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Brody Malone surges to the lead after the 1st day of U.S. Gymnastics Championships

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Brody Malone is officially back.

The two-time national champion surged to the lead at the U.S. men's gymnastics championships on Thursday, posting an all-around total of 85.950 to build a significant lead over Fred Richard and Donnell Whittenburg.

The 24-year-old Malone — a member of the 2020 Olympic team and a two-time world championship medalist — closed out his night with a 14.900 on the high bar, the same event where he suffered a major right knee injury in Germany in March 2023.

Wearing a bulky brace and a healthy amount of tape, Malone stuck his high bar dismount and let out a massive yell to celebrate after completing his first all-around competition in more than 14 months.

Richard, who earned bronze in the all-around at the 2023 world championships, overcame an iffy pommel horse routine to surge into second.

Whittenburg, at 29 the oldest athlete in the field, avoided major mistakes and rode the strength of solid sets on rings, vault and parallel bars to put himself in the mix while several members of the U.S. squad that earned bronze last world championships struggled.

Khoi Young, Yul Moldauer and Asher Hong all had opportunities to put pressure on Malone only to falter on pommel horse. Young, a silver medalist on pommels at 2023 worlds, fell on his dismount to slide to fifth in the all-around heading into the finals.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games