Rounding Off: Angelina Melnikova contemplating October's Worlds and Paris 2024

Plus, a Suni standing ovation, Zou Jinyuan on godly title, and a look back at the 1988 Soviet team on floor

By Scott Bregman
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Less than a month after leading her ROC team to gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games held in 2021, Angelina Melnikova is already looking ahead to what’s next, including the World Championships and even Paris 2024.

“I can’t rest,” said Melnikova in a long-ranging interview with RSport. “Because now I am planning to try to prepare for the World Championships. I don’t know how it will go.”

Melnikova, who has starred in the Olympic Channel series ‘All Around’ since August 2019, says she hasn’t spent much time looking backward on her three medal haul from Tokyo.

“I can even say that I do not miss the Olympics. It went well, but everything stayed there,” said Melnikova. “Now, there is the next stage in life, new goals.”

The 21-year-old, who won all-around and floor exercise bronze in addition to team gold, will have been out of training for nearly three weeks in a post-Olympic media blitz and says she will have to quarantine for a week prior to meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Those training restrictions could affect her decision to participate at the Worlds, scheduled for 18-24 October in Kitakyushu, Japan.

“I will have a month before the competition, which is very little,” Melnikova explained. “If it works out, good, but if not, I won’t risk it.”

Regardless of what happens in two month’s time, the gold medallist is already thinking about a third Olympic Games at Paris 2024.

“Of course, I would like to stay until Paris,” says Melnikova. “But I will start from my mental state, which is very important to me. Plus, my health, which is even more important.”

Suni Lee settling into college life at Auburn University

As she promised a day after taking all-around gold in Tokyo, American Suni Lee is already settling into college life a freshman at Auburn University.

Lee, 18, arrived on campus 10 August and started classes just six days later. It's been a whirlwind, but she has gotten big welcomes from her teammates.

"They've all been super welcoming," said Lee. "They've all reached out to me separately to just see if I needed anything, so I'm really excited to be competing with them."

It isn't just her teammates taking notice, however, with Lee receiving a standing ovation and cheers of 'USA! USA! USA!' at Auburn's annual Convocation Ceremony - an event meant to welcome each year's freshman students.

"I love it here," Lee tweeted with a video of the moment.

However, it seems Lee may be switching to online classes until she starts training with the gymnastics team ahead of college season beginning in January.

She is set to take part in American dancing reality competition Dancing With the Stars, continuing a tradition of American gymnasts on the show. That means online lessons for her first semester while she trains and competes in Los Angeles.

Zou Jingyuan: I think I'm nothing but a regular athlete

Zou Jingyuan of China, the 2020 Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion on parallel bars, isn't letting proclamations of his dominance on his signature event go to his head.

"One day I will be unable to win the title and that's when I'll no longer be the 'God of Parallel Bars.' So when they call me that, I think I'm nothing but a regular athlete who needs to continue to work hard," said Zou, according to a China News Service article.

The 23-year-old who claimed gold at the 2017 and 2018 worlds is looking to put that hard work to good use and says he hopes to help China win gold at Paris 2024 in three years time.

He has no plans of letting up.

"Gymnastics is different from other sports, it requires you to practice every day in the gym, both athletes and coaches, as well," said Zou. "But if I can perform better than others after practicing more, I will do it."

From the vault...

Our Olympic archive trips have returned! This week, we look back at the legendary Soviet women's team during their compulsory floor exercise rotation. Three athletes, Svetlana Boginskaya, Natalia Laschenova, and Elena Shushunova, led the way, earning 9.900 scores. The Soviet women went on to claim team gold.