FIG GONNA FIG: The 2021 Olympics Decisions

Sigh and a half.

Today, the FIG decided to put all our speculation to rest and brain fart out its decision regarding how the Olympic qualification and eligibility system will be amended for an Olympics taking place in 2021. Here’s what we now know:

Code of points: The 2017-2020 code of points will remain in force until the end of 2021. This was the only acceptable decision since this code has governed the entire qualification process, and it would be fairly ridiculous to change codes just for the Olympics.

If, then, the 2020 code is retained for the Olympics, it must remain in effect for the rest of 2021 too since you can’t very well suddenly switch to a new code for events for events in the autumn, allowing no adjustment period.

Age Eligibility: Athletes who turn senior in 2021 WILL be eligible to qualify for and compete in the Olympics. This will be the most controversial decision of the bunch, and I do take issue with it, though not for the reasons most do—which seem to have something to do with fairness. I don’t think it is unfair to other athletes, per se, to allow the 2021 seniors to compete in the Olympics because it will be 2021 and they will officially be senior gymnasts. Just like the new 2020 seniors were going to be able to waltz into the Olympics without participating in any of the qualification process in the 2020 Olympics. It’s now exactly the same for the 2021 seniors.

I do, however, view it as logically inconsistent with the code of points decision, which is making an understandable (and correct) exception to the usual way of things by treating these Olympics as the 2020 Olympics and refraining from making the normal rules adjustments for the 2021 year.

My favorite part of this decision is that it cites the technical regulations as justification, but then links to some document about parkour scoring. Good good good.

Apparatus Qualification: The least justifiable decision make by the FIG today concerns the Baku World Cup, which as you might recall had to be halted after qualification because the world is ending.

The FIG has decided that the qualification results from Baku will stand as the final results and Olympic points will be awarded based on qualification, which is…ludicrous, insane, and wrong.

Do we even need to explain why? Qualification is not the final. Athletes wouldn’t necessarily have performed the routines they did in qualification if they had known it would be treated as a final. Not to mention, there were a number of athletes who elected not to attend for virus reasons (Stephen Nedoroscik, for example) in what turned out to be a prudent and healthy decision, one that these athletes should not be punished for. But they are being punished for it. Using Baku qualification results as official eliminates Nedoroscik from apparatus spot contention.

I feel like we need to get him and Emma Nedov in contact with each other (this decision would also give Urara Ashikawa the beam spot based on those qualification results) to take this to the Court of Arbitration for Sport because it is objectively not right to decide after the event that qualification now counts as the final when no one competed under that assumption during the meet. You HAVE to hold the entire event over again.

Copenhagen worlds: I’ll finish things up on a better note—the decision that 2021 worlds in Denmark will go on as planned. Good. There was really no need to change 2021 worlds because it wouldn’t conflict with the Olympics, and this event should be super fun.

64 thoughts on “FIG GONNA FIG: The 2021 Olympics Decisions”

  1. Baku decision was garbage, I’m fine with the rest.

    Now when will we hear if USAG is canceling US Classic & Championships this year?

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  2. I wonder what this will mean for the US competitions if there won’t be a worlds or olympics this year, maybe they won’t have a full blown US Championships this year???? Hmm very interesting. Im sure the inclusion of the 2021 seniors will cause a riot of controversy here, but i agree with you that using the Baku qualifications is crazy. Like either make exceptions for everything or nothing. does that mean the American Cup next year will not count as an all around world cup then from a qualification standpoint?

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  3. Spencer, I disagree that using the 2020 code but allowing the 2021 seniors is inconsistent. If the logic is that using the 2020 code means it should be 2020 age limit, then that same logic would suggest that 2021 seniors would have to sit out the entire year unless they decide to change to the new code next year for everything but the Olympics.

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    1. The logic is because it is still being called the 2017-2020 Code of Points and the separate 2021-2024 Code of Points, and the Olympics are still being called the 2020 Olympics. Decades from now they will call whoever wins the 2020 Olympic Champion. I would say to be logically consistent, the new seniors should be able to compete at Worlds-a 2021 event-but not the Olympics. For events that were canceled like the European Championships, the new seniors should be able to compete at the 2021 edition because that is still the 2021 championship, and decades from now the winner will be called the 2021 Champion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was responding to Spencer’s specific argument on the code issue, which you also seem to be defending here. If the argument is “it’s called the 2017-2020 code” then, logically, if you use the 2020 code the whole year, you have to apply that reasoning to the whole year and not allow the 2021 seniors to compete.

        As for the argument that they’re calling them the 2020 Olympics, that’s an argument about an IOC decision, not a FIG decision. They didn’t make a decision that only those age-eligible this year can compete across all sports, so it’s not an issue.

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      2. Mary–Nothing says the CoP wouldn’t be changed midyear (after the Olympics. Your assumption that the current CoP would remain all year is completely unfounded. As for your remark about it being an IOC ‘issue’ that it is intended to be the TWENTY TWENTY Olympics, not the TWENTY TWENTY-ONE Olympics, the IOC is in charge of the event, not the FIG. All sports are not created equal and the patent unfairness of this decision for gymnasts has no application to many other sports where athletes regularly go to multiple Olympic Games. Biles and Mustafina, to cite the two most obvious examples, are extreme rarities in terms of longevity in the sport. New seniors have *four years* of eligibility; they do not need an additional Olympics in which they should never have been allowed to compete from the get-go. This is also grossly unfair to all the past gymnasts with an unfortunate birth year (Jennifer Sey, Rebecca Bross, etc, etc, etc) who paid the price for having to attempt to stay in the top ranks for four years. The IOC was correct not to issue a blanket ban, but they assumed minimal competence on the part of governing organizations–which is , of course, insane when dealing with the FIG. This decision is miserably bad enough to be worthy of Bruno Grandi at his worst.

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      3. To the Anon below (that I can’t reply directly to for someone reason) who said “Nothing says the CoP wouldn’t be changed midyear (after the Olympics. Your assumption that the current CoP would remain all year is completely unfounded.”

        …it is NOT an assumption, not unfounded, the FIG addressed this in the link Spencer provided!

        They said:

        “They (FIG Executive Committee) have also decided that the 2017–2020 Codes of Points in all Gymnastics disciplines will remain in force until the end of 2021. The 2021–2024 Codes of Points, which will now come into force on 1 January 2022, will be published next year to avoid any confusion.”

        So that answers that very clearly.

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  4. Now that many will feel bad about the Baku decision, as they were already counting on having two more chances, why not extend the series from 8 to 12 competitions where you can earn points :)?

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  5. The 2021 Worlds will also use the 2017-2020 code. Interesting. In light of this I’m wondering if certain gymnasts will choose instead to peak for Worlds rather than the Olympics. Gymnasts like Bachynska, Karmakar, or Pihan-Kulesza who have very little chance to qualify to the Olympics anyway undoubtedly would, but I’m wondering if there are other classes of gymnasts who would also benefit from it.

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  6. ALL HORSESHIT, all the time. FIG as we know it is. What garbage about the 2021 seniors. I HOPE none of them make the team!

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  7. I’m curious who is gonna keep training and who is gonna go ncaa. I feel for gymnasts who stood a better shot of making the team if they kept it without the 2021 seniors. Do you hold out a year just to see what would happen or do you say enough is enough my body can’t handle it and I want to go have fun?

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      1. I agree that McCusker seems to be the most likely to leave elite & head down to Florida this fall… but also who knows if in-person school will be starting in the fall & if the 2021 NCAA season will happen, or happen on time. I sure as hell hope so!

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  8. Will Jade Carey only have three years of ncaa eligibility now? She signed to osu for the 2019 season but obviously deferred on year which kept her with 4 seasons in 5 years, then she deferred 2020 to bring her to 4 seasons in 4 years, will she only have 3 seasons now since she is gonna have to defer another year for 2021? Or do we think the ncaa will grant her and everyone else a “grace” year because of what happened with the olympics?

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      1. Jade will be 24 when she graduates (of course that is if she does it in 4 years… many student-athletes take 5 years since they have more restrictions on when they can have classes)… Kyla Ross will be just a few months shy of 24 when she graduates, so she’s in good company! Sabrina Vega will be 25 when she graduates this year. And assuming MyKayla Skinner doesn’t go back to Utah until the fall of 2021, then she’ll be 25 & a half when she graduates in 2022.

        There are plenty of elites who graduate a little older! 😊

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  9. Pretty much agree with you all around. But I think the additional wrinkle of allowing 2021 seniors into the Olympics is that it pressured them to get to Olympic level when previously they thought they had an additional 3 years to peak for the Olympics. I think it’s a bad decision all around, and the Baku decision is even worse. I don’t know how they can possibly justify this decision and I hope they come to their senses and change it back.

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    1. Big hope they don’t change it back bc the last thing we need is more FIG/ IOC indecision. Although chaos is the only thing we can count on these days.

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    2. So the FIG World Cups in 2021, Euros 2021 (or other continental champs), Worlds 2021 are nothing competitions and newly minted 2021 senior have always planned to wing them?! I know for US athletes the Olympics are everything but for many others a world title is just as important (and lucrative) as an olympic one.

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  10. Agree completely with Baku some gymnasts only put up a qualification routine to get safely into the final before going all out on finals day.

    I’m in two minds with the age eligibility in one respect I don’t think it should be allowed but then I think of the Russians gaining Listunova and it makes me feel that the team final might be a little but more exciting.

    A potential Russian team of Mustafina/Melnikova/Urazova and Listunova or swop Gerasimova for Mustafina if she doesn’t come back and your looking at a very talented team.

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  11. the “New seniors have *four years* of eligibility; they do not need an additional Olympics in which they should never have been allowed to compete from the get-go. This is also grossly unfair to all the past gymnasts with an unfortunate birth year (Jennifer Sey, Rebecca Bross, etc, etc, etc) who paid the price for having to attempt to stay in the top ranks for four years.”

    @Anon (sorry, there was no reply button underneath your remark)

    How is this any different than figure skaters in the 90’s theoretically being eligible for 2 Olympic Games (Albertville and Lillehammer) in 4 years? How is this age rule change different or any more unfair to athletes than previous age rule changes? There are always athletes whose Olympic dreams are dashed because of age and injury, Kristal Uzelac and Vanessa Atler to name a few. What if a 2020 senior gets injured this summer? Does that mean that she shouldn’t be allowed to compete for an Olympic berth in 2021 because technically, she would’ve been injured and unable to go when the Games were supposed to happen in 2020? It makes no sense to say to new seniors that they are eligible for every contest in 2021, except for the Olympics now that they are old enough to compete.

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    1. The skating analogy isn’t a perfect one because the 1994 games were moved two years FORWARD from 1996 and so it would have been the same cohort from 1992 in the pool of eligible athletes — eligibility was contracted, not expanded.

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    2. @Liya–Who said new seniors should be eligible for ANY contest in 2021 which was postponed from 2020? They should not. If the competition is cancelled outright, then a new CoP should apply to any 2021 event as well, obviously. How do you possibly think the only time any Olympics was held twice in four years (because of the IOC’s greed and wanting more of a cash cow every two years rather than four!) is a logical example proving any of your assertions? Atler was kept off the team because of NEITHER age nor injury. And, by the way, this IS NOT AN AGE RULE CHANGE NOR IS IT PRIMARILY ABOUT AGE! This is grandfathering (godfathering, more like–rather like a Mafia operation) in athletes who would never and could never have competed at Tokyo 2020. For the record, the asinine rule of having to be 16 to compete is one of the all time stupidest, and would have prevented such miracles as Comaneci in 1976; I have always been vehemently opposed to it. But this is moving the damn goalposts when actual qualified (chronologically AND in terms of physical training/peaking/experience) athletes are in a first-and-goal position!

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    3. Hot take alert: Olympic dreams are stupid and useless. Maybe all dreams are, but focus. The more I quarantine watch old/not so old meets on YT, the more appalled I am at how the gymnasts are coached. And it’s not like an Olympic medal leads to automatic life of luxury and happiness post games (I totes thought it did when I was a kid). Like Dawes said (paraphrasing here), you work so hard, put up with so much, stand on the podium and you don’t feel fulfilled. I don’t think things are much better now, gymnasts are still treated like chattel by their coaches and their governing body. I’ll still be loving the sport and waiting for that culture change. 😬🕑🤦🏼‍♀️💩

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      1. I think you’re right… sure it would be incredible to go to the Olympics, very few people have the chance to experience that… but also no matter how successful you are, you’re going to move on with your life and do other things. School, new friends, career, family, new hobbies and sports – they’ll eclipse whatever success or failure you had in the past. Or at least they should. And that perspective is important when you (and ESPECIALLY your parents and coaches!!) are deciding whether to make huge sacrifices of your mental or physical health to fulfill your ‘dreams.’

        Like, I’d probably rather be Elizabeth Price than Gabby Douglas in ten years, even if Gabby has gold medals from two Olympics. And I’d definitely rather be Alex McMurtry than McKayla Maroney.

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      2. I don’t disagree, but…in this situation, what would moving on and doing other things even look like? School is online only and college at least is a pale substitute for the real thing. You can’t get out and see friends or meet new people. The job market is in the crapper. Given all the uncertainty that lies ahead, I can’t blame athletes who decide to stay the course. For once, no one needs to have FOMO right now.

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      3. That’s true – personally if I was Chiles or Skinner I’d stick it out – I think this could be to their advantage. Skinner could take the time to get her chucked skills down, and Chiles seems like she’s improved significantly since she’s been with the Landis. And I definitely understand gymnasts wanting to give it a shot – even participating at Trials is a big honor.

        In general though, parents and coaches need to start helping kids see beyond Olympic success. It is their responsibility. Especially parents – I remember reading that stuff about how Nichols’s parents were pushing her on her diet and exercise in early 2016 and like… that’s not their job. And they weren’t even known to be stage parents.

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      4. So I’ve never been a gymnast and may be talking out of my ass here, but I don’t understand the narrative that athletes will be able to take this time to refine and upgrade. They can’t even go in the gym! If you take the optimistic view that athletes will be back in the gym in July or August, it’s going to take a few months just to get back to where they were pre-COVID, and then before you know it the competition season has started.

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  12. The Baku World Cup took place during a meltdown with gymnasts literally fleeing as soon as they could get a flight out. How the FIG could call any scores or results from that World Cup usable is a mystery…

    I wish they would only allow those eligible for the 2020 Olympics to compete in the 2020 Olympics in 2021. Those 2021 seniors will still have the World Championships later that year. I’m very surprised that the FIG was empowered to make that decision. I would have thought the IOC would have had a universal age eligibility policy for those sports with minimum age restrictions.

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  13. i can see every side to this story. 2005 babies get to compete as a senior, but can’t go to the olympics? that’s not fair to them. veterans may not get a chance with the babies and chellsie ~possibly~ coming back? not fair to them either. there’s no perfect solution, and hopefully we never have a pandemic again. life isn’t fair, and i’m sure these gymnasts know that. imo this decision was fine as long as kids don’t rush to peak and get injured. (baku was horrible.there’s no arguing that it isn’t unfair.)

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    1. 2021 seniors apparently get to compete at a 2021 worlds, so how on earth would it be unfair to not allow them to participate in a postponed event that they were originally eligible for? They still get three Worlds and one Olympics in four years just like every other cohort of gymnasts.

      Instead, they get 2 Olympics and 3 Worlds in four years, while the cohort behind them got 0 and 3.

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  14. If they are going to treat 2021 seniors as age eligible then I wish the FIG would change the team size back to 5 for this Olympics. I know logistically this won’t happen but it’ll be heartbreaking when a senior who thought they had a strong chance to contend for the team lost their spot to someone who wasn’t even eligible as of a month ago.

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    1. Musicman–This, in spades. Everything you said, particularly about team size. An utterly disgusting and unconscionable breaking of their own rules, but then this is FIG–that’s SNAFU.

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      1. Harsh … but true. Simone‘s leg extension is horrific. And this has nothing to do with her muscular built. Hell, Podkopayeva, Produnova, Pavlova were quite muscular in their own right but they could stretch their legs like there‘s no tomorrow.

        Poor early training is all it is!

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    2. The only one who should assume she had a spot on the team is Simone Biles. Anyone else could be beat by anyone else, regardless of age eligibility, so does it really matter if Leann Wong thinks she lost her spot to Connor McClain instead of losing it to MyKayla Skinner? I just don’t think it matters. I don’t think the age limit should exist, though, either, so there’s that.

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      1. Judging by her recent media appearances, Simone is pretty much done at this point. And as much as I appreciate what she‘s contributed to the sport, I can’t say I’ll miss seeing those beefy bent legs of hers again.

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      2. To the anti-Biles troll: Dream on, shitweasel. The fact that Biles has expressed frustration with COVID/FIG (basically two plagues of varying degrees of severity) and having to wait another year does not mean she is retiring. You’ll have to look at her legs for quite some time more, toad!

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  15. Who’s the guy in the photo? He looks like this asshole from my Masters Swim Team who was always drunk. We called him, “Little drunk guy”. His boyfriend was on the team also but they broke up when little drunk guy did half the waterpolo team. He always smelled like Vodka.

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  16. I already felt bad for the Chinese gymnasts who were unable to compete and gain points in Melbourne due to travel restrictions. Now I feel bad for everyone who is still gunning for a spot.

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    1. I think it’s an advantage to her IF she really works at mastering skills she has. If she just keeps trying to tack on more difficulty that she can barely compete, which is what I expect her to do, then a year of extra training time isn’t going to help.

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  17. The decision about Baku is bonkers. Quals is not finals. You can’t change that after the fact. Even having Melbourne count is iffy, since Chinese gymnasts couldn’t compete. Since they have another year, why not have those meets next year count?

    I’ve been one that felt the 2005 babies should not be eligible, but it is what it is. It helps some, it hurts others. It sucks, but that happens all the time in sports. What I don’t like hearing is how now a 2005 baby will “take so and so’s spot” No one owns a spot, it has to be earned. There is just now more competition.

    As for who of the current seniors might just now peace out and head to NCAA – my bets are on Riley, Emma Malabuyo, Jordan Chiles, Faith Torrez.. I do wonder about Ana Padurariu for Canada. She has struggled with injuries the past couple years, but even limited she is one of their best. Can her body handle another year? The one i feel worst for is Skinner. She is a married grown up ready to get on with the rest of her life. Her body can probably handle it as she has had remarkably few injuries. But what about her final year of eligibility at Utah? Does she lose that?

    Russia must be ecstatic, their current crop besides Melnikova has been iffy at best.

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    1. Why Riley? I think now that she’s finally out of MG Elite and in a training environment which she loves she will be more motivated to stay for another year, especially since Morgan will start at Florida for the 21-22 season also. I haven’t seen anything to suggest she is just “holding on” like Emma or Jordan.

      As for Russia, I have to wonder how this affects Mustafina. On one hand, she has time to get back into shape. On the other hand, how much of a chance does she have to make the team with Melnikova, Urazova, and Listunova all present? This team appears to have UB and BB sets that surpass hers, and I can’t see Valentina choosing to bring Mustafina for VT/FX over Akhaimova if Akhaimova continues delivering scores like she did at Worlds 2019. Mustafina could try for an individual spot for UB but again she has to beat out all the bar workers as well as Gerasimova on beam. The two Russians I see benefiting most from this change are Listunova (obviously) and then also Eremina who has more time to regain her form. Her 2017 UB set is probably stronger than Spiridonova, Ilyankova, Agafonova, etc.

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      1. The subtext of Riley’s insta post was very “yay, only one more year of this and then I can go to Florida.”

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      2. I think there’s an equivalent likelihood of Mustafina being 2018-level ready in a year as there is of the big three Russian juniors being uninjured and not significantly deteriorated in a year.

        I’m also excited for Listunova and Urazova etc but Russia does not have a good track record of transitioning juniors and it is really counting unhatched chickens to assume that 2005s will be the bulk of the Russian Olympic team. Melnikova is the only truly successful junior transition they’ve had in the last five/six years and even her career has had major rocky patches despite her obvious talent.

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    1. Oh wow, I hadn’t seen that article yet, thanks for sharing. I’ve definitely thought about that… the chance of there being no Tokyo Olympics. It’s depressing to think about as a MASSIVE fan of the Olympics in general, & obviously it will be heartbreaking for the athletes. If the Olympics are canceled all together it will also be absolutely devastating to Japan financially, especially compounded with financial devastation the virus is already creating.

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  18. The decision about the 2005 babies being eligible is a bit problematic but understandable. If some sports take the new eligible athletes and others don’t, that’s a whole lawsuit waiting to happen and I understand that legally there is no leg to stand on. I worry for the gymnasts who will try to make this happen but where actually on the 2024 track. This will be extremely rough to do 3 year work in a year. I think this will be relevant for very few new seniors who were planning for 2024.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. NBCSN is rebroadcasting Rio Gymnastics tonight at 9 pm. Showing Team Finals and AA back to back.

    Also, SEC, ESPNU, PAC12 are rebroadcasting NCAA meets from 2018-2019, including 2018 NCAA championships, 2019 and 2018 SEC and PAC12 championships and various dual meets from 2018-2019.

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