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

Five events to watch at Prefontaine Classic; broadcast schedule

Vashti Cunningham
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The Prefontaine Classic fields are so stacked that it is the best Diamond League meet so far this season, even with the reported absences of Allyson FelixGenzebe Dibaba, Matthew Centrowitz and Galen Rupp.

In addition to Olympic sprint champion headliners Shelly-Ann Fraser-PryceJustin GatlinSanya Richards-Ross and LaShawn Merritt, the meet features duels between reigning Olympic and World champions in multiple events.

The Diamond League’s lone trip to the U.S. doubles as the best gauge of form this spring ahead of the U.S. Olympic Trials (July 1-10).

The annual meet in Eugene, Ore., is a Friday-Saturday affair:

Friday
USATF.TV — 11:20 p.m. ET

Saturday
NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra — 3:30-5 p.m. ET
NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra — 5-6 p.m. ET

Here are the start lists. Here is the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

Friday
9:55 p.m. — Men’s hammer throw
11:11 — Women’s long jump
11:15 — Women’s discus
11:18 — Men’s shot put
11:37 — Women’s 800m
11:53 — Men’s 10,000m
12:27 a.m. (Saturday) — Women’s 5000m

Saturday
3:15 p.m. — Men’s triple jump
3:18 — Men’s pole vault
3:33 — Men’s 110m hurdles
3:42 — Men’s mile
3:53 — Women’s 100m
4:03 — Men’s 400m hurdles
4:09 — Women’s high jump
4:12 — Women’s 3000m steeplechase
4:26 — Men’s 800m
4:32 — Men’s javelin
4:35 — Men’s 400m
4:43 — Men’s 5000m
5:04 — Women’s 200m
5:13 — Men’s 100m
5:22 — Women’s 1500m
5:33 — Women’s 100m hurdles
5:42 — Women’s 400m
5:51 — Men’s Bowerman Mile

Here are five events to watch (all times Eastern):

Women’s long jump — Friday, 11:11 p.m.

The most loaded field event of the meet. It includes five of the six women to earn medals at the 2012 Olympics and 2015 World Championships, with the lone absentee a Russian who is ineligible to compete due to the country’s ban.

It’s headlined by Olympic champion Brittney Reese and World champion Tianna Bartoletta, both Americans. There’s also reigning World silver and bronze medalists Shara Proctor of Great Britain and Ivana Španović of Serbia and U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Janay DeLoach.

Men’s pole vault — Saturday, 3:18 p.m.

The U.S. is suddenly a factor in this event, after Sam Kendricks became the first American man to win a Diamond League contest on May 14 in Shanghai. The 23-year-old Kendricks has the highest clearance in the world this year at 5.92 meters, higher than anybody from the 2015 World Championships and any American since 2008.

In Eugene, Kendricks will face Olympic champion and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France and World champion Shawn Barber of Canada in a rematch of Shanghai.

Women’s high jump — Saturday, 4:09 p.m.

World Indoor champion Vashti Cunningham is the star here. The 18-year-old daughter of retired NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham could be an Olympic medal favorite, especially if Russians aren’t allowed to compete in Rio.

Russians took two of three medals at the 2012 Olympics and the 2015 World Championships.

Without them in Eugene, Cunningham could very well beat a field that includes 2013 World bronze medalist Ruth Beitia of Spain and 2005 World silver medalist Chaunté Lowe, a strong opponent for Cunningham at the Olympic Trials on July 3. Lowe is 14 years older than Cunningham. Beitia is 19 years older.

Men’s 100m — Saturday, 5:13 p.m.

Three of the five fastest men of all time line up here in Justin GatlinTyson Gay and Asafa Powell, who were all born in 1982 and likely all seeking one last Olympics in Rio.

Joining them is Andre De Grasse, the 21-year-old Canadian who shared bronze at August’s World Championships behind Usain Bolt and Gatlin.

Gatlin will be the favorite, given he is 31-2 in individual sprints since the start of 2014 with the only losses coming to Bolt at Worlds last summer.

Women’s 100m hurdles — Saturday, 5:33 p.m.

With six Americans in the field of eight, this is arguably the closest event to a U.S. Olympic Trials field. It includes six of the seven fastest women in the world last year.

Only the top three at the Olympic Trials on July 8 make the team for Rio. The top finishers Saturday among 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson, 2013 World champion Brianna RollinsNia AliKeni HarrisonSharika Nelvis and Jasmin Stowers will become favorites to make Team USA.

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Slovakia eyes Peter Sagan in mountain bike at Olympics

Peter Sagan
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Peter Sagan, the reigning World road race champion, could also compete in mountain biking at the Rio Olympics if the Slovakian Cycling Federation has its way.

The federation requested a second Olympic mountain bike quota spot specifically for Sagan, in addition to the one it earned through results from its regular mountain bikers. It awaits a response from the International Cycling Union (UCI).

“We think, if Peter will present in MTB cross-country in Rio, it would be a benefit to all cycling, not only for Slovakia,” a Slovakian Cycling Federation official said in an email. “However, it depends on the terms of the UCI.”

Sagan won the World junior title in mountain biking at age 18 in 2008 before focusing primarily on road racing. He did compete in two mountain bike events earlier this year.

Sagan has entered four Tours de France and won the green jersey in all of them as the top sprinter, amassing four individual stage wins along the way. He also owns four Vuelta a España stage wins.

He was 34th in his Olympic debut at the London 2012 road race.

No cyclist has earned Olympic road and mountain bike medals.

Slovakia owns zero Olympic cycling medals since splitting from the Czech Republic starting with Atlanta 1996.

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