Yevgeny Plushenko

Plushenko leads at comeback event

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Thirty-one-year-old Yevgeny Plushenko made his comeback a reality Thursday at a small event in Riga, Latvia, the 2006 Olympic champion skating at the Volvo Cup.

Plushenko, who also won the silver medal at the 2002 and 2010 Games, led after the short program with a 82.34, nearly nine points better than the second-place skater, his countryman Aleksander Petrov.

Plushenko has not competed since pulling out of the European Championships earlier this year after the short program. He won the 2013 Russian National Championships, as well as the Europeans in 2012.

Riga is a lower-level, Senior B event, but enables Plushenko to register an international score that he is in need of in order to be eligible for the Sochi Olympics. He is slated to compete at the Grand Prix stop in Moscow Nov. 22-24, the Rostelecom Cup.

The Russian Olympic team Web site reported that Plushenko landed a triple toe loop, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination.

Of the three Grand Prixs held so far in 2013 (and excluding other Senior B events), Plushenko has the fifth-highest short program score of the season. Japan’s Tatsuki Machida has the highest, a 91.18 at Skate America in October. Three-time reigning world champion Patrick Chan registered an 88.10 at Skate Canada.

Russia has one men’s singles spot at the Sochi Games, and should Plushenko be healthy he is thought to be rewarded it if he does register a qualifying score.

Plushenko aims for comeback at small event

Plushenko’s comeback was breaking news in his home country:

No Zika cases from Olympics, WHO says

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 12:  An aerial view of the Christ The Redeemer statue (F) and the Maracana Stadium (B) on November 12, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
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There have been zero Zika virus cases stemming from the Rio Olympics, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

“From the reports WHO received from national health authorities, there have so far been no laboratory confirmed cases of Zika virus in anyone associated with the Olympics,” the organization said in an online update Thursday.

Earlier this summer, several athletes cited Zika concerns in skipping the Olympics.

The World Health Organization said before the Rio Games that the Olympics posed “a very low risk” of accelerating the Zika virus spread around the world.

Thousands of athletes will come to Rio for the Paralympics that run from Sept. 7-18, which is still during Brazil’s winter, lessening the Zika risk.

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Devon Allen weighs turning pro in track and field

Devon Allen
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University of Oregon hurdler and wide receiver Devon Allen said he “thinks” he’s turning pro in track, but also said he hasn’t really decided if his NCAA track career is finished Thursday.

“There’s not really much more I can do in college track other than break the collegiate record,” Allen said.

Allen, a University of Oregon junior, finished fifth in the Rio Olympic 110m hurdles on Aug. 16 after winning the Olympic Trials on July 9.

Allen can turn pro in track and field and still play football for the Ducks, so long as he keeps his track and field profits to prize money and not endorsement deals.

He’s definitely planning on playing for Oregon’s football team this season, perhaps even in the season opener Sept. 3.

As for track season next winter and spring, that’s looking unlikely. Allen noted that he has won NCAA individual and team titles.

The only missing piece is the NCAA record of 13.00 set by former world-record holder Renaldo Nehemiah. Allen’s personal best is 13.03.

It’s clear that Allen would like to be a professional in both track and football.

“The NFL is something I’ve been dreaming about doing, just like I dreamed about running in the Olympics,” said Allen, who caught nine passes for 94 yards last season, coming back from tearing knee ligaments in the Rose Bowl. “I kind of accomplished that Olympic dream, obviously, in four years, I want to win a gold medal, so that’s one more step to that dream. Now my next dream is to play in the NFL.”

VIDEO: Top track and field moments from Rio Olympics