Torah Bright

Torah Bright to skip Sochi Olympics if safety problems worsen

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At least one gold medalist is considering not competing at the Sochi Olympics after suicide bombings rocked a city 400 miles northeast of Sochi.

“If the political position gets any worse I sure as hell won’t be risking my safety just for an Olympic Games,” said Australian Torah Bright, the reigning Olympic halfpipe champion, according to The Australian Associated Press.

Two-time Olympic snowboardcross champion Seth Wescott said he doesn’t think he’ll attend the Opening Ceremony if he qualifies for the Winter Games, according to USA Today.

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

The president of the Russian Olympic Committee said security will not be increased for the Winter Games, which begin Feb. 6.

Bright, eyeing her third Olympics, said she needed to learn more about the situation before making a final decision.

“I’m not too worried but if it comes down to countries saying, ‘go at your own risk,’ I would make a decision that would keep me safe,” Bright said. “As far as now I think it would be OK, but I guess we’ll see when the time comes.”

American athletes expressed varying levels of concern.

“I don’t want to be pessimistic about it,” Wescott said, according to USA Today. “I think you’re watching events start to happen. It’s a country that’s had massive amounts of internal strife that has manifested itself into actual combat. We’re not far away from where a lot of that has gone on in their country. It’s definitely a concern.”

Figure skater Ross Miner, who is preparing for next week’s U.S. Championships and a potential first Olympics, said he doesn’t worry, citing high security when he competed at the 2011 World Championships in Moscow, where athletes went through metal detectors.

“Given the history of the Olympics and the tragedy that occurred in Munich, the IOC takes this very seriously,” Miner said.

Speed skater Jilleanne Rookard, who made her second Olympic team last week, said she’s unsure if she trusts the security forces in Russia.

“But they don’t want a national embarrassment, either,” she told The Associated Press. “I use that thought to relieve some of my worry. I’m sure they want to save their image and their pride.”

Austrian ski jumper Thomas Morgenstern, a three-time Olympic champion, said he saw sharp shooters roaming the woods at a competition in Sochi last year, according to the AP.

“It’s terrible we have to live in fear,” four-time Olympic speed skating medalist Shani Davis told the AP, “but that’s just kind of how it is.”

Russia sports minister scales back Olympic medal expectations

Olympic Track and Field Trials leave Eugene

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The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials are leaving Eugene, Ore., for the Los Angeles area.

Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) in Walnut, Calif., 20 miles east of LA, will host the 10-day event in 2020.

Eugene, which hosted the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials, and Sacramento, host in 2000 and 2004, also bid for the USA Track and Field (USATF) event.

“USATF’s board of directors voted to award the Olympic Trials to Mt. SAC based upon its desire to take the sport’s biggest event to the country’s second-largest media market; the historical strength of the sport in the Los Angeles area; Mt. SAC’s record of hosting elite track events that produce top performances; and a $62 million upgrade to Mt. SAC’s Hilmer Lodge Stadium that will enable the venue to expand to a seating capacity of more than 21,000,” USATF said in a press release.

Mt. SAC previously hosted the 1960 Olympic Trials and annually hosts a popular relays meet in April.

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Wayde van Niekerk breaks another Michael Johnson record

Wayde van Niekerk
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Wayde van Niekerk broke another Michael Johnson record, running the fastest-ever 300m in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Wednesday.

Van Niekerk, who broke Johnson’s 400m world record of 43.18 in Rio with a 43.03, ran 30.81 seconds in Ostrava. Video is here.

Johnson’s previous world best in the rarely contested event was 30.85, clocked at altitude in Pretoria in 2000, his final season.

Van Niekerk previously ran 31.03 over 300m in Kingston, Jamaica, last year. At the time, only Johnson and Usain Bolt (30.97 in 2010, also in Ostrava) had run faster in the non-Olympic event.

Johnson, also the former 200m world-record holder (lowered by Bolt in 2008 and 2009), is left with one world record still standing from the 1993 World Championships 4x400m relay.

Van Niekerk is preparing for the world championships in August in London, where he is expected to contest the 200m and 400m.

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