Russia Explosion

Russia suicide bombings will not affect Sochi Olympic security

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Security at the Sochi Olympics will not be increased due to two suicide bombings the last two days in Volgograd, Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said Monday.

“All necessary measures are envisioned at the Olympic Games in Sochi,” Zhukov said, according to ITAR-TASS news agency. “No other security measures will be taken due to the terrorist act in Volgograd because everything is done.”

More than 30 people have been killed in explosions Sunday and Monday in Volgograd, a city of more than one million people about 400 miles northeast of Sochi.

A suicide bomber killed 14 on a bus in Volgograd on Monday. Authorities believe it was the work of the same group responsible for a bomb set off at a railway station Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

In October, another suicide bombing took place on a bus in Volgograd. In July, a Chechen rebel leader called for militant attacks on the Sochi Olympics.

Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered extra security nationwide after the attack Monday.

“I have personally written to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to express our condolences to the Russian people,” said International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach in a statement Monday. “I am certain that everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games.”

The U.S. government offered full support.

“We would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators and other participants,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

The Sochi Olympics will include new security measures such as a “spectator pass” in addition to normal tickets. Spectator passes “require providing passport details and contacts that will allow the authorities to screen all visitors and check their identities upon arrival,” according to the AP.

Also, special troops, drones and speed boats will keep a close eye on the area in and around Sochi during the Games, which begin Feb. 6.

One of Russia’s most celebrated athletes, two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, calls Volgograd home.

“It is hard for me to talk now,” Isinbayeva told ITAR-TASS, according to Agence France-Presse. “None of my family or loved ones suffered. But I feel terrible, simply terrible.”

Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan remembers slain Colorado officer, a childhood friend

Nancy Kerrigan
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan remembers the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic as loyal, caring and a true friend.

She told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was “one of my best friends” as they grew up together practicing figure skating in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was a junior national couples ice dancing champion.

An emotional Kerrigan says she wasn’t surprised he took a career path where he helped others first. She says he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

Swasey’s father has told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

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Kobe Bryant announces retirement but remains in contention for Rio team

Kobe Bryant
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Veteran basketball player and 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant has announced he will retire from professional basketball after the end of this season. However, ESPN reported that the chairman of USA Basketball, Jerry Colangelo, said that Bryant “remains in contention for Team USA spot for Rio 2016.”

In the form of a poem titled “Dear Basketball” on the Player’s Tribune, Bryant wrote:

This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

Bryant played on the U.S. national team from 2007 to 2012. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics he scored 20 points in the gold medal game to win gold over Spain. He helped the U.S. men to gold again in 2012, then said that it would be his last Olympics.

But he’s changed his tune in recent months. Bryant told the Associated Press in November that he’d like a shot at another Olympics.

“I would like to play,” Bryant said. “I think it’d be awesome. A beautiful experience.”

If he were selected and won again, Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would become the first U.S. male basketball players to win three gold Olympic medals.

In the AP interview Bryant spoke glowingly of his Olympic teammates. “It would mean the world to me to be around those guys,” he said. “I think to be able to have a chance to continue the relationship that I already have with most of those guys, talking and just kind of being around each other and understanding that this is it, it’s just us being together, that would be fun.”

He also said he believes he’d be an asset to the team, stating, “I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective. I can still move extremely well defensively.”

Bryant’s age will likely be a concern, as his 38th birthday is just two days after the gold-medal game on August 21st, 2016.

Colangelo said that they will be looking at “all of our players” this season, and Bryant’s retirement announcement “doesn’t have any bearing” on whether he’d be selected for the 2016 Olympic team.

The 12 player team will be selected in June 2016.

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