As the games approach, athletes are beginning to make their mark in 2008.
1. This week's national team training camp saw a lot of athletes competing upgraded routines. Shawn Johnson showed her Amanar on vault (2 1/2 Twisting Yurchenko), while Shayla Worley and Nastia Liukin are now performing double twisting yurchenkos. Vault will play a key part in distancing the team from the Chinese during team finals. Peszek is also said to be training an Amanar, while Jana Bieger showed a tucked rudi on vault. Jana's full twisting double layout is now consistent on floor, improving her A score and her chances to make the 2008 squad. Mattie Larson continues to improve and could peak just in time for the Olympic Trials. It is rumored that Peszek will be the 4th American competing at the American Cup. This is a plum assignment, but she will face tough competition from Worley, Johnson and Liukin.
2. Johnny Weir officially withdrew from the Four Continents Championships. Weir will use the time to make sure he is maximizing his levels and point totals. Don't be shocked if Weir has a Quad Toe in the short program at Worlds. Weir could also be ready to unveil a Quad Salchow at Worlds. If Weir is able to perform a Quad Toe+Triple Toe in the short program, he will have the ability to achieve a significant lead with his high PCS scores.
3. Jeremy Wariner, the reigning World and Olympic Champion in the 400 meters, split with longtime coach Clyde Hart. The split was due to an inability to reach a contractual agreement over Hart's salary. Hart claims Wariner wanted him to take a cut in pay, despite his salary being higher than most coaches. Wariner's agent, Michael Johnson, says the split shouldn't affect Wariner and feels his client is still on track to repeat as Olympic Champion.
4. Michael Phelps returned to competition last weekend and won 5 of the 6 events he entered (he entered the 6th event, the 50m freestyle 'just for fun') after breaking his wrist two months ago. Phelps claims the injury was just what he needed to be motivated to take his training up a notch. Phelps' efforts last weekend are significant because they are faster than the results he achieved at the same event last year. Ian Thorpe's recent statements may fuel Phelps even further. Thorpe feels there is "no chance" Phelps can break Mark Spitz's record of seven Olympic Gold Medals. Phelps and two training partners recently spent three weeks training at high altitude.
5. Amanda Beard also competed last weekend and nabbed a bronze medal. Beard hasn't competed much since 2004, but expects to be ready by Olympic Trials. NBC Olympics posted an extensive interview with Beard.