London Olympic gymnastics champ Arthur Zanetti of Brazil is threatening to switch nationalities ahead of his upcoming hometown Games in Rio unless the nation’s Olympic Committee is willing to invest in his sport going forward.
“When I won the gold medal in London everybody said my life was going to change, but it hasn’t changed at all,” Zanetti told TV Globo Sunday.
Zanetti won his gold in the rings competition last summer over defending champion Chen Yibing of China. The Brazilian star hopes to win on his home soil in 2016, but promises of funding have gone unfulfilled. Now he’s getting a little antsy.
“I have already begun thinking about competing for another country if the opportunity arises,” Zanetti, who’s forced to share the gym with 300 other athletes, added. “I would do it with a broken heart, because I am Brazilian and I like to be Brazilian. But if another country offered me what I needed, I would go.”
Zanetti would have to act quickly because IOC rules dictate that an athlete much switch nationalities three years ahead of the Games in order to compete for the new country. World No. 1 taekwondo fighter Aaron Cook switched from Great Britain to Isle of Man after being left off last summer’s team.
Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.
A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.
At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”
“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.
Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.
“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”
Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.
None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.