned two bronze medals (all-around, uneven bars) at the 2013 national championships.

To qualify for the P&G Gymnastics Championships, a senior gymnast must score at least 54.000 in the all-around, have a three-event total of 41.250 or a two-event total of 28.000.

Eight junior elite gymnasts will compete on the senior level, including 2014 Pacific Rim Championships gold medalists Nia Dennis and Norah Flatley.

TV: 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Universal Sports

Webcast: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and

2) Basketball

The path toward the 2014 FIBA World Cup and eventually the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games winds through Las Vegas Friday night. A week of training concludes with the USA Basketball Showcase, an intrasquad USA Blue vs. USA White game to be played at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Among those powering up in Vegas for Team USA are Kevin Durant of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, who earned a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, a gold medalist at the 2010 world championship (the tournament has been renamed the FIBA World Cup for 2014). Other members of the 2012 Olympic Team on the training camp roster are Anthony Davis and James Harden.

Rose was not on the 2012 Olympic Team due to injury and missed most of the 2013-14 NBA season due to a torn meniscus in his right knee. In training camp, Rose made an impression on U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke University.

“We are very, very pleased,” Krzyzewski said. “Coming into camp, you don’t know. He has responded.”

Nineteen players are in the running for 12 roster spots.

Prior to heading to Spain for the World Cup, the national team will play Brazil Aug. 16 at Chicago’s United Center, then the Dominican Republic Aug. 20 and Puerto Rico Aug. 22 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Team USA opens the World Cup Aug. 30 against Finland in Bilbao, Spain.

TV: 9 p.m. ET Friday, ESPN

3) Sailing

More than 300 sailing athletes from 34 nations are in Brazil for the first test event for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. The Aquece Rio International Sailing Regatta begins Saturday on Guanabara Bay. Competition will be held in all 10 Olympic classes.

Among the 23 Olympic medalists in the competition is five-time medalist Robert Scheidt of Brazil. He won a gold medal in the Laser class at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Among the Americans who will be competing is Paige Railey, winner of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami earlier this year, in Laser Radial.

The sailing competition goes through Aug. 9 and is the first of 45 test events to be held for the 2016 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

4) Canoe/Kayak

The nation’s best canoeists and kayakers are at the venue of the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games for the 2014 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Championships. Competition began Thursday at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue in Gainesville, Georgia, located northeast of Atlanta.

Championship races Friday include men’s and women’s 500-meter paracanoe, men’s 5,000-meter canoe and women’s 5,000-meter kayak. Saturday finals include men’s and women’s 200-meter paracanoe, and men’s and women’s 200-meter canoe and kayak.

5) Swimming

The nation’s top up-and-coming swimming stars are on display this weekend at the Speedo Junior National Championships in Irvine, California. Next week, the Phillips 66 National Championships, featuring the likes of Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin, also will be held at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Complex in Irvine.

Hometown swimmer Corey Okubo of Irvine began the meet Wednesday by winning the men’s 200-meter butterfly. Connor Hoppe won the men’s 100 breaststroke and 14-year-old Easop Lee won the women’s 200 butterfly.

Other medal contenders include Townley Haas, the top seed in the men’s 200 freestyle; Connor Green and Michael Andrew, the top two seeds in the men’s 100 backstroke; and Emma Cain and Emma Schanz in the women’s 200 breaststroke.


Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for